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Aliya S. King’s True Hip-Hop Stories: That Time Ex-Drug Kingpin Frank Lucas Wanted To Marry Me

In 2007, I was asked to meet with ex-drug kingpin Frank Lucas as he interviewed writers to work with him on his memoir. His life story, American Gangster, starring Denzel Washington, had been released the previous year. While normally the book leads to the movie, Frank actually decided to do a book after the film. He felt like the film didn’t delve deep enough into how and why he became a criminal.

When a subject decides to collaborate on a book with a co-writer, they usually interview a few people to see who they can connect with.

I actually wasn’t particularly interested in working with Frank when the call came to my agent that his people wanted me to meet with him. My agent asked me to just go and talk to him as a favor.

When I got to Frank’s attorney’s office, I could hear a loud, obnoxious, marble-mouthed man with a thick southern accent screaming on someone.

I assumed that was Frank. And I knew I’d made the right choice to just show up as a favor and then get the hell out of there.

I saw a writer leave the conference room practically in tears. And then I was called in. Frank Lucas was sitting at the head of the table. He was imposing and intimidating even though he was in a wheelchair and seemed to have some kind of palsy that made him unable to move one of his hands. He looked down at his paperwork.

Frank: Your name Alisha?

Me: It’s Aliya.

Frank: Okay Alisha. Why you wanna work with me?

Me: I didn’t say I did.

Frank: What you say?

Me: I said, I don’t know if I want work with you.

Frank: What kind of stuff you write? Let me see your resume and your stories.

Me: I didn’t bring any of that.

Frank: What you mean you didn’t bring it! Why you here if you not prepared!

Me: Mr. Lucas, with all due respect, I did not come down here thinking that I would end up working with you. I came here as a favor to my agent. And if you want to know more about my work, you or your representatives can Google me.

Frank: You just tell me to Google you?!

I stood up.

Me: It was nice meeting you Mr. Lucas.

Frank: I’ll see you Tuesday.

Me: Excuse me?

Frank: Come to the house on Tuesday so we can get started Alisha! I ain’t got no time to be playing with you.

Me: Mr. Lucas, that’s not how this works. I honestly don’t think I’d be the best person for you to –

Frank: TUESDAY MORNING ALISHA.

We went back and forth for several minutes. And then I left and went home.

Husband: So how did the Frank Lucas meeting go?

Me: It was okay, I guess.

Husband: What was he like?

Me: He was…aggressive.

Husband: Yeah, I can imagine. Well at least that’s over.

Me: Until Tuesday when I go to his house to start working on this book.

Husband: ………

Y’all, I still don’t understand what happened. But somehow, I ended up with a contract and a standing weekly appointment at Frank Lucas’ kitchen table.

It was a nightmare from day one. Frank Lucas is a cantankerous, know-it-all, all around pain in the ass.

Each week, before I could come to his house, I had to bring a small coffee with cream and two Equals. He would sometimes take a sip and then throw it out in the kitchen sink, convinced I’d put in three instead or none at all. Never true. But, whatever. 

I also had to bring a toasted bagel, cream cheese on one side only. Now when you put a bagel together, even if you only put cream cheese on one side, THE OTHER SIDE WILL HAVE CREAM CHEESE ON IT TOO BY DEFAULT. 

I attempted to explain this to him each week as he scraped the cream cheese off the other side in disgust, while cursing me out. 

“Alisha, If I can’t trust you to get this right, how can I trust you with my life story?!”

I offered to bring him two halves of a bagel, one with cream cheese, one without. His response: “Who the FUCK eats a bagel like that?”

Alrighty then. 

Oh. And Frank was convinced that when we were done writing the book, we were going to run away and get married. Never mind that he has a wife, a woman from Puerto Rico he’s been married to since before I was born. A woman who was exceptionally pleasant and made breakfast for me every time I arrived.

(He referred to his wife Julie simply as “The Puerto Rican.” As in “The Puerto Rican is sick so no breakfast today” or “The Puerto Rican is working my nerves today.”)

And never mind that 78 year-old Frank also had a girlfriend who was younger than me. She would come over during our interviews sometimes and sit on the sofa giving me the evil eye.

OH! And never mind I was married and still nursing a newborn. Nope, Frank would tell me that as soon as the book was done, we were eloping. 

“I’m married, Frank. Happily married.”

“You let me worry about him.”

Sigh. 

Anyway. I got into the habit of calling my friend Jermaine every Wednesday as I drove To Frank’s house. I needed a pep talk to get me through. Jermaine, who was then the editor-in-chief of KING Magazine, would always say: Just think about what an awesome story this will be someday! Just like that book Tuesdays With Morrie, you could write Wednesdays With Frank!  

After each meeting or phone call with Frank, I would email Jermaine and break down what happened and how Frank worked my nerves that day.

Here’s the email I sent to Jermaine on December 12, 2007. This is a verbatim exchange between the illustrious Frank Lucas and me. I had taken a few days off from working with Frank and took a solo trip to St. Kitts to relax and unwind.

***********************************************

Me: Frank, what’s going on? I just checked my messages at home and I see that you called me.

Frank: Whachu mean what’s going on. Alisha, where the hell are you?

Me: I’m in St. Kitts. 

Frank: I know where you WERE. I want to know where you ARE. 

Me: I’m still here. 

Frank: Nigga you said you was coming home Tuesday.

Me: I said no such thing.

Frank: I need you back here now! The Puerto Rican put sugar in my coffee! She trying to kill me. 

Me: Frank, I won’t be back until tomorrow night. 

Frank: That’s some bullshit right there. 

Me: I told you that.

Frank: You told me no such a thing. I been sitting here waiting for you all morning. 

Me: I’ll call you Thursday morning. 

Frank: No. You’ll be here Thursday morning. 10 AM. Don’t bullshit me Alisha. 

Me: When I get back I’ll be pretty tired. I might need to…

Frank: You MIGHT need to be here at 10!

Me: FINE. I’ll see you at 10 on Thursday. My god.  

Frank: You met some nigga down there didn’t you?

Me: Frank, I’m married.

Frank: DID YOU MEET SOME NIGGA DOWN THERE?

Me: No. I did not.

Frank: So why you trying to rush me off the phone?

Me: Because this costs me $4.50 a minute. 

Frank: I don’t care if it cost you 50 dollars and 20 cents a minute, don’t rush me off the phone!

Me: Okay.

[silence for about 10 seconds.]

Frank: And you better not hang up either. 

Me: I’m not.

[more silence]

Frank: how much it cost you now. 

Me: About twenty bucks. 

Frank: Okay. Now you can go. Thursday at 10 AM! Be here. And call me first. So I can tell you what I need you to bring with you. 

Me: Goodbye Frank. 

It would be a (very long) year before I was done interviewing Frank Lucas. I wrote the book. And then I had to go back to his house to read all 350 pages to him so that he could make corrections.

And then, finally, blessedly, it was over.

I walked out of Frank’s house for the last time and literally kicked my heels in the air and then ran to my car. I never saw him again.

And for reasons I can’t quite understand… I miss him.

Original gangster 06.eps

Aliya S. King

Aliya S. King is the author of two novels and three nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Keep the Faith, written with recording artist Faith Evans. Right here, she wants to add something pithy and quirky about pancakes or something like in Damon’s bio. But she’s just not that witty. It would feel forced.

  • Brass Tacks

    This was very funny. Frank Lucas didn’t become a kingpin being “nice”. The St. Kitts exchange was epic. It sounded similar to every Black relationship gon’ south. With the exception of y’all not even really dating.

    *sidenote*

    Were you constantly wearing leggings or something? Not trying to objectify, but its clear you had his nose wide open, in addition to making his young Hunydip jealous.

    It could be that he just started to fall as he confided in you. But I prefer the former for…reasons.

    • It’s the double edged sword of being hot.

      • Brass Tacks

        Frank: “DID YOU MEET SOME N IGGA DOWN THERE?”

        Nothing else mattered. He was in his Sundays best, waiting for Aliya. Meanwhile, in his mind, shes frolicking with some island boy.

        Lucas was having non of that.

        • Quirlygirly

          +1 because frolicking. Took my back to my childhood, my mom told us we were frolicking with friends and lolligagging down the street..

          • Lolligagging! lol My mom loves that one…and “pussyfootin'” whatever that means

            • miss t-lee

              I still say “pussyfootin”…lol

              • Quirlygirly

                I want to say it to my nephew but that little dude will go say it in school. This his mama will get called. And he a snitch so he gonna dime me out.

                • Val

                  Lol

                • miss t-lee

                  Do it anyway…lol

              • CozyVon

                Pussyfootin’ & tomfoolery! My favorites!

            • Quirlygirly

              hahaha you pussyfooted too!! At the time, I didn’t even know what pussyfooting was but I was apparently good at it and did it all the time

          • Mochasister

            I remember lolligagging!

          • L8Comer

            and galavanting around town!!

            Mind you, I did no such thing.

            • Quirlygirly

              Mmmmm..I dont know cause I feel like you may have galavanted, frolicked and lolligagged and pussyfooted. I can’t be the only one who did..

              • L8Comer

                Bahahahaha!! okay, okay… but not with the emphasis she put on it lol! Well… not from my perspective

            • CozyVon

              Oh, “galavanting” is a regularly-used word in my vocabulary. Trust me, I will find a way to work it in somewhere at least 4-5 times a week.

              • L8Comer

                ??? still makes me laugh.. At age 12 tho? Galavanting? Around town? Gotta thank mom for the new vocabulary anyway lol

        • KB

          He thought she met her some Dexter type ninja down there.

        • MissusMaxwell

          Alisha. His boo name was Alisha. That’s why Aliya couldn’t get into him. hahahahahaha!

        • blkdiamond

          CORRECTION: Alisha… get it right!

      • Val

        Hottodding, Cogito? Lol

    • aliyasking

      I don’t know if Frank was really checking for me, honestly. I think he’s just always manipulated women into doing his bidding. It’s his default mode. But I also know he wasn’t trying to sit next to no dude at his kitchen table for 18 months. I mean, understand that he had a ten year old son. At 78.

      • Brass Tacks

        I have no doubt he was manipulative. However, the not checking for you portion….I don’t know that I necessarily agree. Older men seem to have next to no patience entertaining things that don’t matter to their immediate comfort.

        You mattered. I mean, you were nursing a new born and a hubby. So maybe in your mind it didn’t seem that way. But Frank Lucas comes across as too certain of himself to simply be going through the motions.

        • I don’t know. Old men stay nasty and I think sometimes they just like to make you squirm because they can. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been called “young thing” or “fly” or “red bone” with the creeper tone I would be at least $45 richer.

          • Brass Tacks

            Nah. Its not that insidious. Men still want to be wanted and coveted. Even if past our prime. The squirm comes from them genuinely thinking they might be able to “pull” you. In their heads they are still that 20-35 year okld cat that the ladies went cray for.

            In reality; they are much closer to death, than your panties. But a man can dream.

      • Mochasister

        Ewwwww! Does he have money or something?

  • Michelle

    And here I was ready to mollywhop some mugs today at work…then I read this. Whew lawd. She has some patience lol

  • miss t-lee

    LMAO
    Frank Lucas is a quirky muhfukha mayne. Whew.
    You must have the patience of Job to be dealing with that for an extended period of time.
    Him calling his wife “the Puerto Rican” is too funny. And, him calling you Alisha—repeatedly.

    Reminds me of one of my best friends mother’s. Til this day she swears my name is Keisha.
    It’s not.

  • Mr. quojo .

    Please tell me he wore this outfit during the interviews

    • LOL you’re silly

    • Val

      Between Aliya’s post and this photo I’m wanting to see American Gangster again.

    • Ess Tee

      A quick glance at this pic made me think that Denzel as Frank was rocking a dangling, diamond earring in his right ear. Then I realized it was the earring of the lady seated next to him.

      • Lea Thrace

        Me Too!

      • Sweet Ga Brown

        You mean the Puerto Rican? Lol.

        • Ess Tee

          YES!

    • aliyasking

      He did not. But one of my FAVORITE stories in the book is how that outfit came to be. It’s based on the same outfit he’s wearing in the picture up top.

    • brothaskeeper

      “That’s alpaca!

  • Val

    Lol @ ‘The Puerto Rican’. He could at least called her the Boricua.

    And, you are really patient, Alisha, I mean Aliya, (lol) because that whole bagel and coffee routine would have had quitting on day one. Eccentric bosses are the worst.

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      every boss is eccentric.

      • Val

        Not really. And certainly not on the Frank Lucas level of eccentric.

        • mr. steal your costco samples

          mine been quirky for at least a decade now.

        • miss t-lee

          Mine is a bit…but I just chalk it up to cultural differences.

  • Buks AL

    “Frank: I need you back here now! The Puerto Rican put sugar in my coffee! She trying to kill me.”
    This.
    I can’t help but picture Denzel saying this and I’m LAID out. Like FLATLINED.

    • brothaskeeper

      Not regular Denzel, but Uncle Denzel.

  • Quirlygirly

    That St Kitts covo is hilarious!! Especially when he said “Did you meet some n*gga down there?” I hollered. Nevermind you being married with a child. Old dudes are a trip.

    • ALM247

      When folks pass a certain age they make up their own rules. They pick a name to call you.

    • Mochasister

      Old people don’t give a you know what. I guess if you were a hellion when you were younger, you’ll still be one when you’re older.

      • Quirlygirly

        True..I know some people who were nothing to play with when they were younger but as they got older they mellowed out. But trust they could get it popping if you act brand new

    • L8Comer

      They do stuff like that.

      My cousin’s name is Kavin. Always has been. Her entire life, our grandmother called him Kevin. lmao! She did not approve.

      I had a professor who always called my friend Danielle, Daniella.. and insisted the spelling of another woman’s name matched with the intendeded pronounciation made no sense at all, so he pronounced it the way HE thought it should be pronounced. Got me pronouncing it the same (wrong) way too smh

    • Aye Bee

      The preacher that baptised me called me every A name besides mine once he got up in age.. I was Alisha, Amber, Angel, Amanda, but never my name. I assumed when he said an A name and I was around, he was talking to me.lol

    • CozyVon

      I think this is just old people and their expired damns…they are GOOD for constantly butchering names & then daring you to mistake them for someone who gives a fucc, LOL!

    • My cantankerous azz father in law stays mispronouncing my daughter’s name. His own grandchild- he gave up and calls her Pinky because he says she looks like the girl from the movie and could pass for white.

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    I thought he was illiterate.

    • Quirlygirly

      Illiterate don’t mean stupid. Frank had them street smarts

      • Mochasister

        Sometimes the people with the most degrees can also be the most simple.

    • aliyasking

      Common misconception. Not sure where that came from. He reads perfectly well. He read the newspaper clippings I brought him that I found about him. Read stuff off tv… He didn’t read the manuscript. I had to read the whole damn thing to him. But that was 350 typed pages. I don’t know many 78 year olds who would bother with that.

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        yeah, I think it was in an article or two about American Gangster. I took it as literal, but maybe they were making a point that the real dude wasn’t smooth and erudite as Denzel played him.

  • LMAO I’m CRYING at this story. He’s a #batshitCrazy old man. “the Puerto Rican” ahahahahahahah!!! Your wife don’t have a name sir? The bagel issue hahahahahahaha I can’t even imagine.

  • KB

    I commend you having the patience/tolerance to deal with him Aliya. Old or not, I don’t tolerate disrespect from anyone. I don’t care if he was in a wheelchair he would have caught these hands or at least gotten himself and that wheelchair pushed down a hilly street.

    • ALM247

      Lord, the visual of someone trying to fight Frank while he is in a wheelchair….. :)

      I have a feeling that Frank’s wife and girlfriend would have come for you if you did that.

      If the girlfriend is bold enough to sit in his front room in broad daylight with company (and his wife) in the same housed, then Frank could have convinced those two women to do almost anything.

    • mssporadic

      You sound like Kimberly Elise in that Tyler Perry movie.

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