Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment #4: Black Man's...What!?

What is a “Nipsey Russell-Gong Moment?” Three decades ago, the great entertainer Nipsey Russell was a guest judge on The Gong Show. On one episode, a White male ventriloquist appeared as a contestant. His dummy was white, but he (inexplicably) sloppily painted it brown, hence, it looked a bit like blackface. As the man told bad, though not racist jokes, Russell gonged him. Russell explained that he gonged the man because something just wasn’t right. Sometimes things just feel wrong. If you get that feeling, don’t doubt yourself. Just gong ‘em!

The hosts of a BBC talk show, “Gardeners’ Question Time,” were asked by an audience member to offer advice on how to nurture the Rhodochiton Volubilis plant, commonly known as the BMW or “Black man’s willy.” Guest panelists chortled their way through some double entendre fueled racist banter as they talked about the BMW. Author Bob Flowerdew (this can’t be his real name!) said “only ever seen one close up...” Horticulturalist Anne Swithinbank chimed in, “I’ve never seen one in my life. They don’t really like the cold, as you can imagine. They shrivel up and look very unhappy.”

Among the non-racist, the rhodochiton volubilis is called “purple bells” plant. So, where did the “BMW” moniker come from? My only guess is based on the plant’s description per According to the site, the plant produces rose’ish colored flowers, and “the petals form the tubular purple-black, protruding centre.”

Some listeners to the broadcast did not find the “Carry On-style humour,” as the Brits call it, funny, and took their complaints to the BBC. The BBC apologized.

GONG to the Gardners’ Question Time, the audience member, Flowerdew, and Swithinbank.

(Image from

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