My 4 years at QVC (1990-1994) must have been like the 7 years Gladys Knight and the Pips spent at Motown fighting for recognition, good songs, and producers, while The Supremes were treated like royalty. I was a host on QVC network's new start up Fashion Channel.

I had never watched this kind of TV before, especially QVC. I had run across HSN, their major competitor, from time to time because it came on UHF TV late at night, when everything else had gone off the air. I usually quickly turned away, I was turned off by anything that urged me to pick up the phone and buy. QVC was only available on cable channels. It was explained to me that QVC was different. HSN hosts were hard sellers. They urged you to pick up the phone; they sounded like side show salesmen selling water to folks in a desert.

The regular QVC network operated 24 hours a day live. The new Fashion Channel would only be live 12 hours a day, with taped repeats playing overnight. Training was fun. New hosts learned about the various products--like how to turn a jeweled ring to make sure it sparkled in the right light--as we rehearsed in front of the camera. We took test phone calls on air and learned how to get viewers to say wonderful things about our products. We were also taught how to get callers off the air, as if they were saying something off-color.

An idea was born out of my need to showcase products that appealed to people of color. I took my idea to management, and was surprised they were receptive. They agreed, as long as it included the other black host on the main channel. I was thrilled, because Clarence Reynolds had helped me develop and sell my idea. Clarence and I had become fast buddies soon after I arrived at QVC. He taught me how to get around the city, told me where to get a good haircut, and made helpful suggestions on my presentations.

People tried to compare us in the beginning. "He's no Clarence" are the comments I used to get when I first started. Well sorry people, just because we were black do not make us the same. Clarence was always immaculate, tailored and conservative. He always wore a suit and tie. I on the other hand, could be offbeat, loud and took a lot of fashion risks. I was the first male on-air to wear earrings. I had to fight for that. I could not comprehend a channel that sells jewelry and did not encourage male hosts with pierced ears to wear jewelry.

On February 24, 1993 the two hour "event" moved like a dream. Clarence and I opened the show together and then we alternated back and forth between products on different sets, throwing back to each other like seasoned reporters in the field. We were joined together when it was time to sell my dolls and I told the story of them and the African names I created for them and the special printed cards of authorization. The dolls sold out in about 5 minutes.

The original show did $311, 000 in sales and generated 221 new names. QVC wanted to repeat it as an annual Black History Month event. I explained (as I had done to so many white people), the celebration of black culture can be celebrated at all times of the year.

By the time I had left QVC, I hosted 4 shows and the final sales were over a million dollars. I had brought 2,050 new viewers to the channel shopping. I am sure many of them were black. Ebony Man magazine even did a piece on the show with a picture of me and Clarence. It was my shining moment during my stay there. I basked in my "Gladys Knight" moment. This is what it felt like when I Heard it through the Grapevine became Motown's biggest hit. The second tier group didn't do too shabby!<

A friend asked me did I enjoy working for QVC. I had to answer I loved and hated it. I loved the fame it brought me. I loved that when I was out in public, people recognized me, but I hated what I did. I hated that I was pushing products to people who were starving for a need. These were people who would buy products they did not need to connect with someone. I hated hawking products you could buy in a local K-mart. What I was proud of was my "Destination: Africa" show because it was a first. I was giving African–Americans a showcase to see their products in a venue where they might not have been available to them. I was proud to showcase our culture and beauty. I was proud to talk of Africa's rich heritage. "Destination: Africa" to me was more than a shopping show. It was my prime-time special. It was my shining moment on television. I sat next to a real African princess adored in gold leaves. I was invited to go to Ghana and participate in an African naming ceremony. (QVC refused to let me go) The success of Destination: Africa was my Emmy and Grammy and Oscar all rolled up into one.

QVC helped me see my dreams of being a name on television, but when they had no more use of me, I was expendable. An independent investor approached me to host an all black shopping network, but they never raised the completed funds. In addition, my contract forbade me to work for another shopping channel within 13 months of leaving QVC, although they were letting me go. A little over a year later, I got a call from one of my former co-hosts who had become a producer on a new channel in New York called The Global Shopping Network. They offered me a position and even allowed me to produce a version of my African themed show (African Accents) also with a limited line of my dolls. It was a satellite feed with an audience even smaller that the Fashion Channel. Although we sold a lot of jewelry, the shows we did at GSN focused on some of the special things you can only find in New York. My love of movies was highlighted in a "Hollywood Memorabilia" show that was broadcast on my birthday. I did a special Elvis Presley show dressed as a black Elvis. They even surprised me with a toy Oscar. I loved working for GSN. I felt like I was Gladys Knight at Budda records, a big fish in a small pond.