I got early and caught the M60 Bus to the airport (laugh if you want to, 2 bucks is a helluva lot cheaper than the 20 plus bucks it would have cost me to catch a cab!)...and let me just digress for a moment to send a special message to the MTA:
WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THOSE SMALL ASS BUSES TO THE AIRPORT???? Its almost as if you all forgot that folks going to or coming from the airport generally have....er....LUGGAGE????? THIS BUS IS TOTALLY NON CONDUCIVE TO TRANSPORTING FOLKS TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT WITH THEIR LUGGAGE!!! 20 people AND their suitcases and the bus is FULL!!!!!!! HELLO???? How about using some of those "accordian-like" buses that run on the M101 line.....They hold a lot more people AND their "stuff".
Just a thought ya'll.
Anyway I arrived at LaGuardia at 9am with "The Mogul" Gwen DeVoe and was met by the beautiful smiles of my home girls...Linda "the dancing machine" Mann, Tonya "T-Boogie" Giddens, Roslyn "Rocky" Grate and Madeline "Maddy" Figueroa-Jones, the Artistic Director for Plus Model Magazine. Everybody was amped up to see one another and that was obvious from the moment we laid eyes on one another. We managed to breeze through the check-in and got settled in at the gate as we waited for our flight to arrive.
The flight was an easy one and only about an hour and 45 minutes long. We deplaned, picked up our luggage and upon arrival at the airport we ran straight into Jennene Biggins, CEO of The Voluptuous Woman Company...I was amped up to see "Gigi" too...cuz she's just as crazy as I am and I KNEW we were gonna have some fun. After we picked up Jennene...we headed straight for our rental cars and into downtown Atlanta. I gotta tell you ATLiens that this was my 3rd or 4th trip to your city and I was apprehensive at best....my last few memories of ATL were not good ones....but I digress....
We arrived at The Marriott Marquis to complete and total CHAOS!!! lol...I quickly found out that there were TONS of events going on that weekend and almost ALL of the hotels were booked out. At the Marriott we had Dr. Ian's Million Pound Challenge going on along with T.D. Jakes "Kingdom University" or something like that and to top it all off....THE HARRIS FAMILY REUNION...and baby....I don't know the Harris family....but THEY GOT A LOT OF RELATIVES!!!!! Anyway, once we got past the mess that was the driveway of the hotel...we got checked in and headed up to our rooms. It was then that I realized that all they had at our hotel was those elevators that run on the OUTSIDE of the shaft....I HATE THOSE!!!! I have a terrible fear of height and as luck would have it....OUR ROOMS WERE ON THE 22ND FLOOR!!!! You should have seen me trying to glue myself to the doors of the elevator so I wouldn't have to look out the glass! All of my girls were laughing at me!
We checked in our rooms and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was rooming with Maddy...(a first for me!) and we quickly got settled in and the Maddy departed to go and visit with Fluvia (who was staying at a hotel nearby). I was free until showtime tomorrow so I unpacked my things took a power nap and then headed off on foot to check out some of the sights. My mom suggested that I see a place called "The Underground" so I found out where it was and began walking the 6 or 7 blocks to get to it. On the way, I found out they were having an African Arts Festival and there were lots of vendors and live bands on the walk. It was all pretty cool and interesting....folks were just not friendly though....don't know what THAT was about. I did see, however, and ENORMOUS amount of homeless people wandering around and that always disturbs me. I reached The Underground at close to 9pm (which unfortunately, was around closing time) so I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked....I found out that Friedman's shoes was not far away and I was tempted to press on but I got a call from my friend Marco Mays (who I met on Season 1 of FAT Chance) and he told me he was at my hotel waiting for me....So I hoofed it on back.
Marco is a tall, FINE brother (who dresses his butt off!!!) and he greeted me with the most magnificent smile and open arms when I got back to the hotel. We had dinner in one of the hotel restaurants and quickly got caught up on each others lives. We hung out until late and when I saw him yawning....lol...I KNEW I was wearing him out. (Thanks for dinner Marco...it was yummy!). I walked him back to the elevators then headed to Diva's room for a little bit and then at around 1:30am went back to my room to get some sleep.
I didn't have to be at the World Congress Center until 6pm so I decided to go exploring with Maddy & Fluvia. They picked me up in the shuttle bus from Fluvia's hotel...we had the COOLEST driver...(1st friendly person I met in ATL..lol) he reminded me of "LT" from the NY Giants and he was a total sweetie! We wound up at the Atlantic Mall and we stopped at Old Navy to shop for a moment and then we decided to split up (because I saw a DSW and I simply COULDN'T pass it by...lol). I saw ONE pair of bejeweled sandals to DIE FOR...but the straps were breaking and it was the only size 12 left...so I had to leave them there....GASP!!! Anyway, I decided to have lunch at a place called BONEHEADS, where they had these AMAZING fish tacos...(I actually had a combo taco platter...1 fish taco, 1 shrimp taco & 1 chicken taco...all grilled...for $8.95..it was YUMMY!) and by the time I finished my taco and my beer...my phone was ringing. It was Maddy and it was time for us to head back to the hotel.
Call time for the judges was 6pm so I quickly showered, beat my face and put on my latest ensemble from "Just Raymona for en v New York". She supplied me with a tiqer print pantsuit that had a "St Tropez-ish" feel to it. (Thanks as always for keeping me together Raymona!). I jumped in a taxi and headed to the Georgia World Congress Center. Upon arrival I ran into Shaunda Hendricks and my girl Rhonda Wilkins, Founder & CEO of Divas Unlimited, Inc. (both of whom I had just hung out with in Dayton, Ohio for The Diva in Me conference). Shaunda was celebrating her birthday and had her beautiful daughter with her.
There were lots of vendors in the vestibule and I stopped to check out the "Mannequin Style" Models, representing different designers, who were posted on platforms stationed right outside the ballroom (See photo album below). I saw Marco (looking fabulous in all white) and he introduced me to Linda Scott, The CEO of Linda Scott 1426 Inc out of Fort Lauderdale, FL (who I will be working with in November). The judges for the event were myself, Maddy & Reggie Lee Hamet, author of the book "Pink Shorts". Positioned at the end of the table was Denise Best who was the official scorekeeper for the event. We took our seats and I got giddy the sight of the red gift boxes with the white ribbons in front of our place cards!! YAY!!! Diva always gives us presents and I LOVE PRESENTS YA'LL!!!!!! lol, I checked out the program of events and saw that a new designer "Jibri Street Couture" was supposed to open the show...I had heard the buzz about this segment and I was looking forward to seeing it.
The lights went down and the show began after a slight 15 minute delay (A DeVoe Signature Events production ALWAYS starts on time...So I knew something was amiss)the show began and I noticed that we skipped right past the opening segment to the "Introduction of the Judges"...I have known Diva since FOREVER and I knew right away that it meant that more than likely the folks from Jibri were late arriving and she "bumped' them off her lineup (note to folks: She [Diva] doesn't let ANYONE stop her flow...Whether it's 10 people in the audience or 10,000...she doesn't wait for anyone...so it pays to be prompt people!)
The show went off without a hitch and I gotta say that the contestant segment I enjoyed the most was the opening segment in which the contestants custom designed their own T-Shirts! You guys have no idea how impressed I was with what those ladies did with those T-Shirts! EXTREMELY Creative & Imaginative...Kudos to those contestants!
I also enjoyed the fashion presentation by BLUR Custom Dezigns...This is the new line designed by my F.A.T. Chance home girl from Season 2....Tiffany Jones & her partner/manager Miss Jay. The look is real funky and hot to death! Keep and eye out for them ya'll....their stuff is hot! Also on the runway, showing em' how it's done was none other than Miss Chyna McGarrity...who also featured a brief collection of her line of shirts called "Skinny Models Off The Runway Pleeeeease!!!" (FYI...I wore these shirts on the road and over in Paris and they were a BIG HIT!!!! (Check them out at www.catchtherevelation.com. There were collections from The Voluptuous Woman Company, IGIGI, JIBRI Street Couture got re-inserted later on in the show and featured Tanisha Malone, Miss F.A.T. 2006 (Who, oddly enough...didn't bother to stick around long enough to say hello...hmmmm....seems a little strange to me) and a local boutique in ATL called Merci Woman Boutique...Charles Coleman and his Bella Donna collection out of Washington DC closed out the show with Miss Donna working the crowd for all it's worth!!!
Congratulations to the winners of Full Figured & Fabulous - Atlanta:
1st Place - Davica Williams of Smyrna, GA
2nd Place - Theresa Bowman of Charlotte, NC
3rd Place - Jennifer Garner of Whites Creek, TN
I didn't get a chance to go backstage and meet all of the contestants because everything was so crazy immediately following the show. I did however take a few minutes to hang out with T-Boogie's family...they always come out in full effect to support Tonya (she doesn't know how lucky she is!). Tonya's dad is a hoot and I love him to death!!! Check out the family portrait in the photo album! Thanks for the love Giddens Family! After the show we all decided to have dinner at a local restaurant (who were gracious enough to keep their kitchen open till we got there!) and by the time we all finished and got back to the hotel...it was after 1am, so I wound up missing Comedian Mike Yard's set at the Hyatt (which was around the corner from me....sorry Mike!) and I was so tired all I could do was go to bed!!!
After barely making my flight back to NYC, I quickly settled back for the quick ride home picked up my bags and waited for my home girls to touch down (long story short...they missed their flight and had to fly standby on the next one). I collected their bags and waited for them at baggage claim. We said our goodbyes, jumped in our prospective rides and headed home....I don't know about anyone else but I came home and went right to bed....the summer cold I had been nursing all weekend was finally getting to me!
I had a blast ya'll!!! Really...the most fun I have had in a long time....can't wait to do it again!
"Courage is the ability to respond to the truth in a positive way and change."