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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya interview social worker and disability advocate Vilissa Thompson about having sex while disabled and making good trouble.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Vilissa Thompson, pronouns she/her. Vilissa is a macro-minded social worker from South Carolina, love that. She founded and runs Ramp Your Voice, an organization where she discusses the issues that mattered to her as a Black disabled woman including intersectionality, racism, politics and why she is unapologetically all about making good trouble. Hey, thanks so much for joining us today, that is dope.
Vilissa: Thank y'all for having me.
Erica: So, Kenrya read your bio but I like to ask our guests, tell us in regular ass terms, what you do.
Vilissa: I'd say for me, I like to say, I cause good trouble. I like to rile people up, especially white folks who don't have their act together when it comes to racism, eraser, whitewashing. As well as calling out our own as Black people who are ableist and exclude us, particularly different perspectives, like the disabled experience. Then our histories, when I started telling of the issues that matter. So, I am an equal opportunity calling outer. And just really want people to take what they're doing seriously, particularly if the activists, organizers, or play some type of role in the betterment of our society, to ensure that everybody is seen, heard, and included in everything that they do. So that's just something that I really am passionate about, coming from my social work background as you all mentioned, it's all about activism, it's all about ensuring that people have what they need. And in my way, that's a charge for me to find different avenues to continue that type of work in this space.
Kenrya: That's awesome. So what is your activist and advocate origin story?How did you come to this work?
Vilissa: Well I got my masters in social work in 2012, I started to write from the social worker lens around that time, for social work online platform, and I started to include the disability experience in that since no one was really doing that at that time. A lot of social work platforms were coming to light around that same era. So they were kind of find a way and I wanted to have that particular niche. A year later in 2013 is when I created Ramp Your Voice as a way for me to dig deeper, not just within social work but also within disability activism, and to really talk about the issues that mattered to me from a broader perspective like education, health care, politics, just what I've seen, the cause of representation. Just really getting my perspectives and thoughts out there, just covering different topics. So I started doing that as a weekly blog post on different issues that matter to me are things I saw folks talking about or that was trending online or in the news cycles.
Vilissa: So that's basically how I got started. And in that same frame, started to do public speaking when it comes to social work, going into social work conferences here in South Carolina. Speaking about the disabled experience because nobody was really doing that at that time and really a lot of people still aren't doing that. And what's unique about it is that I was talking about it from an authoritative experience and not from an acquired knowledge experience, which is what most of my colleagues have. So that was a very different framework to really bring it to these spaces. So I did that within the South Carolina Chapter here, as well as the National Association of Black Social Workers, taking it there with them. So just really learning to how to bridge gaps within the social work community and also fine tuning my public speaking skills to get to where I am today.
Erica: Wow, dope. So what's your favorite thing about what you do?
Vilissa: I always say, connecting with other Black disabled women and femmes. That's always been the highlight for me, is meeting us. I just got an email a couple of weeks ago from one of us, just really glad to find my work. They live in a different country and they just really felt seen. So really getting those type of responses, having those sistergirl moments, really make the work worth it. Particularly when you may get discouraged due to people not acting right or there's a big ... Right. And there's a big setback in the movement or just the news cycle is really depressing. Having that type of engagement really shines a light if there's a darkness.
Erica: That's really cool. So, does being Black impact the way you advocate in a disability rights space?
Vilissa: It does. And honestly for me, being a light skinned Black woman who some people consider racial ambiguous, impacts how I navigate. I do notice how people engage with me versus Black disabled women and femmes who are darker. And there's colorism there. I know I can be very loud and I am purposefully loud and direct because I know that some of us cannot be.
Kenrya: We stand a loud woman.
Erica: We need loud women! I told you I'm loud!
Vilissa: You know? And that's the stuff that I understand. I understand my light skinned privilege. It's not something that I'm ashamed of, but it's also not something that I run from or wheel away from. And I am purposeful about uplifting my sisters who are darker than me because I know how colorism works, and people favor those who let me more than them. So being loud and being intentionally loud is my way of using this privilege to get the message out. And because I know that white people, if you look more like them or you have a proximity, they're willing to quote unquote, listen to you better than somebody else. So, that's my way of using this privilege.
Vilissa: And being from the South, coming from a family that has a lot of light skinned folks, I know how the colorism works. I am one of those light skinned people who's not with, excuse my language, the shits, when it comes to light skinned people.
Erica: Never excuse your language on this show.
Vilissa: Not recognizing their privilege, not knowing how, yes there ... Some people do experience trauma and trauma is real no matter what skin tone you are. But there is an imbalance in how that trauma manifests into opportunities and to the way society views you. The way even our community, within our community, views each other. And that's something that's very important to me as a light skinned Black woman to always be mindful of and to always call out if I see other light skinned people acting up and not in some ways knowing our place. Because I do feel like we soak up a lot of energy and space in the colorism discussions and not really understanding how, yes, there are things about us that matters too, but let us also examine the imbalance that's going on.
Vilissa: So for me, bringing that into disability spaces, is understanding how that works when you're dealing with a space that is overwhelmingly white, when it comes to representation and leadership and how that manifests differently in the space. But also being willing to call it out and engage accordingly so that it's not just me that's being heard or being respected, but it's all the Black disabled women in the space who have the same opportunities to really be themselves and to be heard and have their messages really resonating with those who need it, particularly those within the Black community.
Kenrya: And that speaks really poignantly to the fact that all of our oppressions intersect, right? And you can't just hit on one of them and not hit on the others. All of those things make up who you are and what you have to face every day. And I love that you're making sure that you're making space for everybody as you're doing your work. That's pretty dope.
Vilissa: Of course, I have no choice. That's my responsibility as somebody who holds certain types of privilege. Not just light skin privilege, but other privileges as well. Being educated and this and that, that's the responsibility and the accountability that I have to hold myself to.
Kenrya: That's awesome. So for me, being a Black, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied woman, as we talk about privilege, influences the way that I show up in relationships. From the ways that I tend to take on lots of emotional labor to the ways that I choose to have sex. I'm interested, because you know what we talk about on this show, how does being a Black disabled woman impact the way that you love?
Vilissa: I think it impacts the way that I love from the example of love that I was raised with. I talk a lot about my grandmother who has now passed away four years ago on Christmas Eve. And she loved me unapologetically, she loved me fiercely. And it's due in part to two reasons. The first being that she always saw me as her, in her words, her gift from God. I was born in '85. In the year of 83, my grandmother lost five people dearest to her, including my grandfather and her mother. So, when you have somebody who's experienced significant loss in a very short amount of time, that really shapes how they view life, how they view love, how they view people. And so my grandmother would say that after all that has transpired, she prayed to God for him to send her somebody, and that was me.
Vilissa: So to really have somebody who just really loves you for just being there, and having someone to really care for and to really put themselves into and to really love, and for them to find love again in a new way, it's important. And also the second piece was the fact that the doctors told my grandmother that I only have four to eight years to live due to my disability. I have osteogenesis imperfecta, which is layman's terms for brittle bones disease. And I think that also influenced the way that she loved. Because if you're given this timeframe, then that means that you're going to pour all your love and that person as long as you can.
Vilissa: So, I think those two factors really impacted the love that I had from her for the 30 years that I had her in my life. And it just really shaped how I view people, love unapologetically. It Doesn't mean you love carelessly, your love should have boundaries. Your love should have common sense. But when it comes to the person, it should be unconditional. You should love people who they are or how they are, you shouldn't try to love people to change them. You should love as fiercely as you can because tomorrow isn't promised. So all of those things that, particularly now that I've been able to reflect since her passing, has really shaped how I view love at 34 years old. And how I've seen how I view love in relationships, particularly in my young adulthood years, that's when I started dating. I've been a late bloomer most of my life. So, I didn't start dating until college and really having flirtations and situations in between.
Vilissa: But, when it comes to love, just really loving, just giving my whole self into it, and just really giving my all. And my love is intense. I'm a Scorpio Moon. There's an intensity there when it comes to love and there's a fierceness there, there's a wholeness there. But I've had to learn that a lot of people cannot handle that. Not because of the intensity, but because they don't know how to love themselves. And as somebody who dates men, which is the ghetto.
Erica: Oh, ghetto!
Vilissa: The ghetto.
Kenrya: We all know it and yet we still live here.
Vilissa: Yes, yes, yes. You learn that a lot of men have blocks when it comes to love. Not knowing what love is, not having an understanding of healthy types of love, healthy engagements. And that's a very key thing, healthy. Coming from somebody who has a psychology background and a social work background, having the study of human behavior. Over the course of my early to mid-twenties, I really started to dissect how I love and how men have loved me or have engaged with me. And just really realized that they don't know a damn thing about love. They don't know how to be vulnerable or to just really realize, "You know what, I'm a little messed up, but I'm a work in progress." Or even admitting that. Or if they realize they're a little messed up and a work in progress, they're not making progress at all. So being at this age, my tolerance for certain things it in the negative right now.
Kenrya: Yes ma'am.
Vilissa: Younger Vilissa put up with a lot of things because I was learning, they were sadly learning too. But 34-year-old Vilissa isn't with the shits right now.
Kenrya: Doesn't it feel good if it gets to that point?
Vilissa: It does. And if it's good to note that if I want to give into some mess, I know how to categorize it in my head, but if I don't want to get into a mess, I know to avoid it and it'd be okay. And I think that's the power too. Because at times, a little mess isn't bad. But it's all in moderation and it's all about how much energy you put into it, but still holding true to what you want at the end of the day, and what matters to you. If you want to have a little fun, and that's kind of what I'm doing right now is having a little fun, just doing me, that's great. But when it's time to settle down, I know what I want. When the right person comes along, or at least the ideal situation comes along.
Erica: That's funny. We had an episode a while back where we talked to a therapist. And we were talking about Hotep men. We were like, "How do you avoid them?" And she was like, "I mean, most Hotep men got good dicks. So if you want it, do it, you just know what you're jumping into." That's what it is. Just be aware of what you're jumping into and categorize it as such.
Vilissa: Right. And I'd think that's the place where I am right now. It just seeing it for what it is and then engaging accordingly. That's just the truth of it. So I think that's very sage advice that that guest gave. Because as you get older, your ideas of love, based on your experience, based on what you see other people go through, can change and can be fluid. And just moving with the that. But as long as your core values, your deal breakers especially are in intact, then if you want to just have a little fun, then have a little fun.
Kenrya: Yeah. Yeah. So, last episode we read the book, Alyssa Cole's, Can't Escape Love. And the disabled protagonist struggled with being vulnerable because, well she was reluctantly embarking on a new, healthy relationship, but she was struggling with being vulnerable in that relationship because she before had dated a string of men that tried to coddle or control or fix her. And both Kenrya and I found that so true in our lives, does that ring true to you?
Vilissa: I think that with me, being somebody who's visibly disabled, I use a wheelchair, I'm a little woman, men don't really care too much about the disability. They see it, they're like, "Eh." I'm like, "Okay." I don't really get coddled or anything like that. On dating sites, guys can kind of give weird responses but I usually ignore them.
Kenrya: Weird responses across the board anyway. We get it.
Erica: Because they're going to find something to be weird about.
Vilissa: Exactly. But for me, at this age, it doesn't really matter. But I think that younger me, in some ways was a little self conscious about, what would they think about me being thick in the right places, or me being in a chair? Would they feel self conscious or whatever, like that. And I would think that I really worried about, in my younger years, my dating years, and not always feeling the most confident in being bold or being flirtatious even though I am a very flirtatious type of person.
Erica: Oh, I see your tweets, you be shooting your shot.
Vilissa: You already know, you already know. But younger me just wasn't there yet. And I think that's okay. But now, being at this age, I'm very intentional about stating my me, stating my pleasures. Just anything that I feel that matters to me romantically or sexually. Because we're not trying just be lying there, being poked endlessly and not feel enjoyment and pleasure from that. Oh, and not speaking our desires and expecting somebody to be a mind reader. At this age, I have more confidence in, if you who like this, you like it, if you don't, you don't. And that just the brakes. My body isn't changing. I'm not changing. So it is what it is with what I have to give.
Vilissa: So for me, I haven't had negative experience when it comes to being disabled and dating men, but my bad experience has been with their one maturity and my understanding of things and being sometimes too giving or too, yeah, too giving. Too giving of many chances or just really hoping for the best. And at this age, just being very intentional, like I said, of what I get myself into or just seeing things for what they are, or just stating my truth. Like, "Hey, either you with this or you're not." So, I think that just the journey of being a disabled woman, feeling more comfortable with your body, knowing that you are attractive and really beginning to own that in your own way, whatever that looks like for you. I think that just takes a lot of time and age and stop caring so much about what men think, or whoever you're attracted to thinks, and about what you think. And realizing that they have to impress you. And that's more of a priority than you having to impress them.
Kenrya: The mid-thirties hit real different.
Vilissa: They do! My zero cares level now is in a negative. And I love it. I wish I had the energy in my twenties of not caring about everything. And I see young disabled women in the spaces that I'm in who care about everything. I'm like, I'm exhausted for y'all because that life is hard.
Vilissa: And I would not want to go back.
Kenrya: No, not for nothing. I mean I remember being a teenager and you're reading in sex ed about women and where we fall in a cycle and when we hit our prime. And I feel like so much of the reason that we hit our prime in our thirties and forties is because we give up the fucks.
Erica: We start shedding expectations.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's really just about making sure that we're getting what we want. And it doesn't mean that we're not being great partners, because it's in us, right? It just means that we're not great partners before we're great partners to ourselves.
Vilissa: Right, right. And that's the great thing about being this age is learning how to prioritize yourself. Like for me, 2019 was about learning how to be selfish. And that's very hard when you're a Black woman, and you know how we give, and then you're somebody who's a nurturer by nature, just innately. And also being in the field that I'm in, being a social worker, that's about giving and supporting people. All these things makes it so hard to really know how to be selfish. And even this, it's not really being selfish, it's just putting you first and saying no to things that you don't want to do, saying no to people you don't want to be around. And I think that's something that the 30's, and I'm looking forward to the 40's as well, really instills in you. Is that you really can't keep being this people pleaser. Whether it is in the bedroom, in relationships, on your jobs, in your friendships, in your family relationships, wherever. And allowing yourself to be sucked dry. That's not cool, that's not sustainable, that's not healthy. So I think that the 30's is really the time where you shed some of that toxic thinking and behavior and really find something new within yourself.
Kenrya: That's real. So is there a myth about disability and sex that you'd like to debunk here on The Turn On?
Vilissa: Oh yes.
Kenrya: You were like "oh I've been waiting on this one."
Vilissa: I would say that the first would be that disabled people are not sexual. And that is beyond. That is completely false, completely false. But people have that myth because they emphasize disabled people, they view as the children, they view us as helpless, they view us as all these things that strips us of our personhood, that puts us in this very innocent box. And that is, in many ways, problematic, grotesque, and just a problematic way of viewing people as a community. That allows us to be very vulnerable to sexual violence, particularly if we do not have an education about our bodies, and consent, and body autonomy. And also being afraid to report and be in fear of not being believed. That really creates an imbalance of us being able to express ourselves and our desires, sensually and sexually, and having those ideals respected by those who know us and by potential partners.
Vilissa: It acts a stumbling block for people who may be interested in us, but who may fear being looked upon as somebody who's preying on the quote unquote disabled. And may be reluctant to approach us for sexual encounters, for dating encounters, or both. It really impacts our ability to see ourselves as sexual beings and really owning that identity. Sex to some people is a luxury for us to have and not a right. And sex is a right, sexuality is a right for us to participate in. And so, all of these things just really impacts our comfortability of being sexual. And also the fact that you don't see disabled people being sexual in the media. It's hard to know that disabled people can have sex if we're not on TV shows or we're not in movies doing these things.
Vilissa: So, there are a number of myths about our sexuality that starts with us being non-sexual. And going from there, that really impacts our ability to, like I said, understand our bodies, to report any acts of violence enacted against us, and to really just feel included in the discussions about sex and about sexuality and sensuality. And then of course you're going to keep it intersectional here. When it comes to being a Black disabled person, particularly a Black disabled femme, a woman, we understand the myths surrounding the sexuality of Black women and we add disability onto that. That's a whole nother bag of myth that you have to endure. The policing of Black women and girls bodies, when it comes to our sexual expression. And then on top of that, as a Black disabled woman, people stripping you of being a sexual being.
Vilissa: I always like to say that at 34 years old, very few people ask me if I'm dating, very few people ask me, do I have children? Very few people asked me do I want to get married. And it's all these things that friends who are my age who are either coupled or not deal with all the time. But because I look a certain way, I present a certain way, people don't think that I have those same type of desires or the same type of wishes as other women do. So, it looks very different when you add the intersectional lens on how people engage with you when it comes to your sexuality, sensuality, and what that means for you and how to combat that.
Vilissa: I was on my stay-cation for the holiday and a sistergirl and I who worked at the hotel was talking and she asked me, do you have kids? And it really struck me because not many people ask me if I have kids. Of course I said, "No I do not," in a very happy tone.
Kenrya: It's the principle.
Vilissa: I just felt so good. It's the principle! It just felt good to be asked that. And it's something so simple. But when you're not used to that type of pressure, it's like, "Wow." It felt good to be asked that. And I understand the flip side of that, people who are bombarded with those questions a lot and how that is. Almost invasive and disturbing. But for those of us who don't get that question a lot, it's like, "Wait, dang, do people not think that I want those things just because I am under four feet tall in a wheelchair?" Because I do, I'm not sure about kids part, but at least the relationship and the partnership part. That's things that I do care about, that I wish that people would explore with me, in the correct context, given the time and space situation and not some random stranger on the street, but would be more engaging if we are having a conversation to really be more mindful of their own ableism and how they approach, particularly disabled women, about our lives and what does that look like?
Erica: So, how can people who don't have disabilities show up for people who do?
Vilissa: The first I would say is to check your own ableism. Like I was giving an example earlier, if you see a disabled person, what first comes to your mind? Do you have a sense of pity, of sorrow for that person just for being disabled? Because if so, that's a major problem. Disabled people are not living pitiful or saddening lives. If our lives have challenges it is because of ableism, due to the societal, structural, systematic barriers that impact our abilities to fully engage with our communities, with our peers, with the goals and dreams that we have. So definitely check your ableism and how you view disability, how you understand disability, and who you see as disabled.
Vilissa: I have a viral hashtag, #disabilitytoowhite, that came out, it'll be four years this year. And a part of the discussion that surrounds that is, who gets to be disabled, when it comes to the images that we have on our mind? And they're usually white disabled men, white disabled women. Rarely do we think about disabled people of color, being disabled. And if we do, we have certain images of them that we are presented with due to the media. So really just examining your whole connection with disability.
Vilissa: And also, if you're going to keep it real, talking about Black folks, many of us are walking around with disabilities. Particularly if they are not apparent or invisible disabilities like mental illness, chronic illnesses and so on and so forth. So many of us have this internalized ableism, which would be part two of that. That we need to examine about how we view our bodies, how we view those around us. And how we identify or resist identifying. A lot of Black folks don't identify as disabled because we don't want to have quote unquote one more thing added to the list of Blackness to make life hard. And disability isn't something that's shameful, disability isn't another quote unquote, hard identity. It's a part of who you are. We have a rich culture, a rich history. And we really need more Black folks especially, to start examining their internalized ableism and start to really become more comfortable with their disabled minds and bodies, and to really start claiming this identity so that we don't feel so alone in what we do and how we're living, and we start to create a community for ourselves.
Vilissa: I would say, when it comes to more systematic things, learning about disability issues, disability history, disability rights, in the work that you're doing. Whether you're an organizer or you're an activist, teacher, politician, whatever that you're doing, every social issue has a disability lens. So, if you're working in education, there's disability lens. You're doing politics, there's a disability lens. If you're doing environmental studies, there's a disability lens. You need to be very familiar with those lenses so that your work is fully complete, you'll work is inclusive, intersectional, and diverse.
Vilissa: And in that you need to also make an effort to get to know disabled activists and our trailblazers that we continue to uplift and the work that we do. I think that's very important when it comes to the diversity of our work and to ensure that if we're trying to get everybody free, then that means everybody, not just people who just look like you or who have your same sexuality or same gender or same able bodiedness, it means everybody. I always like to say, particularly in Black spaces, you can't get to your Black utopia of liberation of freedom and expect to leave Black disabled behind, that's not going to happen. So be very intentional about learning about disability issues as well as working alongside disabled activists and ensuring that we are all getting to this freedom and liberation and utopia together. And not be unintentionally harmful with that internalized ableism or just ableism in general.
Kenrya: You put your whole foot in that answer. So, to that point and to that end, are there any resources that you recommend for folks who want to learn more and dig in there? Whether they be websites or books or anything?
Vilissa: I'd say, if you're on Twitter, disabled Twitter is where it's at, Black disabled Twitter is where it's at. Of course, follow me. As well as some of the Black disabled women I know, like Keah Brown, who just came out with a book last year called, The Pretty One. I would suggest reading that, it's about her experience as a young Black disabled woman. I love to work with Heather Watkins, who is a gen Xer from the Boston area, she talks a lot about being a caregiver, being a mom, being her unapologetic self. I'd say just really get to know the names of Black disabled women, the feelings in the movement, past and present.
Vilissa: Look up the story of Johnnie Lacy, Joyce Jackson, key Black disabled women women of the seventies and eighties who were a part of the independent living movement of that time and the work that they've had to do to get us where we are today. Just understanding that history. And I think for me that's where it all begins, education, understanding the history of a group of people you may be unfamiliar with. And then going from there and just seeing how you can be supportive or even finding your own voice. If you start to explore and come to terms with your own disability identity and really start to shed some of that internalized ableism and start welcoming an identity that is just as important and impactful as all the other identities that you may have.
Kenrya: So, you your site and we want to let people know that that is rampyourvoice.com. The Patreon is patreon.com/rampyourvoice. On Twitter you're Vilissa Thompson, V-I-L-I-S-S-A. As well as @rampyourvoice and @wheeldealpod, right?
Vilissa: Yes, that's a political podcast that I cohost with Neil Carter, who is a Black disabled man. We hope to bring that back this year during the election cycle. So I'm hoping that we'll get back and running so that we can give you all the shade and tea as we embark on 2020.
Kenrya: Yes, and then on Facebook you're at a Ramp Your Voice, right?
Vilissa: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: Awesome! Thank you so much for joining us this week. I learned a lot. I'm sure our readers did. Or readers, listeners.
Vilissa: I am glad to be on here. I listened to you all's pod and it's really nice to be a guest and to really start the new year off with this interview.
Kenrya: Thank you. Same. It's been a privilege to have you on. We have been, like Erica said, following you on Twitter for a long time. So we already feel like we know you, but to get the time to sit here and kiki together has been pretty dope. Because y'all missed all the stuff became before we hit record.
Erica: Yes, this is the perfect Friday night.
Vilissa: The pre-show is always good.
Erica: We'll hit record and then just keep it going.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all, send your book recommendations and all your burning sex and related questions that you want us to answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, follow us on Twitter @theturnonpod, and Instagram @theturnonpodcast, and find links to books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at theturnonpodcast.com. And remember, we're now part of the Frolic Podcast Network and you can find more shows that you'll love and frolic.media/podcasts. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you soon. Peace!LISTEN TO THE TURN ON
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya chop it up with good troublemaker and disability rights activist, Vilissa Thompson.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read from Alyssa Cole's "Can't Escape Love" and talk about asking for help and not making current partners pay for the sins of past partners.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: Hey, y'all. Welcome back. This week we are reading "Can't Escape Love," which is a Reluctant Royals Novella by Alyssa Cole. This was published in 2019 and we're just going to jump in. Sit back, relax, get your wine, get your weed, get you whatever you need and enjoy.
Kenrya: "Can't Escape Love," (a Reluctant Royals Novella) by Alyssa Cole. "You know what I've been thinking about all week?" "Maybe the same thing I've been thinking about?" Her voice was husky and she was hot to the touch where their skin brushed. "If it's my head between your thighs, then yep, it's the same thing." "Oh, my God," she laughed and leaned back in her chair eyes wide, cheeks flushed.
Kenrya: She shook her head and then looked down at him like she was an evil queen and he was her minion. "You're absolutely right. I've been thinking about that a lot and I may or may not have touched myself while I did." She arched a brow in challenge. Gus leaned up and forward on his knees catching her lush mouth with his before she could say anything else. His cock was already so hard and he just wanted to taste her. She held him by the front of his shirt as their tongues clashed and he regretted having worn the button-up instead of a polo for casual Friday.
Kenrya: He needed her hands on his body, but he didn't want to take his hands off her. He readjusted himself as he moved closer to her spreading his legs so that her footrest didn't press into his shins. "Pull it open," he said against her lips. "Just rip it." She leaned her head back by just an inch, but too far for Gus' liking. "But I know how to sew buttons back on. Do it." Then he closed the distance between their lips again thrusting his tongue into her mouth and sliding his hands up her thighs so both of his thumbs pressed gently into the heat at her juncture.
Kenrya: She gasped a muffled curse into his mouth and tugged at his shirt hard. Buttons went flying as she laughed triumphantly and then her palms finally spread over his chest. He groaned as her index finger brushed his nipple and she did it again. He used both of his hands to spread her thighs and one of his thumbs found the nub of her clit through the thin cotton of her underwear. He pressed slowly until her lips lifted slightly from the seat, and then he began to rub, slow back and forth motions, varying pressure depended on how she gasped and moaned into his mouth. He moved his other hand up and down her thigh dragging the rough palm over her sensitive skin.
Kenrya: Reggie's mouth ripped away from his on a moan, but she held on to him. She tugged at the lapels of his shirt sometimes soft, sometimes hard as if directing him, and the hard tugs were growing more frequent. She made a sound that was something like a frustrated squeal and threw her head back. Gus hadn't thought he could get any harder, but his jeans were painfully tight at the groin. He rocked back onto his heels and looked up at her. "You're so sexy." Her response was to press her feet against the footrest of her chair and lever her hips forward so that her ass was along the edge of the seat. Her knees were spread, her dress hiked up exposing her black underwear.
Kenrya: "Gus." She was a woman used to getting what she wanted and he was a man who knew what to give her. He knelt forward again, his hands sliding up and around her thighs to hold her in place as he tugged her a bit closer to the edge of her seat. He stretched the fingers of his right hand out over her mound and then curled them pulling her underwear to the side to reveal neatly trimmed dark reddish-brown curls and a slick brownish-pink nub between her folds. He ran his thumb over her one more time and then he nestled his mouth over her and licked.
Kenrya: "Fuck." One of her hands went to his collar and the other grabbed an armrest of her chair. "Fuck, Gustav." Gus swirled his tongue over her, then sucked gently, then sucked not so gently loving the way she cried out his name wanting to give her more pleasure. His own desire had overtaken him so that all he could think of was the scent of her, the taste of her, how she bucked up against his face and how she would feel clamping around his cock. He groaned against her clit, and Reggie bucked so sharply that he reached out to press down on her stomach and hold her in place.
Kenrya: Her ab muscles convulsed under his palm as she ground against his face riding out her orgasm, and then she collapsed back breathing heavily. "Oh, my God." Her chest rose and fell and then she allowed her head forward to look down at him. Her glasses were askew and her smile was sated that we're definitely going to have to do that again, but now she gripped his shoulders and slipped her feet from the footrest to the floor, then levered herself to a standing position.
Kenrya: He didn't move as she stood over him bent at the waist. She took two shaky, but definitive steps around him to drop into a seated position on her bed. She shimmied out of the beautiful emerald green dress she wore and tossed it across the room onto the laundry pile, then sat with her arms behind her to support her weight and her chin raised. "Now, you join me on the bed." Her breasts were encased in some kind of crinkled lacy bra that reminded Gus of the wrapper around a cupcake. Taking off that wrapper was his favorite part. "I can do that."
Kenrya: He wiped his sleeve over his mouth before standing and shucking his shirt, jeans, and socks so that he only wear his tinted boxer briefs, then closed the space between them. His mouth connected with hers and she wrapped her arms around him, pulling his weight down onto her, she lay back on the bed. His elbows dug into the mattress on either side of her as he caught her weight, but his body pressed up along hers skin to skin.
Kenrya: He settled between her legs, the length of his cock notching against her slit and her moans when she circled her hips to rub against him. "Condoms?" he asked. "Bedside table." He leaned away from her to tug the drawer open accidentally pulling it out of the nightstand completely. He grabbed a condom from a pink organizational tray and dropped the drawer to the floor with a clatter. "Sorry," he said returning his mouth to hers. Her rough exhalations caressed his lips. "Put it on. I want you."
Kenrya: Her words magnified whatever the feeling was in his chest, and then she reached between them to stroke them first through the fabric of his boxers and then sliding her hand under the elastic waistband and grip his erection. She ran her loosely circled fingers up and down his shaft, her thumb caressing the sensitive spot under the head of his cock as she did so.
Kenrya: Her hips rocked up against him and the desire in her eyes sent an arc of pleasure through him so strong that he bit his lip against the desire to pump into her hand and ride it to completion. "I want you," she said again, her voice an insistent whisper. "Don't say that again for a while," he said hoarsely. "I can only withstand so much." He stood, shucked his boxers and carefully rolled on the condom. He crouched between her legs to kiss her thighs and slide off her underwear before crawling into the center of the bed beside her as she clambered back. "Wait." He unlatched the hook on the front of her bra with one hand revealing the perfect dark brown tipped mounds of her breasts.
Kenrya: He teased her with his thumb and forefinger and she groaned. "Gus, I'm trying not to be demanding, but I really need you to fuck me or I seriously might explode." He laughed rolling on top of her and settling between her legs again. "I like it when you're demanding." "Lucky you." When she kissed him, a soft, sweet contrast to her words, Gus groaned and thrust into her. He sucked in a breath at the almost overwhelming pleasure, the clamp of her inner walls around his cock, the way her eyes slammed shut and she cried out. "Fuck," he breathed. "You feel good. You smell good. You taste good. You ...," but Gus couldn't talk anymore.
Kenrya: He lost his words to the sensation running down his spine squeezing balls, squeezing his heart. He wouldn't tell her what he was feeling. He would show her. He thrust into her hard not minding the burn in his scalp as she tugged as his hair and the crescents of pleasure pain as she left in his shoulders as she gripped him. She threw one leg over his hip spreading herself wider taking him in deeper and holding him closer. Gus buried his face in her neck, the sweat from his breath and her temple pulling where their skin touched, their moans mingling in the air between the four posts of her bed. "Yes. Yes. Please."
Kenrya: That one word urged him to slide her other leg up around his waist and lean forward so that his thrust hit her at a new angle. Reggie didn't like asking for things. If she said please, he would make sure not to disappoint. He looked down into her wide brown eyes and saw the moment just before her climax hit her just before her body went taut and her pussy clamped him so tight that he couldn't hold back anymore. He tried to say her name as the pleasure walloped him from all sides, but he thought maybe he only emitted a series of grunts.
Kenrya: Heat and light and pure ectasy exploded in him and somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew what he'd seen in Reggie's eyes. It had turned the last piece of the Rubik's Cube in his chest amplifying his orgasm so that he had to clench his teeth against the force of it. He collapsed on top of her and then rolled them to their sides pulling her close so that he could feel her racing heartbeat against his just for a moment. She didn't pull away despite their sweatiness. "That was ..." Her leg twitched between his. "Damn, Gus." She kissed him on the ear, a quick peck because she seemed to jelly-boned and satiated to hold her head up for longer, and he felt like it signaled some new intimacy in their relationship.
Kenrya: He finally opened his eyes feeling that sunlight on his face sensation again. She was grinning at him, eyes bright, and oh, God, he would have to be very careful because that impulsive feeling welled up in him with purpose. It'd only been a week since they met in person and he had to take this slow, not get ahead of himself, not dive headlong like she was a newly unwrapped puzzle. "What?" She kissed him again. "You're staring." Slow. Gus opened his mouth and that feeling that been building in his chest jumped out without his permission. "I love you."
Kenrya: Her brows rose in the warm lazy light in her eyes was gone in a blink replaced by an alert weariness. "What?"
Erica: Welcome back. Kenrya, that was a lovely excerpt.
Kenrya: Was it?
Erica: Will you give us a synopsis of the story before we delve on in?
Kenrya: Is that the word you wanted?
Erica: Dive. You know I be making shit up. Is delve a word?
Kenrya: No, delve is a word. I think it's maybe past tense-
Erica: For chocolate?
Kenrya: ... of something. Chocolate?
Erica: I don't know. I think about like a cookie dunking into chocolate, but whatever. This is so random. Kenrya, give us a synopsis.
Kenrya: It's okay. You reminded me I need to order those Girl Scout cookies. Yeah, I forgot.
Kenrya: I need to order girl scout cookies.
Erica: Oh, yeah. Nope. I'm still dealing with Christmas cookies, so I have so many Christmas cookies.
Kenrya: It's reminding me of what I have left to go get into.
Erica: Oh, my God. I have so many Christmas cookies.
Kenrya: Because y'all had gingerbread and stuff, too.
Erica: Oh, I just threw those out.
Kenrya: Oh, gave us a lot.
Erica: Because yeah. No, get these out of my house.
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah. I dig it. Okay, so “Can't Escape Love” is part of the Reluctant Royals series that Alyssa Cole does, so in the main books, it's like people who find out that they're royalty or all these relationships and one of the people in each of those relationships is always some kind of royalty. In the novellas, it's usually somebody who is related to in some way and maybe they work for one of those people or it's their family or whatever.
Kenrya: In this particular story, we are following Reggie who runs a ... It's like a nerd culture site for women, and her whole thing is women won't be treated like shit like they are in the mainstream world and it's supposed to be really friendly for people of color and folks with disabilities to make them feel and be included in nerd culture, so comic books and movies-
Kenrya: Yes, but not necessarily just Black, but yeah. Reggie is Black. She lives in Queens.
Erica: New York!
Kenrya: Yes. You had it for like...
Erica: That's my New York accent. Where'd you go? Eat a pizza pie.
Kenrya: That was awful.
Kenrya: But at least you tried. I don't even try accents. I'm terrible. At the beginning of the book, Reggie has a problem. She's having trouble sleeping and her insomnia is making her make mistakes at work and is feeding her anxiety, so she has decided that the very best way for her to deal with her insomnia is to write to this man whose videos she used to listen to fall asleep.
Erica: See, now if I can't fall asleep, I masturbate.
Kenrya: Well, we all have our things.
Erica: That's how I know if I'm having insomnia is-
Kenrya: Because your masturbation count goes up?
Erica: Yeah. Geez. You've been tapping that button a lot. Okay.
Kenrya: Yes, so she reaches out.
Erica: Her's is more wholesome.
Kenrya: Yes, but it's also a little strange, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: To ask somebody. She's like, "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be creepy, but your voice helps me sleep. Can you make some recordings for me?" He's like, "Nah, I don't know how you going to use my voice. Don't trust you, but I'll talk to you on the phone," because secretly they both kind of like each other. When she was first listening to his voice, he was streaming. He had like a stream where he would do puzzles, so he is Gus. He is Vietnamese American. At the time, he was living in California, but we find out that he now lives very close to Reggie.
Erica: Dun, dun, dun.
Kenrya: Dun, dun, dun. He had this channel where he streamed and did puzzles. He's like-
Erica: She didn't care. She just needed the voice.
Kenrya: Well, she found it because she likes puzzles, too, but the voice kept her there, and she just thought he was interesting. She was the only person who ever watched his stream, so they got to be friends.
Erica: That makes me feel so much better about The Turn On.
Kenrya: She would be like-
Erica: Someone's going to find us.
Kenrya: Seriously. She would be chatting and putting things in the chat and he would answer her questions and tell stories, so it was just the two of them for months just doing this, so she was plotting out her business during this time when she was working while watching him and it gave him ideas of cool things to do. He's an architect by trade, but is branching out to some other stuff, so eventually they end up coming into the same space and falling in love.
Erica: Oh, wow.
Erica: And sexy hijinks ensue.
Kenrya: They do.
Erica: Dot, dot, dot.
Erica: Okay, so I will start with just Reggie is dope.
Kenrya: Yeah, she is.
Erica: She has a lot going on and she has so many balls that she's juggling, and she seems to make sure that everything is covered. I hate using the strong Black woman thing.
Kenrya: Yeah, but it's what she's-
Erica: Oh, because Reggie is ... I mean, it's clear from the text that Reggie's in a wheelchair.
Kenrya: Yes, Reggie has ataxia, which is basically it impedes her. It makes it difficult for her to control her motor ... Her motor skills are difficult. She's kind of jerky sometimes. It's safer and easier for her to move around in a wheelchair, although she can move with a walker, and sometimes she takes it to the park, but none of that has anything to do with the work that she does except for that she wants to make the space more inclusive for everybody and not be made to feel like she can't cosplay because she's in a chair, that kind of thing.
Erica: Yeah, so I brought that up because it's one of those things of the strong Black woman. You look at her and people ... Reading her story, people probably look at it like, "Oh, she's strong. You're doing everything in spite of," and it's like, "Girl."
Kenrya: Bitch, that ain't got nothing to do with that.
Erica: I got shit I need to do and I get it done, but yeah. She really has it all, all of her ducks in a row-
Kenrya: She does.
Erica: ... and everything covered.
Kenrya: Except she can't sleep.
Erica: Except she can't sleep, but I think that could ... This is me being a therapist. Do you think that her not being able to sleep is maybe kind of a ...
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: You know how you try to keep everything under wraps, I mean keep everything under control, and then something leaks and that's-
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: ... the leak in the damn, her inability to sleep.
Kenrya: Yeah, I think it is. Well, she says that her insomnia feeds her anxiety, and then she also says at some point that she had been watching these videos that were helping with that were made for ADHD and that they were helping her, so I think she's just like all of us, has a lot of stuff going on and your brain finds ways to pop it up on you, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: That has been my experience, especially my anxiety and my insomnia. My shit was so bad last year that my therapist threatened to put me on medication because I wasn't sleeping. She was like, "You're going to crash and fucking burning if you don't sleep," because it's just this vicious cycle where the insomnia makes the anxiety worse, the anxiety makes the insomnia worse, and then you're just up wide-eyed in the middle of the fucking night.
Erica: Yeah, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's terrible.
Erica: Reggie, well, I said that Reggie has a lot, has everything covered, and I think I see this a lot in Black women where we feel like we have to take care of everything. It all has to be done.
Erica: It all has to be done correctly and perfectly and right. Do you think Reggie feels that?
Kenrya: Is that?
Erica: Yeah. Is that woman.
Kenrya: She has. She talks about having a hard time delegating. She has people on her team, but she don't trust nobody to do it quite the way that she can do it.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Why you so loud?
Erica: Well, you know what? I'm less of that person.
Kenrya: Yeah, you are.
Erica: I am like, "Girl, y'all do it. If it get done, it get done. Figure that shit out."
Kenrya: Really? Well, but that came with what? Therapy and time,
Erica: Lots of time and lots of therapy.
Kenrya: She goes to therapy.
Kenrya: She does do that, and you can see her progress over the course of the book, but I think that's absolutely one of the things that she's dealing with and it's one of the things that I could relate to. Yeah.
Erica: Girl, as being your partner on this project, this project called The Turn On, I so see it so much more now.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: But I trust you on ... I don't ever-
Erica: No. Oh, I'm not saying-
Kenrya: I'm never over your shoulder or anything like that.
Erica: No, no, no. I'm not saying in the sense of ... because I think we do do a really great job of this is your job-
Kenrya: We just trust each other to do-
Erica: ... this is my job, that kind of thing, but I feel like you definitely have it in you to be like, "We got to do more. We got to do more," because let me tell y'all. If this was a Erica-produced situation, there would've been some weeks where y'all would've just been waiting for an upload and I would've been like, "Y'all know we coming back." I'm like Jesus. He came back. I will, too.
Kenrya: It is definitely that perfectionism.
Erica: He didn't come back.
Kenrya: He rose. He rose.
Erica: He rose and he going to come back.
Erica: I know that, but oh, shit, that was bad. Anyway, yeah.
Kenrya: That was funny.
Erica: I see that in you, and-
Kenrya: Because to me, there's never a reason to not do what you say you're going to do.
Erica: A bitch motherfucking tied.
Kenrya: I know, but I ... No, but that's the perfectionism in me and that's something I'm working on.
Erica: I think that it's great that we both do this together, and we had this conversation towards the end of the year, and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to let you go on this one because there will be a week where we going to be like-"
Kenrya: I'm like, "Fuck it."
Erica: I'm going to be like, "No," and y'all going to hear Kenrya by herself, which won't happen-
Erica: ... because Kenrya will not half-ass produce anything, or we just going to have to take a break.
Kenrya: Hopefully by then we'll have enough episodes to carry us or we can take a break.
Erica: Yeah, and if not--
Kenrya: You don't care.
Erica: I don't give a shit. I do, but at the same time, I have really, really learned to prioritize-
Kenrya: You have healthy work boundaries.
Kenrya: You have healthy boundaries around work and I don't.
Erica: But I think it's part of it is ... We going to keep going. I think part of it is because you are a freelancer, so you really have to push.
Kenrya: Eat what you kill, yeah.
Erica: You kill what you eat.
Kenrya: Same thing.
Erica: Eat, kill, whatever. You got to bring that, the bacon, to the table.
Kenrya: Yeah, if I don't work, I don't get paid.
Erica: The veggie bacon. So I-
Kenrya: I've never had veggie bacon. Sounds disgusting.
Erica: It sounds disgusting. I literally felt chalk in my mouth when I said that. Yeah, so I think that that is it. We have very different situations which allow us to have very different attitudes towards it. However, this 9:00 to 5:00 mentality is going to affect you one way or the other.
Kenrya: I don't know.
Erica: Now, as I transition to my outside ... I have made it the a point to say that this is my last 9:00 to 5:00 and I will be doing some shit on my own in the near future.
Erica: Now, I'm definitely going to have to take a page, front page or two, from Killa's book, but right now until then, nah, dog. Y'all niggas going to get what the fuck y'all going to get when y'all going to get it, but yeah.
Kenrya: Meanwhile, Reggie is definitely a perfectionist and she struggles with that.
Erica: Which is one of the symptoms of what?
Erica: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kenrya: Yes, ma'am.
Erica: Yeah, she's codependent as hell, and you see it in this scene because she says to Gus ... Well, no, Gus says like, "Look, I can feel that she doesn't want to meet me," and I think that ... Well, let's go back. Codependency, can you define it well?
Kenrya: Sure. Well, I can try. In general, it means meeting the needs of others without meeting your own needs and it can show up in a lot of different ways, and one of the ways that it shows up is being needless and want-less, so that is how it comes through with Reggie. She's needless. She don't need nobody to do nothing for her. She got everything motherfucking thing covered. Get out of my face, and that's how she treats Gus at times. God, I could absolutely see myself in her sometimes.
Erica: Alyssa, you wrote the hell out of this character.
Kenrya: For real for real, but I think I'm a lot better at it. I have been working at it, but there was a time when-
Erica: The part of the reason that you know you're better at it is because you're able to see it.
Kenrya: Because I can see it. Yeah, because if someone had told me that before, I wouldn't have even understood what they were talking about, but yeah. It definitely come. That's how I saw it coming through in her was the fact that she was "needless."
Erica: Yeah. Going back to this strong Black woman, I think that she is just leaning into being a strong Black woman, and this is what I do because I have to. This codependency thing, not only does it get in the way of good relationships, but it gets in the way of good sex.
Kenrya: It does because if you don't have boundaries, but you have walls, which is one of the ways that codependency shows up-
Erica: Yeah, and we like getting our walls torn down-
Kenrya: In all the ways.
Erica: ... but not like that.
Kenrya: Yes. If you've built, rather than having strong boundaries which you can adjust to the situation and the person, but you've built walls which are immovable then hard to get past-
Erica: Boundaries are like fences, whereas walls are walls.
Kenrya: They got a gate. Yeah, exactly. She got some walls and they spend the book knocking them shits down and all the way she can think of.
Erica: Knocking down them walls.
Erica: Yeah. I think it's really cool that Alyssa wrote this character like this and was able to demonstrate it in this character, because I identify with her so much. Yeah, it's like I can do it all. I don't need nobody's help. I'm a strong Black woman.
Kenrya: Yeah, and then I think for her, there's this other element and she talks about it. Reggie, she says that in her past ... Well, she says in her head, right, because she wouldn't tell anybody this.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: But in her past relationships, she's been with men who have made her feel like she had to meet them like she couldn't do things, so part of her strong Black woman thing is a reaction to that like don't treat me like I can't fucking take care of myself. I've been taking care of myself. I'm not waiting for some man to come so that I can fall apart and now he can put me back to-fucking-gether. I'm good, but she said that she had men who wanted to coddle her or wanted to fix her or wanted to ... What was the other thing? Coddle her, fix her, or tell her how to run her life in general and her business and all of that shit, and she's like, "I don't need that shit."
Erica: Yeah, you overconfident. Now she's overcompensating.
Erica: You put on this I have it all together, everything is perfect, so you don't even have an opportunity to come in and say-
Kenrya: That's right.
Erica: ... you need to fix or do, because I think it's a fine line in relationships with being open to criticism and critique and help and having someone thinking that they can fix you.
Erica: Especially with me dating older men, yeah, I find it happens and I ...
Kenrya: How do you handle that?
Erica: Well, one, I'm better at picking older men now, because sometimes older men are like, "Let me tell you how to do everything," but now I'm better at just ... My picker is better, but yeah. That is always a source, a sense of a source of contention in relationships with me, because even to this day, and maybe this is the vestiges of the codependency ... Is that the right word?
Erica: I think it is. Y'all know I be making shit up. I didn't take the SAT, so I be using them words.
Kenrya: Y'all took the ACT?
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: Midwest. Midwest.
Kenrya: Yeah, see, I took both, but yeah.
Erica: No. Mm-mm (negative).
Kenrya: Most people in the Midwest take ACT.
Erica: I took the bare minimum. Oh, the school let me in with an ACT? Bet, cool. I think there's vestiges of the codependency still in me where I don't ... I'm always open to critique and criticism from my girlfriends.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), you are. Yeah, you're really good at taking it.
Erica: I am really good at taking it from my girlfriends. From a man, it takes a little bit more for me to get it.
Kenrya: Why do you think that is?
Erica: Because you a nigga and you in here trying to fix me and change me and tell me what the fuck to do. It's just that simple, and I wish it was better than that, and I find that with some guys, one is about how you say it. I was dating this guy and he was at my house and it was something about feeding a dog, and he was like, "Yeah, you feeding him too much," or something about how-
Kenrya: What'd that nigga just say? It's your dog. Fuck out of here.
Erica: That was my complete and exact response like, "Nigga, fuck you. This is my fat ass dog," but then I was thinking like-
Kenrya: Do I feed him?
Erica: This nigga fat than a motherfucker. Not only is he fat, but he eats good twice a day and he eats anything anybody else has.
Kenrya: Yes, he does.
Erica: It was one of them things where it was like, "You know what? Maybe he was right," and my response a lot of times when men tell me something, it's immediately like a ... like, "Nigga, don't tell me that," but then I have to take a step back and be like, "You know what? I heard you. I got it. Thank you for sharing," because I don't want to be one of them know-it-all chicks, which I do know everything.
Erica: But yeah, it's like a knee-jerk reaction like, "Nigga, this my life. I will come ..." because I do feel like the guys that I date, they bring more than just dick to the table. Now, they do bring dick, good dick-
Kenrya: First and foremost.
Erica: ... but they're smart and doing well in their own right in their own space, so I do think that there's value in bouncing things off of people and that kind of thing, but I guess for me, my girlfriends I look at like you love me. You care about me.
Kenrya: Yeah, they get more of the benefit of the doubt.
Erica: Yeah. We got one girlfriend, Detroit Princess.
Kenrya: Yep, I knew that's who you was about to say.
Erica: When I tell you this bitch is opinionated-
Kenrya: She is, but she always has really good insight.
Erica: Yes. If you don't know her or don't get her, you are just like, "This bitch got something to say about everything." However, she is like, next to Kenrya, one of the people that I bounce just about everything off of because she has such good insight, but if you don't know her or understand her, you can definitely get the like-
Kenrya: She argues about everything [crosstalk 00:32:56] or whatever, but yeah. No, it's just that she really does have opinions and really good ideas.
Erica: And great ways of things looking at things, coming outside of herself to look at things. She can say things to me unsolicited and I'd be like, "Okay, cool. I'm going to take that into ..." Whereas, a nigga could probably come say the same thing unsolicited and I'd be like, "Who the fuck you think you know? You don't know me. You ain't shit," but yeah. I think that's the codependency in me, so I need to get better at ...
Kenrya: Or it could just be that you don't trust niggas.
Erica: Yeah, but I don't want to not trust niggas. I just want to be better at-
Kenrya: Calibrating that?
Erica: Calibrating my trust ... Well, I don't even want to stay trust in niggas. Trust in niggas' advice, because I were ... I were? I were in relationships. I was in relationships with guys that turned me into somebody that I allowed to turn me into somebody.
Kenrya: Because their advice was self-serving.
Erica: Exactly. So yeah-
Kenrya: Narcissist nigga.
Erica: Narcissist niggas. You're telling me I'm feeding my dog and making him fat.
Kenrya: There ain't much. Right. It's not benefiting him any.
Erica: My doggy is fat.
Kenrya: That's okay. He's a cutie pie. This is something that I've been actively working on. You tell me this all time. Sometimes I am defensive when people tell me things, and sometimes I just sound defensive because my general way of being is like, "What?" I've been working to better reflect how I actually feel about things with the way that it comes out of my mouth.
Kenrya: Yeah, and literally working with my therapist, so for me, that means taking a deep breath before I respond, smiling, because I had issues with this. I was like, "I don't want to be fake." I'm trying to make a fake face or whatever, and she was like, "But you don't feel defensive or upset, do you?" I was like, "No." She was like, "Well, the fact that your face and your voice makes it come across that way is the fake thing, so match up the way that you come across-
Erica: That's a good one.
Kenrya: ... with the way that you actually feel."
Erica: Your therapist is good.
Kenrya: Ain't she, though? That was a really good way for me to think about it because trying to smile through it and make my voice a little softer and all of those things just felt like I was shrinking myself because I had been in situations where I had to shrink to get by.
Erica: Where you were shrinking yourself.
Kenrya: Exactly. I had been working hard to, one, not be defensive, and then two, to not come across as defensive when I really am not, because sometimes I think I just come across that way because my voice is like, "What? What you want?"
Erica: I think in your mind it does, but it's not.
Kenrya: What do you mean?
Erica: In your mind, it comes off as, "What? What you want?" but it never [crosstalk 00:36:01].
Kenrya: Well, no, I think ... I've been told.
Erica: Well, I'm your friend and not a nigga, so I will-
Kenrya: This is true, so maybe it's a different ... Yeah. Yeah, it's not that way to me. Well, I do it sometimes in therapy and she be like, "Girl, all right. Just take a breath," so you know.
Erica: All right, so we punish niggas for the sins of other niggas, current niggas for the sins of past niggas.
Kenrya: Which is difficult and it's something Reggie does.
Erica: Yes. Yes. What do you think it is about Gus that cracks that shell for her? Because you can tell even in that scene, she wants it, but she wants to give you just enough, but not ... She wants to give Gus just enough, but not all.
Kenrya: I think she appreciates that he's direct, and I think she appreciates the way that he thinks and the way that he lets her in on the way that he thinks. Gus has autism and like I was saying earlier, he does puzzles and he looks at the world as a puzzle. That's his way of processing things and emotions because he feels like otherwise he may not actually see what everybody else can see in terms of how people react to things emotionally.
Erica: He touches on that in this excerpt where he refers to her as a puzzle and-
Kenrya: When he hears her speak, he literally will make that a piece of the puzzle, think back on other things that she said, select the thing that he feel ... Yeah, but then he talks through it, so I think so ... First of all, there's no real such thing as a typical brain.
Erica: Information helps.
Erica: Information helps reduce anxiety.
Kenrya: yes, exactly.
Erica: Let me know what you thinking. That's a lot of times what women are fighting in relationships like-
Kenrya: Things [crosstalk 00:38:05].
Erica: ... what are you thinking? Tell me what's going on. Tell me what you're thinking.
Kenrya: The basis of emotional intelligence is so much of it just opening up your fucking mouth and saying what's going on in your head, and he has no problem doing that, which seems counterintuitive because he says that he's difficult with emotional stuff, but she says it to him. She was like, "From where I sit, you're really good."
Erica: He's better the most.
Kenrya: She's like, "I'm not trying to discount what you're saying about the way that your brain works, but do a great job of overcoming that, so to speak, in the way that you communicate."
Erica: That's like a superhero power.
Kenrya: Yes, and I think that that's what ultimately, because she doesn't have to guess and because she sees him being so open and honest and direct about the way he feels, it pushes her to access her own emotions and communicate them better. Yeah.
Erica: Fuck giving out puzzle classes.
Kenrya: Yeah, it don't hurt that their sex is really good.
Erica: Pussy class.
Kenrya: They enjoy each other, so yeah. His voice already had her open. She just didn't want to admit it. Have you ever been opened just from somebody's voice?
Erica: Maybe not from the voice, but I am simple, so it could. Let me think about this, because maybe not from the voice, but I'm simple, so it's like-
Kenrya: I was in middle school and high school when a lot of what I was doing was just talking on the phone anyway.
Erica: Oh, you know what? Yep. Yep.
Kenrya: You just remembered a specific instance.
Erica: Yep. Yeah. Even now, because these days we don't talk on the phone, especially me, because I am not a phone talker.
Kenrya: Except with me.
Erica: I know. It's so fucked up because I would sit on the phone with Kenrya for hours and be like, "Girl, this third toe of mine. These green panties I wore." That is literally verbatim... But generally I'm not a phone talker, especially with men because it's like we ain't the fucking third grade. If you want to see me, let's make time to be in one another's company, and then we'll be in each other's company and we get to do love, kiss on each other, all of that, but outside of that, no.
Erica: For me, phone conversations now are getting letters in the mail. It's like a great treat like, "Huh, I actually enjoy sitting on the phone with you," so yeah. I definitely could see myself being open just off some voice, some phone conversations, because again, I'm simple.
Kenrya: I don't think that makes you simple.
Erica: You know how they be like, "Just give us shiny shit and she'll follow it"? That's me like, "Oh."
Kenrya: A magpie.
Erica: Oh, yeah. Oh, okay, that's great. All right, we going to be here.
Kenrya: That's funny.
Erica: I'm definitely a magpie when it comes to stuff like that, but I'm also thinking like I have ... Something in my shango, my shungo, my spirit-
Erica: Something in my spirit is telling me that I've been open for a nigga over some simple shit like he's got great hands or a watch or something like that, because something about some nice hands on a man, some clean nice hands and well-manicured-
Kenrya: That does it for?
Erica: I just be thinking like, "This nigga fingering my pussy." Again, I'm simple.
Kenrya: I like nice teeth.
Erica: I love good teeth.
Erica: Yeah, I'm so into teeth. My teeth are big.
Kenrya: Are they?
Erica: They're big, so teeth are very important to me because they're just so ... My teeth are big, so I'm always into everybody's mouth.
Kenrya: I got little tiny gremlin teeth. I just like nice smiles.
Erica: You got little baby teeth.
Kenrya: They some little baby teeth.
Erica: My sister has baby teeth, too, but yeah. I do like good teeth and not like Instagram teeth because everybody got good teeth these days.
Kenrya: Like real teeth like your teeth, but yeah.
Erica: Yeah, I did Invisalign this summer and I actually really love my ... They closed my gap just a smidge too much, but whatever. We'll deal, but I really like good natural teeth. Give me a bit of scruff to them.
Kenrya: Little variance?
Erica: Little variance. Don't give me those Instagram teeth. Now, I'm telling y'all when we blow up and we get the money and some doctor from Miami wants to come and give us some teeth, I'm not going to take them. Now, I might force them on somebody else just because it's some free shit-
Kenrya: I'm not. I'm good.
Erica: ... but yeah.
Kenrya: They may be something on the timeline.
Erica: Yeah, you know? Just you know?
Kenrya: You're not counting anything out. I like a nice smile and nice skin, but just like dark.
Erica: I don't want to say it's a fetish. I love dark skin just like beautiful ... Dark-skinned women-
Kenrya: Oh, my God. It's everything.
Erica: I'll be like, "Put some oil on." You know what I think did it for me?
Erica: “Belly.” Oh, my God.
Erica: What is that chick's name, girl?
Kenrya: Tamara, ain't that her name?
Kenrya: Well, that's her name in the movie, yes.
Erica: Oh. Yeah, just like-
Kenrya: Baby oil with that blue light. Best part of the whole fucking movie.
Erica: The thing is I feel like women are beautiful. I feel like God was in His bag when He made-
Kenrya: When He made Black women.
Erica: He was like, "We made a Black one." He was like, "Throw some hips on that bitch or not."
Kenrya: Good either way.
Erica: I was talking to this guy because we were talking about doing a threesome, and he was like, "What kind of woman do you like?" I was like, "I like women that look like me." I like just a-
Kenrya: A Black ass woman.
Erica: First, logistics. I'm not against a weave. However, I want to be able to touch and feel and pull and all that, so I don't want to feel like...
Kenrya: Or her shit just need to be extra secure.
Erica: Because as a woman, I know the-
Kenrya: Anxiety of it?
Erica: ... the logistics in obtaining a weave, and so I be like ... I just like great skin. Oh. Dark skin, oh. We went somewhere and there was this dark-skinned. I literally followed her around like a puppy like, "Hey."
Erica: It wasn't like a sex club. It was like we were at a bar or something and I was just like, "Hey, girl. You want to be my friend? You just real pretty." Kenrya, I'm sorry, you are not a fetish.
Kenrya: I know. As I sit here with my gorgeous skin.
Erica: Yeah, I'm looking at her like, "Oh, she probably thinks I picked her as a best friend as a fetish." You are fucking gorgeous and I did not, and I don't have dreams about doing it to you.
Kenrya: That's good. Appreciate it.
Erica: Whatever. Our homeboy, Gus, scared the shit out of our homegirl, Reggie.
Erica: When he said, "I love you."
Kenrya: Oh. Oh. What are you doing, Erica?
Erica: Because he said it and it was just like ...
Kenrya: He said the light in her eyes changed.
Erica: It was like, "Wait, what? What the fuck?" We touched on this recently about saying I love you. It is well established that I will say that shit if I'm feeling it. It comes out like a fart like, "I love you," because to me, there's no like ... I do, so I'm going to tell you so you have that information. What about you, Kenrya?
Kenrya: As we've already established, that is more difficult for me.
Erica: Has it always been difficult?
Erica: Or it is more difficult now that you're more aware and a thinker and with someone that you do love and-
Kenrya: It's always been more difficult.
Erica: But is it more difficult with him? Was it more difficult? Did you feel like it was more higher stakes or-
Erica: ... it was more genuine or something like that?
Kenrya: It definitely felt like higher stakes because the love feels different, so you know? I finally I have said those words.
Erica: Da, da, da.
Kenrya: Yes, and it's just a different situation. If somebody were to ask me if I had ever been in love before, I would say yes, but I would also make the analogy of it's like if you only ever had soy, ice milk, something that-
Kenrya: ... you thought was ice cream. You know what I mean? All these years, you was eating it and it was fine. It was soy milk ice cream. It's the only thing you ever had. It's what you had in your family.
Erica: It's like when people go to France. Niggas drink wine here and then they go to France to drink wine and be like-
Kenrya: I don't like wine, but yes. Then one day you have full fat ... fucking the best ice cream anybody has ever had-
Erica: All the lactose-
Kenrya: ... with all the lactose-
Erica: ... to lock up your guts.
Kenrya: ... whole milk, all of that, and then you're like, "Oh, that's what love feels like."
Erica: It's like, "I only thought love was ROYGBIV, but now it is the whole Panettone wheel."
Kenrya: Pantone, yes.
Erica: I'm thinking of the bread.
Kenrya: No, isn't it-
Erica: Isn't there an Italian bread that's a Panettone?
Kenrya: I don't know.
Erica: Panna cotta. The big bread with all the ... Whatever. Anyway.
Kenrya: I thought panna cotta was more like a gushy-
Kenrya: ... like a dessert situation like a flan.
Erica: Hey, Siri, what's that Italian bread name?
Kenrya: That's not going to do it. She don't know.
Siri: Here's what I found.
Kenrya: What's that voice on your Siri?
Erica: I have a man because I need a man to be doing the labor for me.
Kenrya: I love it. Siri is disabled on my phone. I don't fuck with her.
Erica: I don't do the, “Hey Siri,” only because I know too many Sarahs and Sherrys and that kind of shit.
Kenrya: We talking about somebody and then they called them?
Erica: Panettone, P-A-N-E-T-T-O-N-E, Italian Christmas bread. My child don't do shit with his phone. Everything is through Siri.
Kenrya: Oh, wow.
Erica: I said, "Hey, kid." It's the holidays and weekends, so I'm like, "Hey, kid, you can stay up till midnight."
Kenrya: Oh, shit.
Erica: Set an alarm, because then he sleep later in the day. I'm like, "Hey, kid, set an alarm so you go to bed at midnight because my ass going to be asleep at 9:00."
Kenrya: Long asleep.
Erica: He's like, "Okay," and then he was like, "Hey, Siri, set an alarm."
Kenrya: Mine does the same thing.
Erica: Okay, so that was before they got it from one another.
Kenrya: I just have it on my phone as one of the things you can flip up so I can press it and be here real quick. I thought I was doing something, but she be like, "Yeah, hey, Siri. Set a timer for 30 minutes." Like if she's got 30 minutes of reading time that she has to do, she just tells Siri to set it for her. She don't touch it.
Kenrya: Must be cool.
Erica: They living lives that we couldn't, but-
Kenrya: Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Erica: Well, yeah. He's gotten better at it because I do like you got 30 minutes of reading time, so then he'll come and be like, "I've been reading for 30 minutes."
Kenrya: Did you not set a fucking timer?
Erica: Well, I can tell you that right now you need to start reading and 30 minutes from now, you know what? I'll give you five minute credit.
Kenrya: Set a motherfucking timer next time.
Erica: Then he be in there enjoying for like an hour. That's not my thing.
Erica: It's your responsibility to keep up with that joint.
Kenrya: That's right.
Erica: They living wild. Okay, we got all off.
Kenrya: We did. It's fine.
Erica: All off. We've established that it's difficult, but you're seeing full range of color.
Kenrya: Spectrum, yes. It's pretty cool.
Erica: Have you ever been surprised by someone telling you that they love you?
Kenrya: Yes. Well, kind of.
Erica: Story time, story time, story time.
Kenrya: It's a very short story. There was this dude who I was seeing years ago when I was seeing him. He was my boyfriend, and I got waxed for the first time, so it was sugaring. In hindsight, I don't do that shit no more.
Erica: Sugaring is very different. Sugaring is the equivalent of taking-
Kenrya: That shit hurt.
Erica: ... a ball of tape-
Kenrya: And just sticking it.
Erica: ... and just over and over.
Kenrya: I ain't know and that shit hurt like hell, but anyway, I got sugar. I think it was my birthday and I was going to introduce him to some newly shorn pussy. Go over there, we having sex, he sees it, he's super surprised. He says, "Oh, I fucking love you," and I was like ... On one hand, I'm like, "Does he actually love me and this is just when he said it, or does he just love the-"
Erica: The fact that I gave some fresh pussy?
Kenrya: Right, right. I wasn't quite sure, so then I said it ... Maybe a few weeks later, I said it back because I didn't say anything in that moment. I just kept fucking and it just was awkward, and yeah. I don't know what this means. I don't know what to do. Yeah, so that was surprising.
Erica: I'm trying to think if I had anyone tell me and it surprised me. No, I don't think so.
Kenrya: Have you always felt it already?
Erica: Yeah, and I mean how could you not love a bitch?
Kenrya: In that situation, I did love him, but again, it's hard for me to say it, so I hadn't said it anyway. Saying it first is not my bag.
Erica: I don't think I'm always the first one to say it, or you know what? I probably am, but I definitely don't say it with the expectation that-
Kenrya: Right, which makes all the difference.
Erica: ... I don't do it like, "I love you."
Kenrya: Right. I'm going to sit here and stare at you with crazy eyes until you say it back.
Erica: Yeah, so you tell me. Sorry, that's what I was doing, but y'all can't see.
Kenrya: Yes, I figured I'd narrate a little.
Erica: At one point, we'll put some cameras down here.
Kenrya: Well, we are definitely in our pajamas and this is how we prefer to record.
Erica: I can do the luchador mask. Yes, or something. I might have a mask like that.
Kenrya: But I don't want to put on any clothes.
Kenrya: I don't want to put on clothes.
Erica: I mean shit. We might get more views without them. Yeah, every time it's been said to me, I feel like it's on its way.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's not willy nilly like you're just handing it out.
Erica: Yeah, I don't just be slanging them out willy nilly, but at the same time, if I feel it, I'm going to tell you, and you probably have felt it because at some point, I've probably shown it in some respect. Again, this is Erica. You going to love all of this. I had somebody tell me, "I love you." I'm like, "About fucking time you realized that I was the best thing in your life."
Kenrya: Or like my kid when you tell them that something she did was cool, "I know."
Erica: I know.
Kenrya: I'm like, "All right. Keep that confidence."
Erica: Please do.
Kenrya: I like it.
Erica: Okay. Well, this wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On.
Kenrya: It does.
Erica: This is your host, Erica, and your host ...
Erica: Two hoes making it clap.
Kenrya: Making it clap.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all. Send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com, and please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. Follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and find links to our books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at theturnonpodcast.com. Remember, The Turn On is now part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more shows you'll love at Frolic.media/podcast. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.