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Kicking a brother when he's down-low

Posted by Wesley Morris  May 13, 2008 11:25 AM

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I'm finally getting around to the memo from Jazzmyne PR about Terrance Dean's "explosive," instantly notorious, just-released-today memoir in which the saddish story of Dean's life culminates with a series of salacious accounts of gay/bisexual black entertainers on the DL. Dean is described as a "former MTV and Hollywood insider," and he grinds his ax in a way sure to keep the Simon & Schuster legal department pleased: all the names have been changed. Not that it matters. Dean describes his closet cases to a fair-thee-well. For instance, "Lucas, a megastar" might be on the hot seat when he does publicity for his big summer movie. Here's the author's description of "Gus." (Any typos and weird grammar are from the publicity materials. And you can play guessing games over at Gawker.)

[He's an attractive singer with] "clear skin, dark eyes, bushy eyebrows, and short, wavy hair did not give way for a thug image. He was just too pretty... One morning, I turned on my television and I wasn't prepared for what I saw on BET-- my boy, Gus, [on] parade in his video with a host of celebrity cameos mean mugging for the camera -- I just wondered how he would keep his secret of sleeping with men a secret."

How, indeed. Most of the excerpts read that way: like E. Lynn Harris sending Terry McMillan a oen-handed email from his BlackBerry. The book's full name is "Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry -- from Music to Hollywood." Obviously, S&S didn't think enough of it to put their best people on the job. What's with that photo? It says "Beyoncé's librarian backup dancer" more than it does "hip-hop thug." And that fake-dissertation title? To be fair, it does seem like Dean might have a PhD in outing. And where on a map is Music? Is it closer to Hollywood or Rap City? Is Timbaland the mayor. The most explosive thing about the book appears to be the prose.

But silly me. The appeal of "Hiding in Hip-Hop" is its universality: Ladies, it's not just your men on the DL; it's your favorite stars and record producers, too. It's the irony: These homophobic rappers are having sex with each other! (According to Dean, gays totally run hip-hop. (Don't gays run everything?)) Whether any of this counts as a public service is unclear. If my blind-item Braille is any good, it doesn't sound like there's anything all that scandalous here. From a pop-culture standpoint, this all seems moot. It's doubtful any of it will be coming to a movie theater or legal download site anytime soon (although, I'm ready for "I Now Pronounce You Em and 50" whenever they are).

In the meantime, all I'm wondering is whether someone has booked Dean for the "Tyra" down low special.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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