Obscure Black C-Listers: Leon
Leon’s appearance as a spooky Jesus-type figure in Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” video back in 1989 was partially responsible for my sexual awakening. I thought, “Oooh! He’s cute…but more than cute…I don’t know the word for it (“hot”) or these strange feelings I’m having (“lust”) but I like it!” When the video came under fire for its sexual and religious imagery am I the only one who thought that all of the fuss was racially motivated? At any rate, Leon has been in dozens of television shows and movies, most notably The Five Heartbeats, Above The Rim, and Oz. He also portrayed David Ruffin, Jackie Wilson, and Little Richard in tv movies, a pretty impressive depiction-list for any black c-lister. My most lasting impression of Leon is his epitomization of “the weakness” in Waiting to Exhale, which is a trait that has been at the core of many of his performances. It’s as if as soon as he comes on-screen he says “I have juicy lips, a boyish gaze, and I’m 6’3″. Don’t worry about the fact that I’m triflin’/have a perm/am a criminal/am some sort of racially-charged manifestation of the Catholic church, you know you want this!” And we do. These days, Leon is head of Leon and The Peoples, a reggae-soul band that makes some good music; although he doesn’t have a drop of West Indian blood, of course he has that hat to the side and that boyish smirk (at 46 years of age!) so I approve. This song is from Bill Dukes’ upcoming movie Cover.