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History & Gratitude

History & Gratitude

The Kingdomz X, ca 2008

I’m supposed to write an editorial every month, along with the rest of the content on this site, but I haven’t published one since March 2016. I always figured that this would be the least interesting part of the site, but if you’re still reading up to this point, I guess you must be interested. In future, these editorials will serve as a sort of log, where I keep track of each milestone we hit, and a reminder of how far I’ve come with this thing. The magazine seems to be moving at a slow but steady pace, which is more than one could hope for, having to solely contribute the bulk of its content (for the moment).

Today, I want to take a short trip down Memory Lane, and talk about how this project came about, and its decade long evolution. When I wrote my first editorial, I tried to keep it simple, and so much was omitted regarding our origins. So without boring you to tears (I hope), here’s how it all began.

First Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment logo, ca 2010

Back in 2007, I built a social networking site simply called The Kingdomz X. It was a site that dealt with urban politics and culture. By 2010, I lost control of and interest in it. That same year, I transformed it into Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment, but problems with the Ning platform (upon which it was hosted), was plagued with so many problems at the time, and I abandoned the project out of frustration. Refusing to part with the unique name I had created, I built a whole new social network, called Kingdomz X Heavy Metal Entertainment (and it's sister site, Kingdomz X Extreme Arts & Entertainment hosted at Tumblr). With hundreds of members, and thousands of followers on social media, I used my platform to promote metal bands. I did this for maybe two and a half years, before ultimately throwing in the towel.

From 2007 to 2008, I had been homeless, but instead of wallowing in defeat, I taught myself as much as possible about the internet, coding, how to build websites, and social networking communities. I had the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant people I had ever met up to that point. However, I was far too focused on the creative side of things, and not so much the business. From the beginning, many of my ideas were constantly being stolen. My heavy metal social site was hit the worst, however. People who claimed they wanted to “partner” with me, were ripping me off. Then I started to lose faith, when a company out of Portugal quickly surpassed what I had accomplished, and suggested I close up shop and work for them instead. I’m not one to quit when things get rough, but I had to decide whether or not it was worth the time and effort required to go up against this juggernaut. So by 2014 I had had enough. One morning I woke up and deleted the site, and all my social media accounts associated with it. I scoured the internet for any traces of it, trying to erase its very existence. Within a few days, I had decided to resurrect Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment, but as an online magazine.

Original 2nd Generation Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment logo

From the very beginning of my latest venture, I decided I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. Something I had never done before, and something others hadn’t done before. I built the site, added some graphics, and a good friend of mine helped me script a mission statement. It would take me more than a year to determine what I wanted to do with it, and another year to figure out how I would do it.

Originally, our tagline was “The Anatomy of Cultural Expression”. One day, I sent off my idea for a new logo to a company I had worked with on previous logos. I must have had a lot on my mind that week, because in the field where I was asked to type in my tagline, I entered “The Anatomy of Human Expression” instead. Through several logo revisions, I hadn’t noticed my error. Once I had approved the finals, that was when I realized the mistake I had made. At the time, my tagline was a part of my logo, and there was no undoing what had been done, without having to pay to have it done over. It took me several hours to think about it, and then I realized that the new tagline actually made better sense.

Updated 2nd Generation Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment logo

Then came that pivotal date of August 3, 2015. It was my first day working at New York’s world renowned Decoration & Design Building, founded by real estate developer Charles Cohen. Working there opened my eyes to whole new world of possibilities! Never in my life would I have imagined such an amazing repository of all sorts of creatives: artists, musicians, photographers, and of course, interior designers. The building itself never fails to astonish even the most jaded of observers.  To call it the epitome of luxury and elegance would be a gross understatement.

That day, by the end of my five o’clock shift, the shape of what would become Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment would begin to take form in my mind.

Final 2nd Generation Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment logo

Final 2nd Generation Kingdomz X Arts & Entertainment logo

It still took some time to get to where it is now, after all (with the exception of a few contributors) I was (and currently am) still providing most of the content, redesigning the site and logo, dealing with technical issues, and trying to have a life outside of my project. The most recent change I made to both the site, its social media accounts, and the name itself was a major one. Without fanfare, I removed the “Arts & Entertainment” part of our name. The reason why will have to wait until my next editorial, this thing is already way too long, and I need to wrap it up.

There have been quite a few individuals who have helped me through this journey in their own way, so (in no specific order) I would like to take a moment to thank them all now.

Jeff Hunter is the head of security for the D&D Building, and the man who hired me to work there as security supervisor three years ago. Maybe I should thank serendipity instead, but the fact of the matter is, had I never been hired for that position, this magazine wouldn’t be where it is today.

For their sage advice and encouragement, I would like to thank Stephen A. Fredericks (Senior Vice President National Showroom Leasing Director for the Decoration & Design Building), Tommy and Marty Mitchell (Tommy Mitchell Company), and Christopher Hyland (Christopher Hyland, Inc.).

Naty and Yaz Ugalde, gave me my first writing gig, for their alternative modeling publication, Gorgeous Freaks Magazine (they have since moved on to other ventures). Without them, I would never have realized my full potential as a writer.

Sylvia and Britt Hysen are a brilliant mother-daughter team, whose intelligence and accomplishments never cease to amaze me. They own and operate Millennial Magazine, and I truly feel bad putting all my focus on my project, when I should have been helping out with theirs (long story).

Martin Olson is a man whom I have come to know and love since 2011, and I am honored to call him friend. He’s a man who hasn’t let being a New York Times Best Seller, and five-time Emmy nominee get in the way of a friendship. He has been a great inspiration.

Cassandra Dunn is someone I’ve admired since I was a teenager, and during her time as student councilor at the University of the Virgin Islands (Project Upward Bound), she was a mentor to me. It was she who recognized my capacity for taking on large projects, and my determination to see them through fruition. To this day, Cassandra still encourages me to keep on.

Justin Farrow is the most brilliant man I know, and also the most helpful. His heart is equal to his intellect, as anyone who knows him will tell you.

Francisco Lebron and Val Jadoo have worked as concierge at the D&D Building for many years, and during the the time I worked there, they helped to make my stay there a productive and pleasurable experience.

The man who helped me pull off the biggest interview I’ve done thus far is Adrian Moens. I am grateful to him for taking the time to work with me, in addition to his duties as showroom manager at Maya Romanoff.  

I would be remiss if I left out Dennis Scully (Avery Boardman, Editor at Large, Castel), and Alexandria McMunn (One Bleecker), both who plied me with coffee practically every day at the D&D Building. Good friends are hard to come by, good friends with good coffee are rare.

My stepson Quillan Bell helped me to build and design my “fallback” site on Tumblr. It was a learning experience for both of us.

Director of Marketing Liz Nightingale, and Marketing Manager Alyssa Abrams at the D&D are not only genuinely good people, but made me feel like “real” press at the 2017 Spring Market.

My “cheerleaders” Renée Muzerie (Imago Dei), Stephanie Stuart, and Angela Denk, are some of the most brilliant and amazing women you ever want to meet, and I love them all dearly. They cheered me on when I had doubts about my project, and celebrated each milestone with me.

Of course, there’s you, dear reader (that’s if you’re still reading this). Between the months of April and May, 11K of you stopped by to either ogle pics or read our articles and interviews. For that, I am sincerely grateful.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has ever graced the virtual pages of Kingdomz X. I am humbled by their willingness to share themselves and their art with a “nobody”, and a magazine which, in its early stages, didn’t look like much of anything at all, much less a magazine.

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