When Black Male Singers Were Sex Symbols

Longreads

Ericka Blount Danois | Longreads | January 2019 | 23 minutes (4,688 words)

Driving through blinding rain from Baltimore to Philadelphia recently to see the documentary If You Don’t Know Me By Now, about the life of R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, I was reminded how one of my first encounters with Teddy was as a life-size cardboard cutout of him my mother kept in our living room. Dressed in an Italian silk suit, he became part of my family as my parents and sister passed him daily on our way out the door to school.

I had already admired Teddy when I would browse my father’s extensive record collection as a kid and stare at the covers. Both the Jackson Five’s ThirdAlbum and The TeenagersFeaturing Frankie Lymon album covers made me wish I had been born just a little bit sooner so I could meet Frankie Lymon…

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