November 25, 2006
I was just
sitting on my sofa a moment ago and noticed that “The Insider” was
running a story on cosmetic surgery that included breast augmentation
“mistakes” (one woman’s two breasts became one and one woman’s two
breasts became four), along with Jenny’s latest surgery of the 30 she
has had in her 30 years. That averages one for each year, though she began
this transformation as an adult.
are so unnaturally swollen now that she can hardly enunciate properly. Her
skin is so red, she looks like she has roasted in the sun. She is
unusually thin and is not attractive to me at all. When she was on the
“Jerry Springer Show” and I saw a photo of her before she began this
journey of becoming someone else, not only was it apparent that she no
longer resembles the woman she was born as, she also was more attractive
then than she is now!
once again made me mourn my dear friend, Brandi Swann, who died on October
28th of a liposuction surgery gone bad. Words cannot express how deeply
saddened and shocked I was to hear of her untimely and unnecessary death.
A part of me feels angry at her for going for the okie doke until I remind
myself of something else.
these women are desperately seeking youth, beauty and body perfection but
I believe the search is for something much deeper than personal
appearance. At the heart of these painful and dangerous surgeries seems to
be a search for self-love and acceptance. I believe it has little to do
with physical beauty. If it was that alone, surely it would not take 30
surgeries to find perfection and it would not be so addictive.
It is the
surgeons I fault for these botched surgeries and use of surgeries to drug
these addictive women into wanting more. Do the surgeons care about the
risks involved in these dangerous surgeries or does the money they receive
of these women (and men) need is therapy, not cosmetic surgery. I
challenge surgeons to order a full psychiatric study before taking some of
these women and men under the knife. If surgeons are not acting out their
desire for monetary gain, to play God and to dole out false definitions of
beauty, are they willing to become for accountable and responsible?
of these surgeons are doing seems criminal to me. There ought to be a law
that limits the number of cosmetic surgeries one person can have. What
will it take to pass such a law? The death of a politician or judge’s
loved one for it to really hit home? Or perhaps it will be the loss of a
cosmetic surgeon’s daughter, wife or niece.
Brandi’s death is the second I know of personally. I also know a man
who, coincidentally, also died of a “tummy tuck” surgery. He was
younger than Brandi and both were wonderful creative beings.
is a copy of the letter I posed in the online guest book of Brandi’s,
following her recent death:
I am still stunned by
your untimely death. I feel such a loss because what you meant to me
cannot be filled by anyone else. We did not see each other often but
as longtime friends well over 30 years, we always picked up right
where we left off, with what was current in our lives and by
catching up on the things that seemed to matter.
I am SOOOO glad you
came to Los Angeles and stayed with me for the Los Angeles Women's
Theatre Festival this last March. It was MY treat to have you at all
but the last program because you had to get back to your church.
(You were committed that way.) You seemed to enjoy my Festival and
all the talent that graced our stage this year.
I will never forget
that last time together with you and mZuri sharing my grandson,
Malik Isaiah's bedroom, and zooming down the streets of LA,
Hollywood and Santa Monica in that flaming red convertible Sebring
you rented. (You were bold and you had style, girl, and you could
wear some high heels!:)
You loved my son, Tariq,
and NEVER failed to ask how he was whenever we spoke. (Thanks for
caring for him when I needed you to when he was a baby.)You were
majestic with that 5'8" frame of yours and you spoke with such
elegance - though you could get down and dirty when you felt like it
because you always kept it real.
I loved that warm smile
of yours and that mischievous laughter of yours that was infectious
and that sounded only like you.
I also loved how you
were daring, always ready to take on another challenge - so unafraid
to REALLY live and you did just that!
I got word of your
death while I was in Atlanta and it shadowed the rest of my trip
there but I decided as I looked out of my kitchen window there to
choose a tree in my backyard and name it after you. My "Brandi
Tree" stands gracefully in my backyard, prominently planted. I
will think of you often whenever I gaze out into my lush backyard
that is so full of beautiful, green trees. Your tree is the one I
especially chose just for you. I know your spirit will always look
over me when I am in Atlanta.
I know you would have
come down there with me because you loved to go and would have
wanted to see what I had found but not to worry. You will be there
always through "The Brandi Tree".
I loved your
spirituality. You "knew" things that many others had no
notion of and I understood exactly what you meant when you gave
voice to what you knew.
I appreciate that you
always looked up to me and were secure enough to say it. You were my
sistuh girl.I suppose your work was done here so, like everyone
else, I will now have to release you from this lifetime.Spread your
wings and soar, chile! (I know you already are!:)
I know you turned
everybody's heads when you stepped into the pearly gates dressed to
the nines with that pair of $300 high heels of yours)and I know you
are lighting the place up with your presence of laughter, style and
You will ALWAYS be
remembered by those whose lives you touched so intimately,
especially mine. You will live daily everytime someone says your
name, thinks thoughts of or looks at your photo (I put one up in my
office where I can see it daily!)
Brandi, I know no one
who even remotely reminds me of you. That is what will make your
place in my heart so very, very special.
Johnson, A.K.A. Brandi Swann
November 7, 1950 - October 28, 2006
Johnson, known to many as Brandi Swann, was found dead in her
home on October 28. she had been recuperating from elective
surgery, but cause of death
is still unknown. Pamela was born in Argo, IL, to
Willie Mae Rogers. After her mother's death, she was adopted
by her uncle, Macon Johnson,
and his wife Senobia. Pamela is survived by her
brother Leroy Rodgers, aunt Ruth Johnson, nephew Timothy
Johnson, niece Linda Russell,
of Milwaukee, as well as many nieces and nephews
and grand-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by
parents and by siblings Mack Charles
"MC" Rogers and Bernice Griffin.
17, Pamela left Milwaukee to pursue acting and modeling in Los
Angeles, taking the stage name Brandi Swann. She lived
briefly in Las Vegas before
settling in San Francisco. She was an original and
uncompromising thinker with a sassy fashion sense and a
tremendous appetite for life.
Her many-faceted talents shone as an actor,
writer, athlete and mentor. She studied at the American
Black Actors’ Workshop from 1976-1979 with fellow students
Danny Glover and Denzel Washington, and appeared in the
original production of
"For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the
Rainbow Is Enuf." She earned a BS in Organizational
Behavior from the University
of San Francisco in 1992 and participated in 1984 in the
historic class action suit which opened the door to equal
women at the San Francisco Fire Department.
deep spirituality fed a loving and compassionate spirit. She
was the Area Reference Person for the Haight Ashbury Western
Addition community of
Re-Evaluation Counselors, pastor of the Institute of
Religious Science, a mentor at the Instituto Familiar de la
Raza, and a long-time member
of the Children’s Home Society. She rowed with the
Embarcadero Rowing Club and appeared frequently in the Bay
warm and generous heart will be missed by many. A memorial
service and potluck will be held at 2 p.m., December 3, at
the Institute of Religious
Science, 3255 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA
94121. Donations can be made to the