Philadelphia Black Pride is having a birthday!
The organization, created to celebrate the rich history and resilience of black and brown LGBQT folks is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a long lineup of special programs and parties to commemorate the event and the 2019 Penn Relays.
Many of the events are programed categorically. Under the heading of “Cooperative Economics,” PBP will launch a special pop-up boutique featuring men’s spring wear, and accessories from Armour. The season’s hottest fashions will be shown with live models all afternoon.
The “Proud Out Loud-Open Mic and Showcase” will be presented by Queen Phierce, and a number of talented poets and spoken word artists are scheduled to perform. Look for local stars Jennifer Eden, Eyce Diggi, Feelacypher, and Rienne. Under “Community Partnerships” Pastor Clarence Hayes Jr. will present “Sexuality and the Church.” “Together We Rise” is a Queer Women of Color networking summit with a day full of vendors, spiritual readings and much more designed to educate, elevate and empower. Atticon is a fandom celebration for LGBTQ Youth and allies. The free event features workshops, a video- game tournament, a cosplay contest, food, music and a panel of pros. This event is restricted to ages 14-23, so no older gate crashers.
For adults, check out the VIP Brunch Sunday, April 28th @ HOPS Brewerytown, or for some real grown folks entertainment make sure to get yourself to “Clymaxx,” the Boys & Bottles party at Boxers with a special appearance by Myah Ross Monroe and featuring the Sexy Men from Nevets Men of Adonis and guest dancer Chino Blac. Finally, let’s hear it for the boys who will have an All-Male Nude Sip n’ Paint, starring this week’s Portrait, model Mikey Sharp.
PGN: Hey Mikey, tell me a little about your event.
MS: Well, we wanted to do something that would be an alternative to going to the bars and drinking but that would still be fun and sexy. I’ve been doing Sip n’ Paint events all over the East Coast, and they’re always an entertaining and creative event.
PGN: Where are you from?
MS: I was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. I live here now. I went to high school here and did a little bit of school in Essex County, Maryland. I went to community college and I also took some classes at Seton Hall University. I do want to go back and get my bachelor’s degree at some point. Hopefully before I’m 50! I’ll be 45 in July.
PGN: Describe the family: Big clan or compact group?
MS: Big! I am the oldest of eight children. My mom had eight kids and my dad had five kids.
PGN: Let me take my shoes off so I can count!
MS: It was a total 13 kids! Eleven boys and two girls! Since you’re asking about family, my dad just passed last Thursday, so it’s been a rough week. They found him Thursday, but my mom thinks he died on Monday. They won’t know the cause until they do an autopsy.
PGN: So sorry to hear it. It must have been wild to grow up in a family that big.
MS: Well, my mom had me at a really young age. She was 15, so I lived with my grandmother and great-grandmother in the suburbs. They would take me on weekends to see my mother, who lived in the projects. At first I’d be all excited until I got there, and then I’d be like, “No, take me back!”
PGN: That is young.
MS: Yeah, she was 14 when she got with my dad. He was 17 and, after me, they had my younger brother.
PGN: Who’s the funniest in the family?
MS: We’re all pretty funny. We love to laugh and crack jokes on each other. We do silly things like go bowling together. I have a sister who’s gay and has a baby and two gay brothers and we love to tease each other.
PGN: It’s supposed to be one in 10. You guys are bending the curve with four out of 13! Who came out first?
MS: That would be me; I came out in high school. My mom was having a bad time with drugs and other issues, and we had a heart-to-heart where I told her about me being gay and talked about her problems. She was so young, she always seemed more like a sister to me. Years later I started throwing gay-boy parties in NY, and my mom and my sister and brothers would come and dance all night. It was a family affair. In fact, when I had a birthday coming up, they’d be more excited than me about my party. They’d take off work and get their outfits together; it was great. I was very lucky. I had a great childhood. My family was very accepting, I did good in school and things were pretty easy all around. It was a little harder after my grandmother died. I never got the chance to tell her. She passed away when I was in high school, before I came into my full-fledged gaydom.
PGN: What happened after your grandmother died?
MS: Well, I still had my great-grandmother, but after she passed, I was on my own. I stayed with a cousin and couch-surfed a little until I was able to get a place on my own.
PGN: How did you get involved with Philly Black Pride?
MS: I’ve been going to Penn Relays since I was running track in high school. The Pride weekend is always during Penn Relays, and I remember noticing a lot of gay guys at the meets, and I started paying attention to where I’d see guys in town. That’s how I discovered the Gayborhood, and I’ve been coming to Philly ever since.
PGN: What were your best and worst moments in track?
MS: I ran the 400 hurdles and 200 meters, and one time I was at a state meet and I was the second leg in the 4-by-4 relays. The first guy ran the entire leg and when he got to me, he had no baton. He just reached out and slapped my hand. So I just stood there, because I knew we were going to be disqualified, and didn’t want to run for nothing. The best moment was when we won one year at the relays. It was always so exciting to hear that huge crowd cheering us on, and they gave us this big plaque liked we’d won the Championship of America.
PGN: What other extra curricular things do you like to do?
MS: Anything fun! If it seems like fun, I’m game to try it, from bowling to zip-lining! I run travel tours for gay men, and I recently took about 40 guys to Costa Rica and we went zip-lining. For most of us it was the first time, and it was dope. I love traveling and taking people with me to have new experiences. We’re going to Greece in August.
PGN: And of course your other interest is the modeling that you do, like the upcoming Sip n’ Paint for PBP. How did you get started?
MS: I met a guy who saw my social-media accounts and said, “I have the perfect job for you, I’m doing these artistic social events and we need a nude model. All you have to do is sit for two hours and let people draw you.” It’s kind of funny, because I used to be very inhibited. Even when I ran track in high school and college, I refused to take off my shirt in front of the other guys, but now you can’t pay me to keep my clothes on! In New Jersey we have the nude beach at Sandy Hook. The first time I went there, I loved it. I loved the experience of walking around with other nude people; it was very freeing. If you look at my Instagram account, MikeyMission, it looks very sexual. Most of the pictures are of me half-nude or naked, but unless I’m on the beach, I only do that for modeling work or on social media. Otherwise I’m always fully clothed, buttoned up to the top. My friends are always like, “What is going on with you?” [Laughing] The truth is I’m not consistent about working out. So I wear big clothes year-round so people can’t tell if I’m in shape or not! So if you get me home and get my clothes off, you might get the summer body-Mikey or the fall body. Just keep your fingers crossed!
PGN: That’s hysterical. Describe what goes on for you and for the participants.
MS: Well, we do different kinds of events. Some are open to men and women, or just women; this one on April 26 is men only. Oftentimes the events are in private homes or rented spaces. I had two guys from Atlanta who flew me down just to do a painting event with their friends. Another time I was hired to do nude modeling for a bridal shower paint and sip event.
PGN: So you must have had some interesting moments in the field. What was the most outrageous?
MS: The craziest moment was at an event in D.C. I was standing and talking to someone and this guy suddenly dunked my penis in his glass of liquor and then tried to put his mouth on me. I had to smack his head, like, Bro! What are you doing?
PGN: Talk about acting “thirsty” …
MS: [Laughing] You got that right Suzi!
PGN: What’s something rewarding from the events?
MS: A weird thing that often happens is that I’m naked, but the people painting me are often more nervous than me! Sometimes I have to talk to people like I’m coaxing them down off a roof. I have to say, “It’s okay, you can look at me, you can touch me (respectfully), it’s all good.” So it’s rewarding when I can make people feel comfortable and relaxed so that it’s an enjoyable and fun experience for all.
PGN: And … how do I put this delicately? [Laughing] How do you make sure your enjoyment is not showing?
MS: Good question. Honestly, I’m someone who is in control of myself. I don’t watch porn, I use my own imagination to get myself stimulated, so when I’m working it’s not something that I think about. I’m present in the moment. If, for some reason, I’m feeling horny that day, then I take care of things before the event, but that’s rare. For me, this is an artistic event, not a sexual one, so it really doesn’t come into play.
PGN: What’s your zodiac sign?
MS: I’m a Leo.
PGN: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised! If your family had a mascot, what would it be?
MS: A Tasmanian devil.
PGN: “When did you last cry in front of another person?
MS: Last Thursday, I shed a tear at the gym when I was talking to someone about my dad passing.
PGN: Last thing you ate?
MS: I’m eating something right now: catfish on wheat bread with seasoned fries.
PGN: You go by Mikey Sharp. Any other nicknames?
MS: [Laughing] This will make you laugh: When I was little, I used to watch the Roadrunner cartoon and loved Wile E. Coyote. Because my booty sits up high, my mom used to call me High-ass Coyote Super Genius! I call myself “Juicy,” but my friends change it to “Juice” to make it sound more masculine.
PGN: If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would change about your life?
MS: I’d finish college, I wanted to be a criminal lawyer, but never finished. I’d go back, but I’d study something else now, I’m too old to do that much reading and studying.
PGN: Ever get cold when you’re modeling?
MS: No! I run hot. I never wear a coat, even in the winter. At most I have on a sweatshirt or hoodie. I can’t use a comforter or blanket because I get too hot, too fast. When I’m dating someone, they always like to cuddle up under me because I’m always warm. As soon as they fall asleep, I have to break loose before I get too sweaty. I forgot, that’s another nickname: They call me “The Radiator.”
PGN: What are you looking forward to this PBP weekend?
MS: As a former track runner, I love that the event is designed to celebrate the Penn Relays and the brotherhood of the event. It’s such a great time in the city. I’m a really peaceful person, and I love to see the unity in the Gayborhood, everyone walking around, letting their hair down, enjoying spring and having a good time.
PGN: Eric Hatcher from Armour who coordinated the Sip n’ Paint and the Armour fashion pop-up event on Saturday, said he felt it was important to have events that didn’t revolve around a bar and having to worry about getting hit on or trying to pick someone up …
MS: You know, the coolest thing about these events are the people that come. At first I expected that an event involving nudity would bring out some strange people, but it’s been the opposite. We get some really wonderful people who come out, people with great personalities and sometimes great artistic talent. I hope everyone turns out this year.
PGN: Finish the line, “Frankly my dear … ”
MS: I love being naked!