Issue No.2 August 12, 2000

IGNITE ~ Live Life Today
HOT GIRLZ ~ Sarah Jones & Liza Colon-Zayas
ISM ~Vagina Monologues, Black Girl In Paris, &
ESOTERIC ~ Blood Pressure In Black Women
CHICA TO CHICA ~ Knowing Your Self-Worth


intro and overview

It’s been a minute, but theHotness is still the kicking, red-hot cyber-media-baby it was three months ago. However in April, the Hot Girl In Charge, found herself in the hospital for two weeks and in major recovery mode for the following month. I was not prepared at all, to be as sick and as vulnerable as I was. Just a word to the wise, be good to yourself and work on your dreams and desires now. I had these ideas for theHotness, dreaming of creating my own interactive magazine for women of color, but there I was lying in my hospital bed and all I could do was wonder how much time had I wasted working on projects that were not fulfilling or the least bit challenging. This was a turning point in my life and it definitely signaled a time for change. In a matter of five days my priorities went from wanting to check-out Wyclef’s show, to wanting to be released from the hospital. I am blessed to have such caring and passionate friends and family in my corner. Remember, make the time to take care of yourselves and handle your business today, because the expression, “if I should die before I wake” is very real and very possible.

Nicole Moore, Editor


inspired, creative and groundbreaking


Sarah Jones
by Isisara Bey

The house lights are dimmed, the audience expectantly shifts in their seats. Ms. Lady appears in the back of the house and slowly makes her way to the stage. Her eyes glowering coals, feet shuffling in worn down, blue house shoes. "Yawl think you betta than Ms. Lady, huh, but you jess the same as me," she shouts, pointing an accusing finger at the crowd.

Like a packed rush hour subway car, the panoply of characters inside the mind of performance artist Sarah Jones, crowd her being, yet remain distinct and independent. They are wedging into seats, clinging to bars, mashed against doors, squeezing past protruding back packs and stumbling over brief cases lost in the tangle of legs and feet. They are declaring their right to space, breath and respect. Each one a world unto herself within the swirling, wrenching, comical, mystically mad human drama called Life.

Ms. Lady is but one of the characters in Sarah's first show, “Surface Transit”. We clock Sarah’s journey through the lives of eight New York City characters by their change of clothes on a darkened stage, and her dead-on mutation of voice and accent in the microphone.

In her more recent show, “Women Can’t Wait,” a commissioned work for the international advocacy group, Equality Now, Sarah further refines her character changes into seamless transitions by the mere re-arrangement of a gossamer scarf. First it is an Indian sari, then a Spanish mother’s shawl, next it’s Muslim purdah, then a Kenyan child’s doll. With Sarah, a fluid, flowing, prop accessory transforms into an experience for a particular culture-- for a specific woman.

These performances uphold the grand tradition of one-woman shows. A moment on the stage where someone of singular talent transforms herself time and again into a pageant of personalities, replete with longings and loves, hopes and fears, quirks and tics. They are people we may know. Folks we have seen on the street, at work, or in our families. So familiar in fact, that in the end, they remind us of ourselves. And they should. Sarah says she creates them from composites of real people-- relatives, friends, people from her childhood - blended with experiences she has had or something she has read, to resonate with her sense of self and what needs to be said.

"Using my voice," as she calls it, is vital for the dread-locked Baltimore native. It’s part of the power of performance that fascinates her most. She speaks about racism, sexism, classcism, and internationalism in ways that are intimate, humorous, colorful, confronting. Grand, global issues rooted in very human connections.

It was the conversations with a homeless woman living in a New York City subway station that inspired the character, Ms. Lady. Piecing together remnants of her life story between the woman’s periodic flights from lucidity, Sarah was able to create a portrait of searing insight and bracing wit. Representative of the grace and serenity of someone who has seen too much of life, yet not enough to be cynical, despite her reduced circumstances. Sarah knows these characters intuitively and respects them resolutely: "I can feel it immediately when I am not being true to them, or when they are not being true to themselves." They are her heroes. More than any famous name on the world stage, she sees them as the true shining lights of every day life.

As an actress, her choices for characters are singularly perceptive and highly nuanced. They are extremely well fleshed-out: from Lorraine, the Jewish grandmother's hacking cough and constant eyeglass adjustments; and the Italian cop's squared shoulder swagger and fishmouth expression; to the black Londoner Sugar Jones' poignantly insecure laugh. Part of Sarah’s skill as an actress is that we never see her. She virtually disappears into the person she is portraying. "It’s easy to spend lots of time on characters I don't think are like me, she whispers to protect her laryngitis affected voice. "Fortunately,” she continues, " I have found that being with my family is a dependably consistent way for me to feel like myself again. With them it's no voices, no costumes, no hiding."

Much has been made, by the media, of Sarah’s multi-ethnic origins, (her father, African-American and her mother, European-Caribbean), and of her years at the United Nations International School. As a goof, she would call the principal’s office from the student lounge, imitating the various foreign accents of her friends’ mothers in a series of creative lies to cover a day off hooking school. (The pay phone was removed from the lounge when the ruse was discovered.)

In this age of almost rabid multi-culturalism, talk of her race may be a way for white reviewers to accept her work and to understand how a Black woman can speak so authentically in the voice of a Southern white supremacist, a Russian maid, an Indian activist, and a Boricua round-the-way girl. On the other hand, with great reviews, sold-out shows and mad love from the likes of Gloria Steinem and Lauryn Hill to boot, Sarah still wishes that there were more black and brown folks checking out her shows. She reveals, "The other night in the show I mentioned something about BET (Black Entertainment Television), and someone told me the two white folks near them whispered, 'What's BET?' Times like that I miss seeing my people in the audience."

Someday soon, singing will be added to her arsenal of talents. Collaborations with other distinctive artists are another goal. And we will undoubtedly see more of Sarah in films and on television, beginning in the Fall with her appearance in Spike Lee’s next flick, “Bamboozeled”.

Many other artists have risen to stardom from a pin spot on a darkened stage. That is in her future, to be sure. But the connection to earthiness, to real people will remain. After all, she is still the product of the corner cafes, poetry slams, college tours, and free prison and recreation center performances she has given in cities across the country. Ultimately, as Sarah reminds us, " I'll always be the same little girl who used to sing into a hairbrush in the bathtub."

~ Isisara Bey is the Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at Sony Music where she redefines ‘drama in the workplace’ by inviting artists to perform as part of Sony’s monthly symposiums.


Liza Colon-Zayas

Nothing against Jennifer Lopez, but Liza Colon-Zayas is not feeling her ritmo nor is the least bit fascinated by her Loreal blond-streaked coif and big booty. You see Liza lives for boriquenas like herself—streetwise, tough, fiery and loyal. These women love hard, work hard, play hard and know that all the girls around the way have those same derrieres.

In her one woman show, “Sistah Supreme,” the 30-something, Bronx native brings these Latinas centerstage in a semi-autobiographical journey that cuts close to the bone with issues of internalized racism and sashays freely with the innocent, ambitious dreams of the protagonist—Nena (Liza). “Sistah Supreme” is as much about any young Black, Asian or Latina city-girl coming of age in the 70’s and 80’s, wanting to be “una mujer completa.”

Sistah Supreme melds Tito Puente with George Clinton and fuses arroz con gandules with Bodega-front acid trips. Like Langston Hughes’ ‘a dream deferred,’ Liza creates ‘flying dreams’ for Nena to escape the hardship of being a morena in a Pre-Rosie Perez world.

Liza is a member of LAByrinth Theatre Co. where she has just returned from her second European tour of “The Story of a Soldier.” She has appeared in New York Undercover and “The Keeper”. In her spare time she works in inner city schools, shelters and drug rehabilitation programs as an actor/ teacher and group facilitator. We caught up with Liza at her Lower East Side home on her day-off from “Sistah Supreme”:

theHotness: Describe growing-up in a house full of Latina women:

Liza Colon-Zayas: Well, I was basically raised by women—my sisters, my aunt, and my grandmother. The women had to be strong. They were the ones present in the household. Traditionally women did not live alone. When you left (home) you went to live with your husband. And even when my mother got married they moved out, but when she was pregnant my parents insisted that her and her husband move back home with them. I remember there being a strong sense of controlling women’s lives. My mom and her mom were raised to be submissive—to make children and to keep the home comfortable for their husbands.

tH: Most women in your show were anxious, angry and frustrated as a result of the men in their lives or the lack of men in their lives. So how is it that there is even a sistah supreme for you?

LCZ: Well I would not say (the pain) is because of men so much as it is about loving ourselves and of having a knowledge of self. The society that we live in told us we weren’t beautiful unless we assimilated or changed and diminished as much of our ethnicity as possible. I mean on my birth certificate it read ‘white’ and my cousins had to wear clothespins on their noses. It was crazy. We would be on vacation in Puerto Rico and they would tell us not to sit out in the sun. C’mon, we were in Puerto Rico for goodness sake! Then as a female you are a second class citizen. It wasn’t until I discovered my history and got my education that I felt empowered. When I went away to school I stopped denying my differences and had a conscious raising experience. Racially I am African. Ethnically I am Puerto Rican. And that was that.

tH: So do you believe that if women knew more about our history and ourselves, the less problems we would have?

LCZ: If (we) weren’t robbed of (our) history, then (we) wouldn’t feel like (we) were nothing. Originally in “Sistah Supreme,” Nena’s mother was putting down the Muslim women on the bus for changing their names to African-sounding names like Shaniqua-Malika-Sistah-Supreme, saying “ain’t no man worth it!” When in fact she was just as emotionally oppressed as they were when she married a man who loved his liquor more than he loved her.

tH: Now ain’t no man worth that!

~ N. Moore




music, books, film, tv and websites


Vagina Monologues

If your vagina could talk, what would she say? Would she scream, ‘Waassuuup’? Or is she the silent type? First let's take a step back and acknowledge that there's this part of the body women possess called a vagina. (With the exception of my gynecologist, most folks tend to refer to the vagina by one of her many nicknames—Na-Na, Coochie, Nappy Dug-Out, and the universal favorite, Pussy.) Take a deep breath, strengthen those muscles with a Kegel or two, and feel that energy. We need to harness this power and be aware of the many talents our vaginas possess. If you think about it, she is the end all, be all. She brings forth life, is adaptable to men’s variances, a champion of seduction, and our best kept secret.

According to Eve Ensler's play, “The Vagina Monologues,” (based on her book of the same name), we must demand the recognition it deserves for being such an influential source. Playing at the Westside Theater in Manhattan, “The Vagina Monologues” is a celebration of vaginas presented in a most simple and elegant form: three actresses of diverse backgrounds and cultures, a couple of chairs, and about six bottles of water. Expect no song and dance, although you may find yourself singing the word cunt repeatedly with glee after all is said and done.

“The Vagina Monologues” was developed out of a concern that there was a pervasive feeling of shame and ignorance about vaginas, which was leading to increasing acts of violence against women. By encouraging a dialogue about vaginas with women and making it a part of the vernacular, Ensler is attempting to eradicate this embarrassment and recognize the “V” as an integral, awesome part of the female body, as well as our culture.

With all this empowering rah-rah talk about vaginas, there must be a few men experiencing some ‘vagina envy’ (you want one or you want to be in one). I urge you to see this play with your girl, and share in the excitement. Perhaps you can have your own naming ceremony afterwards, or let your curiosity get the best of you and indulge in that so-called act that men, "just don't do." Go on and make someone happy and have a conversation with your favorite coochie.

To purchase tickets for “The Vagina Monologues,” get an update on upcoming cast, and obtain more information, visit

- Bahia Ramos lives in Brooklyn, NY where she knocks-out atleast 10 Kegels every Saturday morning.


Black Girl In Paris
by Shay Youngblood

My name is Eden and I’m not afraid of anything anymore.
Like my literary godfathers who came to Paris before me I
intend to live a life where being black won’t hold me back.

Set in 1986, “Black Girl In Paris,” is the story of 26-year-old aspiring writer Eden, and her journey of self-discovery in Paris-- the home of her artistic forefathers Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin. Eden wants to be a writer and like her literary Gods, she expects Paris to inspire and launch her own artistic awakening and freedom.

Eden’s eyes immerse us in a Paris that is all at once strange, boring, wild, beautiful and in the grips of panic with terrorist bombs exploding all over the city. When Eden has a harrowing experience with two police officers while with her white lover Ving and Olu Christopher, a Haitian exile, her thrill of new love crashes against a wall of anger and pain. “They held their pistols poised at their hips. The officers moved closer and caught Olu-Cristopher by the front of his shirt. ‘A l’Afrique avec les autres singes.’ I knew the French word for monkey. I felt as if a blow had landed squarely in my stomach.” Through Eden’s experiences we see her struggle to hold onto the dream of a free life that her Aunt George painted for her and the reality that freedom is just as elusive in France as it is in Georgia.

“In ancient times maps were made to help people find water and the way back home. I need a map to help me find love and language, since one didn’t exist, I’d have to invent one following the trails and signs left by other travelers,” realizes Eden in her quest to live and love without being bound to any constraints. As Eden follows the map of experiences created by Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, she discovers her own literary voice—full of understanding, happiness and confidence.

With novels like this, “Soul Kiss” (a powerful and gripping coming of age story) and “Big Mama Stories” (folktale-like stories of womanhood, pride and love), Shay Youngblood gives readers an inside look into the hearts of black women that are quiet, jubilant, thoughtful, and defiant. Women that dare to make a way when there is none.

~ Stephanie Mohorn resides in Mt. Vernon, NY where she uses her free time to ‘mind-travel’ the world over.

"We really look at rethinking domesticity," says Jean Railla, the 29-year-old editor-in-chief of the New York-based Crafty Lady Website and overseer of a budding empire built on the growing trend of hipness in handmades. "I don't think Martha Stewart is doing this."

Indeed. A few clues that this is not your Martha's domesticity: First, Railla's current Editor's Letter begins, "I confess: I'm dirty." Second, the site's accompanying "Glitter" forum mentions Hitachi Magic Wands, and third, articles include Punk Rock Cooking (which, according to Railla, is "all about how not to follow recipes") and an application of Marxist theory to thrift shopping. Distinctly un-Martha.

But that's not to say that Crafty Lady doesn't deliver the goods. Each month, the site gets 15,000 hits and Glitter at least 100 postings. As Railla says, the audience is "mostly urban women in their 20s, and they want to talk about hard-core crafting," which includes everything from how to buy power tools to painting your apartment to making gifts. And it represents a new generation of interest in craft — a kind of post-grannyism.

"Middle-class women, especially in the past 15 years, have been rejecting all things domestic," says Railla. "Especially if you were bright and independent, success was all about moving out of the home and into the workplace. Now more women are single, buying their own houses, or knowing that they're not doing these domestic things for a husband, but to build a home for themselves. And then, there's something really beautiful about the ‘everydayness' of knitting a scarf, putting some art in your life."

The Crafty Ladies hold a real-world knitting group once a month — it's one of the domestic arts that has been largely rediscovered. In fact, last October, the Craft Yarn Council of America sponsored a "Knit Out" in New York's Union Square which drew more than 7,000 people.

Then there is the monthly Crafty Lady finance group, The Money Drunk. "Almost everyone in crafts is actively trying to figure out a lifestyle that doesn't entail working a million hours a week," says Railla. "The finance group is very much based on the idea that we need to be self-sufficient." That, or do away with money altogether: Railla would like to create a place on the site where women can swap crafts. "We want to really play with a non-monetary barter system," she says. "So it would be like, 'My camofleece scarf for your crocheted skullcap.'"

The headwear exchanging hands on Crafty Lady may sound strictly under-30, but the site has not excluded the generation that brought craftiness home. "We even have a lady who's a granny," says Railla. "She was sewing a baby blanket for her granddaughter and giving us hints on Glitter."

For more on Get Crafty go to

~ Amy Goldwasser is a writer who lives "downtown" in New York. She's not especially crafty, but she respects craftiness.



media bits and news bytes


Suppressed Anger May Boost Blood Pressure
In Black Women

New York (Reuters Health) - Does suppressing anger lead to high blood pressure? Yes, according to results of a study of African-American women. And more evidence of a behavior-blood pressure link: The study also found that women with better coping skills had lower blood pressures.




expressing ourselves


Knowing Your Self-Worth

To become financially independent you must turn part of
your income into capital; turn capital into enterprise; turn
enterprise into profit; turn profit into investment; and turn
investment into financial independence.
- Jim Rohn

I have something to share with you, but first I'm going to tell you a story of a life-changing dialogue with a former director that forever changed how I view the value of my contribution to any company, and more importantly, to my own self-worth. The conversation went like this:

"I think it's time we discuss our agreement. I told you that I would work here 3 months as a temp so that we could see whether or not we could actually work well together long-term. It's been three months and we should discuss changing my status from temp to perm," I said-- believing that he would indeed honor his word. The three months had been quite a challenge, but what the heck, I had ‘moved on up’ from an administrative assistant to an executive assistant to the CEO of an investment bank. Surely I was gonna make me some real money.

"Well, I don't know Sweet much money do you want," he asked.

I looked at him slightly perplexed. Three months previous we had discussed not only my salary, but during our initial interview, he told me that the salary ranged anywhere from $35 -75,000. Our deal was that after three months we would "negotiate" a salary commensurate with my experience and with my responsibilities. As I thought through my confusion, I considered the fact that I was the oldest of three and that my mom, two weeks prior, had been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer and could die. So now it was more a matter of securing a permanent position to assist my mom through her illness. I needed that job; there was no question of that.

"I want $38,000 to $40,000," was my response.

"I'm afraid, that I can only give you $36,000," he said with a very serious look.

"Okay fine,” I resolved. “When do my benefits start," I asked quite impatiently.

He fixed a smirk on his face, adjusted his pants, paused and gave me a long hard look and said, "Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, Sweet P, you don't even know your own worth!"

He laughed. Yes, he laughed at me as he stood nose to nose from me. I could feel the sting of his laughter. As I sit here sharing this with you, tears well up in my eyes for the memory is forever etched in my heart. It still hurts. It's a moment and a feeling that I will take to my grave. He was right. Sadly, at that time I did not know my own worth.

As if handing me a piece of my pride back, he continued, "Sweet P, you never sell yourself for less than you're worth... and you never let anyone tell you what you're worth. Had you insisted on your figure, I would've given you what you asked for. You have to know your worth." He walked away looking at me almost in pity and said that I would get what I'd accepted.

Words will never adequately describe how angry I was at myself for not knowing my worth. What was I worth? Did I know? How do I measure my worth? How could I know? And what was so funny?

Personally, I have been through an onslaught of personal setbacks (from my mother’s cancer to being an unemployed single mom to being homeless). Still there was always the vision of running my own business. Recently, I sat and calculated my actual worth in dollars and cents. I based my calculations on the work experience gained over the last 20 years, education, life experiences, number of books I read per year (15-20), common sense, ability to actually think (we don't get enough credit for this), increased life expectancy, combined with my retirement age of 68. I broke it down in decades and aggregated that over a period of 65 years. I will have contributed $75-100 million in labor dollars to our society's economy from the time I entered the labor force. So folks, given these statistics I've decided to give myself a $1 million dollar raise starting this day forward. For years I have been ‘planning my work and working my plan’. Now it is time to allow the plan to work.

~ Passion Delanti now runs her own company, The Delanti Group, Inc. and is finally capitalizing on her multi-million dollar worth.






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