Authors: Aisha Duquesne
here are three things
you have to accept if you’re going to read this book about Erica Jones.
book, not the one that’s due to come out in the autumn by Easy Carson, which is supposed to be an “insider’s view,” or the quickie bio that’s out on the stands now by that journalist for
. Mine. All I ask of my reader is that you accept these three things going in. First, Erica Jones loves music. Second, Erica Jones likes sex. A
. And third, perhaps most important of all, she told me everything. She confided in me, Michelle. Her personal assistant, gofer, occasional scapegoat and scratching post, in rare instances her ego booster but at the end of it all, I think—I hope—still her friend. Despite what I did.
I got to see Erica blow people’s minds in stadiums, turning an audience into an army when she sang her smash hit “And You Think That Makes It All Right?” She saved the debut of that one for the Apollo Theater, for the place where Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and so many great acts played. “If we’re going to try it out, it
to be there,” she insisted. A hit from the first night, so much so that I thought they were going to tear the place apart. And it only got bigger when she went from the Apollo to Madison Square Garden. I’ll tell you about the songs.
And for all the great political consciousness the media gave her credit for, I saw her play the mega-bitch sometimes in the dressing room. But she was full of contradictions—just like the rest of us. The press would call her bullshit names like “R&B’s Angry Young Woman” and compare her to Lauryn Hill, and there was Erica on her couch, vegging out and watching
called her “black music’s answer to Sinead O’Connor” yet she could be one of the most level-headed gals I ever knew, asking if a piece of real estate was going to appreciate in a certain neighbourhood. She wanted to build a day care center on the site. She was never the diva in my mind. Never.
Then there was Luther. I’ll tell you about him, too.
And I have to tell you about myself. Well…for the obvious reasons. You must have read about it in the newspapers, everyone has, but at least I can set a few things straight. For those same obvious reasons, this book has been hard to finish, and it finishes with me, not Erica. I can’t help that. I don’t know what’s going to happen now.
Funny thing is, I started this book and did my first interviews with a little tape recorder long before all the ugly business (I can’t even remember when, but certainly after the jump to the new label and before work on the
album). And according to America’s gloriously ironic and bizarre system, I still have legal rights to all that material. I thought I could write the thing just from what I knew, what I kept in my heart and my head, but when I finally woke up from my naïvety and realised I should do research, I should interview people, I discovered everyone had an opinion about her.
“Erica Jones can suck my dick!” Easy Carson barked at me over the phone. I’d known then he was a long shot, but I had wondered if enough water had floated under the bridge to wash away the resentments on both sides. Apparently not. “She can suck my dick,” he repeated. Then, thinking he was really clever, he added, “Course she already has, and it wasn’t that fucking good a job anyhow!
gonna set the record straight in my own book, Michelle. You wait. Shit, I made her! I founded this company!”
“But she put it on the map,” I argued.
“Erica cares about nobody else but Erica,” he shot back, just before he slammed down the phone in my ear.
“Erica Jones is a success not because of Easy Carson or Steven Swann or any of those other guys,” Morgan told me.
He said this in that amazing deep voice of his, tugging as usual on his beard that made him look like a jazz sage. Morgan was a “beautiful ugly man” as they say, the kind whose gaunt features made you think he hadn’t gone out to see the world, the world had come and steamrolled over him.
“Erica Jones is a success because for someone like her, there couldn’t be anything else. She ain’t ruthless, she’s
. How can folks bitch about her pushing them out of her way when they’re supposed to be record producers, promoters, musicians and so on? Can’t they do their jobs? What are they there for if not to help her along?”
Morgan, poor gentle Morgan.
(I am so sorry now.)
“Erica Jones let full-figured women have permission to be elegant again,” said Phylicia Saunders, the designer. “You take an artist like Lil’ Kim who just puts it out there with her big tits and her big batty. I think she plays up to guys’ immature ideal of a perfect woman when she’s in her bikini outfits or lingerie. Erica’s got the same type of body, ample breasts and a generous backside, but she doesn’t dress slutty. She’s sexy.”
And I think this is true, even though Phylicia is indirectly promoting herself. For the
album tour, Erica signed an exclusive deal to wear her costume designs on stage.
“Erica Jones?” laughed a concert dancer who doesn’t want me to use his name. “Erica Jones is a succubus. You know, the mythological woman who—”
“I know what it is,” I interjected. I didn’t need the pedantry.
“Well, Erica Jones likes her raunch,” he went on.
And he reminded me of his own special perspective on the show in Minneapolis.
I was, as usual, in the wings, gaping in wonder at how a song, a personality, an image, could bring thirty thousand people (
and that’s the size of some small towns!) into this bowl of steel and concrete, all for cheering, applauding worship. For her. For my friend. The spotlights swept the sea of faces, the burly security guys pushing back the too-eager types in the front rows, and the imitation Nile Rogers guitar funk for the first song’s arrangement blared from the towering black monolith speakers. I watched Erica step out in the Saunders dress that showed off her lovely brown legs, and that sound—that incredible sound of excited worship, the mass voice going
like when you breathe against a mirror—floated back to the stage.
Erica’s smiling face, her large eyes and small wide nose, her white teeth flashing, all of her joy at this response was up there on the jumbo screen behind the band. And she launched into the vocals for her updated rendition of “Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry, a performer she immensely respected.
No money man can win my love, it’s sweeeetness that I’m dreaming of
…Her new label had argued with her about releasing it as the first single, thinking a cover might not be well received. They wanted the title track, “Pariah,” instead. Erica put her foot down. In the end, the cover song hit number five on Billboard and “Pariah” hit the top slot a month later.
I watched her sing seven tunes. Then there was the long instrumental arrangement that allowed for a costume change, the female dancers shaking it while Erica had her break, drank some water to cool her tired throat, towelled herself off and changed outfits. Fifteen minutes. And the male dancer, the one who confided in me and called her a succubus, says Erica pulled him into her dressing room. I can confirm this, because Erica finished song number seven and stepped into the wings, her chocolate brown forehead polished with sweat, a white bar glowing on her skin in the centre of her plunging neckline. Still smiling, still on her thousand-feet-in-the-air high from performing and being adored. “They’re so kind tonight, man!” she said, beaming. She squealed with delight, and I saw her eyes flitting around the back of the wings, more energy in her than she could possibly burn off in one night. She saw the dancer.
Despite what you may have heard, I didn’t think a lot got past me in my time with Erica, because I was always with her, and I did so many odd jobs, one of which included making sure she hit her cues on the tour, checking that she rested and didn’t drop from exhaustion, generally making sure Erica Jones Is Happy. I’d noticed her and the dancer trading looks of interest all that week. Now I passed her dressing room to give a message to one of the production assistants, and the door was open a crack.
“She just yanked me in there,” the dancer recalled in the phone interview. “And we’re kissing and roaming our hands all over each other, and I didn’t think we could do very much. I mean, shit, she had to go on in a few minutes! So did I. People would wait for Erica Jones, they don’t give a fuck about me. But if I miss my cue, what the hell am I going to tell people, huh? Who’s going to believe me?”
Erica managed to get the zipper down on the back of her dress in one deft move and let it puddle around her ankles, her large breasts tumbling out, everything visible for her man of the moment, from her curvy waist right down to the neatly trimmed wedge of pubic hair. Here was R&B star Erica Jones in her birthday suit right in front of him, and to be fair, what could anyone expect him to do? Resist? He was as hard as a rock in an instant. His costume pants were a tan silk—a deliberately light shimmering material to allow maximum gymnastic movement for the routines on stage, and he was tenting through them. Erica grabbed his sheathed cock in one firm squeeze.
He claims she practically slammed him down on a long table, the kind they put in stars’ rooms for decorative assortments of canapés, congratulatory flowers, snacks. He was already topless, as all the rest of the male dancers were, each one a tall proud black man with muscle definition like you wouldn’t believe, perfectly formed six-packs and broad chests and arms like superheroes. “Mish, why do half of them have to be gay?” Erica complained to me one night. This one wasn’t. She tugged down his trousers to thigh level. The head of his cock was pushing out of his Jockey shorts, the sack of his balls stretching the hem near his leg. Erica snatched up a pair of fabric shears—the kind the costume assistants kept handy to remove any threads, to keep the outfits impeccable. In one brief chop, she cut away his underwear, and her fingers lightly caressed his long engorged penis, veins and blood vessels standing out with his want.
She was wet and ready for him. Erica confessed to me that doing live performances—especially in major venues—gave her not only a high but it made her so sexually charged she had to find an outlet. So I knew the dancer was telling the truth when he said she supplied the condom.
I also knew because when I passed her dressing room with the slightly open door, I saw her mounted on top of him, impaling herself on that glistening spear of his. I saw his cock disappearing into her as she rocked and rocked, her breasts swaying, her eyes shut tight and her mouth wide open, crying out “Yeaaahhh, yeaaaahh, yeah, yeah!” Her nails dug into his chest, and she looked down at him with a kind of angry hunger. Jesus, I thought, frozen with the sight of them for a moment, unable to tear my eyes away, Erica’s buttocks quivering slightly with the momentum. And for all his pose of betrayal when I interviewed the dancer, I saw his expression in that dressing room. He loved it. I saw him pinch her nipples, his wide hand feeling her ass, as if somehow she wasn’t real and it wasn’t happening to him.
Erica could be larger than life even in sex, her breasts looking even fuller with her wide brown areolae puckered, her nipples hard, a bead of perspiration running down her short flat midriff. I’m just saying as one woman about another, she was beautiful. Without any makeup or today’s mandatory photo retouching for CD covers, Erica could be amazingly beautiful.
How many times had I caught glimpses of her in intimate moments like this? Me, Michelle Brown, her PA. PG, more like it. Private Ghost. And as she said, her appetite was all-consuming. It’s not like she was so bold as to do things right in front of me, but she was often negligent of the fact that I might be in the house or near the hotel suite of any given week. I have seen Erica Jones intimate in whatever degree of importance or depth she brought to the man or to the occasion—Erica making love when it
love, Erica having sex, Erica fooling around, foreplaying, afterplaying, fucking because that’s what it was when it was her raw need. And I have to say she was beautiful every time. But then I always thought she was.
I heard the floor director coming up the hall. “Cutting it kind of fine tonight, aren’t we, Michelle?”
I stood right in the middle of the hallway, discreetly blocking the way to her room.
“You know who you’re dealing with,” I said a bit too curtly. Meaning Erica was a professional. Meaning she’d be out there. I could be dismissed anonymously by a few of the press as one of Erica’s entourage, a hanger-on, a leech, but I did have the job and the title, and that gave me power.
Fate was kind. The floor director walked away just before he would have heard the loud wail of our star’s orgasm down the hall. By the time I stepped back to the door, wondering what the hell I was going to say to move her along, I glimpsed Erica Jones feeling the last reverberations of coming, and then she was scrambling down from the table, muttering shit, I got to get out there. She barely noticed that the sticky condom was still half inside her vagina, and she was literally tugging it off his—
gets off and then just leaves!” the dancer reminded me on the phone.
As Erica had climbed off, the dancer still lay there, his pants around his thighs, his underwear in shreds, and he couldn’t stop himself. On top of him or not, she had brought him to a boil. His cock stiffened and pointed at a new higher angle, and a geyser of cum exploded onto his legs and on his pants. Unconsciously, he grabbed his penis and jerked himself a little, needing to hold on to the feeling for another precious second. Then he saw the mess.
“Son-of-a-bitch!” he barked. “I can’t go on stage like this!”
Erica wasn’t listening. She had already ducked into the shower and was using the hand-held nozzle to wash between her legs. At this point, I thought, screw it, and I stormed into the dressing room. I had two full seconds of a glimpse at the dancer’s now limp cock, still dribbling cum onto his legs and pants, and he looked wide-eyed at me and covered himself with his hand as he sat there like a fool on the table.