When the album, “Purple Rain” came out I was a teenaged fan. I heard rumors that he was from a domestically violent home and that he was a Christian but I didn’t realize he was a Jehovah’s Witness. I was raised as a Presbyterian and there were strict guidelines about referencing god’s word only from the King James Version of the Bible, anything else, including Catholicism was considered a cultish offshoot.
My older sister was particularly devout. She experienced intense childhood abuse and trauma and I think that Christianity saved her sanity. It bridged a way for her to find meaning, forgiveness and hope. She admired Billy Graham and was in Young Life Ministries as a teenager. In comparison, I was a “luke warm” Christian, i experienced the suffering too but more as a forced observer. I was removed from direct danger so Christianity didn’t have the same impact on me. I lived in the secular world of 80s extravagance and drama. I even tried to persuade her to like Prince but I didn’t manage to convince her. She was 6 yrs older than me, she could see that Prince was obviously hedonistic but I was innocently dazed with his bravado and his theatrical French renaissance costumes.
Prince strongly influenced the androgynous style of the eighties, he and Michael Jackson (they were the same age), epitomized the iconic rock and pop god-like celebrity status. Unlike the majority of my peers, I wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson, he had obvious talent and a smooth voice but something always seemed off about him, I couldn’t place it then but it was his child like femininity that turned me off, while Prince’s overt sexuality piqued my curiosity. I was a late bloomer who was raised to maintain virginity until marriage. Some of my 14 yr classmates had already experienced sex but I was a bookish ingenue until early adulthood.
Prince represented sexual freedom to me. He had an androgynous persona but with a definite male presence. I think in real life he was a bit too machismo. Did he have a petite man complex? I pieced together through various interviews that he was both controlling and chauvinistic. Sinead O’Connor said that he allegedly tried to beat her up, she escaped from him by knocking on his neighbor’s door for help. His first wife, Mayte Garcia also hinted that he was controlling about her weight. He moved her into his mansion when she was only 14 yrs old. Statistically in older man/younger woman relationships there’s often domestic violence and or emotional/verbal abuse issue because the older man wields all the power.
I watched “Purple Rain” again, as an adult and I could plainly see what I didn’t notice when I was a child. His character in the film was a narcissist who bordered on misogyny. All of the women insanely worshipped him in the movie. Appolonia stripped down topless to her underwear and jumped into the freezing river because he asked her to. He later slapped her when he was angry and didn’t properly apologize or show remorse. She simply forgave him because he had a musical breakthrough? His female band members were artistically dismissed by him until finally he allowed their musical contribution, (a tribute song to him) which lead to his final moment of musical glory.
So where’s my connection to Prince? During my thirties I dated a man K. whose last name was Nelson. He was also from Minneapolis, Prince’s hometown. His older sister was once the Artist’s personal chef. I met her when she and their entire family visited my boyfriend in San Francisco. We had lunch and walked around in the city briefly together. She was fashionable with a model-like face, probably in her late forties/early fifties but she looked younger than me. Her hair was cut pixie short with a few streaks of fuchsia in her brown hair. I could see why Prince hired her, she had a celebrity-like presence and looked like a female member of his entourage.
I didn’t want to seem starstruck about Prince so I didn’t ask her any questions about working for him (although I wanted to hear the gossipy details). She no longer worked for him, (she became a food stylist), she had a regal edge and she wasn’t a name dropper I respected that about her. The only inside information that I heard was from my boyfriend, he said that when she worked for Prince, he made her guess what he wanted to eat, by psychically tuning in to him. She had to intuit his unstated meal preferences. That sounds like narcissistic eccentricity to me. What did he like to eat? Ribs. Someone later tried to refute this true story, stating that he was a vegetarian or vegan, but apparently he wasn’t when she was his chef.
I enjoy hearing, “When Doves Cry”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain”, “Delirious” and “1999” every once in awhile because it’s a nostalgic time slip back to my 80s childhood. Personality faults and all, he was definitely an original Artist.
(Video clip from Larry King Live on CNN, 1999 song video montage from an interview between Larry King and The Artist in December 1999).
My favorite Dave Chappelle skit about Prince 😂🤣❤️Chappelle’s Show, Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories https://youtu.be/ff8LEx9Mw54