It is always very impressive when a startup company, especially in the dog-eat-dog world of New York City, is able to exponentially expand and grow in a very short time. Even better is when the company’s concept and mission is so unbelievably fantastic that you really have a hard time believing that someone hasn’t snatched up this idea before. This time around, the company at hand that has done all of this is Manhattan based SELECT, which is an amazing service that makes you, the customer, feel VIP all the way with them connecting you to the best of the best in lifestyle in the greatest city in the world and beyond.
When one thinks of words like fabulous, outgoing, exuberance and fashionable. you would tend to believe that the person having those attributes are ones desired to be inspired by. All of those and so much more can be attained to the fantastic star of “Real Housewives Of Miami” and now author Lea Black. As a fan of the Housewives, especially Miami, I was always captivated by Lea’s beauty, upfront honesty, humor and so much more which made her time on the show positively radiant in so many different ways. I have a huge amount of respect for her as she truly is a workhorse is many facets of her life- as a businesswoman, a mother, a wife, humanitarian, etc. You name it she’s done it, and just recently she was able to add onto her already plentiful resume- author.
Lea wrote an amazing book called “Red Carpets & White Lies”, a fictional novel about a Miami Socialite named Leigh Anatole White who goes through the ringer when planning her 10th and final year at the Annual Charity Ball, which is a star-studded event for troubled teens. Sounds kind of familiar right? (if you watched RHOM) The book is getting a ton of amazing reviews from New York Times Bestselling authors, readers on Amazon and yours truly. It is a fun, whimsical look on Miami’s social life and has a lot of characters, fun and drama to keep you on the edge of your seat. Definitely a fab summer reading if I must say so myself.
I was lucky enough to meet and interview Miss Lea Black last week when she did a book signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Union Square. Poised, politeful and perky in the best way possible, Lea talked more about her book at hand, her experience with the Real Housewives, and more. Take a look.
Thanks for sitting down with me Lea! You have so many facets of your career so far and now you are adding author. What made you want to go this route?
Fun and a guilty pleasure. I’ve always written poetry or lifestyle pieces for magazines, my leablackink.com blog, training manuals for sales teams, the Huffington Post political pieces, etc. So it is something I love to do, it’s an escape and it comes natural to me.
The book is fiction based, however most of the Real Housewives that have done books before have been memoirs, not fictional novels. What made you want to switch things up and stick with fiction?
It’s more fun. My first book was about about Inner and Outer Beauty, beauty from within. I decided this one would just be a fantasy, fun, easy read, scandalous novel.
Would you ever consider writing a memoir?
No. Because my life is pretty much an open book but the people I interact with for the most part prefer to be private. I know it’s hard to believe, lol, but not everyone wants to be on Facebook!
How did you come up with the title for “Red Carpets & White Lies”?
I went through different types of titles: “Shameless in Miami” types, then the glamour types, and then realized that “Red Carpets and White Lies” paints a backdrop and leaves the picture to the imagination. It is inviting, don’t you think?
Is the character loosely based on your life? This all seems familiar based off what I saw on Real Housewives.
Parts of it are – maybe the underlying backdrop of experiences and personality traits but the storyline is completely fiction. The driven, self motivated, get things done part, I can certainly identify with. And of course, the betrayals are familiar territory too! Lol.
Could you see the character of Leigh on a TV series, or even better a movie?
Yes, both. And several people in the industry have mentioned it to me. Someone even mentioned a Broadway Play. For me it was so much fun, if it just turns out it was a hobby – I laughed so much writing it that I can’t ask for more. It’s quite sarcastic too.
Any plans on a sequel for the novel?
Yes – I have a spin-off character already in the works. A very strong character who gets what she asks for but what she had in mind – is quite a different outcome. This one is gonna hit a lot of people close to home and have a lot of raw meat for fodder in it. Can’t wait to see who people “guess or think” the characters are! I’m having a ball just thinking about squeezing the juice out of some of these lemons! Lol.
A lot of people know you from Real Housewives of course. What was your overall experience on that show? Would you ever consider joining the cast in another city?
I have fun when I do it and I do not miss it when I don’t. And I would be open minded about another city if I had a real connection to the girls. But you know Bravo doesn’t really do the cross-over thing much. Not sure some of those cities are ready for a hurricane from Miami to hit!
Outside of the show and novel, what else do you have going on that would be of interest to fans and readers alike?
The charity for 20 plus years. Omg! Really? I can’t believe it. Whew! My LeaBlackBeauty.com line of jewelry and skin care products (over 400 products). SuddenYouth.com an amazing non-surgical face lift lit in a box that shows results in twenty minutes. I created Sudden Youth in the mid ’80’s and I’ve never demonstrated it on a customer that didn’t see immediate results. LeaBlackHandbags.com, an exquisite line of after five handbags starting at about $100 that will rock any outfit with classic chic pieces. And of course my blog LeaBlackInk.com, that’s a little bit of everything to pop culture to lifestlyle, beauty tips, personal growth, entertainment – it has it all. And because I spend about half my time in Los Angeles in our West Hollywood Hills home – i have a full life of fabulousness there! I love my life. I created it so I don’t get to complain. I pinch myself and give thanks everyday!
Anything you want to add?
Yes, I am loving my book tour, next stop, Book Soup, West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, Thursday, June 4th at 7 pm for more information email [email protected]. This is going to be a star studded packed house of fun and fabulous LA guests, and many of my West coast friends. Then it will be party time as summer begins, no school for my son and our schedule will be foot loose and fancy free! Did I mention how much I love my life?
Let’s be honest…it’s hard to feel sorry for Justin Bieber. At just nineteen years old, the kid is a multimillionaire with a collection of hit records, fast cars, and even faster girls who probably weren’t even born until the late 90’s. Plucked from the abyss of Youtube and cast into superstardom at only fourteen years old, it seems that “the Biebs” never had to work a real day in his life.
While I worked making minimum wage as a hostess at a chain restaurant, and as a bagger at a grocery store, Justin Bieber spent his high school years traveling on private jets, touring the world, and attending a surplus of award shows. So after months of reading about his questionable behavior, including peeing in a janitor’s bucket, badmouthing President Clinton, and allegedly throwing eggs at a neighbor’s home, I may have shaken my head and rolled my eyes just a little bit when the news broke early Thursday morning of Bieber’s DUI, speeding, and subsequent arrest in Miami. According to the Miami Beach Police Department, Bieber admitted to smoking marijuana and having a beer earlier in the day, as well as using prescription anti-depressants. He was pulled over while speeding in a rented Lamborghini, which he may have been using to drag race at the time. It seems difficult to understand why it is that he would risk wasting all that he has by doing such asinine things.
But after thinking to myself just how unsurprised I actually was by the situation, I began emoting a feeling toward the Biebs that I myself couldn’t even “Believe” (see what I did there?). I began feeling sorry for him.
When I was a nineteen-year-old college student, I may or may not have done a lot of stupid things (Sorry Mom!). But the worst of my public ridicule came from the occasional posted Facebook picture.
At an age where curiosity, growth, and exploration go together like Justin Bieber, pop music, and a thousand screaming thirteen year old girls, its damn near impossible not to make mistakes. After all, this is how kids grow. However, the difference between Bieber and myself, is that I had routine, normalcy, a limited bank account, the support of family and genuine friends who chose to be around me for the sake of guiding me and loving me (not for my checkbook or for their fifteen minutes). I also had parents who would kick my butt into shape when I messed up. I wasn’t constantly praised and given things that I didn’t necessarily deserve. I was informed when I was wrong.
My time was spent with people my own age, and I didn’t have men and women thrice my age on my bankroll. The worst thing I had to worry about at nineteen was whether I failed an exam or if the guy across the dorm hall liked me. I didn’t have grown men depending upon my success to feed their families. And I certainly didn’t have the pressure to be perfect. Any pressure I felt to portray a certain image came solely from myself.
It’s easy enough to judge Bieber, but could it be possible that he was set up to fail all along? After all, this pattern of behavior and the accompanying destruction of child stars is nothing new. Justin Bieber is certainly not the first former child star to undertake a path of ruin, and unfortunately will not be the last. From Drew Barrymore to Lindsay Lohan to Leif Garrett, it seems all but uncommon for child stars — given more freedom, fame, and money than they know what to do with — to act out and self-destruct. The important thing that allows us to learn from our mistakes is the fact that we are forced to fix what we have done wrong – to clean up our own mess. But when we allow others, from the time that they are young, to act out without consequences they often learn no boundaries or lessons and continue on a path of entitlement and disregard for others.
This is not to say that Bieber shouldn’t be held accountable for his own behavior. He is old enough to know better and he should face the consequences of his actions. But the excess that child stars are given, combined with the pressure to fit a certain mold before they even know who they are, is a timeless recipe for disaster; expecting anything else from such a situation would be naïve. It takes an extremely grounded kid with a strong support system to bypass all that comes with being a child star. But Justin Bieber is no longer a child. And therefore should no longer be treated as such. His behavior can no longer be explained away as growing pains or a product of being young.
I can only hope that Beiber’s longtime manager, Scooter Braun, shares the idea of a little tough love. He took to Twitter early Friday morning to comment on the arrest:
“@justinbeiber love you and I will act in the manner of someone who truly cares. That is all I have to say. Thanks for all those concerned. Been a long day. Bottom line is we are defined by how we handle adversity. Be there when it counts. Love fully in good times and bad.”
Hopefully this incident was an eye opener for Bieber’s team. Unfortunately it appears that Bieber has failed to learn from his recent mistakes, gallivanting about Miami with his father, and comparing a picture of himself after being released from prison to a picture of Michael Jackson after his arraignment for child molestation charges in 2004 by posting the photos side by side on his Instagram account.
On Friday Bieber opened up about his arrest for the first time, tweeting:
“YOU ARE ALL WORTHY NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS >> BE STRONG GOD IS WITH US ALL> MY BELIEBERS CHANGED MY LIFE> I WILL FOREVER BE GRATEFUL”
While it’s clear that child stars seem destined to implode, unfortunately I don’t have a solution. Kids are one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood. The harsh truth is that there will be thousands more Justin Beibers to come. But as a society I suggest that we examine where some of this disappointment really belongs: on the adults in these celebrities’ lives who care more about their “product’s” image and their wallets than that child’s personal well-being. They, along with his family, should be the ones teaching him what is and is not acceptable. But regardless of their failed responsibility to raise Bieber to do the right thing, Bieber needs to grow up and learn to be the role model he undoubtedly is for many kids the world over. Let’s hope that an impressionable young generation, searching for someone to emulate has elsewhere to look.
I have been a fan of the Modern Bear guys for quite sometime, when I stumbled upon their website through a photo my friend shared not of a hot bear, but of a particular “modern” design photo that I had a similar interest to. My thought process here was, “Finally! A bear page not 100 percent devoted to shirtless men. There is thought behind this!” And that is what the Modern Bear message is truly about. They equate it to the following- Modern Design + Bears + Retro + Beefcake= THE MODERN BEAR! Travis Smith and Chris Bale, who are based out of Palm Springs, California, visited the Urban Bear festival a couple of weeks back and I got the opportunity to talk with them about a variety of things they have going on currently. Something I definitely wanted to mention was their fantastic new book called “Guide For The Modern Bear”, where they visited a variety of cities and found where is the best places to eat, shop and bar hop for the everyday MB (Modern Bear). Take a look.
So Travis, how did this whole “Modern Bear” thing start for you guys?
It’s a combination of starting it three years ago, so that was a really good time to be starting a good commercial Facebook page anyway. It was an experiment for us, a petri dish if you will, to see if anybody was interested in a “Modern Bear” concept and our formula of modern design plus bears plus retro plus beefcake. Those are the things we like. It was a free way to put it out there, and see if there was any interest in that concept and then determine if we should go further with it and produce a book and all the other things we ended up producing. There wasn’t an immediate response to it, but I would say in the last six months we added 5,000 people. It took us the past three years to get to 25,000 fans overall.
What is that increase in fans attributed to?
I think the bear thing is going mainstream, we are kind of last to become part of this trend thing. I think you will be seeing a lot more bears popping up in movies and television. Like Anne Hathaway’s best friend role in her next movie will go to a bear. It’s starting to happen. That’s one of our goals is to get a TV deal, but doing the book first is the perfect baby step for us because by processing and writing the book it also helped formulate what Modern Bear was going to be as a commercial entity.
Tell me about the book you just released.
What we love about the book and how it turned out is how accessible it is. A lot of straight people buy our book. Wives and girlfriends approach us and say “What is my boyfriend? Is he an otter? A wolf? WHAT IS HE!” It’s hysterical. It’s really funny when the book is at shelves, children gravitate toward it because it’s really cute looking of course. The shop owner usually has to explain to parents what it really is about, and sometimes they even buy it.
Chris, tell me more.
Well, the book is a hybrid. It’s a guide to all the different characters in the bear world. You got your straight up bears, you got your muscle bears, cubs, wolf like me. We are going to do this book every year and update it like so. Each of these characters right now lives in a different city and talk about the bear bars, a few places to eat both fancy and low brow, you know for the bears who want their diner food. The Modern part is mid-century modern furnishing and the stores in each place. So you got Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Barcelona and London to name a few. In the future we are going to have Vancouver and Phoenix which is actually where this whole thing started.
As an avid New Yorker would you say it is the best place to eat from your research?
Well, we did ELMO which is the best Mac N Cheese in town. Let me refer to the book actually! The Breslin is really good. That is this amazing restaurant in the ACE hotel. The Shake Shack is amazing, and Westville is my favorite place for Breakfast. We had a super cute experience at Kitchen last night. We had comfort food like Fondue which was yummy.
What are you ultimately hopeful for?
Well, we’ve always joked about being Beartha Stewart. We are two bears, a bear and a wolf, that are into design and into hot men and bringing those two worlds together in any which way we can.
On top of being incredibly friendly and sexy guys, they are also very down to earth and have a great message to share not only to the bear community but straight women and beyond. For more information on The Modern Bear guys and their story, check out their Facebook, Twitter and to shop for the book and anything else log on to their main site here.