Lileet_Miriam: The Latest Vixen

Tara Mordin the latest Vixen in a series by Tony Ward Studio copyright 2024
Tara Mordin. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Text by Lileet_Miriam, Copyright 2024

Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Styling and Creative Direction by KVaughn 

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When I was contacted by Tony Ward Studio to partake in this project, “The Vixen Series,” I was genuinely honored, very excited, and quite honestly, humbled. I viewed this invitation to be in a league of its own – an elite circle of amazing women from all walks of life who were having their beauty, thoughts, strengths, and tribulations highlighted in a way that exuded power and commanded respect. As I began to ponder more on the concept of what it means to be deemed a “vixen,” I realized that the whole is greater than the sums of its parts. To be considered and included with these other “vixens,” meant that I brought something to the table that is equally powerful, enticing, and worthwhile that goes well beyond having a physical presence. 

Many of us have had moments in life where we are our toughest critics – questioning our worth, doubting our abilities, obsessing over how others perceive us. I think being considered a vixen allows one to fully embrace their true, authentic self and showcases how their individual uniqueness has its place in this vast world. We each have physical and interpersonal traits that make us different from the next. When we acknowledge and accept such attributes and celebrate what they truly offer, it opens a window of opportunity that is filled with confidence, empowerment, even pride. The more positivity and ownership of our value that we portray to others, the more impact and inspiration it tends to have. 

Over time, I feel that I have reached my own prime. I am unapologetically, me. I have grown a tremendous amount as a person, both inside and out. I have come to learn that my qualities do carry inherent value and that my input, time, energy, and overall presence, matter. Being a part of this series has reinforced that for me. It continuously sheds light that there truly is more to a person than what we first may see and that each of us should honor, praise, and recognize our own inner vixen, in all its amazing forms.   

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To access additional photographs from The Vixen’s Series portfolio, click herehttps://tonyward.com/the-vixens-series/

James Domingo: Erasing The Myth of Superiority

Photograph of beautiful and stylish African American woman
Celebrating Antoinette. AKA: Scorpiana. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Text by James Domingo, Copyright 2024

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Erasing The Myth of Superiority

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The 2024 election cycle may prove to be one of the most important in our country’s centuries old experiment with Democracy. 

As we wind down this Black History Month, there is always reason to celebrate the rich culture and contributions that Black Americans have woven into the fabric of America. 

Unfortunately, aside from the vast contributions of incredible music, art, literature and amazing cuisine, many other accomplishments have been purposely diminished and whitewashed from the history books by those who would prefer not to acknowledge these overwhelming contributions achieved in the face of rabid adversity. 

America, with its many successful advancements of civil rights and equality, is finding itself with a segment of our society actively working to dial our country backwards to its darkest times by resurrecting the ignorant rhetoric of the Jim Crow Era.

It’s important to remember that there are those that like to pretend that Black Americans did not contribute to the Industrial Revolution. However, in the north, we invented and received 50,000 patents which was on par with every other group of immigrants with the exception of German and English immigrants who didn’t face the adversity that Black Americans were subjected to, especially in the south where institutions and policies were extremely racist and oppressive.

Fast forward to the 2024 Election cycle and here we are again being subjected to the same ignorant rhetoric and attacks on Black History. 

For decades the GOP extremists have used their thinly veiled dog-whistles and red meat rhetoric to foment anger and resentment towards the Black American community as well as every other non-white citizen in our country including the LGBTQ  community as well.

American citizens need to stand strong against the likes of Ron DeSantis who for some strange reason thinks his misguided anger gets to dictate how and where Black history will be taught and shared. We need to stand firmly against extremists and wannabe fascist, bigoted dictators like Trump who peddles his bigoted bullshit by suggesting that Black Americans now align with him because he’s been convicted of sexual assault,  fraud and a host of other crimes. He also insisted that Black Americans will embrace him because they “loved his mugshot.” In his declining MAGAt mind he thinks Black Americans have some sort of affinity toward criminal behavior and see him as some sort of an ally or hero. He will continue to pander to Black Americans while mumbling the “N” word in private until he no longer needs them as he does with everyone in his polluted orbit.

Others in the MAGAt camp have also suggested that “the Blacks” will flock to Trump because he came out with a hideous line of sneakers that he’s yet to deliver on and wreaks of desperation.

 I suppose by their ignorant mindset, they’d also believe that he could boost sales by including a slice of watermelon and a piece of fried chicken with each purchase of his “DespAir Jordan” clown shoes.

So again, elections have consequences. The 2024 Election is one that could put some of the worst that our society has to offer back in power and diminish our standing in the world. 

We can and should avert another pandemic of racism.

So, Americans need to decide if they want our country to be run by archaic, knuckle-dragging AmeriKKKans or they can show up at the polls and vote for American leadership that will represent all of our citizens equally in the way any evolved society should. 

We’ve had 247 years to get this Democracy thing right. 

Let’s grow up and act like it.

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Portrait of James Domingo, photographer, activist
James Domingo

About The Author: James Domingo is a veteran professional photographer and political activist based in Philadelphia. He specializes in photographing people on location or in the studio and often promotes his activism on his Facebook profile. This is James Domingo’s first contribution to this zine. 

Nefertari Williams: Two Steps Smarter

An artist illustration of Taylor Swift by Thomcat23
Taylor Swift. Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2024

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2024

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Two Steps Smarter

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I think Beyonce and Taylor Swift may have just two stepped all over our minds. 
 
Follow me through my pathway of parallel thinking..  And forgive me but “I was dreaming when I wrote this – forgive me if I go astray”. 
 
Well that’s where I’m going to start. This is a quote from the late great genius, artist and superstar, Prince. He wrote Purple Rain and America went wild. We didn’t care what genre it fell under – it was just amazing music… and we love it still to this day. 
 
Prince initially wrote this as a country song to sing with Fleetwood Mac specifically for Stevie Nicks but she admitted that she got a “fearful end of the world” vibe from the lyrics so she didn’t want to record it. She was right to get that vibe. The sing Purple rain is an actual spiritual reference that speaks about getting through tough times and your faith in a higher power during the end of time. Many pondered on the songs meaning for years. 
 
Prince used the color purple reference often, almost like he knew his end was coming sooner than later. 
 
I open with a Prince reference to show how we have had artistic genesis’s use their lyrics to shape our thinking throughout time. The art of story telling can change the mindset of generations- and it has. I believe it may be happening now. 
 
We lost this great artist in April 21, 2016 and his songs are still referenced and considered some of the most clever pieces of art ever made. 
 
Fast forward to present day. 
 
The world is on fire (as I write this Texas is literally experiencing its largest wild fire ever recorded 2/27/24) . There are three active wars, constant cyber attacks, women have lost their right to not have babies in some states and to get pregnant in other states. To top it all off we have a man who is saying the quiet part out loud while running to be President. He wants to be a dictator (the very opposite of what the framers wanted America to be) He feels he has total immunity even as a former President. 
 
This former President has tried to over turn the 2020 election, has incited an insurrection (but I think we have to call it a riot) and he might actually win his party’s nomination for reelection into the White House. 
 
Some Americans are ok with this because they feel as though they have been over looked and unseen. They are angry. Some may say rightly so. Some can’t even afford to buy groceries and they have been struggling financially for years. 
 
The problem is – the one man that they feel will be their “retribution” is part of the system that is keeping them poor but that’s another topic for another article. 
 
Ok so here we are in an election year. We have a candidate who is running that most of the country doesn’t want to win. He is running against the current President who some believe is too old to do the job with the vigor that is needed. That is the epitome of being stuck between a rock and a hard place according to many voters. 
 
 
The former President is known for not having a close relationship with the truth. He feels the last election was stolen from him and now he uses strange conspiracy theories to get his “followers” to believe that if he loses again it is because he was cheated. 
 
 
This brings us to my reasoning for opening with the lyrics of the late great artist, Prince and his influence on the world. There have been stories surrounding a young beautiful pop star which are implying that she is using her popularity to influence the election. If she is that’s not against the rules and other artists have made sings that seemed to be aimed at influencing the election for the former President.
 
Like the late great artist, Prince – She too used to be a country song writer. To top it all off she starts dating a very popular Football star who happened to make it to Super Bowl 2023. That’s when more conspiracies started stating 
that they are just dating to gain more popularity which will mean a stronger audience and possibly more votes for the incumbent candidate. 
 
Ok fast forward we have a popular award ceremony and the famous pop star (former country star) wins album of the year. Now this is a big deal because in comes another player. A mega star who shall remain nameless,  has the most awards that this academy has ever given but has yet to win the one big award- album of the year. The pop star win this title nearly every year.
 
Ironically (or maybe not) the mega stars husband is honored at the 2023 award ceremonies and was allotted time to give a speech. He used that time to tell the world that it is wrong that his wife has never won album of the year although her songs have won the most awards ever (again – except for the highest honor that they offer which is Ablum of the year) 
 
Now we are all confused. Why would he do that? 
 
During the big award show the pop star (Taylor Swift) announces that her new Ablum would release soon which brings the audience to a roar. With this announcement the pop star and her famous football playing boyfriend are the most talked about couple all the way up to the big football game of the year. The Superbowl. 
 
The pop star has been making appearances at football games to see her famous boyfriend and this has been great for ratings. It has also pulled in a demographic of Americans who don’t normally watch football. 
 
Everyone is excited because there are rumors that the boyfriend is going to ask the pop star to Marry him if he wins the superbowl. (He did win but didn’t propose)
 
So everyone is watching the big game. Then there is another twist. The mega star (Beyonce)does commercials during the superbowl  and announces that she’s dropping a country album ( she never won album of the year as a pop star and now she’s switching to singing country music). She then releases two country songs. Everyone is shocked. Everyone also thinks that this maybe a competition between the Pop Star who was a former country singer and the Mega Star. 
 
That would be an interesting theory except when you turn on social media all you see are people doing the two step to the Mega stars new country song and the people who are dancing to it are the same demographic of the Ex President who is trying to get re elected. 
 
Coincidence – I think not. In fact I think the plot thickens. I don’t think the pop star and the mega star are competing at all – I feel that it’s all a brilliant plan to unify the country which has been deeply divided due to the two Presidents running on opposing issues. 
 
I also think, like the late great Prince has done so brilliantly ( for example when his record label would not give him a fair contract, to gain back control he referred to himself as a symbol that could not be spoken out loud ) one of the two singers is the master mind behind this effort to use music to unite Americans. 
 
In the mean time I’ll be two stepping right along with the rest of America as the mega star becomes the first black woman to have a song reach number one on the country charts, the catchy country ditty seems to be leaving us a little less divided. 
 
I think our blonde pop star, with her oh so mischievous grin, is sitting back, cow boy hat cocked, thinking….the plan is working.
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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link herehttps://tonyward.com/nefertari-williams-the-vicious-cycle-of-war/

Milton White: The Supreme Diva


Text by Milton White, Copyright 2024

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The Supreme Diva

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As Diana Ross celebrates her 80th birthday on March 26th, she is the new face of Saint Laurent Spring Collection 2024!

The photo selected for the campaign, is reminiscent of her 1976 DIANA ROSS album cover featuring the “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and “Love Hangover.”

During the spring and summer of 1964, America was introduced to the sounds of a new female vocal group, The Supremes. I purchased their album, “Where Did Our Love Go” with my allowance that year. In December of 1964, The Supremes made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As we all know, the group became Diana Ross and The Supremes, before Diana set out on a solo career.

Rather than chronicle her life and career, which either you know, can Google or find on YouTube, I will give you a glimpse of some performances and concerts that I have attended throughout the years.

Although I had been to many shows and concerts in my childhood and teens, they did not compare to my first Diana Ross concert.

I received a call from one of my roommates who was in New York for a fashion magazine photo shoot, asking me if I could come to NYC to see Diana at Radio City Music Hall.  Amtrak was my mode of transportation along the Northeast Corridor while I lived in Boston, so I made reservations so that I could make it to the “City” for the performance. I quickly packed a bag and headed to Back Bay Station for my train.  I stayed at the Essex House on Central Park South near Columbus Circle.  

Excitement filled the air in and around Radio City Music Hall unlike the atmosphere of the Christmas Show and the Rockettes, it was more exhilarating.  Prior to being seated, I walked to the stage and back to our seats stage left. My view, the audience, sophisticated and well-dressed, ready for a night to remember.

The house lights dim, the orchestra strikes up the overture, the stage lights come up and then it happens…Diana Ross appears, and this sophisticated crowd goes wild.  

Belting out “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand” with full audience participation, Diana reigned Supreme!  followed by a medley of hits by The Supremes, Diana Ross and The Supremes, then running off stage for a costume change while still performing, she never missed a beat. Then delving into her string of solo hits climaxing with The Them from Mahogony into “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Diana disappears again returning with a Gardenia in her hair to perform songs from her movie “Lady Sings the Blues.”  Diana ends the show with “My Man” but after several minutes of standing ovations, she returns to perform a final song. Emotionally drained, yet full of life, I vowed that I would attend her concerts in the future.

At the time, this was the best live performance that I had ever seen.  Little did I know that I would continue to attend her performances to the extent that I have.  I would like to share just a couple more experiences that may, again, bring back memories for some of you.

I lived in Philadelphia when “An Evening with Diana Ross” opened at the Palace Theatre in New York. I had to see it! In this show, Diana begins with “Here I Am” and introduced “Love Hangover” which was released in February 1976 and incorporated this hit in the show, where she would invite several members of the audience onto the stage to dance with her.  I looked at the list of cities where she would perform next.  Boston, here I come…great performance!  Next stop Philadelphia.  I did have a ticket for the show, which I thought sold-out.  I called the box office the morning of the show and secured a ticket, wait for it…front row CENTER!!!  Oh my, what will I wear???  I drove out to the Tiger Shop in Wayne and told them that I needed an outfit for the show. I let them know where I was seated and they dressed me accordingly, suit, tie, pocket square, cuff links, the whole nine yards.  I arrived at the Shubert Theatre and was escorted to my front row seat. I was in my glory.  The show begins, I can feel every tingling inch of my body.  I hear the intro to “Love Hangover” I’m getting nervous, the tempo crescendos into the disco beat, Diana looks at me, Oh My God, she’s walking over to me, she extends her hand and pulls me up onto the stage with her…I’m on-stage dancing with DIANA ROSS!!! Others join us and then she disappears for her next costume change. When she returns, we leave the stage, but this was the best night of my life!  The next stop on the tour was Pittsburgh, and yes, I grabbed 2 tickets and took a friend’s’ brother who was studying at the University of Pittsburgh.

“An Evening with Diana Ross” was shown as one of her TV Specials, where she portrayed Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. Magnificent!!!

I didn’t think that Diana’s show could get any better after dancing with me on stage, lol, but it did!!!

This is one of the greatest shows openings, ever!  

Curtains open slowly revealing a screen that fills the entire stage, photos of Diana begin flooding the screens while the orchestra begins, then you hear Diana… “If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far….”  Next you see on the screen a vision of Diana at the top of a long staircase, descending, until, until, she steps through the screen Live!!! Mind blown!!!  You can actually view this on YouTube Diana Ross 1979 Caesar Palace.

I went to several other performances throughout the years at the Valley Forge Music Fair, where my Limo driver met and followed her driver for a while, champagne in tow, the Westbury in New York the Mann Music Center and Atlantic City.

I didn’t get to see The Supremes in my youth, the Motown Revue didn’t play the matinee at the Uptown and the next time The Supremes were in the area, they appeared at The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, which I was to young to attend.  After Dianas’ pet dogs were poisoned there, she never returned.

The “Return to Love” tour in 2000, reunited Diana, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong as Diana Ross and The Supremes. I was fortunate to see them perform in Atlanta before the tour was cancelled.  They performed 16 of the 29 scheduled performances. 

During the pandemic, Diana went back into the studio to record her latest album “Thank You” which is upbeat and special I love it.  In September 2022, I found myself with a couple of friends at Oceans in Atlantic City for her performance.  Let me tell you, her energy, her voice, her performance is just as bright as it was years ago.  She has appeared at Hard Rock Atlantic City most recently and continues to sell out venues here and abroad.  

Do yourself a favor, when you hear of Diana coming to a city near you, get tickets and sing, dance and have yourself a grand time!!!

Milton White III

Portrait of Milton White style editor and blogger at www.TonyWard.com
Milton White. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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About The Author: 
Milton White is a fashion aficionado, collector and consultant.  He is currently creative assistant to KVaughn Studio and style editor at TWS. To access additional articles by Milton White, link here: https://tonyward.com/milton-white-dining-out-in-february/

Kitchie Ohh: After Month’s of Silence

fetish model Kitchie Ohh wearing a purple corset for a fantasy scene
Kitchie Ohh. Photo: Bombshell Pinups, Copyright 2024

Text by Kitchie Ohh, Copyright 2024

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After Month’s of Silence

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Once upon a time, two people were feeling very bold. The first, we’ll call X, responded to a stranger’s- we’ll call Y-  post on social media. Y replied, which was very out of character. They chatted and ultimately threw caution to the wind, arranging to meet in real life. And that was that. One date, if that’s even what it was, then it was done. Or was it? 

Years later, X contacted Y out of the blue. It was pleasant but stayed online. No hard feelings about the past, just genuine curiosity about the present and best wishes that all was good. Again, they faded back into their separate lives. 

More years passed, again, virtual paths collided. This time, they decided to meet once more, face to face. They enjoyed each other’s company, talked about all that had happened since the last time.  One meet up turned into a second before the universe tugged them apart once more; not violently, more a steady gentle pull that both felt happening but neither did anything to prevent. 

Time went by, as it always does. They stumbled into one another again. It was as if no time had passed. They spoke daily, they went out for dinner and drinks, stayed in for home cooked meals and movies, asked and answered deep questions by a bonfire. Surprisingly and uncharacteristically, Y allowed some vulnerability. It was difficult, Y stumbled over responses and apologized many times. But it was appreciated by M, who assured it was not something for which apology was necessary. Despite being terrified, not physically, but of the potential to be let down and have it all fade away once again, Y proceeded to put in effort to foster their connection. After a particularly interesting conversation, Y purchased a small gift, a book of poetry related to that conversation, and planned to present it to X at the next opportunity. That has yet to come.

After months of silence, a message:

X: It’s like we’ve been crossing paths for lifetimes. And I never mind it each time it happens 

Y: I just keep showing up like a bad penny. 

X: If you’re a bad penny what am I?! 

You keep turning up more shiny. 

Y: You then are the lucky- or unlucky-finder.

 Depends on how you look at it. Also I am no more shiny today than any day before. Sometimes the light just hits differently. 

X:You’re a strange and beautiful human, madam. Very beautiful. 

Y: well, thank you, kindly. Until our paths cross again….

The end? To be continued? Who knows? 

fetish model Kitchie Ohh wearing a purple corset for a fantasy scene
Kitchie Ohh. Photo: Bombshell Pinups, Copyright 2024

Did you guess that I am Y?. I won’t reveal X’s identity. This isn’t really about them. It’s  about me me. The only thing I have control over in this entire universe; though even that seems questionable some days.

This entirely true story is a pattern. A known, recognizable, see it coming from a mile away occurrence. It’s happened before and likely will again. With X, with others, friends, more than friends, family. The relationship type doesn’t matter. I will learn nothing. 

Well, that’s an exaggeration. I will learn many things. But I won’t burn a bridge needlessly. 

Life is never a straight path, nor is it always a smooth one. Given those stretches where you get lost, hit a bump, or completely break down, sometimes the only thing we can do is concentrate on ourselves and getting through. In that process of self-preservation, people who were right by our side might pull away. That’s life. 

Unless someone has hurt me in some unforgivable way, I’m always happy to have our paths cross again. More often than not, there’s a lot of change to catch up on. Neither of us is exactly the same person, for as much as we may have known one another, there’s a mystery chunk of time to reconcile, and time can change people. 

Reconnections can be brief or maybe last a bit longer the second, third, hundredth,  time around. But if there’s one thing I learned traveling my own winding path, it’s that you can’t force anyone you encounter along the way to stay. Nor should you. 

This is not to say I discourage putting effort into relationships, I acknowledge that even the best ones take work. But personally, I take stock often of whether the work I’m putting in -to projects, people and relationships alike – is adding to my life. If not, I’ve become okay with letting it go, letting them go, with love and understanding, better for the having had the experience.

I look forward to all that lies ahead for me, the new and the familiar. What comes my way, stays or goes. People, places, adventures, the happiness and the heartbreak, all of it.  

Related note: 

I re-read the book I purchased for X and made a decision, it’s theirs. I’m just holding onto it until our paths cross again. And if they don’t, then I will think of them fondly as I flip through the pages. 

Additionally, I’m sharing this fairy tale photo set because as soon as the words “once upon a time” escaped from my brain, through the keyboard, to the screen, I have been singing “Once Upon a Dream” from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and, well, it had to be done. 

fetish model Kitchie Ohh wearing a purple corset for a fantasy scene
Kitchie Ohh. Photo: Bombshell Pinups, Copyright 2024

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kitchie Ohh is a full-time professional fundraiser who has worked with a number of health and human services nonprofits in the Philadelphia area over the last 20 years. She found her passion for modeling after a pinup-style photoshoot in 2013. Since then, she has worked with many talented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists in a variety of styles. She has been featured in- and on the covers of – multiple print and digital publications. Over the years, she has branched out from pinup studio modeling to serve as a figure model for live sketching, walked a runway, and was part of two campaigns for Philadelphia designer K. Vaughn.

In addition to her philanthropy-focused career, she has volunteered with art, historical, and community organizations, and even the events team of a local brewery for a while, pre-pandemic.

You’re just as likely to find her whipping up something deliciously plant-based in her kitchen or knitting a sweater as you are to find her on a photography set. Her motto is “be both.” The model and the homemaker, sultry and sweet, serious and silly. All the things, all at once. To access additional articles by Kitchie Ohh, link here: https://tonyward.com/kitchie-ohh-oh-its-nothing/