Melissa Gomez — the woman who created the seemingly ridiculous O, Miami event Lies Boyz II Men Told Me — harbors no illusions about old-school R&B. "I want people to read a haiku about their lovers or list off things people did to wrong them in relationships and just be like, 'Hey, Boyz II Men, everything you said is BS."
The event, which invites guests to listen to smooth jams at Drinkhouse Fire & Ice in Miami Beach April 19, will offer each individual a platform to write and recite poetry. On the event page, O, Miami jokingly writes, "Have you ever loved someone so much that you’ve stared at a 'read text' receipt for hours on end, hoping that this person will admit how wrong they were for leaving you in the cold? If so, you’ve hit The End Of The Road: a place of lies created in 1991 by our favorite a cappella group Boyz II Men."
So what exactly is Lies Boyz II Men Told Me? "It's a last-ditch effort by millennials to say how upset we were at the misconceptions we heard in '90s R&B through spoken word," Gomez explains. "So we're all gonna get a chance to take a time-traveling trip back to the '90s and rehash old feelings about exes and crushes and moments that didn't happen while listening to Boyz II Men."
Of all the artists who could be emblematic of '90s R&B (Aaliyah, Maxwell, TLC, D'Angelo, etc.), Boyz II Men is Gomez's choice because of what the group represents. "There's something about the boy-band era and that aesthetic that's really a staple for women of the '90s. Everyone has a favorite boy band and favorite member, but with Boyz II Men — even though they're not a boy band — it became almost a cliché that they were gonna profess their love to somebody in every song."
It's easy to joke about the Boyz II Men cliché. But Gomez wonders, "Why is it such a joke for people to accept love?" It's no surprise, she adds, that millennials, a constantly criticized group that includes Gomez herself, have been conditioned to be sort of emotionally stunted.
"What is a millennial doing about love? They're doing nothing," she says, "because they're too busy doing everything else. We're accessing feelings too quickly and not letting them sit, and we're also just neglecting them at some points."
But the R&B-fueled disappointment doesn't stop at romantic endeavors. Another inspiration for the event, Gomez says, was helping friends write short descriptions of themselves for the bio sections of dating sites and social media. Writing a bio for yourself, she says, is "awkward and feels like you're submitting a dating resumé... Writing a friend's bio helps give them confidence to talk to people because somebody you know and love thinks of you in this positive way."
Gomez was happy to help, but the experience of ghost-writing triggered a thought: "How did we get to this point where we're not confident in our abilities even though we're all hustling and have three jobs and are trying to do it all in the city of shady people and slutty phases?" This, surely, was not the future that "Motown Philly" promised.
Thus, Lies Boyz II Men Told Me was born. It's an evening that exists in a capsule where "you're in a specific mood and you have the opportunity to say what you feel," whether it's condemning R&B for unfulfilled expectations or revealing your heartbreak among kindred spirits.
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During the free event, guests will receive writing materials and complimentary Heartbreaker/Hump Daze cocktails by Tito's Vodka as they work on their pieces. As the tunes go by, host Arsimmer McCoy-Early will get folks in the mood to open up by telling stories about her own love life.
Some surprises are also in store for attendees. And outside the Fire Lounge, where the event will take place, there's an Ice Bar Experience to be had for a small price. If you want the scene to match the heartbreak you've been dealt, you'll be decked out in a faux-fur coat in a 23-degree room while you work on your poetry.
Expect to hear all the R&B jams from your youth, because Boyz II Men doesn't have the monopoly on heartbreak. As for Gomez's favorite songs: "Well, it's a tossup between Bell Biv DeVoe's 'Poison' and Aaliyah's 'One in a Million.'"
Lies Boyz II Men Told Me
6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at Drinkhouse Fire & Ice, 1672 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is free. RSVP at omiami.org.