Harlemâ€™s Son of Funâ€™s Rich Pageant
They hung on every lyrical word he spoke, their bodies arching toward him â€” lips, breasts, and hips thrusting into the man, ravishing him. Nipsey Russell, the powerful nucleus of their desires, was emboldened by it.
Some celebrities save lives. Nipsey Russell almost took mine.
I was young, inexperienced in the ways of fame, and easily starstruck, walking the streets on Manhattanâ€™s Upper West Side, tethered to Grandmaâ€™s sturdy hand. I thought I was safe.
My worldview was narrowly illuminated by the nurturing glow of television. At the time, one of my favorite programs was _Match Game,_ a game show of minor celebrities that routinely slid from good taste to rude innuendo. It featured such guests as Gary Burghoff, Eva Gabor, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Julius â€œNipseyâ€ Russell, who parsed reality in rhyme, simple and funny, so that even a child like me could understand.
Nobody noticed the commotion but me. I was drawn to the sight, women buzzing around a lone black man. The outside world ceased to have any influence on me. I separated from my senses, just another satellite orbiting the magnetism of Nipsey Russell. I was lost.
My hand slipped from the anchor of Grandmaâ€™s grip. I was adrift and rudderless. The closer I got to Russell, the more enchanted I became. I wasnâ€™t alone. Circling him were some of the most gorgeous women I had seen in my short life. They hung on every lyrical word he spoke, their bodies arching toward him â€” lips, breasts, and hips thrusting into the man, ravishing him. Nipsey Russell, the powerful nucleus of their desires, was emboldened by it.
Thatâ€™s when I heard the horn and the hoarse cry of my grandma, like the shrill signal of the Emergency Broadcast System. In a flash, the mundane world returned, and what had been ecstasy turned sharply into a near-death experience. Bits and pieces of the environment came together like an explosion in reverse, and with a jolt I realized I was standing unattended in the middle of a busy intersection. Turning my head, I saw the truck bearing down on me. I was frozen, a sacrifice to the intoxicating charms of entertainment.
Grandmaâ€™s arm cut through the chaos and pulled me safely to the curb. I was alive. Nipsey Russell was down the street, disappearing into the pedestrian traffic. I took one last glance at the fantastic scene: the women, the man, the power of a good punch line. I wanted that. I wanted the gift of gab, to enthrall women until they erupted in a laugh riot. That was power. That was Nipsey Russell. Rest in peace, funnyman.