HIS career is red hot, yet the man himself--actor Wesley Snipes--is super cool Not cold as in icy, for he is very warm, gracious and personable. And not cool as in nonchalant, for the man is engaging and intriguing and exudes sex appeal up close and personal just as he does so effectively on the silver screen.
That sex appeal, intrigue and personality, in addition to exceptional talent, have helped Snipes carve out a niche for himself in Hollywood and etch his way into the hearts and minds of movie fans with roles that are as diverse as they are compelling. Memorable are his intense architect in Spike Lee's jungle Fever, his ruthless drug lord in New Jack City, his audacious, martial arts expert-hero in Passenger 57, his colorful drag queen in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything. Love Julie Newmar, and his intense police detective in Murder at 1600.
Snipes is among a small, elite group of Black male actors who have established themselves as powerbrokers in Hollywood. Like fellow heartthrob Denzel Washington. Snipes commands $10 million per film, but while Washington may do one film a year, Snipes consistently has done two or three a year.
Despite his high-profile career, Snipes says he lives a "very simple. down-to-earth" lifestyle between homes in Los Angeles, New York and Florida (See companion story beginning on Page 194). His passions include motorcycles, and he loves hiphop, acid jazz and reggae music. "I still go to places I've been going to for 10 years. I eat in the 'hood. All the people know me," he says.
However, that does not make him immune to the pitfalls of celebrity and success. "I mean, people want your time; people want your energy. So if you have strong energy, people who don't have it want it. They want to be around it, and sometimes they want to be it. There's struggle, a tug-of-war for your attention by everybody from friends to family to people in the business to people who are trying to get into the business," says the actor who is known for his generosity. "And yes, they definitely want the money. They always want the money."
When asked what makes him happy, Wesley ponders for a moment. "Good sex is hard to come by," he says. "Good sex can make you happy; you come away feeling happy."
Dressed m black linen and wearing heavy silver jewelry with stones that have symbolic meaning, he describes himself as patient and easygoing. "I was born under the sign Leo, so I'm very much like a cat," he says, rubbing his hand over his bald head. "Cats hang around. They sleep. They don't stress nobody. They'll play with you, let you cuddle and pet them, but there are times when they've had enough. When they've had enough, they just walk away. And if you keep bothering them, they'll give you a little scratch."
On the personal level, Snipes, a divorced father of a "precocious" 8-year-old son, Jelani, says he enjoys spending time with "spirited" women. "Either the hot-headed ones or the ones who just think they're divas," he explains. "I like them because they have spice and creativity. I like a woman who reads. I think a number of my relationships [ended] because she didn't read and we didn't have anything to talk about.... But I'm not into the ones who want to jump up and fight and get loud. That's not my flavor."
The Asian model and restaurateur he introduces as "my lady, Donna [Wong]" has been Snipes' companion for the past year and a half When asked if he dates Black women, he says: "Primarily all of my life I've dated Black women.... Oh, most definitely. Oh, my God. Mostly. But it just so happens that now I'm dating an Asian woman. It's different. Different energy, different spirit, but a nice person." He says he is not ready for marriage; nor is Donna. "She's got to learn to deal with the love scenes in the movies first," says Snipes as he chuckles. "Got to get to a place where it's very comfortable."
Wesley says …