A Gentleman's Guide

MARCH | 2019

MARCH | 2019 | BLACK, GAY & GIFTED

SORE EYE’S SIGHT

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Calling someone a “sight for sore eyes” is a way to express excitement in seeing them after a considerable amount of time has passed. Some sights for sore eye for us today might include Barack Obama’s unconstitutional return to the U.S. Presidency, gas prices that are under two dollars per gallon and an eighth season of ABC’s Scandal (although we’re not too sure about that last one). Sometimes the people and things we cherish the most take their leave from our lives, and we’re left to find ways to fill whatever void it is they left. However, there are those rare occasions when the things we’ve lost find their way back to us. Derrick L. Briggs is more of the exception and less of the rule here, because although he’s been gone for a minute, he’s back with the jump off. And he’s bringing ADTV along with him for the ride.

Many of us met Briggs through his infamous Youtube channel, ADTV. He, along with Xem Van Adams, B. Scott, Lonnell Williams of 3LWTV, and The Skorpion Show’s Kevin and Makel took to the then-developing streets of YouTube, a platform that once allowed its users to broadcast themselves. The platform has since been heavily gentrified after being purchased by Google for a whopping $1.65 billion US dollars. The acquisition was heralded as being aggressively adventurous, but it's pretty safe to say that Google’s recouped every dime they invested in what was then labeled as a start up. Back then ADTV, or Attention Deficit Television, boasted a fan base of over 10,000 subscribers and received an estimated two million video views. The ADTV brand produced a type of content many of its viewers knew that they wanted, but didn’t know that they needed. Briggs and his (beautiful) cast of sometimes shirtless co hosts talked about the pitfalls of SGL relationships, sex parties and drug use within the community. ADTV offered fans the representation they so desperately craved, which is what always kept them coming back for more.

Briggs’ role in creating what he once called his legacy, lead to him landing some noteworthy acting gigs in films that will forever retain their SGL cult classic mantles. In 2009 Derrick played the role of Lonnie Wilson in Roger S. Omeus Jr.’s “Finding me”. This gave fans an opportunity to watch as Derrick dipped his big toe into the proverbial pool of acting, and it wasn’t a horrible first effort. Derrick resumed the role of Lonnie in the 2011 sequel, “Finding Me: Truth” and appeared, as the same character, in three episodes of the web series spin off. Derrick “Boss” Briggs wasn’t done there, as he went on to lend his acting grace in Patrick-Ian Polk’s The Skinny, a dramady of sorts that found Derrick playing a character unlike any he’d ever played before.

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Briggs left his long time home of New York city nearly four years ago and eventually settled in Pennsylvania. Since then he’s been doing his best to maintain a sense of normalcy. He went to get his diver’s license and eventually bought a car. Anyone who knows anyone in NYC knows that there’s almost no sensible reason to own a car, and Derrick is no different. “I went back to school and experimented with different types of jobs. I was working at a manufacturing company, which was new for me.” He also went back to school and is very close to finishing his degree, a long time goal of his.

As far as the reemergence of the ADTV brand, Briggs stated that he just wanted to bring it back and that it had been on his mind for the past few years. But where did it go, and why? To that Derrick states that, “I had a Britney Spears moment and decided to delete everything.” He says that he felt as if there were people around him that weren’t appreciative, people who were “working on ADTV and not really appreciating it”. According to Briggs, these people were working with and on ADTV and other projects, which eventually lead to the energy they were putting into ADTV to diminish. This left him wondering what it was all for. “I got a little crazy with that because I felt like people were taking advantage of their new claim to fame, and that they didn’t appreciate what I did for them.”

However, the end of ADTV was more complex than that, as Derrick was (as we all have) going through his own things. He soon found that he didn’t have the support that a person in his position should have. He admits that he doesn’t speak with many of his former co hosts but the ones he does speak to include both Brians, Bronson and Richard, who did ADTV news with Matthew and Travis. He does, of course, keep in close contact with J’Nara Corbin. “I just spoke to her yesterday!” He says, “That’s my sister!” He included a few other details within that, but sometimes its best for people to mind their own business while waiting to see what develops when. Mr. Briggs came to experience some rather sobering truths after dissolving ADTV, and many of them were about those whom he once considered as being his friends.

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“Once ADTV shut down, I noticed who my real friends were. I think them not talking to me could be their way of showing their disdain for me ending ADTV” Derrick goes on to describe how, during his time of need, the hands reaching out to lift him up were few and far between. ”I was having a mental break down and I think that only a very small [number] of people looked out [for me]”. He emphatically identifies Corbin and Clay King as being two of his saving graces. “Clay wasn’t even a part of ADTV...he’s just a friend that I’ve known for years, and now he’s on TV doing his thing getting interviewed on CNN and BET.” His realization was, simply put, that people don’t always have your best intentions at hand. “It just baffled me that people that I worked with and gave so much energy to showed that they didn’t care.” It was either that or, as he stated during our interview, that “Everybody probably felt like I had it all together and I didn’t”.

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However, one (or several) monkeys don’t stop no show, and Derrick is the pudding’s proof of that. As earlier stated, Derrick is back, and he’s in good company with Sasha, his lively ADTV Raw co host. “I met her at a coworker’s house party. She was dating my coworker’s relative. Sasha was there and we [shared] two inappropriate jokes and we immediately clicked”, he says.“She was always just raw with what she was saying-she was just so blunt and it was so entertaining - that type of energy just kind of sticks, and so we clicked”. He couldn’t remember the joke that Sasha and he shared a laugh over, but he’s almost certain that it was sexual in nature. “From the first time I met Sasha I knew in my head that I was gonna work with her because she has a lot to say and she was very open and honest.”

And while we’re on the subject of ADTV Raw, we were curious about the difference between ADTV Raw and ADTV light. According to Derrick, “ADTV was very commercial and it was very bubble gum. Some of the questions we had were very light hearted and I think ADTV Raw was created for my more blunt, uninhibited co hosts.” The reboot offers its listeners and viewers content that’s deeper than what Briggs and his once ensemble cast of co hosts of ADTV offered, as its more unfiltered, and with purpose. “I’m older so there’s thing that I want to talk about that I’m not afraid of anymore.” He revealed that him being older has prevented him from doing the same things he did before with ADTV and that there are certain things that he wouldn’t do again. “There were times when I wasn’t as organized as I am now.” he says, and that he felt like he was competing with himself and with the world abroad. “There is a lot of emotional stuff that I’m not going to tack onto this new venture” and “certain things that I feel I can bring to the table now that I didn’t feel I could bring back then.”

The long standing myth was that ADTV stood for ‘About Derrick Television”, but the truth is that it stood for Adam and Derrick Television. After Briggs and his former co host Adam parted ways, he decided to change it to “Attention Deficit Television”. “I called it ‘Attention Deficit’ because I felt like the gay community, at the time, had a short attention span. I think all people have a short attention span to some degree, so I wanted ADTV to be fun, quick and on the go.” However, he’s recently decided to change the name again. “I don’t call it ‘Attention Deficit’ anymore because words are powerful.” He has since decided to remix the original rumored title of the show. “NOW it means ‘Absolutely Derrick’ and I think making it more about myself allows me the patience to make it what i think it can become.”

Derrick has been a prominent member of the SGL community for some time, and regardless of his attempts to live a stealth life, there are a lot of people who still know who he is. It’s safe to say that he’s maintained, at the very least, a nominal amount of notoriety, and is still as regarded as he is recognized among certain circles. He might not be a Kardashian (although he, as a black man with a black penis, meets at least two of the three qualifications to be Kardashian adjacent), the rumor mill is still in production when it comes to how he moves.

To date, Briggs states that two of the most egregious rumors that he’s heard about himself are that he slept with all of his former ADTV co hosts and that he had a casting couch. “Have there been people on my show that i’ve had some type of sexual relationship with in the past? Of course!” he says, “But it wasn’t in the same time period as ADTV”. Derrick confirmed that there were people who wanted to sleep with him because of who he was, people who he turned down. “I know how to say no” he says, “ I’m sure there have been other rumors, but I don’t care.”

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We’re sure that the production room at the rumor mill was operating at full force once Derrick landed his role as Rapist # 1 in Ian-Patrick Polk’s The Skinny. You all know where we’re going with this, but patience is a virtue. The film gives an account of a group of friends who are reunited in New York to attend the city’s pride festivities. Viewers follow the quintet of friends  throughout their adventures and finds a few of them in a club, where one of them was approached by two men. One thing lead to another and one of the groups members went home with, and was raped by both Derrick’s character and his characters friend. The date rape scene became infamous within the community and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Derrick found himself in the midst of some healthy scrutiny for playing role.

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“I was confronted plenty of times”, he says. “…people in the street and in clubs were like ‘omg, you’re that guy…!’, or ‘I can’t believe you did that…!’. Briggs says that the reactions he received served as confirmation that he did a good job. “If you believed it that means I did my job” he says. It was extremely important for Derrick that his character and his accomplice were not HIV positive, as it could have potentially lead to the victim to be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He also says that he would have turned down the role if that were the case because there’s still a lot of stigma around HIV. “If I were to play a rapist who also turned out to be HIV positive, even though it was acting…people would assume that it was my real life because people believe what they see.”

While Derrick didn’t appear on screen with fellow costar Jussie Smollett, (because let’s be honest, you were waiting on it), he was able to spend some time with the embattled actor both behind the scenes and off set. He described the embattled actor as being kind as he is sweet and spoke very highly the interactions the two shared. Of course we asked him on how he would advise Smollett, who has recently been indicted on sixteen felony counts after telling Chicago police that he was attacked by two masked men in January. The actor, who is black and gay, said the masked men beat him, made  derogatory comments and yelled, "This is MAGA country" — an apparent reference to President Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again" — before fleeing.

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“His current predicament is unfortunate, but knowing Jussie for the time frame that I knew him and have been around him, he’s a pretty cool guy. He’s actually a cute catch.” he says. “I think that he’s probably been misguided unfortunately, which has probably lead him to making these decisions.” Briggs remains hopeful that Smollett will overcome his current situation and advises him to lay low and to produce as much as possible. “He could produce ADTV!” Derrick believes that if Chris Brown can fix his career, Jussie can fix his with the right marketing team.

Its not often that we are able to stand in the presence of greatness, and that’s what Black, Gay & Gifted is all about. There are so many times when we, along with our talents and contributions to the community are overlooked, which is why we do our best to give our brothers their flowers while they’re still here! Derrick is no different and deserves to be acknowledged. He has given birth to a legacy that has, and will continue to stand the test of time and we’re excited about his return to the mainstream. Creative minds rarely rest, and Derrick L. Briggs is proof of that, as he’s got a few more projects he’s working on as well. This, when combined with the work he’s doing with ADTV Raw, foreshadow a second coming of epic proportions! Spend a little time with Derrick here to show him the love he deserves and bring some much needed relief to your sore eye’s sight.

Jeremy Carter