North Philly's gossipy, snap-happy Skorpion and Makael are an online sensation.
It’s a great April day for Kevin Simmons and Makael Mclendon. Beyoncé’s performing in June at the Wachovia Center and the two young men—squeezed into a corner of the cramped North Philly rowhouse where Simmons lives with his mother—are gossiping and even screaming in excitement like a pair of sugar-fueled teenage girls.
“I may get my head extra bald! So she can see me!” yells the clean-shaven Mclendon, 22, who has front-row seats. “I’m going to put all this oil on my head so she’s going to notice this bald head while she’s singing ‘Broken-Hearted Girl’ or while she singing ‘Sweet Love’ or she gonna sing ‘You’re My Man!’” He gyrates in his chair, then pretends to hyperventilate as an imaginary Beyoncé serenades him.
“You know how those Michael Jackson concerts be? Where those motherfuckers be passed out and flying around the crowd and stuff? That’s gonna be Makael,” shouts Simmons, 24.
The joy is palpable, but there’s trouble brewing: Simmons’ young nieces are playing nearby and getting loud. It’s tough to carry on a conversation. Finally, he snaps.
“If I get up it’s going to be trouble!” Simmons warns, standing up and taking off his belt to back up the threat. No violence ensues, but Mclendon is clearly amused.
“I don’t live here,” he jokes.
Welcome to The Skorpion Show, a low-tech, high-volume YouTube talk show full of celebrity gossip, family intrusions and occasional advice on how to tell if your man is gay. And Simmons—the “Skorpion” of the show’s title—believes it can be his launching pad to stardom.
“I think I would be the black male version of Ricki Lake,” he muses. “I am going to keep at it on YouTube until I get discovered.”
Simmons had already been making his own videos for a few months when Mclendon—an old MySpace friend—joined him last summer for an episode so the two could argue the merits of Beyoncé versus Janet Jackson. The duo clicked immediately, with Mclendon given to making risqué jokes and Simmons responding with bug-eyed bemusement. Both brought loud opinions in equal measure.
“After our first video, people immediately gravitated to the two of us together. Now I can’t not be on the show,” says Mclendon, who calls himself the “sidekick.” “A lot of people get shocked when they find out we’ve only [personally] known each other since August. People think we’ve known each other for years.”
Soon, though, viewers began to ask: Are Skorpion and Makael gay?
Simmons and Mclendon say they hate the question—but it’s unavoidable when episodes of the show have addressed topics such as: Does having sex once with a man make you gay? Is a man gay if he likes his ass played with during sex? And why do gay relationships so often end badly?
Off camera, Simmons has been out of the closet for eight years; Mclendon says he won’t discuss his private life. On camera, the two have responded to the questions with a popular short video asserting their straightness in a hilarious display of head-wagging, finger-snapping and Beyoncé-loving faux machismo.
“Do we look gay?” Mclendon asks, and then in unison the pair snap. “Helloooooo?”
“No, we’re not gay. We like cootchie,” Mclendon confides, leeringly, to the camera.
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