GIF REWIND: The L.A. Complex – “Kaldrick King and Tariq’s First Date”
When you do a Google search for “Kaldrick King”, Cypher Avenue is the first result. And why shouldn’t we be? Not only were we the first gay website to expose the show to the LGBT community back in January of 2012, we also had the most to gain from the character’s appearance on television.
Formerly known as Discreet City, Cypher Avenue started out as an attempt to add more representation for masculine black gay men to the media.
When I learned about Canada’s The L.A. Complex, I quickly searched for a way to see the series long before it was expected to air here in the United States. Once I got my hands on the first couple episodes (from an unnamed online source), I poured myself a cocktail, turned on my big screen HDTV, dimmed the lights and dived right in.
Then I got to Episode Two…Kaldrick King’s introduction.
Not only were Tariq Muhammad and Kaldrick King (played by talented actors Benjamin Charles Watson and Andra Fuller, respectively) very handsome men, they were also relatable in very different ways. Masculine gay men saw themselves. Feminine gay men saw themselves. Top gay men saw themselves. Bottom gay men saw themselves. Down Low gay men saw themselves. And Out gay men saw themselves. It was something for everyone.
In the Black Gay community, the second episode of the The L.A. Complex will forever be primarily known as “Tariq and Kaldrick’s First Date.”
In the first of our new series entitled, “Gif Rewind” we’ll look at this monumental episode of The L.A. Complex that drove so many gay fans wild.
In this series we’ll used the power of Gifs to break down, analyze and critique classic moments, scenes and storylines from black gay media.
By Episode Two of The L.A. Complex, we’d already been introduced to Tariq Muhammad, an aspiring Hip Hop producer. He’d been sent to meet platinum selling rap artist Kaldrick King to discuss a collaboration.
A famous rapper seeking out an untested producer to refresh his sagging music career is not uncommon in the industry. This alone didn’t raise any gay “red flags” for what was to come. Especially once we got to meet Kaldrick for the first time.
He wasn’t very welcoming at all.
DING. DING. DING. DING.
Every black gay man out there watching knew what was the deal from here on.
Black gays don’t date, we “hang out.”
It wasn’t long before Kaldrick started flirting and making his move.
This begs the question: How did Kaldrick know that Tariq was gay?
He’s clearly the pursuer and the aggressor throughout this entire episode. One could also easily deduce that he was the Top seeking “softer” bottom as well. But how did he know that Tariq would be receptive to his advances?
My theory is that Kaldrick, a down low rapper, didn’t know at this point. He was still feeling his prey out, waiting for non-verbal confirmation before he made his ultimate move. In Kaldrick’s mind, this would take an entire day to piece together.
Luckily, they had tons of chemistry.
Also, in just 5 Gifs so far, we’ve seen better nuanced acting (and better lighting) than any of our black gay web series currently in production
Their “date” going well so far, Kaldrick and Tariq get interrupted by a “fan” who sees the rapper and tries to sneak a few snapshots on his camera. Kaldrick, paranoid about his sexuality, flips out on the dude.
This is also where I began to lose my connection to Kaldrick King and the series itself. Once again, a black man was portrayed as angry, aggressive and violent. In his very first episode, he was being established as a “thug.” This troubled me as a viewer.
Their “date” continued. As you can see, Kaldrick was always the more confident person of the two. Even in subtle eye contact like this, you could tell that the ball was in his court. The relationship, if there was to be one, would be controlled by Kaldrick, on his terms.
This happens in real life as well.
After an entire night of debauchery (they even went to a strip club), Tariq drives Kaldrick back home…only to face an awkward moment.
This right here is the moment that Kaldrick finally knew about Tariq.
Quietly sitting in a car with another man and neither of them makes a move to leave the car…it doesn’t happen unless you get down.
Also, by this point, Kaldrick had discovered the weaknesses of his prey. This is when he decided to make his move. But he wouldn’t do it here, not in Tariq’s shabby car…
He already knew what was gonna happen in the next few minutes. He had it all planned.
I know this because I’ve also had this look in my eyes. I’ve also planned a whole day of “hanging out” with a 5’6″ tall dude, not knowing if he was gay, only to get him back to my spot to make my move.
Kaldrick was a bit more angry in his approach than I would have been though.
This scene alone could be a Master Class for black gay filmmakers on how to shoot scenes. In the above Gif, so much emotion and non-verbal story is conveyed. Let alone the fact that there is edge-of-your-seat anticipation built throughout out the entire scene. This is something that don’t see in gay media produced by black gay filmmakers.
Instead of just grabbing Tariq and making out, Kaldrick surprises us.
He says the same thing he said to the young man he beat up earlier in the day, “Do Something.”
Fast forward to the next morning, Kaldrick and Tariq have just finished their hookup session.
But not by Tariq. He was not having it.
When he then tried to shut everything down, Kaldrick came at him with his “Down Low Rapper Rules.”
Arguably, the Kaldrick & Tariq storyline form this episode was better (and more complete) than most black gay series in their entirety. If you haven’t seen this episode (or any of the episodes), they are available on Amazon Prime.
If you’re feeling anxious, you can also watch bootlegged stripped down versions of the series with only the Kaldrick and Tariq scenes here while the links last:
* You will receive the latest news and updates on your favorite celebrities!