Speaking in Tongues

Don‘t believe the ’type: What they say about African-American men and their dislike of orally pleasuring the ladies simply isn‘t true, according to Marvin Sease. ”I feel personally that it was a myth created by Caucasians,“ proclaims the 55-year-old soul singer. ”But I thank them. When I get them at my concerts, I always thank them.“

Sease knows of what he speaks. He’s turned the joys of going down into a one-man cottage industry. His latest treatise, subtly titled A Woman Would Rather Be Licked, is a goodness-gracious collection of old-school soul and salacious slow jams. Of course, the title track is a reminder that men gotta pay with foreplay before pulling out their walkin‘ stick.

The tune fits snugly in Sease’s vast repertoire of raunch, an oeuvre that includes ”Don‘t ’Cum‘ Now,“ ”Hoochie Momma,“ ”Do You Need a Licker?,“ ”I Ate You for My Breakfast“ and his signature ”Candy Licker.“ But Sease is hardly one-dimensional. The twice-married entertainer has also explained the nuances of divorce in 1997’s ”The Bitch Git It All.“

He‘s among the last of the Southern Soul Mohicans -- Sease’s sexual odes are rooted in the silky, sly Johnnie Taylor Tyrone Davis school of vocal playas. Onstage, Sease is a Jheri-curled mack daddy who brings the ladies into a panty-throwing frenzy with his tongue-wagging, crotch-grabbing antics. But he works hard for the money -- 47 weeks a year -- mostly on the Southern ”chitlin circuit.“

Like fellow conflicted musical heathen Little Richard, Sease grew up on the gospel. The 14th of his father‘s 20 children, Sease began singing as a child in the cotton fields of Blackville, South Carolina, where his dad worked as a sharecropper. ”The bossman didn’t allow that,“ he says. His punishment for singing on the job: a bossman-mandated whipping at the hands of his dad. ”He thought I was interfering with the work of the hands. The more I got whipped, the more I was determined to be a singer.“

By the time he was 14, Sease was singing in Charleston with the Five Gospel Singers. He moved to Brooklyn six years later and continued to sing with gospel groups before realizing he‘d have to sing the blues if he wanted to earn a living. He spent the better part of the ’80s as a popular track singer and DJ on the Queens and Brooklyn club scenes, signing with PolyGram in 1987 on the strength of his plaintive ballad ”Ghetto Man.“

Then Marvin Sease had a dream. Lyrics oozed from his subconscious. The dream was ”Candy Licker,“ and he thought he was going to hell for it. ”It scared me, the way the lyrics was comin‘ -- ’Lick you up and make you come‘ and all that stuff,“ Sease remembers. ”I still had my gospel mind. I’m thinking, if the pastor hear me singing something like this, he would think I was just the worst person in the world.“

Sease was uneasy about the song, but he got over it, and then some. ”Candy Licker,“ all 9:58 of it, became a popular jukebox hit in the South and made Marvin Sease a star, in a segregated, niche sort of way. Yet the reaction to the song freaked him out. ”Women would just go crazy,“ he says. ”They were throwing panties, bras, collapsing, passing out . . . It almost got too much for me.“

While the hysteria was disconcerting, it was nothing compared to the death threats. ”I was really afraid,“ Sease says. ”I was told that if I didn‘t change my style, they was gonna kill me, my family. I really got scared at one point. I didn’t know what to do.“ Ultimately, the show continued to go on, though he admits to toning it down over the years. But not much.

”I‘ll walk out onstage and ask certain men do they eat coochie,“ Sease says. ”I ask their lady that’s with them do they go down, and put them on the spot. I still do stuff like that. And I‘ll fake that I’m gonna take my penis out, but I don‘t. I’m still lively.“

Still, there are signs that Sease is hankering to return to his roots. The first single from A Woman Would Rather Be Licked is the gospel standard ”I Gotta Clean Up,“ which, though it fits nicely into his persona, could also be a sign of things to come.

”Beneath all the lickin‘, I’m still religious at heart. I pray and I give thanks. The Bible says be what you are and live the life. I‘m being what I am. I do intend to go gospel one day, if God spares my life and I live long enough. Money, fame -- nothing won’t change my mind when I make that decision. I do not have a guilty conscience anymore.“

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