Talent comes in many forms. There’s Beyonce, who played MSG last night — and there’s Ashanti. Writing from the heart, my longtime friend, Ashanti Maya Alvarez, produced a word picture that shimmers like her subject. Enjoy:
There wasn’t a single straight guy in Madison Square Garden last night who wasn’t tethered, and I still managed to have a great time.
The only significant male presence in the opening show of Beyonce’s “I Am…” tour, aside from her cadre of sculpted dancers, was Mr. Beyonce Knowles. Jay-Z ambled onto the stage to deliver his handful of bars to show-opener “Crazy in Love,” and was gone just as quickly, leaving us girls to scream at the tops of our lungs to all of Sasha Fierce’s (and some of Destiny’s Child’s) biggest hits.
She may as well have shooed him off the stage and said, “We’re locking the doors!”
I only realized how many hits there actually are after seeing her perform them all in concert. And what a performer she is. I recall a minimum of eight costume changes. The only article of clothing they all had in common were a pair of golden-hued panty hose that made her taut legs shimmer as she shook and writhed around the stage.
There was glitter. There were acrobatic stunts. There were surreal and avant-garde music videos.
Even in the nosebleed seats, there was plenty of eye and ear candy.
The experience was completely commodifying and female-empowering all at the same time. I have never been marketed to so heavily in my life. L’oreal, House of Dereon, buy this, buy that….
Beyonce is the most commercial celebrity of whom I am a fan. Usually I am against this. From her, I accept it. I even celebrate it. It is who and what she is.
It’s kind of a third-wave feminism taken to the extreme – Beyonce and Beyonce alone is choosing to objectify and commodify herself while at the same time writing songs that thousands of women can sing along to and in the process define their own lives: “I need no permission, did I mention?”
It’s paradoxical and dualistic, just like Ms. Knowles own dual “Beyonce / Sasha Fierce” identity. I love it! Her all-female band – made up predominantly of women of color – further showed that men were most certainly “replaceable.”
My faboosh friend and fierce concert partner Natalie and I had a tense argument on our way out of the Garden after the show: Beyonce, Natalie said, is almost as good as Tina Turner. No, I said – she is better than Tina Turner. Not just that: She is like Tina Turner and Diana Ross combined.
Natalie looked at me with fire in her eyes.
OK, I have never seen either diva in concert, but to me, Beyonce has got it all. Yes, she’s got an amazing figure with a tiny waist and tender thighs of steel. Her face is like an angel’s visage and her voice is like aspen leaves fluttering in the wind. She’s hard working – Natalie read that she rehearsed nine hours each day in HEELS to practice for the tour, on TOP of her gym workout. Her wardrobe is fierce and trendsetting (a bottom fashioned out of motorcycle handlebars? What?).
Those are just incidentals, though. Her real gift is her ability to transform herself when she is on stage.
When Beyonce is in front of a crowd of thousands, something about her is on another plane of existence, one in which she is a goddess and has the power to move people in any direction she wishes. In the end, she recognizes that her true power comes from her fan base and her ability to connect with them.
Before sinking into the stage wearing a self-satisfied smirk – not arrogant, just proud – she ended the show with a dramatic proclamation: “I Am…Yours.”
A Yonkaz native, Ashanti Maya Alvarez is director of communications at the School of Communication and Information of her alma mater, Rutgers. She’s also one hella communicator herself. She’s on Facebook and Flickr and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org