These rap and R&B votive candles from Chicago-based artist Meaghan Garvey are my current Etsy obsession. Paying tribute to a variety of artists both dead and alive, they make for conversation-starting decorations that both celebrate and poke fun at the idea of extreme fandom. I love them all, but the woman who belongs front and center on my R&B altar is Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, for four reasons:
She was a safe-sex advocate. The condom she wore in her glasses circa “Hat 2 Da Back” isn’t one of those things that looked red hot in the 90s but later slid into cringeworthy relic status (see: The Rachel haircut from Friends). That look was unapologetically goofy from day one, but its visibility was part of TLC’s conscious attempt to normalize condom use for their fans.
She burned down her allegedly abusive boyfriend’s house. Upon discovering that Atlanta Falcons player Andre Rison had been unfaithful, Lisa tried to incinerate his sneakers but accidentally burned his whole mansion down. It was an irresponsible and dangerous act, but no one got hurt and she served out her probation. Given the allegations of domestic abuse it’s difficult to pity Rison as the victim.
She did charity work for kids in underdeveloped communities. From the late 90s until her death, Lisa made frequent trips to Honduras where she was trying to establish a nonprofit organization. She should be remembered for that just as much as for her messy, raucous, fascinating personal life and her efforts are carried on through the Lisa Lopes Foundation.
She MAY be a powerful spirit who sees all. Ok not really, but I have my (illogical, wildly superstitious) reasons for entertaining the possibility. At a picnic in the summer of 2007, I told some friends that there was footage of Lisa’s fatal car crash because they were making a documentary. My exact words were, "It's not super-graphic. I mean, you don't see the light go out of her right eye or anything." I instantly felt bad about the joke, even though it had been five years and thus not “too soon!” by anyone’s standards. But the very next morning, I woke up with my left eye swollen shut from a mysterious infection. For two weeks I walked the streets of Brooklyn as a hideous beast with a bulbous weeping eyeball, and the Curse of Lisa Left Eye Lopes recurred that same time every summer for three years afterward. Now, I’m not saying that Left Eye's ghost has magical powers or that she's the patron Santería goddess of eye-curses everywhere. I’m just saying I badly need this candle for worship and protection, forever and ever amen.
Photo via Etsy