Sunday Febuary 12 was a normal morning for me, lounging in bed, watching history documentaries and munching on pastries,a usual Sunday. My BFF called me and stated that Whitney Houston was dead,in which I replied, “Twitter is always killing celebs, she will be resurrected on Monday, I assure you”. I said this with chuckle that was met with an eerie silence on the other end of the line. “Seaki, she is really dead, turn on your television”. I slightly remember dropping the phone, and rushing toward my flatscreen, a small panic in the pit of my stomach formed as I channeled surf to the nearest news channel. Sure enough, the Whitney Houston was dead, at 48. A part of me wanted this to be the first “Twitter Death” to get headlines, and I imagined immediately that Twitter would have to issue an apology to Ms Houston, maybe get sued, but something I cant explain, knew that this headline was real. Whitney was no longer with us. Whitney and I go way back, to the beginning of my young, pre-teen years. This was a time in my life that was ravaged by emotional and physical abuse at the hands of a family member, where I often sought solace in the only way I could, through music. Whitney burst on the scene, with “You Give Good Love” in February 1985, and I was spellbound. I hadn’t seen the video yet, as I was not allowed to watch television, but I remember buying her whole album on cassette. The abuse was particularly difficult that year, as I was beginning to mature,and question why I was being treated in such a way, so the emotional pain was even more substantial. On an occasion that was brutal, but equally beautiful in my life, I slipped in her cassette tape into my well-worn walkman. Battered,bruised,with welts and cuts over my arms,legs and stomach from the electric cord and belt, I listen to the smooth vocals of Whitney. “You Give Good Love” came on, and it was like the heavens opened up. For once in my life, I knew that I deserved to be treated with dignity and love, ” You Give Good Love” was therapy for me. I remember hearing this song one other time, while spending time with relatives. My young cousin placed the album on the turn table, and Whitney’s angelic voice filled the room. We were sitting in the dayroom, with the beautiful sunlight coming in from the skylight. I remember the sun shining on my face, feeling the warmth, and I simply cried. I cried, shedding tears and pain from places inside my soul that I did not know existed, Whitney’s music was the “vehicle” for my first release of pain and suffering. Music, throughout my life, has always been a spiritual experience. I rarely listen to artist that I cant “feel” on that intimate level between soul and emotions, and Whitney was ALWAYS in that realm.When I got excepted to Parsons School of Design in New York , I put on Whitney’s “One Moment In Time”, and listen to it so much, that my roommate actually asked me to not play it again. The song explained exactly how I felt at that moment, the horns and strings crescendoed as I read my acceptance letter, understanding that my dreams were coming finally coming true, a true victory in my life. While at college, I found ( rather it found me), an advantageous way to keep money in my pocket and buy art supplies, cover my end of tuition,I was “discovered” as a male model. I signed with Wilhelmina Models,and my life changed again, drastically to say the least. I worked primarily in Europe,as most American accounts did not know what to do with my “look”. I came on the scene of modeling, when the “All-American look” was just beginning. White models with chiseled features,light eyes,blonde or light colored hair were in great demand, while my darker , more exotic, mediterranean features seemed to risque for most catalog and editorial bookings. Still, with persistence, I managed to create a wonderful “book”, (3 actually), based on brand new photographers and up-an-coming stylist that did not mind “experimenting”. I had been everything from a sheik, with a luxurious backdrop that looked like a palace right out of Arabian Nights, to an androgynous starlet, discarded by the “Hollywood Machine”, these editorials were fun. It was not always that way, my first time in front of a camera was frightening, but again, Whitney was there to save the day. Listening to “Love Will Save The Day” was playing in the background, and I just so happen to have the cd. I popped her album into my cd walkman, and was transformed into a confident young man, able to be anything that was commanded of me, this would continue until I got rid of my “stage-fright”. I was a true, die-hard, hardcore fan of this immensely talented young lady, each album she would debut,would cement our “relationship” even more. Whitney has been with me from day one, with every accomplishment, every heartache,every emotional pain, she was there with her golden voice, to usher me into that new chapter of my life. To say that my heart is broken, is like saying the sun is bright, its just a fact. I wanted to explore issues of her substance abuse, how her stardom, may have enabled her addiction, etc. but that would seem hallow and false to me.
Whitney, you were there for me, at least in spirit, when no other human being seemed to care. Your gift has given me strength and dignity in situations that should have destroyed me as a human-being, but did not. I will always be grateful for your contribution to my life.