By Caitlin Donohue; Photos by Amos Mac; Shot on location at the Times Square Dave and Buster’s Arcade a.k.a. the site of Beyonce’s Visual Album release party
Buzzfeed may be the last place you’d expect to find a poet, but then again we do live in 2014. Poets gotta eat, and so a poet’s gotta get page hits. Saeed Jones, by any measurement stick you may choose, is a poet.
Sites like Buzzfeed are where a certain sector of our society — that growing slice learning mainly via its social media feeds — gets its information about the outside world. By way of example, Buzzfeed LGBT where Saeed is an editor, has recently alerted me to the fact that the Mayor of New York was declining to march in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade due to its ban on queer parade factions, that Scotland had legalized gay marriage, and that Clay Aiken is running for public office in North Carolina. Yes, pretty pictures and eye-catching design accompanied the lot of these brief entries. Of course, Saeed and his writers also write gorgeous think pieces — witness his just-published rumination on NFL homophobia.
At the helm of such an organization, Saeed plays an important role in mainstream information dissemination of LGBT news and culture. He is also a large-scale purveyor of online shade, primarily through his ardently followed Twitter account. Due to the frenetic pace of his day job I suppose, he comes into contact with every Internet story out there. He can be relied on — lucky for those of us who may be beaten down by the unfairness of ‘isms by the time 11am rolls around on a weekday — to raise an expertly turned eyebrow in the direction of the Internet’s bigot of the day, to celebrate its heroes. He is the funny, the smart, you want to see in the world. For the sake of quality television, we hope that his guest panelist turns on Alicia Menendez’s show on Fusion lead to more talking head spots in America’s living rooms. We need him.
Particularly since he gives us hope that mastery of the Internet does not preclude one’s ability to accomplish other, more traditionally literary things. Saeed’s first full-length poetry collection Prelude to Bruise is due to be published by Coffee House Press this autumn. His blog For Southern Boys Who Consider Poetry is specifically tailored to the queer gentleman of color who may even be considering a career in writing.
True to Heartthrob Issue form, we only asked Saeed questions you’d find in a Bop Magazine-One Direction interview. We realize now we’ll have to do this again.
AHDM4U: What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
Saeed Jones: The actual answer is my iPhone for all the reasons you think, but the answer I’m going to give is my side eye. The ability to purse my lips, arch my right eye brow and glare at someone’s foolishness just so is absolutely essential. It keeps would-be offenders in check and, in a way, lets me address the wrongdoing and move on. A good side eye will spare you all manner of racist pick-up lines. A dude walks up like “Hey, I’ve always wanted to be with black–” and the side eye is there to finish his sentence for him. “I’ve always wanted a black eye.”
AHDM4U: Who’s your best friend?
Saeed Jones: I have two or three actually, each of whom is really close to me in a different way. One friend is always joyful and open in a way that pushes me to be more open too. In general, I’m a pretty optimist person, but, you know, living in New York City and being a writer, you get a bit hard. Slowly, over time without even realizing it. But this friend, Isaac [author’s note: He’s talking about Isaac Fitzgerald, co-owner of literary must-read The Rumpus and Buzzfeed Books editor famed for his posi slant on criticism], he’s just so fresh. And in a smart, interesting way. Nothing saccharine about his joy. Another friend, Ellen, is my gal pal and confidante. We were born to live in the city together, I’m convinced of it. And now our apartments are an eight minute walk from one another. You should come drink wine and watch Scandal with us sometime and everything about me will make sense. And then that third best friend slot, just kind of evolves as I do. I’m fascinated (without sarcasm) by people who have just one best friend for ever and always. Seems like a lot of pressure for one person. I prefer to diversify my portfolio.
AHDM4U: What would be a perfect day for Saeed?
Saeed Jones: Sleeping in on a Saturday, then getting dressed in some over-the-top chic clothes I bought the day before, heading to brunch with friends that lasts until dinner (it’s absolutely possible if you go to the right place and have a great repertoire with the staff) then bar hopping with a random stop at some art gallery along the way before dinner at a low-key joint with great BBQ and then dancing. A perfect day should be a run-on sentence that doesn’t apologize.
AHDM4U: What’s your favorite item of clothing?
Saeed Jones: A couple of years ago, I visited Ubud, Indonesia for a month and bought a blue and yellow kimono robe while I was there. The print has these beautiful, incredibly elaborate birds all over it. When I wear it around the house, I feel like an absolute parody of myself, but also very comfortable. I even worked it into one of my poems.
AHDM4U: What’s one song that you’ve played so many times you’ve worn out the CD?
Saeed Jones: CD? How adorable. The last time I touched a CD, Bush was still in office. According to iTunes, I’ve listened to “Drunk in Love” 1038 times which is odd, really, because I actually prefer “Partition.” iTunes says I’ve only listened to that one 606 times.
AHDM4U: What’s your relationship status?
Saeed Jones: I’m dating this really lovely guy. He’s smart and sexy (really sexy) and sweet but, most importantly, he’s calm. Or rather, he has this sense of calmness about him that really speaks to me when I’m around him. I tend to over think everything and worry about writing and work and my place in the world at every waking moment, but when I’m with him, I find that I’m simply present. It’s like coming up for air.
AHDM4U: What’s one personal trait that if a babe has it, will always makes you swoon?
Saeed Jones: The gift of storytelling is so fucking sexy and necessary. I was born and raised in the South. Being able to draw someone in with a story — real, imagined or a little bit of both — is the height of seduction. And if he’s really good, the guy’s story is so enticing, I forget where and who I am while I’m listening. By the end, I’m whoever he needs me to be.
AHDM4U: What’s your dream date?
Saeed Jones: Dinner at a lavish restaurant with a high-rise view of the city and then off we go to a jazz club to see Meshell Ndegeocello perform Nina Simone standards.
AHDM4U: Who was *your* heartthrob growing up?
Saeed Jones: I really had a thing (and still do actually) for Travis Barker from Blink 182. Sorry, not sorry.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER Amos Mac lives and works in New York as a photographer, writer and publisher. His images have appeared in The New York Times, Interview, Vogue Italia, BUTT Magazine, and OUT. He is a founding editor of Original Plumbing, the seminal quarterly print publication documenting the culture of transgender men. He really enjoys Instagram. He’s also an AHDM4U Heartthrob, as luck would have it.