Astrid S Is Ready To Slay Pop Music Her Way

In the great tradition of ABBA, Robyn, and newcomers MØ and Zara Larsson, Norwegian-born Astrid S is proving that, when it comes to pop music, Scandinavia does it best.

Making her debut at just 16 years old after appearing on Norway’s iteration of the Idol franchise, Astrid — who is now 20 years old — has slowly been building up a collection of songs that explore the shadowy undergrowth of relationships. From the brooding and lustful yearning on debut track “2AM”, to the angst-ridden “Hurts So Good,” and finally the self-conscious “Hyde,” the singer taps into that shade of gray where melancholia and euphoria meet.

However, it’s Astrid S’s two latest songs, “Breathe” and “Bloodstream,” that’ll make you sit up and pay attention. On the former, she explores the joys and dangers of an all-consuming infatuation. She uses sparse production with breathless vocal delivery. Meanwhile, “Bloodstream,” a sort of sequel, explores the moment that infatuation explodes as you’re left seeing shards of that other person everywhere you go.

Ahead of the release of her upcoming EP, we caught up with Astrid S to talk joining the army, dropping out of school, talent shows, and exactly why Scandinavians make the best pop music.

Is it true that when you were little, you never pictured yourself being a pop star?

I think when I was six or seven I wanted to be Britney Spears or Hannah Montana. But then when I got to 12, I didn’t really want to do music. I just think I was stubborn because everyone expected it of me. When I went to high school, I did soccer for a while; I was very serious about that. I had a plan: I wanted to go into the Norwegian army—

Into the army!?

Yes [laughs]. I had this crazy plan when I was 15. And then I discovered John Mayer. That’s when I bought a guitar, and I started writing. I then signed up forIdol, and everything changed.

Shows like Idol can be difficult to navigate – how did you find it?

I think it depends on what you make out of it. For me, it was just a fun thing. I had always watched it when I was little. It was a comeback season when I turned 16, and I just thought I had to try it out. But if you’re in a show like that, you’re invested, and if you make sure you’re in charge of what songs you do and what you wear, I think you’re going to be alright.

How did you adjust back to normal life?

I went back to high school right after, but by that time I had a manager and I had a publishing deal, so I was writing. I had a break from being in the public eye, and I just spent time writing to find out what kind of songwriter I was, and what I would like to sound like as an artist; I think that was a really good time for me. I enjoyed the quiet and the time to finish school.

You didn’t finish school though, did you?

No, I quit.

What did your parents make of that?

They were really supportive! I remember I suggested it to them originally about moving to Oslo — I’m from a small village — and at first, they were like, “No, that’s not going to happen.” I was okay with that because I expected that answer, but then I remember coming home one day, they had talked about it, and they really wanted me to do it. They basically threw me out the house and sent me to Oslo.

You just put out “Bloodstream,” and it’s pretty epic. What was the inspiration for the song?

That songwriting session was the coolest session that I’ve had. We wrote two songs, and the idea was always to put them together. So “Bloodstream” was actually, in the beginning, two different songs. I remember I played an Ariana Grande song fromDangerous Woman, “Forever Boy,” and there was synth sound that I really liked. The producers made something similar, and it really inspired me.

The video gives the impression that it’s about a dangerous relationship, but then some of the lyrics are quite sweet and tender.

It’s a very vulnerable song, too. It’s just about how everything you experience with a boyfriend, or someone you love, transforms into that person once that relationship breaks down. It’s bittersweet.

Music from Scandinavia really captures that darkness well. Why do you think that is?

I remember listening to music on the radio when I was younger, and it was always American and British music. I remember just listening to the melodies and the production, and I think that’s why we’re so melody driven now. It’s really nice when you make a song in the studio and try to capture the feeling of what the melody is telling you or what the production is telling you. I like it when it speaks together. In my experience, I’ll be in the studio with Scandinavians, and we’ll listen to a pop song, or make a happy track, and we try and write something, lyrically, that has an undertone of sadness to it.

Don’t you get self-conscious about exposing yourself like that emotionally?

Of course, but that’s the nice thing about it, too. That’s what makes me human, and I think [when I play live] people like to see that on stage. If I feel nervous about something, then I’ll just tell the audience.

The way that people consume music is constantly changing, and in Scandinavia streaming is the most popular way that people engage. Does that put you off making a full album?

I would love to make an album. I remember growing up and collecting albums, just listening to them on repeat. I just have to find the time — I don’t want to make an album just for the sake of it. I think it should be with someone I love working with, and we should lock up in a cabin and make amazing music. I’m not rushing anything, but I’m definitely going to make one.

But you must be recording all the time?

It’s crazy, I probably have between 100 and 200 demos in my Dropbox. But I really feel like the more I write, the better writer I become. And the more people I work with, the more likely I’ll find that one producer I feel like gets my sound and find those people I want to make an album with. It’s weird, I feel like every tenth song I write is a good one. And then every 10th good one is a great song. Those are the songs I want to get.

It’s like a muscle, I guess.

I guess. Then again, there are artists that don’t do a lot of sessions or don’t spend a lot of time in the studio. They’ll write 20 songs and 15 of them are great. I just think it’s whatever works for you. I have to write a lot and work with different people to keep it going.

Astrid S releases her new EP later this year. “Breathe” and “Bloodstream” are available now.

Advice from Couples Who Have Been Together for 10+ Years

It shouldn’t have been that difficult to find gay couples who have been in a relationship with their partner for 10 years or more…but it really was. This reveals the sad truth regarding the fate of same-sex relationships for some men: They typically don’t end with happily ever after.

Luckily, I was still able to find 10 couples who’ve been together for 10+ years. They all agreed to take a survey about their relationship. (The names of the respondents in this piece are changed for the sake of anonymity.)

Going into this project, I assumed the usual culprits for a healthy relationship: honest and direct communication, a passionate sex life, patience, compromise, and generosity. I was right. These factors absolutely contributed to a successful long-term relationship, but there were also a few emerging themes that I didn’t expect.

Out of the 10 couples who took the survey, the average number of years together was 19. Three of the couples claimed their relationship was closed, whereas six stated they were in an open relationship. One couple stated they were polyamorous.

With that out of the way, here are some of the main themes that emerged.

Infidelity is not a deal-breaker

Many respondents had their partner cheat on them, or violate the terms of their open relationship. (For example, some men agreed they would only play together, and their partner went off and had sex with another man by himself.) However, infidelity was never a deal breaker for these men. They admitted that it posed additional challenges, but as Warren, who’s been with his partner for 20 years, stated, “We work every day to rebuild and reestablish the trust and faith that was lost, but in many ways, I think it has made our relationship stronger. It has forced us to communicate.”

The couples were also very clear to attack the root of their infidelity. Were they feeling sexually frustrated? Were they feeling disconnected from their partner? Are they simply incapable of sleeping with the same person for decades on end? They spoke, in great detail, about why their partner felt the need to cheat.

Embracing the present

As you get older, you don’t know if you are going to grow together or if you’re going to grow apart. You can’t focus on the future because there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen. Instead, you need to embrace the present. As Allen mentioned, “Perhaps someday, DJ and I will change in ways that make us incompatible. Perhaps the romantic connection we share will shift to something else. I’d be upset, very upset, but it remains a possibility, as it does for everyone. Until then I’m grateful for what I have [with him].”

Rejecting heteronormative, or “straight” ideas of relationships

Perhaps it was a skewed sample (or simply too small of a sample size),but the majority of the men who took the survey were in an ethical, non-monogamous relationship. Of course, this isn’t traditional or standard. One respondent explicitly mentioned that it was important to reject conventional ideas of what marriages are “supposed” to look like. He said, “Do not model it after our heterosexual counterparts. It is different in many ways. [As gay men,] we have to make our own rules.”

Honesty to the point it’s hurtful

The only time I tell a white lie is if he asks me if he looks fat,” Aaron said, who’s been in an open relationship with his husband for 15-and-a-half years. But that seemed to be the only time it was acceptable to lie. Nearly all the couples were “as open and honest as I can be, to the point of it hurting his feelings.” There never seemed to be a reason to lie, and as one respondent said, “Lies only lead to being upset. Lies are what soap operas are based on, and I don’t want to live in a soap opera!”

Staying in touch with him throughout the day

Staying in contact throughout the day, and calling when one partner is out of town seemed crucial to a healthy relationship. “We text all the time while we’re at work,” George said, who’s been in a relationship with his partner for 21 years. “It’s important to know what’s going on with your partner throughout the day. It makes you feel connected.”

Finding someone who you can talk to…forever

God knows gays love to have “types” and reject romantic partners based off of their appearance. While that may get you to the one-year relationship mark, it definitely won’t get you to the 10-year mark. It’s necessary to find someone who makes you smile and has something interesting to say. As Mike mentioned, “Find someone who you can laugh with and enjoy talking to. Sex will become less and less important as you grow older, and you need to have someone who you enjoy just hanging out with.”

Stay Fresh: Gym Bag Essentials

Spring is in the air, and the beach body countdowns are on. Whether you are a seasonal gym rat or a year-long health fanatic, we’ve compiled a list of things that need to find their way into your gym bag.

Cleanse by Lauren Napier Facial Wipes

After working out, your skin can be red, inflamed, and overheated. It’s important to gently remove sweat and oil without stripping or irritating the skin. Cleanse is a gentle but effective way to get rid of sweat, oil, pollutants, sunscreen residue, chlorine, and other impurities without altering the skin’s pH. The ingredients consist of an all-star lineup: water, aloe, cucumber, and chamomile. Also, the cotton blend cloth glides easily over any stubble or facial hair without leaving particles behind. Each towelette is individually packaged so you can take one, or a few, anywhere.

Dermalogica Ultra Calming Facial Mist

Your body can take up to an hour to cool down after a workout, and any creams can make you sweat more. Use this facial mist instead to soothe and hydrate. It also helps to fight free radicals while it calms and will help in preventing future flare-ups.

Balla Body Powder

Two of the best things in life are thick thighs and apple pies. But alas, they are also two of my main reasons for gyming. Chaffing is my least favorite part of working out. Balla Body Powder is a game changer. You can use this aluminum free powder anywhere you feel a rub or heat. Great for your boys, taint, crack, back, armpits, and feet — basically anything that rubs or sweats. Balla is available in three different formulas: regular, fragrance-free, and for those of you who like to feel the wind on your balls, tingle.

Remodeez Odor and Moisture Removers

Gym shoes receive regular abuse and very little maintenance. Socks will help to soak up some sweat and odor, but chances are your shoes will still be a little damp after a great workout. Remodeez uses charcoal derived from coconut husks to eliminate order instead of harsh chemicals that only mask it. After a workout, slip these moldable pads into your shoes, and you won’t have to worry about stinking up your locker or gym bag.

The Laundress Sport Spray

This non-toxic spray adds scent while eliminating odor. Spray one spritz per garment and throw them back into your gym bag. The scent is clean and addictive: leafy greens, sweet oranges, eucalyptus, and jasmine. This spray also has antibacterial properties to kill off any unwanted bacteria. The four-ounce version fits easily into your gym bag without weighing it down.

Making A Difference Is Easier Than You Think

Shortly after the election, I was talking to a friend about feeling lost. She had been to many political meetings and sought out many volunteer opportunities, but was getting discouraged—where should she put her energy? It was clear that she had to do something to help stop the fascist present from stretching out into a terrifying future, but what? Her work, just then, was to find her real “work.” But how do you join the movement as a non-professional, who has never worked in nonprofits, and isn’t a lawyer?

I’ve been very lucky in finding my way. I grew up using my dad’s hand-me-down work laptops, started learning Photoshop at 12, and taught myself web design and vector graphics at 16 for a student-run environmental nonprofit. I went to college for design and realized that I wanted to always use my skills for good. Today, I pair statistics and stories, working to shift the Overton window of what’s normal and publicly acceptable to encompass and embrace the people I love—queer and trans people, undocumented people, and people of color. I want to create powerful visual arguments for their pressing need and their humanity. I also want to make policy information and research data more accessible to advocates who will wield them as tools in the fight. Sometimes I feel like this work that I love fell into my lap. I forget all the pulling and maneuvering it took to land it there, like a fish on the line: teaching myself, looking for volunteer opportunities, applying for everything.

But there are so many other paths. There are organizers: empathetic extroverts who bring people together for a common cause and have a talent for knowing what role will bring out someone’s best. There are social workers and caseworkers, who help lost and tired people navigate constant injustices and infuriating bureaucracies.

I see queer people in NYC starting food exchanges: they cooked too much stew to eat by themselves, or their work has catering and they can get a few extra sandwiches to give away. I see folks reaching out to their networks, finding housing and employment for undocumented people. They’re throwing postcard-writing parties; hosting political meetings or trans support groups in their living rooms; calling attention to overlooked grassroots organizations; compiling lists of resources and reformatting them for accessibility. I have friends who, somewhat arbitrarily, decided to volunteer at a housing hotline. They were totally unprepared and learned day by day, but then realized they had an affinity for it and were making a difference. Sometimes all it takes is showing up and committing until you and the work grow to fit each other. Sometimes all you have to do is look at what you have, and what others don’t.

Toni Morrison wrote, “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’”

What do you have? Time, power, energy, resources, connections, or a particular skill or passion? Whatever it is, you are needed. You can help.

Leonardo Corredor Will Not Strike A Pose For You

Leonardo was a model who realized his calling was to shoot rather than pose. So, he picked up a camera and watched YouTube videos before reestablishing himself as a sought-after photographer. We got him to tell us the meaning of his exclusive photo series, the porn shoot that helped launched his new career, and why those Instagram models are borrrrinnnggggg.

Grindr: Tell us about the idea behind your photo series, Virile.

Leonardo: It was all last minute, so unlike most of my shoots where I like to play with outdoors and natural light, I did this in a studio and based it on capturing a group of males. I wanted photos that show masculinity for what it means to me: skin, hair, sweat, male parts, strength, and weakness. And that’s where the name “Virile” came from. I wanted photos that make you feel like you could touch or smell the skin, which is such an intoxicating thing.

How did you cast the guys?

I usually work with agencies, but for this shoot since the level of nudity was high I just asked a few guys who seemed to trust me with the concept. Nudity, surprisingly, happens to be a lot more of an issue for males than females. I believe almost all girls secretly love being shot nude. I have been building a good group of people that trust my direction, so it is becoming easier to cast each time.

How did you transition from being in front of the camera to being behind it?

It was just meant to be. I’ve always been an artist in one way or another, and I felt like being a model didn’t truly allow me to express as much as I wanted to. I started taking photos of my mom and sisters, and my first professional shoot was a porno (a gang bang of around 30 women with three stripper dudes wearing teddy bear costumes). My friend owned a porn company so he told me I could come practice on the sets, which was actually hilarious, but you have to be very fast and skilled to not miss the important moments (like the cum shot). I had to quickly learn the camera settings and some basic lighting since I didn’t go to school.

Did being a model make it easier to know how to create a great fashion image?

I always get asked this question. I honestly don’t think being a model helps. People always have the misconception of models not being very smart or talented with other tasks, which happens to be true in a lot of cases, but is not always accurate. I’ve met beautiful, inspiring, and incredibly creative souls, who happen to model.

The one thing I would say modeling helped me with was the interaction with the talent and set control. Things like art direction, hair, makeup, etc., are all stuff that the photographer has to be in charge of.

What’s your view on Instagram models?

Instagram and social media platforms are creating an army of good-looking, cute, fun, sexy kids who are taking over advertising. The thing is that social media is something that’s meant to speak to the mass. Art and fashion usually aren’t about the mass. As an artist or editor, you cannot expect to create iconic and unforgettable images without unique and amusing subjects, which let’s face it, a lot of the social media kids aren’t.

How has social media helped your career?

Social media is a good way for new artists to showcase what they do and get noticed. It definitely helped me make the transition from model to photographer, even though I used to do a lot better on social media when I was just posting photos of myself half naked.

Tell us about your last date. How was it?

I can’t remember the last time I went on a date. I just hang out with straight couples, which I guess is my thing.

What’s your most prized possession?

I know it might not be a literal answer, but I can only think of my family. Everything else is replaceable.

What’s next?

Right now all my focus is on my gallery and my book, and I have a few exciting fashion shoots coming out soon. Other than that, just living one day at a time, having fun, trusting the steps of my own process, and being excited to absorb the things that fascinate me about my job and life in general.

More about Leonardo:

www.leocphoto.com

http://instagram.com/leonardocorredor/

https://www.instagram.com/LeonardoCorredorphotography/

http://theindustrymgmt.com/artist/print-and-motion/293-leonardo-corredor/

http://twitter.com/MrCorredorhttps://twitter.com/LeoCphoto

https://www.facebook.com/LeonardoCorredorphotography

http://models.com/people/leonardo-corredor

To view the full and uncensored story please click here: http://www.leocphoto.com/virile/

The Most “YASSS” Makeovers in Movie History

We all love a good movie makeover. Some really wow us and some look like they just popped off their LensCrafters glasses and that was it. Is Rachael Leigh Cook REALLY that different after taking off her Lisa Loeb specs and putting on her Mandee’s dress? If you haven’t guessed already, you won’t be seeing She’s All That on here. So let’s count down some of the most gag-worthy:

1. Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) – Mean Girls (2004)

This is an iconic moment for most gays born after 1990. Cady went from American Eagle to Bebe in a matter of days. I think the real makeover was her going from valedictorian to “most likely to have a tramp stamp” bitch.

2. Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) – Batman Returns (1992)

This is the epitome of feeling oneself. She went from a meek secretary in glasses and a BROWN skirt suit to seductress bitch who got some contact lenses and volumizing hair spray! And who doesn’t love when she purrs, “I dunno about you Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier.”

3. Link (Brendan Fraser) – Encino Man (1992)

Brendan Fraser was a BABE in the 90’s, I’ve always thought so. Well, until I saw him on the TV show The Affair recently. Now he looks like someone who would have to let everyone know he’s moved into the neighborhood.

4. Fern Mayo (Judy Greer) – Jawbreaker (1999)

One of the most sinister mean-girl makeovers in cinema history, Courtney Shayne (played by the legendary Rose McGowan), turns poor little Fern into bitch Vylette (with a questionable hairstyle). Putting her no longer in the shadow but in that sun!

5. Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep), Death Becomes Her (1992)

If you don’t love this film, you lose your gay card. They could have just released this scene as the entire movie, and we all still would have been gagging. Isabella Rossellini plus Queen Meryl? That’s a combo platter I’d order with a biscuit and a diet coke. When she stares in that mirror and her boobs inflate, her ass lifts, and her skin smoothes out…bitch, I wake up every morning hoping that’ll happen to me.

6. Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) – Teen Witch (1989)

Another magical makeover, and the best ‘80s one there is. Big hair, shoulder pads, ‘80s lewks as far as the eyes could see, and magical jewelry…TOP THAT!

7. Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) – Just Friends (2005)

We all know how hot Ryan Reynolds is, so seeing him go from a guy in a fat suit to a daddy in an Armani suit really made me question how Jamie Palamino didn’t jump on him the second he came back into town.

8. The Beast (Robby Benson) – Beauty & The Beast (1991)

Is it just me, or is the cartoon beast WAY hotter than the new movie beast? We need a gay version of this: Gaston The Beast. Just two men, and their hairy chests, in love.

9. Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) – Stardust (2007)

I know, another Michelle Pfeiffer moment. Bitch, she can have ALL the moments! This whole transformation is basically me getting home on Fridays after work and getting ready for the weekend. But by Sunday, rest assured, I look like the balding, haggard, grotesque Lamia again…with a cold rag on my forehead, a giant bottle of Smartwater, and nine bottles of Advil.

10. Tai (Brittany Murphy) – Clueless (1995)

One of the most absolutely classic makeover scenes that will ever be. I basically wanted to do this to all my girlfriends in high school. Rinse out that Kool-Aid cherry red, toss the sweats and flannels and let’s go over to Rainbow so I can dress you up like my own giant living doll.

11. Josie Gellar (Drew Barrymore) – Never Been Kissed (1999)

She’s not Josie Grossie anymore! First, you must love her metallic pink prom dress. Second, adult Josie lives inside most of us. And the ending, at the baseball game, makes me reach for my Kleenex travel pack every single time.

Zeta Alpha Zeta – The House Bunny (2008)

Shelley basically turned a house of girls into the cast from the HBO show, Cathouse. The only thing missing was Air Force Amy. I love that Air Force Amy has a Wikipedia page and she’s described as “an American prostitute who MSNBC calls a living legend in the world of sex.” Now that’s #goals.

13. Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) – Pretty Woman (1990)

Pretty Woman is one of the most crucial movie makeovers to ever take place. She went from Rentboy to SeekingArrangements.com in one montage. But you couldn’t take the hooker out of her brain, just her clothes. And when she goes back to the store to tell those evil bitches they made a big mistake, that is a finger waving, gag-worthy, “GET THEM HENNY” moment.

14. Kevin & Marcus (Shawn & Marlon Wayans) – White Chicks (2004)

White Chicks, or the Iggy Azalea biopic, is probably the last great thing the Wayans brothers have done. Special shout out to Deb, from the TV show Dexter, for that whole scene where she calls herself Cellulite Sally. That’s some Oscar-nominated dialogue right there.

15. Anne Hathaway Movies

Really, 85.7% of Anne Hathaway’s movies have had her transforming somehow. I was starting to think she told her agent to just say yes to anything that has a makeover in the storyline. Please see below for evidence…

The Best TLC Songs You Haven’t Heard

The last 25 years have been difficult for TLC. The band first emerged in 1992 with Ooooooohhh… On The TLC Tip, a playful mix of funk, rap, and RB which catapulted them to global stardom. In the years that followed, they experienced bankruptcy, various public controversies and, of course, the tragic and disturbingly public death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. Yet, they still established themselves as one of the most successful bands in history – to date, they are estimated to have sold 65 million albums worldwide.

This untouchable musical legacy is set to continue this year, with a new album crowd-funded by a total of over 4,000 investors on Kickstarter. The two remaining members, T-Boz and Chilli, initially requested $150,000 but raised a total of $430,000 to support the as-yet-untitled album (which fans are being asked to name) due for release later this year.

The first sample of this new era came last month with the release of “Way Back,” a sunny, laid-back debut single which features hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg. Not only is it a reward for loyal fans, it’s an opportunity for the band to create the final chapter of their turbulent journey on their own terms. Sure, we’ve all likely screamed “No Scrubs” at overconfident guys in the club and created pajama-clad recreations of the iconic “Creep” video, but in celebration of their new release, here are some stone-cold classics you might not have heard yet.

“Sumthin’ Wicked This Way Comes”

Named after a line from MacBeth and featuring the inimitable André 3000, Crazysexycool’s closing track is a smooth, guitar-driven social commentary. Lifted from an album packed with hits, the song is an underrated classic which deals with themes of violence and corruption; Lopes’s closing rap is an inarguable highlight, creating the final chapter of one of the most iconic albums in musical history.

“Dirty Dirty”

A left-field, upbeat offering from the band’s 2002 album 3-D, “Dirty Dirty” features hectic production by Timbaland, as well as a guest verse by Missy Elliott. Released just seven months after the tragic passing of Left Eye, the LP is largely more upbeat than its predecessors but failed to reach the same dizzying sales. Still, this cut not only stands out as an example of Timbaland in his heyday, it’s also one of the more club-ready tracks in an expansive, diverse discography.

“Somethin’ You Wanna Know”

Taken from their debut album Ooooooohhh… On The TLC Tip, this slow jam displays a rare moment of tenderness. Its themes are increasingly relevant in the age of technology – it’s about communication in relationships and the importance of discussion as opposed to blind belief in unsubstantiated rumors. Still, no matter how much you read into the lyrics, this track stands alone as an RB classic.

“If They Knew”

Relationships are a constant source of interest for TLC; whether it’s the good, bad, or ugly, the group sings about love on a regular basis. “If They Knew” is slightly different. A tale of infidelity told from both sides; the track is punctuated by stuttering beats and largely unapologetic lyrics which more than live up to the band’s ‘bad girl’ reputation.

“Let’s Just Do It”

Although not technically a TLC track, this cut – lifted from Left Eye’s second posthumous album Eye Legacy – does feature Chilli and T-Boz on guest vocals, as well as another appearance by Missy Elliott. Funky, futuristic, and irresistibly fresh, the glitchy production blends seamlessly with Left Eye’s trademark poetic flow to create an essential entry on this list.

“Don’t Pull Out On Me Yet”

This ode to good, long sex sessions is one of the final tracks on 1999’s FanMail, and it doesn’t get the love it deserves. Despite the absence of a Left Eye rap, the group drops the tempo for a slice of seduction. This is more than worthy of inclusion on any slow jam playlist. Better still, the title stays on brand by providing yet another subtle nod to safe sex.

“If I Was Your Girlfriend”

TLC covers Prince – what more could you ask for? Released as part of the band’s breakout album Crazysexycool, this rendition of the 1987 funk classic is one of the record’s most underrated highlights. It’s also subtly subversive; the women stick to the original gender markers, adding a feminist twist to a stone-cold classic.

“It’s Alright”

Although leaked in 2002, “It’s Alright” was actually recorded in 1998 and slated to be released as the first single from Fan Mail. Things changed, and “No Scrubs” was eventually chosen instead – a decision which makes sense, considering it remains one of their most iconic tracks to date. Still, “It’s Alright” is a brief yet catchy banger and worth a listen; it’s a light-hearted tribute to the importance of having fun in a world that can often seem destructive and chaotic. Needless to say, it still sounds as fresh and relevant as ever.

“Give It To Me While It’s Hot”

This uptempo sex jam rounds off 3D – which arguably remains the most underrated of the band’s albums to date. As the title suggests, this track is dedicated to the kind of fiery passion that needs to be grabbed without distraction. Smooth, funky, and forward-thinking in terms of its production, the song is an example of T-Boz and Chilli at their best. More generally, it’s worth digging deep into the album – even the lead single, “Girl Talk” never truly gained the recognition it deserved.

“I’m Good At Being Bad”

Perhaps the most underrated song of TLC’s career, “I’m Good At Being Bad” was released as a promotional single, but ultimately upstaged by commercial behemoth “No Scrubs.” Initially inspired by Janet Jackson’s “What About,” the women lay down exactly what they expect from men, sing about masturbation, and generally solidify their untouchable reputation as three of the baddest bitches in musical history.

GTFO: Tel Aviv Pride

How does a week away with 200,000 swelteringly hot guys sound? If you can handle it, then you need to start preparing for the jaw-dropping gay gathering that is Tel Aviv Pride. We asked Nadav Peretz from Outstanding Travel how to make the most of this epic event.

Grindr: When should we visit?

Nadav: This year’s Tel Aviv Pride week starts on June 4 and ends on June 10. Many choose to stay longer and explore more of the country though. The whole city gets involved and celebrates its diversity with parties, parades, concerts, cultural festivals, and so much more.

What can we expect from Tel Aviv Pride?

The crown jewel of Tel Aviv Pride Week is the annual Pride Parade (June 9) that attracts hundreds of thousands of people. They gather for the opening ceremony at Meir Park and march along the coast before arriving at Charles Clore Park for a massive outdoor festival on the beach. During Tel Aviv Pride Week, there are dozens of parties with world-class DJs and productions. Of course, most tourists would like to tour Israel during Pride Week; they can join our Tel Aviv Pride Gay Bus tours to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Petra, and the Galilee.

The top events this year will be:

Andrew Christian Pool Party at the Poli House – June 7
Water Park event – June 8
Papa Party – June 8
Tel Aviv Pride Parade – June 9
DJ Offer Nissim Party – June 10
The Pet Shop Boys Concert – June 10

Where’s the best place to watch the parade?

Unlike most parades, Tel Aviv’s is open for everyone to participate and march together for the entire route from Meir Park all the way to Charles Clore Park. If you prefer just to watch, the best spot will be the pool side of the David Intercontinental Hotel or the Royal Beach Hotel.

What makes it different to other pride events?

The route of the parade starts in Meir Park and ends at the beautiful beachfront of Tel Aviv with a colorful concert.Tel Aviv is an amazing, unique cosmopolitan city with amazing nightlife and a great beach, which will be packed with plenty of guys from around the world.

What‘s this year’s message for the event?

This year’s parade will celebrate bisexual rights.

Any insider tips?

Tel Aviv is very hot and humid during the month of June. While that means an abundance of hot guys in very little clothing…remember to keep hydrated, especially when outside all day for the parade.

What is your favorite part of the event?

The best part is marching the parade with so many friends and tourists from around the world and celebrating freedom, equal rights, and love.

What MUST we bring in our suitcase?

Sexy swimwear and sun protection lotion.

Finally, are there any good causes to get involved when visiting?

You can always visit the Tel Aviv Gay Centerand ask if they need a volunteer for any of the Pride Week events!

Special thanks to Nadav Peretz from Outstanding Travel for the lowdown and photos.

More info:

12 Fierce Queer Movie Characters of Color

It was about time a film like Moonlight, a universal ode to love about gay black men, won some Oscar gold. But how much do you know about all the groundbreaking depictions of queer people of color that came before it? Check out some of the more memorable roles below. The best part is that they’re all a part of equally fantastic films.

1. Alike (Adepero Oduye) – Pariah (2011)

Pariah is a touching autobiographical film directed by Dee Rees that follows a teenage girl, Alike, who is forced to come out to discover her voice. It’s a straightforward coming-out story, but the film stands apart in its attention to detail and Oduye’s gripping performance.

2. Carlos (Jesse Garcia) – Quinceañera (2006)

Jesse Garcia is so hot and sensitive in this film that it will make you want to move to East LA (I actually did). The film is sweet and represents a time in the sun-kissed metropolis that fades with every gentrifying minute.

3. Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and 4. Alexandra (Mya Taylor) – Tangerine (2015)

Sean Baker’s low-budget masterpiece is so sharp in its observation of street life in Hollywood, and Kitana and Mya just slay. The sheer emotional power and performance in the wig finale is next level.

5. Paul Poitier (Will Smith) – Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

Will Smith plays Paul Poitier, a gay hustler lying his way through the Upper East Side. This is the movie that made Smith a movie star, and it’s still his best performance.

6. Miguel Álvarez (Antonio Banderas) – Philadelphia (1993)

With the recent passing of Jonathan Demme, it would be remiss not to point out Antonio Banderas’s portrayal of Miguel Alvarez. Alvarez is Andrew Beckett’s (played by Tom Hanks) lover and the scene where they tell Alvarez that he’s not a part of Beckett’s real family was so jarringly wrong. It was scenes like this that were wake-up calls for most of America about gay rights.

7. Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) and 8. Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg) – The Color Purple (1985)

Shug Avery and Celie Johnson’s relationship – while not as explicitly spelled out in the movie as it was in the book – was super scandalous at the time. Despite it being toned down for the big screen, their scenes together were tender and magical.

9. Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) – Before Night Falls (2000)

Reinaldo Arenas was a Cuban queer poet and the focus of an impressionistic biopic by Julian Schnabel. The film delves deeply into the inner lives of its protagonist, and Javier Bardem knocked this one out of the park.

10. David (Joe Seo) – Spa Night (2016)

Andrew Ahn’s quiet meditation on queerness in LA’s K-Town was a big hit at Sundance in 2016. Joe Seo’s understated but subtle performance as David, the queer Korean boy looking for his true self, was effective and moving. Spa Night transports you into the most secret of worlds. It’s also pretty steamy.

11. Yiu-Fai (Leslie Cheung) and 12. Po-Wing (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) – Happy Together (1997)

Master filmmaker Wong Kar Wai weaves this story of two quarreling lovers who flee Hong Kong to Argentina, run out of money, and struggle with their dysfunctional relationship. Leslie Cheung and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung are so good at being messy and love crazy.

5 LGBTQ Executives You Should Know

While Beyoncé and her girls may run the world, who says gays and lesbians can’t run successful companies? Although being “out” in the workplace can present many challenges – only 21 states in the U.S. have laws preventing LGBTQ workers from being discriminated against by their employers – having out and proud LGBTQ professionals and allies in the workplace has led to us having a seat at the table to challenge the status quo. It has also inspired and influenced a generation of non-heteros to climb the corporate ladder while being true to themselves.

Here’s a look at five inspirational LGBTQ executives breaking down barriers and shattering glass ceilings for all of us.

Inga Beale Chief Executive Officer – Lloyd’s of London

Inga is the first female CEO in Lloyd’s of London’s over 300-year history. She’s also one of the only openly bisexual business leaders at her level.

Jonathan Mildenhall Chief Marketing Officer – Airbnb

Remember that time Beyoncé posted a photo at her Airbnb to show us she’s just like all of us? Jonathan did that. He also works to ensure Airbnb is a welcoming and inclusive platform for all of us.

Vivienne Ming Managing Partner – Socos LLC

You think being a non-straight man in tech is difficult? Now, imagine being transgender. Vivienne is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist, and entrepreneur. She and her wife co-founded Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes.

Torrence Boone VP, Global Agency Sales & Services – Google

Torrence is a top executive in the global business organization and focused on driving digital engagement and transformation for LGBTQ small businesses. Google says his openness as a leader has a huge impact.

Joseph Evangelisti Chief Communications Officer – JPMorgan Chase

Joe is managing director and head of worldwide corporate communications and media relations and reports directly to CEO Jamie Dimon at one of the world’s largest investment banks.Talk about having a seat at the table.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.