The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Queries Involving Tyler Perry, Difficult Decisions and Two Skanks

Roxane Gay

Tyler Perry and I sit at opposite ends of a bar. He is wearing alligator shoes, shiny pants and a tight muscle shirt. I’m immediately concerned for his neck, because the dimensions of his head are overwhelming.

Q1. Do I:
(a) Offer him a neck brace.
(b) Burn him in an effigy I construct out of cocktail napkins, fruity drink umbrellas and olives.
(c) Explain, in great detail, why I hate his movies.

Tyler Perry stares at me. He smiles. When our eyes meet, he licks his lips. Slightly nauseous, I look away.

Q2. Do I:
(a) Run to the bathroom and scrub myself thoroughly with the stingy dollop of foamy soap I retrieve from the dispenser.
(b) Return his smile while vomiting in my mouth.
(c) Explain, in great detail, why I hate his movies.

I order a gin and tonic. I tell the barkeep to make it a double. Tyler Perry gives me a half nod, and takes a sip from his drink. He raises his glass in my direction. I’m drinking Hennessy, he says. I compliment his originality.

Q3. Do I:
(a) Quickly down my drink. Hit the bar with my glass. Demand another.
(b) (a), then inch closer to Tyler Perry, and tell him I have a script.
(c) (a), then (b) and (a).

Tyler Perry stands. He is tall. He walks toward me, his head bobbling. All the women in the room stare at him. His head casts an ominous shadow. He sits on the barstool next to mine. He rests his large hands on the bar then rubs the bar with two fingers, motioning for the bartender.

Q4. Do I:
(a) Break his fingers with my glass so he can never write another movie, ask the bartender for another glass, and issue a list of demands.
(b) Offer him a list of black actresses perfectly capable of playing a black woman.
(c) (a), then (b) and Q3(c).

Tyler Perry’s hand is on my thigh. Just as he’s telling me about the VIP, state-of-the-art dungeon he had built on the 30-acre grounds of Tyler Perry Studios, two skanks in short skirts, fishnet stockings and patent leather heels sidle up to us, insistently pressing their cleavage into Tyler’s body.

Q5. Do I:
(a) Tell them that they look unbeweavable, and inquire about the nature of their weaves. Human or synthetic?
(b) Grease my face with Vaseline, remove my earrings, and snatch their weaves, while singing a Jill Scott song.
(c) Q2(a), then Q1(a).

After discreetly getting the skanks’ phone numbers, Tyler Perry dismisses them. He only likes to be seen with classy ladies when he’s out, he whispers. His breath is hot and sour. Tyler Perry returns his attention to my thigh, his hand inching higher. I snap my legs shut. He’s frustrated, he says, that his work has yet to garner Oscar attention. He just wants respect, he says. I dig my fingernails into his wrist. Tyler Perry winces. Harder, he says.

Q6. Do I:
(a) Laugh.
(b) Tell Tyler Perry, in great detail, why he will never win an Oscar offering as evidence: House of Payne, Meet the Browns, Daddy’s Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married, Madea’s Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman and his most recent release, Madea Goes to Jail.
(c) (a), then Q4(b). then Q3(b).

While Tyler Perry tells me about how he wants me to tie him up in his state-of-the-art dungeon, I can still see the two skanks. They’re snapping their necks vigorously and saying unkind things about my mother.

Q7. Do I:
(a) Tell them that I’m rubber and they’re glue.
(b) Offer my own speculations about their mothers.
(c) Reward them with roles in Tyler Perry’s next movie.

Tyler Perry tells me that we should go somewhere more private, like his state-of-the-art dungeon. It will be worth my while, he says, because he can get me free copies of all of his movies. My nose wrinkles. Tyler wraps his arm around my shoulders, leans in, and tells me that he likes mad black women. His breath is still hot and sour.

Q8. Do I:
(a) Take him up on his offer, retire to his dungeon, tie him up, read him my script, and paint myself in blackface.
(b) Ask myself what would Spike Lee do.
(c) All of the above.

About the author

Roxane Gay's writing appears or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Rick Magazine (formerly The Mississippi Review Online), Cream City Review, Annalemma, McSweeney's (online), and others. She is the co-editor of PANK and can be found at Her first collection, Ayiti, will be released in 2011.