Cuba Gooding Jr.’s O.J. Insights, the Striking Image of Perfume Genius, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today, we’ve got some nice photos of one of our favorites, Mike Hadreas, some insight into the creation of James Corden’s über-popular “Carpool Karaoke,” an interview with Cuba Gooding Jr., an essay from an old staffer on writer Robert Lowell, and an essay from a writer who was subjected to the photoshop treatment of a Vogue India photo retoucher.

Here at Flavorwire, we love Perfume Genius, so it was great to see Pitchfork’s photo story about singer Mike Hadreas in Shanghai. It’s elevated, too, by some insightful conversation with the “Queen” singer. 

After the show, vaping as he winds down in the dressing room (as well as drink and drugs, he’s quit smoking), Hadreas reflects on his onstage transformation. He does it simply because it feels natural to him, but he’s aware that many onlookers not plugged into the subtleties of his songwriting can misinterpret such flamboyance.

“Some people act like it’s a drag show and yell ‘fierce!’” he says. “I am fierce, yes, but I’m serious about music. I have a sense of humor but I don’t want to turn this into some novelty. That guy shouting ‘I want to bang you!’—of course I want everyone to want to bang me, but that’s not why I’m up there.”

Love him or hate him, James Corden has really mastered the art of the viral video in his short time as host of The Late Late Show. Entertainment Weekly managed to talk to the Tony-winning actor and host about the origins of his most popular series, “Carpool Karaoke.” 

Inspired by a moment from a 2011 Comic Relief sketch in which George Michael sang Wham! tunes in the car with Corden, and scenes in a 2014 documentary in which U.K. musician Gary Barlow crooned his own hits with Corden on the road, “we realized that it’s quite hard to get people to sing their old stuff, but singing it in a domain like the car was just really joyful,” says Late Late Show exec producer Ben Winston. When Mariah Carey agreed to be a first-week guest last March but couldn’t attend the taping, the producers asked her to be the inaugural passenger in their mobile music experiment. (It was an immediate hit, now boasting 17 million views.) “It’s funny — when we were even trying to tell our staff about it, there were certain members that would be like, ‘Yeah, but then what happens?” recalls Corden. “And we’d go, ‘Well, no, that’s it,’ and they go, ‘Right, but it feels like it’s missing a beat.’ And we’d go, ‘No, no — that’s it. It’s singing songs in a car.’”

 

Vulture scored a very meaty interview with Cuba Gooding Jr., star of the new (and great!) show from Ryan Murphy, American Crime StoryThe whole thing is interesting, but what’s most interesting is his experience in the film industry for the past 10 years. 

I was in the wilderness of Hollywood for almost ten years. I was off the studio lists. I wasn’t getting the roles offered to actors that hadn’t done a third of the roles I had done, or had the popularity I had. I didn’t have “Steven Soderbergh is looking to work with me” anymore. I was hooked up with a couple of low-budget producers who had foreign financing money and were doing a formula where they would sell the foreign presales coupled with personal, private investors who had a billion dollars, and they green-lit the movies for under $5 million as long as I was in it. [It got to the point] where, if I was with another action star like Dolph Lundgren, they green-lit the movie and I’d have a job.

Michelle Dean — a former Flavorwire staffer! — wrote about writer Robert Lowell, who was kind of an awful person, for The New Republic. 

Probably no one had more justification to complain about Lowell in print than Hardwick did. Though they were married for 23 years, their union was worn down by Lowell’s nearly annual hospitalizations for manic depression, his endless philandering, and his alcoholism. At the end of it, almost on a whim, he left her for the writer and “muse”—always a loaded term, that—Lady Caroline Blackwood. Then he took Hardwick’s alternately furious and anguished letters to him and folded them, without her consent, into a full-length book of poetry, The Dolphin. This artifact of her humiliation won a Pulitzer. Yet Hardwick still continued to try to get him back, right up to the day of his death.

Over at Electric Literature, writer Nayomi Munaweera writes about her experience as a cover subject for Vogue India, in which her skin was lightened by several shades and her face was nearly reconstructed. She goes on to compare this experience with that of a much more enjoyable body-positive photoshoot for the magazine Wear Your Voice. 

When the Vogue India issue came out my friends didn’t recognize me. I barely recognized myself. I had been slimmed down, whitened several skin shades and given a sort of pig nose. I had to convince friends that this was really me. It is an uncanny experience to see oneself on the pages of a glossy international magazine, especially when the self presented is that of a perfectly feminized, sanitized, glammed-up stranger.

More than this, the irony was glaring. My novel, the one that had landed me in the pages of Vogue India is about two women caught in the atrocities of war. It is about what happens to the female body in the context of terrible conflict. One of my characters deals specifically with the discrimination that dark-skinned women face worldwide.