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 an inviting gaze.
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: 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 a kind of sacredness in his profanity.
The man was intangible in many respects: first and foremost because that’s what stars are meant to be: god-like creatures, idealized by us mere earthlings. Added to that, his androgynous persona was impossible to pidgeonhole. By mixing styles that were coded both feminine and masculine and thus trespassing limits of gender and sexuality he soon turned into pop music’s silver bullet.
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”.
His way of posing was playful, kinky and highly ambiguous. Even his constant use of phallic symbols seemed weirdly affectionate, lacking any trace of violence. Prince’s potency was not grounded in male power play or sheer exhibitionism, but presented an act of succeeded sublimation. Because, why would Prince have felt the need to show off, anyway? He was a Sexy MF and everyone knew – including myself, at the tender age of ten.