OBITUARY: Mom Said Prince is a Sicko
When I was young, we got cable TV and the first thing we children did was put it on the channels we would watch for roughly the next 18 years: MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and so on. We were all about MTV, since my sister was a pre-teen and my brother and I were coming up. Any time MTV was on, a Black performer was on — usually Michael Jackson. If it wasn’t MJ, it was the alternative: Prince. And my parents hated him.
I don’t think my parents ever called Prince gay, but they would call him “funny”, a “sicko”, or very rarely a sissy whenever he came on (they did the same to MJ, but they liked him because they remember him when he was a boy). They had a problem with Prince’s non-conforming costumes and overt sexuality, and the crawling out of the bathtub was unacceptable — getting water all over the floor and such. Despite my parents’ protestations and due to the popularity of the film Purple Rain, Prince blew up like “bombs on Judgement Day” and too many boys were named ‘Prince’ in the 80s as a result.
Prince’s death is so strange to me, b/c I recently looked up his Wikipedia pages to explain Prince’s career to my mom, in light of Purple Rain playing on basic cable. I went down the list, from his start in 1975 and his 80’s stardom, to his relationships (Vanity, Apollonia, Carmen Electra, Mayte, and others) and spinoff bands, his persona changes, the TAFKAP (also known as “⚦”) era, his Jehovah’s Witness faith, and everything that made up the man’s life. Even when he chose not to play “1999” — THE party jam — on New Year’s Eve 1999, and when he had his music removed from YouTube, which were his choices alone as an artist to make.
Speaking of choices, Prince had a hand in both changing music and lives. Would we have “Nasty Girl” or “Sex Shooter” without the late Rev. Denise Matthews (Vanity)? Would someone have cast Patricia Kotero (Apollonia) on TV shows if not for her role in Purple Rain? Would we have known about the fantastic drum work of Sheila E.? Would Tara Patrick (Carmen Electra) have been famous and blown up in the 90s as hard as she did? Would we ever have heard of Morris Day? Probably, but not in the way Prince’s hand packaged and/or brought them to us. They are time capsules that show us “what if” isn’t even an option if the alternative would be any less than what we received.
In case we forgot abut the legendary artist during the turn of the 21st Century, we have Charlie Murphy and Chapelle’s Show to thank for the “True Hollywood Stories” that gave us a pretty nice impression of how Price was dunkin’ on dudes in heels and crushed velvet in the 80’s. The Purple One liked it, and Dave Chapelle posed as him on the cover of a single called “Breakfast Can Wait”. Such was the lasting power of Prince, and we expected to have him for a while longer.
So this year has been a doozy: an old friend Victor died this month, and now Prince is dead. I mention them both in the same breath, because they both were Artists in every sense of the word. Now they’re playing “1999” and “Purple Rain” on the radio in tribute; I can hear it through the walls. Such was the power of Prince: it didn’t matter how many walls you put up, he got through to you on some level.
With the passing of Prince Nelson, it’s official: music in Heaven WILL be off the hook.
Thank you, O Purple One, for your life and your music.
— previously published 4/21/2016 on Facebook Notes —