Culture

Radio Personality Big Boy on Weight-Loss Effort; Estelle Gets Personal

Sat., Jan. 28, 2012 10:39 AM EDT
by Souleo

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents:  On the “A” w/Souleo

Fitness guru Denise Austin and Ensure drinks nearly killed me.

OK, I am being dramatic. But I was diagnosed at the age of 13 as dangerously underweight after I subjected my already skinny body to a fitness-diet kick inspired by watching too many weight-loss infomercials. The experience left me paranoid for a few years; confusing bloating with the immediate onset of 10 pounds. I held back this tale from radio personality Big Boy for fear he would deservedly give me the side-eye during our interview at Hue-Man Bookstore.

Big Boy visited Harlem to promote his new book, “An XL Life…” which details how his gastric bypass surgery and health strategy helped him lose 300 pounds. However you shouldn’t expect him in a Weight Watchers commercial anytime soon since he expressed reservations surrounding celebrity endorsements. “What are we really telling these kids? They can’t get these meals delivered and they don’t have the free personal trainer. So they don’t get the same result that some of these rich people can get,” he says. “Everybody can’t be on the red carpet in six weeks and I’m afraid of people losing reality.”

I had to face reality this week when I realized that I am only one person and could not attend every event on my calendar, including, Aloft Harlem’s “Max Eternity, Man of Mystery Legends” exhibit presented by mobiXpay and Avisca Fine Art Gallery; Diane Davis’ “Where Chaos Meets the Sublime” exhibit; and The Morningside Players presentation of “A Staged Reading of New York, by David Rimmer.”

Instead, I went from discussing shedding pounds to talking shedding tears, as I learned that singer Estelle is ready to invite listeners on an emotional journey with her forthcoming album, “All of Me.” I made it just in time to her private playback session at Open House despite stopping to help a woman who fell flat on her face on the subway platform.

Immediately Estelle and I recalled when she invited me onstage to dance with her. Then she revealed that a difficult breakup is what drove her to tears during her passionate performance of “Thank You” at the Black Girls Rock! awards. “Three weeks after getting the song, I broke [up] with my guy. So I dreaded getting up there to sing that record,” she says. “I was more angry that day that I let it go on for so long but everyday since then I’ve been having a ball.”

While Estelle is enjoying life I expressed my concern over her lack of mainstream success, since she deserves a wider market. She is not as worried since she believes that UK singers are usually less focused than their U.S. counterparts on such topics. “Our general energy is not the hype machine whereas Americans are born and bred to make it shine. I am learning the industry and to keep my integrity.”

At that moment my thoughts on celebrity weight-loss ads and mainstream artists were confirmed; you can’t always follow the hype.

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