The Swarm

April 03, 2008

James Brown really was a Sex Machine: "That man died trying to come"

TDS Editors

Sean Flynn’s lengthy James Brown profile this month’s GQ (excerpted online here) is making headlines for its claims that the Godfather of Soul had a vasectomy in 1984 (thus throwing doubt on one of the paternity claims filed against his estate), while going a long way to explain why the late soul music legend fully intended to omit most of his blood kin from his will, and how it was almost inevitable that his extended family would battle for their share after his death.

Flynn adds plenty of dirty details about just how and why Brown managed to sire so many children in the first place:

When Mr. Brown grew up, when he was a famous performer touring the world forty, fifty weeks a year, he fucked a lot of women. That is a deliberate term, fucked, because Mr. Brown was not a man who made love or even had sex. Mr. Brown fucked. “He did not know about the soft,” a longtime friend says. A lot of times, he’d let one of his cronies deal with the preliminaries, make small talk with a girl, get her a drink, keep her company. “She ready?” he’d ask. “I ain’t got no time now. Make sure she ready.” He’d hop on, roll off. Straight missionary, straight to the point. He never saw a reason for much else. “Why’s a white man eat a woman?” he once asked a white friend. “What’s he get outta that?” Hell, the man was in his sixties before he discovered doggy style on the Playboy Channel. He called up Roosevelt Johnson at three in the morning to tell him about it. “You sittin’ down, Mr. Johnson?” he asked, which is what he always said when he had an astonishing new fact to report. “Black man don’t know nothing. Black man don’t know a damned thing. A white man, he get up in his woman from behind.” Johnson pretended to be surprised by that. (“You had to go there with him,” he says, “because you didn’t know anything Mr. Brown didn’t know.”)

So how many women? How high can you count? Mr. Brown always kept a few girlfriends on the side, some for decades, and he always found a woman or two in whatever city he happened to be playing. “There’d be times, literally, when one would be coming in the front door while another one was going out the back,” says Buddy Dallas.

Naturally, some of them got pregnant.

In fact, even after age, diabetes, prostate cancer, and copious drug use had rendered him impotent, that didn’t stop him from digging into the dust and trying:

“Motherfucker was crazy,” says Gloria Daniel, a girlfriend he kept on the side for forty years. “It was the drugs.”

Mr. Brown smoked his drugs—PCP, until that got hard to find, then cocaine—mixed with tobacco from his Kools. “You sitting there rolling tobacco out of a cigarette—that’s a woman’s job—and you sitting there naked so he can look at you ’cause he getting ready to fuck you,” she says. “Yeah, right.” She rolls her eyes. The drugs, to say nothing of the diabetes and the prostate cancer, made him impotent. “He tried like hell, though,” she says. “He’d wear you out. That man died trying to come.”

One night in the summer of 2001, after he’d slathered her in Vaseline (“He liked you all greased up,” she says. “Like a porkchop”) and wore her out trying to come, he gave up and left the room, and Gloria dozed off. When she woke up, Mr. Brown was standing at the foot of the bed in a full-length mink coat over his bare chest, a black cowboy hat, and silk pajama pants with one leg tucked into a cowboy boot and the other hanging out. He had a shotgun over his shoulder and a white stripe of Noxzema under each eye. “I’m an Indian tonight, baby,” he announced. “C’mon, let’s let ’em have it.” Then he dumped a pickle jar of change on the floor, told her to get a machete, and went out to the garage. He took the Rolls, drove ten miles to Augusta, weaving all over the road, clipping mailboxes, smoking more dope, and screaming about being an Indian.

There’s lots more here.



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