Marissa: “Back in 2002 I remember driving through the upscale area of Ladera Heights in Los Angeles while listening to the song by Missy Elliott called Hot Boyz . The song denoted men with Lexus jeeps and Benz jeeps and platinum Visas and bling. As I drove along the tree lined streets with the manicured lawns and million dollar plus homes, a man stepped to his Rolls Royce as his wife stood next to him offering a parting kiss. She then stepped to her brand new, golden Jaguar. I thought to myself, Hot Boyz would be a great title for a book about well to do black folks (or at least perceived to be well to do), and how interesting it would be to focus the story on three brothers, who on the outside, had money and fame and yes, the platinum Visas, yet they still had problems, faced challenges with race, their businesses, aging parents, growing teenagers, and yes, relationship issues.
And so, the book called Hot Boyz was born in 2004. My publisher, who in 2002 picked up my first title that I had originally self published, mentioned that we might need to change the title from Hot Boyz to something else – we tossed around Keep Up With the Joneses, Ladera Heights, heck I even suggested More Money More Problems, but we stuck to the original title. As the publication date approached, I came up with an idea for a Hot Boyz contest to promote the release. I contacted cruise lines, and health clubs, and fragrance companies, and stores in Ladera Heights, including Magic Johnson’s Starbucks and Fridays restaurant. They all donated prizes to the winner. And we advertised our search for the Hot Boyz contest, denoting men who have it going on, who cherish family, who work hard, who respect women, who explore their purpose, and who love themselves. We narrowed the search down to three men, who performed and were interviewed at my book launch. My dear author buddies Mary B. Morrison and Victoria Christopher Murray served as judges and narrowed it down to two men. The audience chose the winner by applause, and the winner, A.J. Mason was crowned. He decided that the best person to take on the cruise to Mexico was his father.
A.J. will always be the official Hot Boy, however, I stay mindful of the praise and appreciation that our men need – who are often misunderstood and in my opinion, under-appreciated for their worth, their strength, and their abilities. We as women have indeed become so liberated, that at times, men don’t feel needed or respected. I enjoy the terms king and queen, and I think we need to compliment our men and refer to them as kings. Surely, their actions demonstrate much more than what they say, yet we as women can surely focus on what we say as well.
As my MS page has grown in popularity, I have connected with so many awesome men and women. Last June, I decided to choose 28 men who were selected as Hot Boyz for the month of July. The appreciation expressed by these men was astounding. The men who were chosen sent messages my way expressing how grateful and honored they were. Some said it was perfect timing, as they were in need of a pat on the back. And now for the month of August, we have men who are serving in Iraq, ministers, models, men who have survived shootings and turned their lives around, men who have fought for custody of their children, revolutionaries, and men whose heroes are their grandmothers. Most are college graduates, but not all, some have masters degrees, but not all, we have jazz musicians, one is a talented fellow author, some are athletes, actors, business owners and more. And I joke about how it helps that they are guy candy, as I consider all of them to be good looking in different ways, but I wanted to offer a small gesture that was in line with my best selling book thus far, the Hot Boyz. This is no sure for cancer, but it is my small way of having fun on my page, and as Angie Stone says in the song Brotha (which is the song I use to serenade these men), these are our kings, our fathers, our sons and we need to remind them to stay strong and express how proud we are of our men. I am here because of a brotha, and I have raised two brothas.
Along the same line, we women, with all of our strengths and gifts and talents and responsibilities, deserve to be acknowledged as well. And so for August, I will honor 28 Hot Girlz! I’ve already received nominations for that round. Just having fun and loving what I do for a living. And in my opinion MS has been a valuable tool for authors to reach out to other writers, as well as reach out to our cherished and loyal readers. More “hot” drama to come . . . ”
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