Want the scoop? Check out blogs on black celebs

New Media

October 07, 2007|By Vanessa E. Jones | Vanessa E. Jones,The Boston Globe

Angel Laws, 22, a college student in Jacksonville, N.C., merely wanted to poke fun at a celebrity.

For the entry titled "Guess Who: Messed Up Feet Edition" on her gossip blog, Concrete Loop, Laws posted a photo of a pair of weathered bronze feet wrapped in strappy black sandals and hinted at the person's identity by commenting, "I guess all those years on the runway take a toll on the feet."

Unfortunately for Laws, the owner of those feet, the model Iman, happens to read Concrete Loop.

Iman responded to the item on her MySpace page by uploading an image of herself and her husband, rocker David Bowie, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute gala. For the event this year, Iman wore a white pantsuit with white shoes. In the caption, Iman wrote, "Decided to cover my feet up as Concreteloop would post how ugly my feet are."

Welcome to the raucous world of black-celebrity blogs. Sites such as Media Take Out (media takeout.com), Concrete Loop (concreteloop.com), and Young, Black and Fabulous (ybf.blog spot.com) are among the 10 most searched gossip blogs among Yahoo users, according to the Yahoo Buzz Index.

They're joined by Crunk & Disorderly (crunktastical.blog spot.com), Bossip (bossip.com), Cake and Ice Cream (cakeandice-cream.blogspot.com), and others, most of which have arrived in the past two years.

The sites were created by gossip fans frustrated by the fact that their favorite mainstream gossip blogs -- and magazines -- seemed to limit their coverage to superstars such as Beyonce, Halle Berry or Will Smith and paid little attention to celebrities such as Sanaa Lathan, Chris Brown or Tracee Ellis Ross.

"I decided to do it myself because they were ignoring black people," says Natasha Eubanks, 25, of Washington, who started Young, Black and Fabulous in 2005, weeks before entering Loyola University law school in New Orleans.

She launched YB&F a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit and became more serious with it, by posting daily and creating her own YB&F vocabulary, as her disenchantment with law school grew. It's now 10th on the Yahoo Buzz's gossip blog chart -- and it's Eubanks' full-time job.

"What people don't realize is Girlfriends is the most popular show for African-Americans," says Fred Mwangaguhunga, 32, of the CW sitcom about four female friends that stars Ross.

A former corporate lawyer, Mwangaguhunga began Media Take Out last year, and it now is second only to Perez Hilton's gossip site, according to Yahoo Buzz.

Fans of the gossip sites can savor candid photos of basketball star Carmelo Anthony (raised in Baltimore) cradling his newborn son or red-carpet paparazzi shots that inspire bloggers to praise Ross for her fashion sense and deride her costar, Golden Brooks, for her worn appearances.

Readers also can peruse rumors about Usher, or read interviews with Ne-Yo, Fantasia or Kelly Rowland.

Alicia Canady, 25, visits Eubanks' blog daily. "Her comments are funny," says Canady, "and I like the pictures."

Wachmide Labranche discovered Media Take Out in November and visits it every day, often multiple times.

"This might be addiction," Labranche, 26, says with an embarrassed laugh.

Mwangaguhunga's entrance into this world started early last year, when he launched a general-interest blog on African-American news and culture. He quickly noticed that gossip stories received the most interest, so he tailored his focus.

Page views shot up substantially once Mwangaguhunga introduced original content.

Laws, who began Concrete Loop in November 2005 as a solo effort, also offers original content with the help of contributors she added a year ago, including Tianna Gordon, 22, a Maryland-based photo wrangler.

Laws says she was the first to receive a sexually explicit photo of Ne-Yo and his female backup dancer -- which arrived after rumors circulated that the singer/producer was gay. Laws says one of Ne-Yo's backup dancers sent the picture exclusively to her.

"People would be surprised where I get my information from," says Eubanks. "Gossip is very smoke and mirrors. People will do anything for publicity."

unisun@baltsun.com

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