A PERSONAL OBITUARY ON THE LATE PRINCE ROGERS NELSON
I precisely remember hearing Prince’s crystal voice for the first time as a pre-teen. I had known his music all my life, but up until that point I hadn’t really listened to him closely. When I did, while secretly catching glances at the TV when his 1984 movie Purple Rain was on, he had me star struck. I loved his flawless features: the signature curls framing his face, the cutthroat cheek bones, embellished by an iconic beauty spot, that was only topped by the outline of his perfectly trimmed beard. His hazel eyes, were both gentle and piercing, with a gaze that invited, taunted and declined with thanks. Today, I think it’s safe to say, that the only set of eyebrows rightfully described as #onfleek would have to be his.
Never before had I seen a man, so dainty, so pretty. I was an infant in lust, but back then, I couldn’t really figure out my prepubertal infatuation. Akin to the dreamlike quality of a summer fling – highly intense, yet transitory; Prince left me wondering whether ‘these things’ were real or if it was all in my head.
Prince was a wondrous hybrid and a man of dialectics: black/white, man/women, straight/gay. “What does it matter?” he returned, when asked about his sexual orientation. As a princely enigma, he wasn’t meant to be solved or dissected, after all, he was royalty. He combined passion and sex with a sassy transcendence: there was some kind of sacredness in his profanity.
He was intangible in two respects: first and foremost because, stardom is all about idealization, secondly because of his androgynous persona, mixing styles that were coded both feminine and masculine. By trespassing limits of gender, race and sexuality he soon turned into pop music’s silver bullet.
Prince’s way of posing on the other hand was playful, kinky and highly ambiguous. Even his constant use of phallic symbols seemed somehow affectionate. Thankfully it lacked any trace of overcompensation as found in more traditional forms of male boasting. To name a few here are some patriarchal mannerism mastered by each and every basic bro out there: namedropping, giving unsolicited advice (#mansplaining) closing belts outside of the restroom (btw, is it just me or does that last one seem like an inherently ‘rapey’ gesture to you too?).
In his songs Prince allowed himself to be vulnerable and most importantly, he valued strong women and cherished female pleasure. In his 1981 single Head there’s a particularly raunchy line about giving, not getting: “I’ll give U head/Til you’re burning up/Head/Til U get enough/Head/Til Ur love is red/Head love til you’re dead”. Special bulletin: consent is sexy!!
His potency is is not some kind of male power play or sheer exhibitionism, but an act of succeeded sublimation. After all he preferably flaunted his guitar (a.k.a. favorite phallic symbol) while actually playing it. Then again, why would Prince feel the need to show off, anyway? He was a Sexy MF and everyone knew – including myself, at the tender age of ten.