Indochine's Top Shelf

Buffie The Body

The History Of XXL's Eye Candy

This history of XXL Eye Candy, which starts with issue number 4 somewhere around '97-'98 and goes through 2006, gives you an idea of the evolution (or perhaps the devolution) of the urban eye candy genre. As you can see, it started off with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Traci Bingham. This was back when BlackMen magazine still featured women like Tyra and Beyonce on the cover of their magazine.

We also see that Melyssa Ford was an Eye Candy as far back as August 2000, which means she's been in the game nearly a decade now. Notice there is a lot of repetition in those early years, because there was a dearth of name brand eye candy models. People like Gloria Velez, Sincerely Ward, and Pasha were all featured twice.

And then between 2004 and 2006, urban modeling hits its stride, with models like Vida, KiToy Johnson, Summer Walker, and Esther Baxter. Too bad that's where it ends. It would be interesting to have seen the years between 2007 and 2009. (Click to enlarge)


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Which TWO of These Things Does Not Belong With The Other?

This editorial in BlackMen from 2006 typifies the blurring of the line that started to happen between “models” that were known strippers and models who had never been involved with that side of the business. (Esther is not a stripper.) I can’t even think of the white analogue to the model/stripper in the urban market. Who has Maxim of FHM (repeatedly) featured on the cover who was an admitted stripper?

Anyway, I think these type of features were the beginning of the end for the urban market. This and glamorizing girls like Angel Lola Luv who were obviously not the genuine article.


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Why It’s Important We Bring Some Class Back To Urban Modeling

I’m going to take a break in my regularly scheduled programming to talk about something that warrants discussion in my opinion: the rapid decline of the urban modeling industry.

As anyone who follows urban modeling knows, after Buffie the Body hit the scene in 2004, the quality of the market took a serious nosedive*. These days, booty shaking videos and thongs abound; one piece, full back bikinis, however, are nearing extinction. Say what you will about Melyssa Ford, but at least she did this with some class.

Why is class important?

Advertising Dollars

For urban modeling to be taken seriously as a genre and attract advertisers that will support the magazines and websites featuring your favorite models, it cannot continue in the direction it is heading. Advertising in print magazines is already becoming increasingly rare as media migrates to the net, but poor content is also to blame for top advertisers abandoning ship on urban modeling magazines. "Advertisers refuse to advertise in Smooth because a black woman with curves…resembles pornography." (Westhoff, “End Run, How a Few Black Publishers Are Making a Play for the Maxim Man” Village Voice (May 22, 2007) The Village Voice Online.) That’s right. To the mainstream world, a picture of Bria Myles oiled down in a thong is pretty much porn, and quality advertisers do not want to be affiliated with that type of content. No advertisers means no money, and no money means no sustainable business model for profitability, aka a dead industry.

The Best Models Are No Longer Willing To Do It

I recently shot a model named Sabrina Hunter who was featured on this blog. She got an incredible response and quickly started burning a trail through the internet. But less than a month after we had shot, she decided she didn’t want to do it anymore. Her reason: “I HATED the reputation urban models have earned and I don’t want to be guilty by association.” (See Sabrina’s Blog Post)

This is not an isolated incident. The more urban modeling is associated with stripping and booty shaking videos on Youtube, the less any self-respecting woman is going to want to do this. Fewer quality models means less respect for the genre and fewer advertising dollars, not to mention that we the consumers miss out on the best girls because the market has become a cesspool. Again, a dead industry.

What’s The Problem; What’s The Solution

The women who’ll do anything for some spotlight aren’t really the problem; it’s the consumers who are too shortsighted to see that their insatiable desire for increasingly risqué content is driving this market into the ground. For the market to be restored, consumers have to demand quality.

To analogize with the black filmmaking movement, ten years ago people complained that there were too many “ghetto” films, but when a quality flick like “The Best Man” or “Love Jones” came out, it didn’t draw the same large numbers as “Jason’s Lyric” or “Menace to Society.” So the studios stuck with the safe bet and we got more ghetto movies. When they finally realized those movies had run their course we were left with nothing. That will soon be the case with urban modeling. At this rate, there won’t be any urban modeling in 5 years. It will just be porn.

We’re at a turning point with this market. I saw a thread on a message board the other day with a picture of Bria from her recent J’Adore pictorial and someone said: “She is a beautiful young woman…No back shot needed.” We’re going to need a lot of more of that and a lot less “When she gonna do porn?” if the market is going to revive.

For those of you shaking your heads and thinking “This fool doesn’t get it. I could care less about respecting these women, I just wanna see ass!” Don’t worry; there will always be Cubana Lust type videos. The internet opened a flood gate to that sort of content that will never be closed. But there won’t always be quality magazines and websites featuring top-notch women if this train doesn’t get back on track.

Regularly scheduled programming will resume forthwith. Laugh

*Buffie was not the cause of this nosedive per se, but her entrance on the scene marks the point when the quality really started to slip.

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