Fantasy Play / "I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of black male magnificence ... my crush du jour, however, is a black woman"

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Fantasy Play
by Nyaugenya (Intern, The Liberator Magazine)

I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of black male magnificence. You see, I love black men. I love black men in that Jill Scott “Lyzel in E Flat” way, that “you’re different and special in every way imaginable” way, that “you got me feeling like the breeze, easy and free and lovely and me” way. And I love black men in that Jill Scott “Crown Royal” way, that “in so deep I’m breathing for you” way, that “grab my braids, arch my back high for you” way. I especially love a black man with boisterous bravado, like Black Thought, who presumptuously promises to “Break You Off,” asking if—no, telling you that—“you want it gripped up, flipped, and thrown,” as he shows you “the way to get in the zone.” I’m hard pressed to conjure up an image of anything more titillating than a black man who knows that he knows how to love me and how to love my body, and confidently pledges to skillfully do both. Oh wee—I love me some black men! My crush du jour, however, is a black woman.

“She’s so cu-uuuuu-te!” I squeal as Marsha Ambrosius saunters seductively across the dimly lit stage. It’s Saturday night, and I’m at the House of Blues in downtown Chicago, singing along with the ex-Floetry chanteuse. “Yeeeeees, Marshaaaaa!” I scream, imagining that my words are floating into the heavy perfume, cologne, and sweat-filled air, travelling through the crowd, and landing lightly on her glossy lips, like a soft kiss. Oh wee—I love me some Marsha Ambrosius!

My attraction to the singer is physical. I appreciate her aesthetically, like I do Black Thought. But truth be told, that’s where our connection stalls. I can conceive of conversations with Black Thought, decadent discussions about ancient Egyptians, arousal, and the vastness in between. But for Ambrosius, my desire edges on sexual. Although I think a soft kiss would be rather interesting, I don’t find myself daydreaming of our sexual romps, and I’m devoid an interest in developing intellectual and emotional intimacy with her.

All this leads me to wonder about the mechanisms that fuel attraction—both physical and emotional—and how those shape eroticism and intimacy. In “The Listening Room,” a short story in Tobsha Learner’s Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales, a character muses:

/////"There is a schism in me between the erotic and the intimate. One, by definition, negates the other. For me, the pursuit of sensuality for its own sake without the confines of emotional expectation or history is a freeing of the libido, standing outside of marriage, conception, emotional obligation. The subject becomes the object. Object is the ascetic, the visual moment, no past, no future, just the moment of orgasm. This is not exclusively male territory. The encounter is, by its very nature, transitory."/////

Are eroticism and intimacy mutually exclusive? Does one, in fact, stifle the other? Do men and women experience them differently?

Perhaps this is where fantasy emerges, ready to serve as a bridge between the two concepts. Vivian Paley’s scholarship on fantasy play is revered in progressive education circles. A key component of Paley’s work is her assertion that children, particularly preschoolers and kindergarteners, learn and grow immensely when fantasy and pretend play are allowed into classroom environments. In A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, Paley argues that “the mind that has been freely associating with playful imagery is primed to tackle new ideas. Fantasy play, rather than being a distraction, helps children achieve the goal of having an open mind, whether in the service of further storytelling or in formal lessons.” The sexual fantasies we create in our heads, as adults, are in fact just narratives that spawn from our R, NC-17, or heck, XXX rated storytelling, complete with ‘pretend’ settings, compelling characters, and explosive climaxes. Paley further remarks that “play is the model for the life-long practice of trying out new ideas. Pretending is the most open-ended of all activities, providing the opportunity to escape the limitations of established rituals. Pretending enables us to ask ‘What if?’” Well, what if we build on this notion, and allow fantasy and pretend play to exist in our adult minds and to seep into our bedrooms?

My body, heart, and soul are reserved for Black Thought, but my head—my imagination—is rich terrain for Marsha Ambrosius to skip wildly through, with carefree abandon. Fantasy is intoxicating, like that third shot of Crown Royal on ice; straight, with no chaser. Fantasy is self-edifying and freeing. It emancipates our hidden desires, releasing them from the constricting shadows of judgment and rebuke—that of others and our own. It develops our intrinsic capacity as human beings to be sensual and erotic, fusing us to our naturalist or primal cores. It allows us to pamper our sexual selves, and therefore, ensures the health of our whole selves. It primes us for, and intensifies, sexual intimacy with our partners, thereby enhancing the physical and emotional connectedness crucial to a holistically satisfying union. Janet Jackson is onto something—you see, “Any Time, Any Place,” fantasy is simply liberating.