Joe Greene grew up in Asheville and attended Asheville High School. After surviving a tough adolescence, he worked hard to turn his life around and become a vocal champion for the local African-American community. He is an entrepreneur and has been involved in numerous community outreach programs in the city, including Asheville Goombay Festival, the Funny R’ Us comedy show and My Daddy Taught Me That youth outreach program. He also recently became a member of the Civic Center Commission, a city-appointed group that makes recommendations for the management and use of the U.S. Cellular Center.
With his newest venture, the Big Boi Fly production company, Greene is putting on a fashion show at New Mountain on Friday, Nov. 25. The runway event will showcase urban and casual wear in men’s sizes 3X to 10X. Apparel will be provided by Dillard’s and New York Fashions. “Every time I look in a magazine, or look online for clothes, I see people advertising a big and tall section, but then they have a model in a large shirt and just say that the shirt goes to 4X,” says Greene. “I never see how it looks on a 4X person. I want to see how the clothes look on me personally.” At 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds, Greene considers himself a large person and took it upon himself to start a movement that will represent others of size.
But launching his own fashion show came with complications. The Big Boi Fly debut was originally scheduled for late October. “We just weren’t ready yet. I never did a fashion show before, it’s just an idea I had that has come to the surface now,” says Greene. “This is a first for everybody.” He doesn’t intend for the show to be a carbon copy of other Asheville runway events. Though he attended local fashion shows, he didn’t feel the need to consult with any of the producers of those events. “I have a vision of my own. We’re going to do it our way,” he says.
Postponing until this month allowed Greene to bring on Micah Mackenzie to photograph the event. He also added music by DJ Twan and signed on 16 men and boys to model.
The Big Boi Fly fashion show will be a benefit for My Daddy Taught Me That. Six of the young men — Rodrick Wilson, Chris Caldwell, Talone Burton, Tyrique Marshall, Jamari Vance and Karson Greene — who will walk the runway in youth fashions are also a part of the community program. Kenyon Lake, head of My Daddy Taught Me That, says he is happy to be involved in the fashion show. “[Greene has] allowed these young men to participate in [the fashion show], not just as models, but to help out with the design and organization. Allowing them to participate in something from the very beginning to the end of it,” says Lake.
Greene became involved with My Daddy Taught Me That four years ago when he was invited to speak at one of the organization’s events. Since then, Greene has joined the group’s leadership team and dedicates time to mentoring. He has also taken the program’s boys on camping trips, to NFL games, on college tours and to the Million Man March. “I really wanted to tell them my life story, about my failings, my mistakes in life, how I had to turn around and learn how to work for myself,” says Greene.
Greene hopes that the fashion show will shine a spotlight on his community and that, through his success, and giving the young men of My Daddy Taught Me That a creative outlet with modeling, he’ll be able to help those around him. “We’re trying to open up some doors in the modeling world for big guys. If all goes well, Dillard’s is talking with us about a partnership,” says Greene, who hopes that success will allow him to represent his Asheville community and My Daddy Taught Me That on a national or even international level. “I want to take it worldwide,” he says. “I see myself in LA next year, representing for the big boys.”
WHAT: Big Boi Fly Fashion Show
WHERE: New Mountain, 38 S. French Broad Ave., newmountainavl.com
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 25, 7 p.m. $15 advance/$20 at the door