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POWER MALU

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Clayton: So, here we are with are with Joey Goodwin, Power Malu, and Clayton Patterson We’re doing an interview for our fanzine about “the struggle.” The struggle can be any kind, any number, of difficulties. You were just talking about reflecting on your life. And about a movie you’d like to make, that reflects the struggle of surviving on the Lower East Side, people being evicted and hoodwinked, and whatever.

Joey: First, Power, tell us who you are and a little bit about your history.

Power: My name is Michael Angel Viera, Also Power Malu, Babee Power, Mike Power, Power Viera, all these AKA’s people got for me. Basically, been the “mayor” of the Lower East side. People know me as being neutral. I’m able to go to any project, anywhere in the Lower East Side. Not take any sides. Just have love for everybody, have respect for everybody. I started going out, hosting shows, when I was about 15 years old. I used to promote a lot of parties in New York City. That got me into the clubs. I was able to get on the microphone, introduce people that were performing, became this whole “slash” person that was seen everywhere. I got invited to be part of music videos by a lot of artists and directors. I got known as “the kid that’s in everybody’s video” and it became this thing in the ‘90s where, if I wasn’t in the video, the video was not “official.” So, there are dozens and dozens of videos that I’m in, and it’s like the “Where’s Waldo” type of thing.

Then, being that I was in all these videos, I also started doing a television show called My Life Television, where I would do sketch comedy, improvise, and invite people to come down as guests that I would interview, in the music world, in the acting world, and in the party world. And it became like a variety show. Out of that show was born The Lyricist Lounge Show, which premiered on MTV in 2000: the ideas from My Life Television, combined with another couple of artists, Wordsworth, Master Fuol, we created the idea for the first ever lyrical sketch show. I became well-known for that.

In the meantime, I was working on music for Latin groups and Hip Hop groups, where I would do a lot of writing - what’s called now “ghost writing.” I was doing a lot of consulting and helping to put together TV productions or music productions with different artists and producers.
From that, I was seen by a lot of my people from the neighborhood. And that kind of gave me a lot of ambition to do even bigger things, so that I can always come back to the neighborhood and be able to help those who thought that it

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Power: Right. Absolutely. That’s a great story.
Clayton: So, in making those choices, which one would you choose?
Power: Both are great.
Clayton: But you can’t do them both. You could only do one.
Power: Why?

Clayton: Because to make a movie, it will take you a year to raise the money for each one. It’s hard, as we know, and to get the script, and get people involved, you know. It’s hard enough getting this interview, never mind doing two movies.
Because that’s a possibility for something that could be international. We were saying, he’s talking about doing this movie about people losing their homes. I’m also saying because Alicia is World Champion and you have this boxing club here, that has a history - of Overthrow, the Yippies, and all that. And it’s also community. If, for example, you concentrated the movie on Alicia and she keeps going the way that she’s going, he then has a movie that will be heroic and inspiring. He will be part of the gym that you’re part of and it has the possibility of going to Sundance and having people really be inspired by it, you understand. ‘Cause I understand the other story entirely and I understand the sympathy for the other story. But the Alicia story? That could be a feature movie.

Joey: But at the same time, it’s about what a person’s heart is into. Jay-Z has a line where he says, “How can I feed the poor,” help the poor, “if I’m one of them,” or whatever, right? That’s kind of a metaphor for what you’re talking about. Somewhere, he goes very commercial and he, in some way, sells his soul. And he admits it. But doesn’t give a fuck, because that was his prerogative, right? Everyone has their prerogative, what they want to do, what their ambition tells them to do, or what they feel comfortable doing.

Clayton: But they are choices. And neither one would be selling out, we agree with that, right? One just has the potential of being commercial, and the other one has the potential of not being commercial. I mean, I’ve spent my life on noncommercial things, I understand that whole genre. But that’s a choice.

Clayton: Part of the thing is, Power sees himself as an ideal. He sees himself as a mentor, in a way. It’s psychological. He wants people in the neighborhood to know that if you do the right thing and you try hard, it is possible to live here, be here, but also be very successful, right?

Power: Yes. That’s exactly it.

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Power: They grew up fighting, you know. Him and his brothers. So, that’s very much how he got involved. He got recognized in the neighborhood and -
Clayton: Did somebody - a priest or a neighborhood guy - say, “Hey, you should get into the gym”?

Power: I’m not sure if it was a priest. I think it might have just been someone who was training people at the time and started a group in the neighborhood.
Clayton: A community improvement group? There used to be social groups in the neighborhood, in that period of time, that guided kids out of drugs and other problems, and into certain areas.

Power: Yeah. So, they grew up right here on Allen Street & Forsyth.
Clayton: Allen Boys? And there was the Forsyth Boys…
Power: Way before that. Actually, but eventually their offspring became integral parts of those groups. So, his thing was boxing. And of course, I always have him here [pointing to a tattoo] as a reminder. This was something that I did in Texas. I was working with this Tex-Mex artist named A.B. Power: Yeah, they called him The Kid. He passed away. It was an accident on the Lower East Side. Second Avenue and 4th Street. He got hit by a truck, crossing the street. That was tough. December 4th, 11:53.
He always had this thing that he was going to make a comeback. But he turned to drinking because this is his dream, and now he’s not following his dream.

Power: My “World Title” is to be able to inspire other artists to follow their passions and to give them a platform to be able to do that. Because I understand how difficult it is. I understand that there’s people that have been really close to making a living, doing what they love, but circumstances in their lives caused them to quit. And they have never known if they could actually make a living doing what they love, so now they’re pretty miserable in their lives because they never followed through. My World Championship would be being able to inspire more people to follow their passions and follow their dreams and really go after what they believe.

Clayton: You’re an inspirational coach.

Power: And this is something that I do now, without having that major platform. I do it with people that are immediately around me and I see the impact that it has on them. This is why I want to do it on a global level. I know I can do it on the global level. I have that impact on people.
You know, I have a running group that I work with, called BridgeRunners, and I’m always in the back of the pack because I believe that the back of the pack is where people start out. And the hardest part is for them is to continue. So, I inspire them, give them words of encouragement while we’re running, and sure enough, they’re now in the front of the pack. That’s what I love to be. I love to be that net to catch people from falling.

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Power: They grew up fighting, you know. Him and his brothers. So, that’s very much how he got involved. He got recognized in the neighborhood and -
Clayton: Did somebody - a priest or a neighborhood guy - say, “Hey, you should get into the gym”?

Power: I’m not sure if it was a priest. I think it might have just been someone who was training people at the time and started a group in the neighborhood.
Clayton: A community improvement group? There used to be social groups in the neighborhood, in that period of time, that guided kids out of drugs and other problems, and into certain areas.

Power: Yeah. So, they grew up right here on Allen Street & Forsyth.
Clayton: Allen Boys? And there was the Forsyth Boys…
Power: Way before that. Actually, but eventually their offspring became integral parts of those groups. So, his thing was boxing. And of course, I always have him here [pointing to a tattoo] as a reminder. This was something that I did in Texas. I was working with this Tex-Mex artist named A.B. Power: Yeah, they called him The Kid. He passed away. It was an accident on the Lower East Side. Second Avenue and 4th Street. He got hit by a truck, crossing the street. That was tough. December 4th, 11:53.
He always had this thing that he was going to make a comeback. But he turned to drinking because this is his dream, and now he’s not following his dream.

Power: My “World Title” is to be able to inspire other artists to follow their passions and to give them a platform to be able to do that. Because I understand how difficult it is. I understand that there’s people that have been really close to making a living, doing what they love, but circumstances in their lives caused them to quit. And they have never known if they could actually make a living doing what they love, so now they’re pretty miserable in their lives because they never followed through. My World Championship would be being able to inspire more people to follow their passions and follow their dreams and really go after what they believe.

Clayton: You’re an inspirational coach.

Power: And this is something that I do now, without having that major platform. I do it with people that are immediately around me and I see the impact that it has on them. This is why I want to do it on a global level. I know I can do it on the global level. I have that impact on people.
You know, I have a running group that I work with, called BridgeRunners, and I’m always in the back of the pack because I believe that the back of the pack is where people start out. And the hardest part is for them is to continue. So, I inspire them, give them words of encouragement while we’re running, and sure enough, they’re now in the front of the pack. That’s what I love to be. I love to be that net to catch people from falling.

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