Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vanessa L. Williams; Glad I got a chance to see her!

**Walk down memory lane.**

One Sunday morning, I was the first in my family to wake up and get out of bed. I slid out of the bed carefully to make sure I didn’t wake up my unwanted bedmate, my little sister, Paula. I went to the restroom to wash my face. I decided to wait to brush my teeth, being that I was about to go in the kitchen to fix me a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. I felt that it was pointless to brush your teeth before you eat breakfast. I would later learn in life that whoever is eating breakfast with you would certainly appreciate the pre-breakfast brushing.
When I got to the kitchen, I noticed a magazine on the kitchen table that I hadn’t seen before. Well, let me rephrase that. I had never seen that magazine in our house before. It was a Penthouse Magazine. I immediately recognized the title, being that I would see copies of Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler magazines behind the counter at the convenience store in our neighborhood. However, the magazines I would see at the convenience store would have the racy images on the cover of the magazine blanketed with an opaque sheet of paper. The only thing you could consistently see on the magazine was the title and the issue date. Every now and then you could see the smiling face of a young, white woman, who obviously had something on or did not have something on that could legally be revealed to young or unwanted eyes.
That morning, right there in my kitchen was my first time actually seeing the entire cover of the magazine. I stared at the magazine, wondering how in the world did it get in our kitchen. And then it finally struck me. That was the Penthouse Magazine that was all over the news that month. On my kitchen table lied the magazine that contained the nude photos of our first African American Miss America. A few days before, I heard Daddy and Mama say they wondered how racy the pictures really were. I guess they decided to buy a magazine and take a look for themselves.
I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone had entered the kitchen without me hearing them. And then I slowly inched closer to the magazine.
“Should I take a peek?” I thought.
I had seen plenty of nude breasts on HBO when my parents were sleep, but this was different. I had never looked at nude photos in a magazine. And I certainly never would’ve thought that I would get a chance to see Vanessa Williams’ infamous nude photos. But that morning, I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek into a magazine that was making headlines all over the world.
I touched the cover of the magazine with the tips of my fingers.
“Okay… I didn’t burst into flames.” I thought.
I stood there, wondering if I was going to be bold enough to open the magazine. It was just something about being caught looking in a girlie magazine that caused me to fear for my very life. If God didn’t kill me, I figured that Mama would.
“Okay… I’ll take my chances. They shouldn’t have left it out on the table.” I thought.
I opened the first page and started to quickly flip through the rest. Pictures and pictures of beautiful and not so beautiful women were staring back at me. Some had on bikini bating suits, while others were topless. Some looked like they were looking playful, while others looked outright intense. I wondered why these women would allow someone to take pictures of them and sell them in magazines.
As my mind was racing, I finally stumbled upon the photos of Vanessa Williams. There she was, looking comfortable as she posed in front of a camera with bare breast in a rather sensual manner. My mind yanked forward the image of her standing in front of the crowd at the Miss America pageant, being crowned as the first African American Miss America. She was so beautiful. And there’s no doubt, in that very proud moment, I wished that I could look and be just like her. But now, as I stood face to face with an image of a naked Vanessa Williams, I had a different feeling. I still thought she was beautiful. And I hoped that I could one day have a body as perfect as hers looked in these photos, but I didn’t want to immolate this particular image of Vanessa Williams. However, I was not ashamed of her. I was still proud that she was our first African American Miss America. And as far as I was concerned, she would always be the first.
I quickly scanned through the rest of the pictures of Vanessa Williams and the other naked girls and placed the magazine back in the same spot it was on the table.
That morning, I decided that the image of Vanessa Williams with the crown on her head was the one that I would forever assign to my initial recollection of her. . Naked Vanessa Williams was definitely interesting, but it wasn’t as intriguing as the beautiful woman that earned the title of Miss America.
As I walked away from the table and headed for the pantry to grab the box of cereal, my mother came walking into the kitchen to fix the babies something to eat. Fear gripped me.
“Oh, my God. Did she see me?”
But my mother registered the same look of fear in her eyes when she noticed the magazine on the table that was just a few short feet away from her ten-year-old daughter. She greeted me and asked what was I doing as she tried to subtly grab the magazine off the table. I made sure to not look at the magazine or my mother as I started pouring my cereal in a bowl on the kitchen counter.
“Just fixing me a bowl of cereal. That’s all.”
When I turned around, Mama was still there, but she somehow made the magazine disappear.
“What did she do with it?” I wondered.
I never saw that magazine again. That issue of Penthouse Magazine went down in history as being not only the magazine that published nude photos of Vanessa Williams, but also the first and last pornographic magazine I would ever see in my life. And strangely enough, I don’t have any regrets for taking a peek into the taboo magazine.

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