Yesterday, I was talking to my suitemate from my time in the dorms at Moody Air Force Base outside of Valdosta, Georgia. He’s applying for a job in Los Angeles and needed someone who could validate his work from that period we both were stationed in South Georgia. Aside from the professional stuff, we talked about the good ol’ days from that dorm suite…and all of the stuff that went down. He mentioned the collection of Melyssa Ford posters I had on display in my room and how they always were a distraction when we were playing NCAA Football 2004. I noted that I only had those posters up—all of the spreads and single-page photos from Black Men, King, Smooth, and Maxim of her in skimpy bikinis, tight skirts, and plunge top shirts—because my commander and first sergeant likely would’ve given me paperwork if I had the posters of the other woman I was a big fan of on my wall. That other woman being India in all her glory. For the scores of magazine and early 2000s Internet stuff I had on “Jessica Rabbit”, I had upwards of twice as much for the dark chocolate porn princess…and it all started with a magazine cover that introduced me to her. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: India’s Hot Chocolate Magazine cover.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across India’s cover in Hot Chocolate men’s magazine in November 1999. While riding the 17-Naples/Eastwood Mall from Downtown Birmingham to my residence in South Avondale, I usually enjoyed conversation with one of the other passengers for about 20-25 minutes of the ride. He was a Malik Yoba-looking construction worker who usually got on at the corner of 4th Ave South and 21st St (before it was renamed Richard Arrington, Jr Blvd). We were cool enough that one day, he slid me one of those brown paper merchandise bags and said “don’t let your momma see this”. Of course, the 15-year-old version of myself was curious so I peeked in and pulled out what appeared to be a magazine. What I saw that day is represented by the featured image of this post. I gave a “brother’s nod” and packed the bag away into my backpack for later viewing.
What it meant to me then? When I got home to the privacy of my room, I gave the magazine a good look over. Of course, I looked very attentively at the photos but I also read the articles. In addition to being my introduction to porn magazines, it was my introduction to India. Going back as far as age 11, I snuck and watched the XXX channels on the descrambler at my father’s apartment and I didn’t see a lot of black women in porn. I only remember seeing Heather Hunter and Midori but I didn’t know who they were until years later. Reading through that magazine introduced me to a few other black women in porn and I learned a little bit about their experience in the business. The interviews and blurbs about the women posing were actually more interesting than the naked bodies…and that’s saying a lot because those were some very interesting bodies. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with India. To a large degree, in my book anyway, it humanized her. It revealed parts of her story before porn, like her life in college and how she had a somewhat budding music career as a member of Harmony Innocent. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that she was smokin’ hot in the photos. She instantly became my favorite porn star…a title she still holds today in retirement.
What it means to me now? That particular issue of Hot Chocolate is long gone from my possession. I’m reasonably certain that I probably offloaded it in the early half of 2007. I don’t even think Hot Chocolate exists as a publication anymore so I couldn’t replace it if I wanted to. But, nearly 18 years later, I’m very much appreciative of my bus friend for sliding me that magazine. Because of the cover of that particular magazine issue, I see the porn and the world of adult entertainment a bit differently. I gained an appreciation for porn stars and their lives outside of the business. Before seeing India on that cover and reading her story, I didn’t view porn stars favorably…I only saw them as “live-action exhibits”. That has changed though. Today, I see them as professionals. They aren’t that much more different than me…just doing a job except theirs is on camera and widely distributed.