The year was 1997. Mike Tyson had bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear, and both Mother Teresa and The Notorious B.I.G. died within months of one another, but I was at home, plunked before a television set watching B*A*P*S (Black American Princesses), a buddy comedy starring Halle Berry and Natalie Deselle-Reid. The film, directed by the great Robert Townsend, tracks the journey of two Black women as they strive to create the world’s first combination hair salon and soul food restaurant. Never mind its 16% Rotten Tomato score and icy reviews by Roger Ebert and the Chicago Tribune,¹ from the very moment Halle Berry and her Coca-Cola red acrylics enter the frame, the camera panning up to her shining gold teeth and platinum blonde updo as she serves a plate of bacon and eggs in a Decatur greasy spoon, it is clear that B*A*P*S is a crucible for 90s cinema, particularly in the arenas of class, race, gender, sexuality, and nation. Berry and Deselle-Reid’s bodies emerge in each scene clothed anew–now, a baby blue diner uniform, then, a feather boa coat, yellow as a lemon’s rind. Indelible to my adolescent mind is the film’s cinematic bridge, a poolside setup-scene in which our on-screen buddies disrobe to their most revealing before a canonical plundering of Rodeo Drive, beginning their sartorial transition from working class Georgia peaches to California socialites. A chorus of housekeepers, landscapers, and personal cooks encircle the pool’s perimeter, standing with their hands clasped before them, delighted at the display. Deselle-Reid dons a polka dotted one-piece, straight out of the 19th century, complete with bloomers and frills, while Berry has swapped her red polish for golden mezcal, a complement to her tangerine bikini which shimmered everywhere the sun hit it. In ways I couldn’t yet articulate, this orange swimsuit, “that shade black girls do the most justice,”² signalled many kinds of liberation, including sexual and economic and I wanted to have a taste.