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Wendy WilliamsWendy Williams always says it like she means it.
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Who’s under the most pressure in NHL free agency?

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Power Rankings: Who’s closer to the Cup edition

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Every Actor Who’s Appeared in Game of Thrones and Star Wars

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The Bachelor Breakdown: What’s What and Who’s Who of Season 22?

The Bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr., CastHappy 2018, Bachelor Nation!
The Bachelor returns tonight to help ring in the new year, and to help you ring in the new season, it’s time for a few fun facts about season 22….

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 8 Trailer Is Here and You’ll Never Guess Who’s Fighting

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The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season 8 Trailer Is Here and You’ll Never Guess Who’s Fighting

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Strictly: Aston’s exit shocks fans but who’s to blame?

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‘Thrilled’ Walsh is Doctor Who’s new companion

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Broadchurch Star Jodie Whittaker Is Named Doctor Who’s 13th and First Female Doctor

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Live-Action Aladdin Having Trouble Casting Its Leads: Here’s Who’s in the Running

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This Is Us Promotes Nearly All of Its Incredible Child Stars for Season 2–But Who’s Missing?

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What Celebrity Surrogacy Is Really Like from One Mom Who’s Been There: ‘It Was Never About Money’

As Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West consider a surrogate pregnancy, a woman who has been a surrogate says the journey to match any parent or parents with a woman who will carry a child and then give it up to them is filled with emotion on both sides.

“I hoped for everything I got,” two-time surrogate Dayna, 37, a stay-at-home Pennsylvania mom, tells PEOPLE, which is withholding her last name. “I didn’t want it to be a business transaction. I didn’t want it to feel like that.”

“It was never about money,” she says. “I wanted it to be personal. I wanted to get enjoyment like I did out of it. I was giving someone something that potentially they couldn’t get without someone like us.”

In April, Dayna delivered the second of two children that she carried for parents Jonathan Rollo and Joey Gonzalez, through a match overseen by the California-based agency Growing Generations. The couple welcomed a daughter, Francesca, now 18 months old, in December 2015; their son, Jake, is two months old. Both were conceived using anonymous donor eggs selected from a catalogue listing and then fertilized by the men and implanted in Dayna’s uterus.

“I personally didn’t feel any separation process,” Dayna says of the time after Francesca was born. “There was no grief, there was no mourning, there was no sadness. It was a pretty amazing feeling, just to see Jon’s and Joey’s faces when she was born, and them holding her for the first time. They were literally just glowing.”

17Kardashian West and her husband are already parents to 4-year-old daughter North and 18-month-old son Saint. But in planning for a third child, they recently hired a surrogate, PEOPLE confirms. Doctors had cautioned Kardashian West that another pregnancy would be risky because she suffers from a condition, placenta accreta, that causes the placenta to grow into the wall of the womb, thus making it hard to detach at the time of birth.

The 36-year-old reality star underwent a procedure to try and correct the condition. But she told her mother, Kris Jenner, on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, “I’ve come to the conclusion in my mind that I can’t carry another one. So now I want to explore surrogacy.”

Dayna, a mother of five children ages 7 to 20, decided to become a surrogate after a long consideration that involved her husband and their family; the couple welcomed two biological children and parented several foster children, adopting three, before choosing not to have any more.

But after seeing “so many people out there in need and just having that want and desire for their own biological children,” Dayna says she viewed surrogacy as her way to contribute further. “My pregnancies have always been easy,” she says. “After doing tons of research, it just felt right. It felt like something I wanted to do.”

Before going forward, she also allowed her kids a vote. “Is this going to be okay?” she asked. “This is not going to be your sibling at all. I’m just going to carry a baby for someone who can’t carry a baby.”

Their response? “They were all on board.”

A friend of hers had been a surrogate through Growing Generations, and Dayna reached out to the company, which does not advertise for surrogates but accepts online applications. Just 10 percent meet initial qualifications; only 1 or 2 percent of those advance for final consideration in a review that includes background checks, medical tests, and psychological evaluations. Among questions posed: Are you willing to work with single parents? Gay parents? Interracial couples?

“It was multiple applications,” says Dayna. “At that point, they pretty much interviewed you: Why do you want to become a surrogate? What do you hope to get out of it? Have you talked to your family about it? They do have a lot of requirements, which I feel are necessary.”

Founded in 1996, Growing Generations has overseen more than 1,500 births delivered via 1,200 surrogates, says Stuart Bell, the agency’s co-founder. Its client base is divided evenly between U.S. and international parents. Ninety percent of them are couples, and 60 percent of them are gay. (The agency is not working with Kardashian West.)

“Twenty years ago, infertility was such a cross to bear,” Bell told PEOPLE in 2015. “There was kind of this shame around ‘I can’t have a baby.’” Although surrogacy and surrogate contracts still generate legal and political debate in parts of the country, “they’re starting to understand that it’s not harming anyone involved,” Bell says. “This is something that’s building families in a positive way.”

It’s also costly. For a person or couple opting to use their own egg, Growing Generations tells them to budget $ 120,000 to $ 140,000 for the process; if a donor egg is used, the expense can climb to $ 150,000 to $ 200,000.

Costs include the egg donor fee of $ 15,000 to $ 16,000; the surrogate fee of around $ 35,000; the expense to create and implant embryos; allowances for the surrogate’s maternity clothing, travel and medical monitoring; and legal and insurance fees, all on top of the agency’s matching fees.

“When you say you’re going to be a surrogate, the first thing anybody asks is, how much money are you making?” says Dayna. Growing Generations ensures that surrogates are financially secure before taking on the responsibility, she adds. “The money is not worth what you’re putting your body through. You really need to be honest with yourself. This is something that you want to do for the right reasons.”

Once approved, Dayna received a packet with information about Gonzalez and Rollo — not detailed, but with photos, ages, how long they’d been together, and images showing them with family and friends.

Then she and her husband had a preliminary meeting over lunch with Gonzalez, the CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, an international fitness boutique concept, and Rollo, a chef, owner and founder of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, a chain of organic restaurants.

“We wanted somebody who has been through childbirth,” Gonzalez told PEOPLE, which earlier profiled the couple and their surrogacy process. “Our preference was for someone who has been through it more than once, psychologically secure, who could go through this process of separating from a child. That’s obviously not an easy thing to do. We both wanted somebody incredibly maternal, somebody that we thought respected the process.”

“When they presented Dayna,” he says, “it was the best-case scenario. She’s the most maternal person I’ve ever met. She’s just an exceptionally sweet, loving person. You can tell that family is a huge priority for her.”

Twenty-four hours after that meeting, each side sent word to the other through the agency: They agreed it was a match.

The two men and Dayna kept in constant touch through that first pregnancy via texts, calls and occasional in-person visits. Gonzalez and Rollo always talked of having more than one child. As they gathered for the first induced delivery and drove with Dayna to the hospital, “We were actually talking about the second one already,” Dayna recalls with a laugh. “I remember Joey’s mom saying, ‘Can we just have this one first?’”

“I planned on the first time being only a one-and-done thing, but the relationship I had with the guys, I knew instantly I would never be a surrogate for multiple families,” she says. After three months of pumping breast milk for Francesca, then freezing and shipping it overnight to Gonzalez and Rollo in California, she allowed her body to rest for a few months before starting the process for the second child. The dads were present at both births.

Today, “ loves seeing pictures of our babies, as much as we love hearing stories about her kids,” Gonzalez writes in an email. “Even if weeks go by without hearing from her, it’s easy to pick up where we left off. Sharing something this deep bonds people for life.”

“Honestly, there is no way to have assurance the surrogate will do things your way,” he says. “Which is why the process is so important. Be honest with each other about what matters most, and have trust that she will honor and respect that.”

He adds: “Don’t stress out if the first few meetings are awkward — it’s not the most natural relationship on earth and takes time to develop.”

But even as she values that relationship, Dayna says she’s not decided whether to be a surrogate again.

“I’m not getting any younger,” she jokes. “This one just really took a lot out of me. And I’ve got to think about my own kids. We hike a lot, we camp a lot; it’s hard to do those things when you’re pregnant.”

She does know, however, she has lifelong friends in the men whose family she helped to grow.

“I think the more you’re involved, the more you know what’s going on with the pregnancy, the more you can relate,” she advises those who may be considering using a surrogate. “You hope there are check-in points that they’re interested in, like, ‘What was the baby’s heart rate at the doctor’s today?’ because that just builds the excitement.”

“They don’t have to keep in touch,” she says of the two sides of the transaction. “Once they have that child, that can potentially be the end of the relationship, and I don’t think a lot of people prepare themselves for that. You need to prepare.”

She heard all throughout her process about how awful things can be between parents and their surrogates. But she, Gonzalez and Rollo all praise their match.

“I’m told all the time that we have a special relationship,” she says. “So I’m thankful very much for that.”

“I got everything that I wanted, and possibly more, when I went into this. To see the pictures of the guys with Jake and Francesca, and them living their lives, and all their pictures that they share, it’s amazing,” she says. “I helped create that.”


PEOPLE.com

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‘SNL’ Asks: Who You Gonna Believe? The FBI Director Or The Guy Who’s Lying?

Donald Trump isn’t “done yet,” conceded “Saturday Night Live’s” Colin Jost on “Weekend Update.” But “Mike Pence is definitely warming up in the bullpen.” 

Things don’t look too promising for the “president-for-now,” even though he denied that he told booted FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation into Russian connections to the Trump campaign, Jost noted on the “SNL” season finale this weekend.

“This sets up a real dilemma,” said Jost. “Who are you going to believe? The head of the FBI or the guy who’s definitely lying?”

Trump’s appeal to Comey to announce that the president was not under investigation “sounds pretty suspicious,” Jost added. “If you’re watching an episode of ‘Law & Order’ and the husband asks the detective, ‘When are you going to announce I’m not a suspect in my wife’s disappearance,’ that guy definitely buried a lady in the woods.”

Jost also mocked the revelation that Comey wore a suit that would blend in with the curtains in the Blue Room of the White House so Trump wouldn’t notice him.

“If he really wanted to avoid interacting with Trump, he should have just married him,” Jost said.

As for Trump calling Comey a “nut job,” Jost joked: “I’m just happy a nut job wasn’t something that happened to Trump in a Russian hotel room.”

Check out the video above to find out what Jost said about Pence and gay people.

The segment included farewell “Weekend Update” appearances by Vanessa Bayer as muddle-mouthed weather woman Dawn Lazarus and Bobby Moynihan as Drunk Uncle. This is the last “SNL” season for both.

Bayer also played a flatulent old-Hollywood glam movie star in a film skit, and a super-bratty girlfriend in an ad whose fed-up boyfriend (Beck Bennett) tries to shut her up with a Cartier diamond-encrusted fidget spinner.

Moynihan, meanwhile, appeared on this weekend’s episode as an anemic trash-talking wrestling rival of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He also appeared as a mad scientist infuriated by a rival’s creation of a sex molester robot, in the program’s riskiest skit that was earning lots of Twitter hate Saturday night.

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As Alexandra Shulman Departs, Who’s Next at British Vogue?

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Who’s Dying in the Vampire Diaries Series Finale?

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Look Who’s Back! Microsoft, Rebooted, Emerges as a Tech Leader

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Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football?: Setting the Record Straight on the Top 65 NFL Players of the Past 65 Years

Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football?: Setting the Record Straight on the Top 65 NFL Players of the Past 65 Years


Throughout, Silverman discusses the many considerations that must be made when comparing modern players with players of past eras and players at different positions. Including biographical essays on those top 75 players and detailed statistics for theirplaying careers, Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football? is a must have for anyone who considers football to be more than just a game”

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Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Coaching?

Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Coaching?


Ranking the best coaches in NFL history is no easy task. How do we decide which coach had a bigger on-field impact? Or the best tactical skills, both defensively and offensively? Not to mention measuring the strength of what a coach does behind the scenes, how he motivates his players, or how he keeps them from cracking under the pressure. Is the Hoodie? the greatest coach ever, or just lucky to have Tom Brady? What about Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, and John Madden? Where do they rank? Such are the questions that pro football writer Steve Silverman addresses in Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Coaching? As statistician Elliott Kalb did with baseball, basketball, and golf, and Silverman himself did with football players inWho’s Better, Who’s Best in Coaching? Silverman takes the next logical step in this new book. Taking the analytical methods he developed over his years as a senior editor atPro Football Weekly, he applies them to an evaluation of coaches going back to the earliest days of the NFL. The result is a fascinating ranking of the best of the sideline, from legendary old-timers like Vince Lombardi to present-day blue-collar coaches like Tom Coughlin. Throughout, Silverman discusses the many considerations that must be made when comparing modern coaches with coaches of past eras, or when comparing abrasive and domineering coaches with the more relaxed and Zen-like coaches. Including biographical essays on those top fifty coaches and detailed statistics for their career records in both the playoffs and regular season, Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Coaching? is a must-have for anyone who considers football more than just a game and who is fascinated by how it’s coached.

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Nike’s Newest Ad Stars an 86-Year-Old Nun Who’s Tougher Than You

​Way tougher​.

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MARVIN KREITMAN, THE LUGGAGE BARON OF SOUTH LONDON, LIVES FOR SEX. OR AT LEAST HE LIVES FOR WOMEN. AT PRESENT, HE LOVES FOUR WOMEN – HIS MOTHER, HIS WIFE HAZEL, AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS – AND IS IN LOVE WITH FIVE MORE. CHARLIE MERRIWEATHER, ON THE OTHER HAND, NICE CHARLIE, LOVES JUST THE ONE WOMAN, ALSO CALLED CHARLIE, THE WIFE WITH WHOM HE HAS BEEN WRITING CHILDREN S BOOKS AND HAVING NICE SEX FOR TWENTY YEARS. ONCE A WEEK, THE TWO FRIENDS MEET FOR A CHINESE LUNCH, CONTRIVING NEVER QUITE TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION THEY WOULD LIKE TO HAVE – ABOUT FIDELITY AND WOMANISING, AND WHICH MAKES HAPPIER. UNTIL TODAY. IT IS CHARLIE WHO TAKES THE DANGEROUS STEP OF ASKING FOR A PIECE OF MARVIN S DISORDERED LIFE, BUT WHAT FOLLOWS EMBROILS THEM ALL, THE WIVES NO LESS THAT THE HUSBANDS. AND NONE OF THEM WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
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Big Casting News: Guess Who’s Joining The Big Bang Theory!

As the number one comedy on television, The Big Bang Theory has no shortage of stars wanting to guest star on the show. But this is not a show that relies (nor should it) on…


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Who’s Your Daddy? Reflections of a Humbled Son on Thelonious Monk’s 98th Birthday

My life began with one perplexing question: Who is daddy?

Let me explain. From my earliest recollections, adults, when first meeting me, would invariably ask the question, “Do you know who your father is?” The query came from musicians and fans alike. I didn’t really understand the question at first, because the answer seemed so obvious. My father was my daddy. Of course, they would follow up with statements like, “You know he’s a genius,” which really meant nothing to a five- or ten-year-old. They would add proclamations like, “He changed the music,” and/or “His music will be here for the next 300 years.” That also meant absolutely nothing to me. However, though I couldn’t imagine 300 years, I could imagine one. So when told he would be a bigger name in 50 years, that did seem like a long, long time from then, so I chalked it up to nonsense, in my own toddling way. It seemed to me that in fifty years, I would be an old man — and surely dad would’ve been forgotten by then.

In my early teen years, having by then seen a lot of major artists come and disappear into obscurity, I was convinced these proclamations from ardent fans were pure hyperbole. But at fifteen, I began my love affair with drums. My understanding and views of music changed, and I clearly realized dad was a true badass. But so were his buddies Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and, of course, Max Roach (my teacher), and many others. I was clear on the huge influence of artists like Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker, and the impact they made on western music. I figured dad was definitely in the crowd, but I also noticed that even those greatest of artisans pretty much said the same things about my dad.

thelonious monk

The author’s father, mother (Nellie Monk) and sister (Boo Boo). (Photo published in Time Magazine, Feb. 1964)

Now you must understand that to me, Thelonious Sphere Monk was just daddy. He took me and my sister, Boo Boo [nickname], everywhere, and taught me how to treat girls, spin tops and change my sister’s diapers, among many other things — he did all of that Mr. Mom stuff. I can’t recall even one time in my life when I ever called him Thelonious, or Monk, or pop, or anything other than daddy. I was far more focused on getting a chance to play with him, than who he was to the world.

My first real clue about how admired my father was as a musical innovator came on the occasion of my mother’s birthday. My dad decided the family should go see Duke Ellington and his orchestra at the Rainbow Grill in the Waldorf Astoria. When we entered the packed supper club, the band was wailing. With the colorful lighting, it all looked magical. And a magical moment it was. Without hesitation, Duke Ellington stopped his orchestra abruptly, went to the microphone and said “Ladies and gentlemen, the baddest left-hand in the history of our music (obviously alluding to Thelonious’ harmonic innovations) just came in — Thelonious Monk.” There was a huge roar, and I knew this was special stuff. This was Duke Ellington talking, the Duke — the greatest jazzman I knew.

Soon after that, in the summer of my nineteenth year on earth, it happened. It was 1969, the year of my enlightenment. I was still living with my parents, and practicing my drums seven or eight hours a day. I was dedicated, focused and broke.

thelonious monk

Thelonious Monk performing with Art Blakey (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty)

When my dad was home from touring, he would lay his head on his headboard resting against a wall that was, maybe, eight inches thick, with me practicing right on the other side. From the day I started practicing, until I was twenty years old, he never said a word about my playing, but that’s another whole story.

I was in my own world. There were no listening restrictions in the Monk household, so I was listening to dad, Duke, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Supremes, and Frank Sinatra — everything, no limits. Then along came the music industry’s move from Hi-Fi to stereo. I wanted a stereo, and decided to build one myself. I went to Lafayette Electronics in downtown Manhattan and purchased parts to build a speaker, though I was not fully familiar with the needs of a stereo system, I purchased parts for only one speaker — a profoundly knuckle-headed move. However, on that hot summer day, I chose to build that one speaker, despite my technical mistake. Once it was completed, I needed to test it, but had a dilemma. It was big, 15 inches, plus a huge wooden cabinet. I wanted to go big. I was afraid to play a loud pop record, like my new Sly and the Family Stone album or something from a Motown group, but I wanted something I could turn up so I could hear this new speaker but not blow it up. So I decided on a quiet, smaller sounding group — a trio record by my father. I can clearly remember lying down with my ear to the speaker and pressing the button for the automatic changer to drop the record. It was a recording that featured Art Blakey on drums and the great bassist, Oscar Pettiford, filling out the trio. They were playing my father’s composition, “Work.” I had never heard it before. It is one of his most difficult improvisational vehicles. I could easily hear it, but it was so difficult and different that I was amazed. I was savvy enough to tell it was special, extremely special.

It was so special, I couldn’t stop playing the melody over and over for the next hour, and the melody was only about a minute long. I was stunned at the genius of his rhythm, his harmonics and his precision. It all came together for me that hot summer afternoon. Right then, I realized that the guy resting in the room next to me, and listening to my practicing, was, in fact, a timeless genius named Thelonious Monk, the man that changed the music — the man everyone had been talking about all my life. My dad was Thelonious Monk. And that was my name too. And it was humbling.

thelonious monk

My life changed just like the music. He’d done it to me too. That fifty-year thing was clearly conservative, since I’m now 65, and I see the 300-year thing is truly possible, if Beethoven and Mozart are any indicators. I got scared, but I got proud, and have been so ever since.

I could have been born on a hilltop in another country with nothing, but instead, I was born to Thelonious and Nellie, and given a wonderful heritage. How lucky was I. God bless you daddy. I know exactly who you are, and I will always love you! Happy Birthday!

Thelonious Sphere Monk, III (T.S. Monk) is an internationally acclaimed jazz drummer, bandleader, vocalist and arts educator. The son and musical heir to his father, the legendary jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk. He is the co-founder and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and he also heads the Thelonious Monk Estate. Contact him at Thelonious.s.monk@aol.com.

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‘Who’s The Boss?’ Star Danny Pintauro Reveals He Is HIV-Positive

On Saturday night’s episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?“, former child star Danny Pintauro revealed that he has been living with a big secret for more than a decade: He is HIV-positive.

Everyone remembers the young, blond-haired Pintauro as Jonathan on the family sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” For eight years, Pintauro played the son of a driven single mother, winning over audiences with his nerdy charm. But, in the years after “Who’s the Boss?” ended, the once-lighthearted little boy grew into a complicated young man trying to live a private life in the public eye.

In his sit-down with Oprah, Pintauro — who goes by “Daniel” now — begins the interview by sharing his long-held secret.

“I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now,” Pintauro says. “I’m HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years.”

Part of why Pintauro hadn’t spoken publicly about his health before, he says, is because he wasn’t sure if people were ready for a conversation of this magnitude. “It’s just a big deal, you know? It’s not something that people are really talking about right now,” Pintauro says.

This isn’t the first time Pintauro has revealed a private detail about his personal life. In 1997, when he was a college student, Pintauro came out as gay — but he hadn’t exactly planned to. “I was outed,” Pintauro says. “It wasn’t by choice.”

The actor says that a tabloid reporter called him back then saying the paper was going to out him whether he cooperated or not. His former “Who’s the Boss?” co-star, Judith Light, encouraged Pintauro to participate as a way of controlling the conversation. “It was the best thing,” Pintauro says now. “‘They can’t misquote you,’ she said. ‘And as long as you give really responsible and mature answers, it can’t be a bad article.'”

And, as Pintauro realized, it wasn’t. “Believe it or not, the ‘National Enquirer’ actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it,” he says. “I was shocked.”

Pintauro says he regularly underwent routine HIV testing every six months. Then, in March of 2003, his whole world changed.

“I was living in New York at the time and completely clueless to the idea that I was positive. I went in for a regular checkup,” Pintauro says. “It was just regular blood work. You go in, and you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles — or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV.”

Having come out of a two-year relationship, Pintauro admits later in the interview that he had been looking to explore more sexually and began using crystal meth as a means to that end. “I was doing crystal meth, which completely ruins your immune system. I’d been doing it at that point very briefly, but it was three weeks or so, off and on,” he explains. “I had just come out of a two-year relationship, and I discovered in that relationship that there was more I wanted to explore sexually. Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions… And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.

 ”I was experimenting,” he continues. “And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened.”

Though Pintauro doesn’t go into those details, he does say that he doesn’t remember the man’s name. “I regret not knowing that, because that person has completely changed my life,” he says.

Even though antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) had been introduced by the time Pintatuo was diagnosed, dramatically increasing the lifespan of those with HIV and reducing their risk of transmitting the infection to others, Pintauro was still devastated by his diagnosis. He struggled to make sense of his feelings.

“It was terrifying, and there was a sense of relief,” he says. “It’s backwards. You’ve spent so much time terrified that you’re going to get it, and then you have it. You don’t have to be terrified anymore.”

Today, Pintauro lives with his husband, Wil Tabares, in Las Vegas, and works as a restaurant manager. He told Oprah that his dreams in life are to open a bed and breakfast with Tabares, live a long life and be a beacon of light that can help make a difference to others along the journey. Pintauro also shared an important message for other men in the gay community.

 ”What I want my community to realize is we need to take better care of ourselves,” he says. 

“Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.

For more from “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, visit wherearetheynow.buzz.

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Meet ‘Beirut’s Banksy,’ The Artist Who’s Transforming The City One Wall At A Time

Artist Yazan Halwani peels political banners and posters off Beirut’s walls to make room for his murals. Born in the Lebanese capital, Halwani, 22, grew up against the backdrop of political logos stenciled on city walls and faded posters of politicians plastered on street corners, some left over from the civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990.

In Lebanon, “people usually identify with sectarian or political symbols,” Halwani said. Frustrated with the political fragmentation and sectarian strife on and off the walls of Beirut, he decided to draw the public’s attention to cultural figures that “reunite Lebanese, and Arab citizens, without any divisions.” On walls and buildings in East and West Beirut (which were separated during the civil war), he paints large-scale portraits of Arab poets, musicians and actors, encircled by intricate Arabic calligraphy.

Born a couple of years after the war, Halwani is part of a generation of Lebanese youth pushing, in various ways, for greater unity in Lebanon. With his artwork, he strives to offset decades of political polarization that has resulted in cultural divisions and “a weakening of national identity.”

Referred to as “Beirut’s Banksy” by Arab media outlet Al-Arabiya, Halwani has also produced artwork for international street art events, and his work has appeared in Germany, Singapore and Paris. By taking his calligraphy outside the Arab region, Halwani says, he wants to instigate “cross-cultural conversations” and to inspire a “positive view of the Arab world.”

But it’s his work in Beirut that’s garnering the world’s attention.

Political paralysis is nothing new in Lebanon’s government, which is tenuously balanced according to the country’s religious factions. But it has reached new heights: The country’s parliament has failed to pick a president for more than one year, and its inaction and corruption leaves much of the country without regular access to services like electricity and water. This summer, more than 20,000 tons of garbage has accumulated on Beirut’s streets after a major landfill closed and the government failed to agree on an alternative dump or a new contract for its garbage collection company.

Residents began to protest, resulting in the YouStink campaign decrying their officials. Public frustration peaked last month, with the recent wave of protests in the capital being described as “the biggest show of civil disobedience” in a decade. 

Halwani marched in a mass YouStink rally in downtown Beirut on Aug. 22. 

“I think the current problem and the main motivation behind my artwork stem from the same reason,” says Halwani. “Sectarian political forces that are working in their own self-interest.”

Halwani won’t write political slogans on Beirut’s walls, though. By painting much less polarizing figures, he subversively proposes an alternative cultural and political narrative: one of unity and harmony.

“I think that what needs to be done on a political level cannot be summed up with a wall tag,” he says.  

Along the side of a building in the vibrant district of Hamra, Lebanese singer-actress Sabah peers out onto the street, smiling disarmingly, surrounded by a halo of interwoven Arabic letters that look like snowflakes from afar. Across an orange wall in the lively residential district of Gemmayzeh, Halwani painted beloved musical icon Fairouz, in black, white and grey.

“I want to replace corrupt politics with more positive cultural elements that show the real face of the country,” he says.

Halwani’s street art hasn’t always been propelled by such lofty ambitions. At the age of 14, he was drawn to French hip-hop songs and gangster films. “Everyone wanted to grow up to be a soldier or an actor, but I wanted to be a gangster like these taggers in New York,” he says. He started tagging his name on Beirut’s walls, in bright colors and big letters. Later, however, he experienced what he calls a “critical response” toward his own work. “I realized that what I was doing did not have a shred of identity. It had no relationship to Beirut. That’s why people ignored or destroyed it.”

Around the same time, Halwani borrowed a calligraphy book from his uncle. He quickly discovered that there was a discrepancy between the essence of calligraphy and that of tagging; the former was less about the artist and more about the words (often Quranic verses or folkloric proverbs.). “I was no longer interested in writing my name,” he says.

In fact, he was no longer interested in writing anything at all. The Arabic letters he places around his portraits often don’t make up legible words; they’re more like ornate crossword puzzles. “What I try to do is I try to evoke meaning without having to use the actual word … I use calligraphy to create an Arabic visual language which can be understood by Arabic and non-Arabic speakers alike,” he noted.

Often, he seeks to paint murals that start conversations. On one of the walls in Concord Street is a portrait of a gray-haired man, his eyelids on the verge of caving in, his gaze despondent. His creased forehead is crowned with tufts of white and grey hair. The portrait is of Ali Abdullah, a homeless man who for years had set up residence in the nearby Bliss Street. In January 2013, Beirut’s harsh weather reportedly led to his death. The incident mobilized hundreds of Lebanese youth to launch initiatives to help the homeless.

“After two weeks, everybody forgot about him,” says Halwani. “I decided to repaint him, just to tell people that you do not need to help the homeless only when you hear a tragic story on the news.”

As Halwani was standing in a shopping cart, with blotches of black paint on his shorts and T-shirt, a worn out taxi pulled up by the curb. A teary-eyed driver called Halwani over, and said, “When I saw what you’re doing, I was really touched. I used to see this homeless man on the street.”

Three years later, Halwani is still touched by what happened next: Desperate to give something, anything, back to the artist, the driver offered him a ride. “All I have is this car. If you need to go anywhere, I’m ready to take you,” the driver told him.

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4 Office Fashion Rules From a Woman Who’s Dressed Kate Middleton

When it comes to a model for polished, proper, and utterly professional dressing, you can’t find a better example than Kate Middleton. Her position as a royal and obligatory outings require sophisticated, elegant looks, but it’s also a style vibe that seems pretty ingrained in her style DNA. And while the Duchess reps many designers you’ve heard of (think her customized Tory Burch, the Stuart Weitzman wedges the queen can’t stand, and that Alexander McQueen dress), she’s also shown off a few British labels that have been a little more undercover until now.

kate-middleton-goat-red-dress

Kate in a Goat dress last year

Goat has been once such case, with designer Jane Lewis offering up chic understated styles that the Duchess seems to love. Up until now it had been relatively tricky to find the brand in the U.S. but that’s recently changed, with the announcement that the label would begin selling at Saks Fifth Avenue. When we got the chance to talk with Lewis about how easy it is to translate Kate’s style into savvy everywoman office outfits, we knew we owed it to everyone who gets a pay stub.

“There’s been an underlying belief that fashion had no place within the corporate environment and that it could diminish our credibility in some way,” she explained. “Fashion doesn’t have to be frivolous. Style is innate in each of us, and it’s what sets us apart from the generic. A working environment is as good a place as any to show off your personality.”

Rule 1: Think about your workplace.
What works at your friend’s office might not fly at yours, and understanding that is key. “Assess your environment and your requirements. Be honest with yourself and audit trends as appropriate,” Lewis said. Once you’ve figured out the essentials that make a stellar outfit for your field of work, invest in some key basics. “They’ll become the foundation of an edited yet versatile working wardrobe.”

Rule 2: Don’t be afraid of color.
“It can be empowering and feminine and is an excellent way to tap into a current trend,” she said, insisting that even the color-averse can experiment with shades other than black and navy. “Mid colors like burgundy, fern green, and dark teal are what I call ‘noncolors’ that are good for people who may feel overwhelmed by strong brights.”

Rule 3: Rely on accessories to update and upgrade.
To inject some new life into office fashion made up of dependable building blocks, add statement jewelry or standout shoes. “One feature accent is enough to update an outfit,” Lewis instructed, specifying that one is indeed the magic number. “One thing at a time is enough. Discretion can make a powerful impression and have enormous impact.” Consider a large cuff bracelet with shortened sleeves that show it off, a belt with color or print, or a pair of playful shoes that peek out from underneath your trousers.

Rule 4: Stay comfortable.
Because, really, what’s the good of all these guidelines if you’re squirming and fidgeting? “Don’t underestimate the confidence and elegance comfort lends you. It’s the foundation of dressing well for your environment.” Ban uncomfortable cuts, pieces you’re always tugging at, and ouch-worthy heels from the office.

kate-middleton-goat-redgrave-nude-beige-coat-2013

Kate in Goat’s Redgrave coat, the first piece she ever wore from the label

When you read her suggestions with Kate in mind, it totally clicks into place that, yup, they’re all lessons that the Duchess has learned and applied. And about that famous mum of two? Lewis is much like any of the other designers Kate’s worn, completely unaware that the royal will be stepping out in one of her pieces (maybe because she’s shopping online?)

“It was a lovely surprise and great honor,” Lewis remembered about the time she first saw Kate in Goat (she seems to be especially fond of the label’s classic, tailored coats).



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Who’s the Designer Completely Obsessed With Nicki Minaj’s Curves?

nicki-minaj-roberto-cavalli-white-dress

Roberto Cavalli has announced Nicki Minaj as the face of its spring 2015 ad campaigns and I’m thrilled—this makes so much sense! She’s fiercely proud of her femininity, powerful, and can’t help but be sexy. Basically, Cavalli personified.

“I chose Nicki Minaj because she embodies the exuberant and modern femininity of the Cavalli woman,” Roberto Cavalli told WWD. “I wanted a sensual woman who is aware of her body, who is not afraid to show her curves—rather, she turns them into her strength.”

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Expect to start seeing sexy Miss Minaj in the ads this January.

Does the choice make sense to you, too? Love the pics?



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How to Help Someone Who’s Sad | Super Soul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network

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The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark, believes we can transform ourselves by facing the challenging times and situations in our lives head-on. That includes moments of profound sadness.

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