Allison Samuels

Stories by Allison Samuels

  • Ms. Lonelyhearts

    THE STORY OF TONI BRAXTON'S hair is the story of triumph over tragedy. In 1993, she launched a trend with her short pageboy cut after an overheated curling iron burned off a chunk of her hair. These days, Braxton is sporting a long, wavy weave, having recently been the victim of a home dye job. "My hairdresser told me not to do it, but I was bored, and of course my hair all fell out in the sink,' says Braxton, 28, laughing. "It sent LaFace [Records] into hysterics. What can I tell you? This business is hard on a black woman and her hair." ...
  • One For The Sistas

    By the millions they have descended on the malls and multiplexes of America, women who paid their dues, women who have been down hard roads and encountered life at its lowliest. The women laugh and shout and call each other "girl"- as in, "Girl, Whitney still looks good even if she is married to a fool!" And they leave resolved not to make the same mistakes that have screwed up the lives of Whitney Houston and her costars without even slightly mussing their fabulous hairdos. A few months ago, black men had their march; now, in "Waiting to Exhale," the No. 1 box-office hit in America over the Christmas weekend, black women have their movie. ...
  • Part Business, All Music

    The working-class blocks of Compton, Calif., the birthplace of gangsta rap, are a far cry from the mansion-studded hillsides of Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley. But Andre Young -- better known as Dr. Dre -- has breached the psychic distance in a hip-hop minute. On this Saturday afternoon he's totally at home in the den of his $1 million French provincial home, eyes glued to the big-screen TV. Forget the gorgeous view through his windows. He's looking at something far prettier: the video of his new duet with Tupac Shakur, "California Love," which is guaranteed to be a hit and extend his reign as rap's most successful artist and producer. ...
  • Out Of The Groove

    R Kelly is a changed man. It's 1 a.m. deep in the mountains in Canyon Country, Calif. The R&B superstar--best known for graphic pillow talk like "Your Body's Callin'" and "Freak Dat Body"--is shooting a video for a new ballad called "You Remind Me of Something." The video is meant to showcase Kelly's sensitive side, and it finds him lounging comfortably in silk pajamas on a gold-plat-ed chair while a young woman in black lingerie feeds him grapes. "You remind me of my Jeep," he sings. "I wanna ride ya." R. Kelly is a changed man--but he hasn't changed that much. ...
  • Pop Music: A One-Man Soul Revival

    With his smooth, jazzy R&B hit single "Brown Sugar," singer D'Angelo has thrown the world of hip-hop a long-overdue curve- and earned a reputation as the new "son of soul." That's just fine with D'Angelo. "When you listen to Marvin Gaye, Prince or Curtis May-field, all you can do is just shake your head at how smooth their stuff was," says the corn-rowed 21-year-old. "I get my inspiration from listening to those guys and just grooving." ...
  • They Won't Back Down

    For a couple of guys who were taking on Bob Dole, the far right and a major media conglomerate, Daz and Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound sure were enjoying themselves. The two gangsta rappers were in L.A. shooting a video for "Let's Play House (Runnin' Fo' the Fence)," from their forthcoming debut album, "Dogg Food." Death Row, their label, had rented a $4 million ultramodern house for the day. Between takes, Delmar (Daz) Arnaud, 21, played with his 11-month-old daughter, Imani. (Daz is Snoop Doggy Dogg's cousin.) Ricardo (Kurupt) Brown, 22, slouched around and scoffed at some wardrobe items offered up for his approval. Producer Dr. Dre called the boys over to a van so he could preview some hot new beats on the tape deck. The van bounced up and down, like a homeboy version of "Wayne's World."You'd hardly believe these fun-loving fellows are currently embroiled in a battle with their parent company, Time Warner. Since Senator Dole made his May 31 speech about "nightmares of depravity" in...
  • The Soul Revivers

    The soul train arrived in St. Martin on Memorial Day weekend, kicking reggae off the West Indian island for a few days. During Sinbad's '70s Soul Music Festival, a five-day extravaganza of concerts, street fairs and grooves deeper than the ocean, Pelican Bay Beach looked like a giant, open-air house party. Enormous speaker cabinets blared old-school funk from a deejay platform in the middle of the beach. Hordes of soul revelers boogied, goofed off and chomped on barbecue. When the deejay played Parliament's booty-shaking 1978 hit "Flash Light," the crowd couldn't contain itself. People splashed into the water and formed two lines, just like on the classic TV show "Soul Train," with Sinbad himself leading the way. They acted like teenagers, even though they were really a bunch of African-American physicians, lawyers, dentists and schoolteachers in their late 20s and 30s. They had lived through this stuff the first time around, and they were here to live it again. "My 15-year-old...
  • Absolutely Not Fabulous

    Michael Gross got his first close-up look at modeling back in the '70s, when he was writing about what, at the time, seemed like the most overindulged creatures on earth: rock stars. Those were the days of model-as-appendage, when all but a few worked anonymously and played in the shadow of their rocker boyfriends. Now, of course, models are superstars themselves, hotter than rock stars, movie stars and investment bankers combined. They've got their own TV paean ("Models, Inc.") and even their own fanzine ("Top Model"). But even 15-year-old Cindy wanna-bes know that beyond the glam is an industry that abuses its young and masks the carnage under layers of hairspray and hype. Gross calls it the "endless sausage machine." We can't get enough of it -and Gross knows it. ...
  • No Faking The Funk

    Between dodging bullets in manhattan last November and entering prison on a sexual-abuse charge, rapper Tupac Shakur found time to release his third album, ""Me Against The World.'' As in ""2Pacalypse Now'' and ""Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z . . . ,'' Shakur takes the angst of young urban black males and sets it to a funky ""old school'' beat. It's a forceful reminder of the problems -- drugs, gangs -- Black America faces in the '90s, set to the comforting, mellow sounds of the much more hopeful '70s. The 23-year-old is one of the few rappers who gets ""props'' (respect) from both sides of the feuding worlds of East Coast and West Coast rap. So he boldly blends the L.A. P-funk reinvented by Dr. Dre with the uptown ""in your face'' beats most recently laid down by New York chart toppers Craig Mack and Biggie Smalls. ...
  • Fabiolicious!

    Focus groups agree: FABIO means romance. And what could be more romantic, more sensual, than butter-flavored cooking spray? No wonder the folks launching I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spray have signed the pec-bedecked Italian to do his first national TV campaign, debuting next week. He'll also host a fete for the press to demonstrate the new no-fat spray, which -- sorry, ladies -- he will not apply to his chest. "Now why would you ask that?" queried a brand spokesperson, who explained that Fabio would spritz some pasta and do "a whole funny self-parody of himself." Count on it.
  • It Must Have Been The Mistletoe

    Holidays. relatives. ugh. still, a few big names decided to throw caution to the wind and acquire some new in-laws in time for Christmas. Christie Brinkley, 41, may have been Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," but the supermodel mommy ascended yet further to marry her new husband, developer Ricky Taubman, 46. The pair got hitched at 11,890 feet in a ceremony atop the ski mountain in Telluride, Colo. Christie's daughter Alexa Ray and Taubman's son Wyatt were among about 150 ski-shod guests, and, at the on-slope reception, the newlyweds announced they're expecting a brand-new son. "Melrose Place" vixen Heather Locklear, 33, also tied the knot before Christmas. Twice. She wed Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, 35, in a civil ceremony at his place in New Jersey, then the duo jetted off to Paris for a more romantic rite at the American Cathedral. Nobody wore skis. PHOTOS: Christie and Ricky ski into wedlock (left), Heather leaves the Paris church
  • Lopped Locks

    Who was Brooke Shields kissing on a New York sidewalk last week? None other than her beau, former longhair Andre Agassi. Maybe he knitted her a sweater.
  • Hall: Not Going Peacefully

    THE MAN ONCE DUBBED ""Obsequio'' for his fawning demeanor won't have to worry about that nickname anymore. In his final week on the air, Arsenio Hall invited media execs to ""kiss my black ass'' and stridently told ""Empty Nest'' star Park Overall that racism rages unabated. What gives? Sources say Hall thinks Paramount deserted him in the face of stiff new competition. ""For a brief minute, he felt he would be allowed to play ball with the white boys and get his fair chance at bat,'' says one Hollywood pal. ""The Leno-Letterman situation let him know real quick he was just another ball boy.'' Says another: ""He tried to please The Man, and The Man still jacked him in the end, so now he knows.''
  • Playboy Plays Patticake

    RONALD REAGAN WORRIED about strategic missiles. His daughter Patti Davis concerns herself with ""strategic body parts.'' She covered hers recently with Kimberley (Mrs. Hugh) Hefner's dog for an upcoming anti-fur ad, the latest float in the flesh parade that is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' ""I'd rather go naked than wear fur'' campaign. But the Hef connection doesn't stop there. Playboy's July issue will boast an array of Patti pics guaranteed to melt Ron's jelly beans. ""I'm sure it's not something they're real crazy about,'' says Davis, 41, of her folks' reaction to her posing. (They haven't discussed it.) She doffed her duds to show off her barbell-enhanced bod and to counter a spate of ""nasty press pieces'' that pointedly referred to her as ""middle-aged'' -- a symptom, she says, of ""what we do to women in this country when they have the audacity to turn 40.'' Patti's pleased, though, with how the lens treated her. ""I said to someone at Playboy, "How come when...