Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



BENT NIGHTS Prince, June 7,1958 - April 21, 2016
by Vern Hester

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"My name is Prince and I am funky...

My name is Prince, the one and only..."

By the time Prince sang those lyrics in 1992, it was a fact and he was not just boasting. As vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, producer, quasi-movie star and shameless Svengali, Prince Rogers Nelson ascended from relative obscurity in such a short period ( 1980-1986 ) with such intensity that he managed the feat of seducing a massive worldwide audience seemingly without effort. The irony that Prince, who died on April 21, would do so within three months of pioneering artist David Bowie is impossible to escape, since both literally saved pop culture by shaking it up and remaking it in their own images.

Like Bowie, Prince broke out by challenging the status quo and freaking out half his audience on first glance. Where Bowie used theater and glam rock in his arsenal of performance, Prince displayed an arresting musical talent, an un-cynical embrace of God, and an in-your-face vulgarity that was disturbing for many who felt those subjects should not be on the radio.

Timing would prove to benefit him in mysterious ways. His first big hit, "I Want to be Your Lover," came within a year after the "Disco Demolition" event in Comiskey Park ( which was hailed as the end of disco ). If that anti-event smacked of homophobia, the arrival of Prince signaled an era that would break dance music out of its gay/Black demographic and take it back. "I Want to be Your Lover" was poppy funk with a hint of salaciousness that radio programmers missed entirely. They didn't quite get what Prince was really saying in that chorus when he chirped innocently, "I want to be the one who makes you come ... running!!!!!"

If Dirty Mind ( 1980 ) blew the lid off the vulgarity cap ( Tipper Gore did wonders for sales by publicly condemning it ), it showed that Prince was onto headier notions. The dance-floor smash "Head" gave him a faithful queer audience, while the single "Uptown" revealed his utopian musings. Controversy ( 1981 ) pushed the envelope further with a title song that featured him asking "Am I Black or white? Am I straight or gay?"—and then dovetailing into a segment of The Lord's Prayer.

The public and pundits largely missed the point, but since Prince liked performing in go-go boots, eyeliner and panties, they could not be blamed. At the time nobody knew whether he was gay or straight ( my gay friends at the time loved him for that ) and, by bringing it up in such a blunt manner and adding that prayer, he delivered the one message that would thread through all of his music: It does not matter whether I am straight or gay; we are all God's children and should love each other unconditionally.

By the time his blueprint for world domination had been revealed with 1982's 1999, Prince had all of his concepts honed and ready. Timing smiled on him again when Michael Jackson and CBS Records strong-armed MTV into including Black artists on its playlists for the simultaneously released Thriller. "Little Red Corvette" reignited the sluggish sales of 1999 while displaying how daring Prince really was. The song—which sounds like nothing before or since—got attacked for the racy imagery while many could not see that it was really a cautious warning against promiscuity and unsafe sex at a time when the AIDS crisis was heating up. "Corvette" hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for weeks.

It would be pointless to go from one album to another to talk of his development as an artist, since by the time Purple Rain ( 1984 ) made him one of the biggest stars on the planet, his agenda was set. The music flowed ceaselessly from him and his offshoots and, at one point, he seemed to be everywhere as producer ( The Time, Vanity 6, Sheila E. ), writer ( Chaka Khan, Sheena Easton, The Bangles, Stephanie Mills, Stevie Nicks ) or influence ( Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam, who would create Janet Jackson's sound ). If all of that was not enough, he still made some of the most spectacular, original and unforgettable music ever heard ( including "Diamonds and Pearls," "When You Were Mine," "Erotic City," "Free," "Sign o' the Times," "Kiss," "Gett Off," "Take Me With U" and "Pope" ).

For the LGBTQ community, Prince always celebrated letting one's inner freak flag fly. Moreover, his utopian vision—which he seemed to have adapted from Sly and the Family Stone—made us a big part of that ( his visual style obviously, while band members Wendy and Lisa, in the film Purple Rain, look like lovers ) in unpopular times ( during the AIDS crises in the '80s and '90s ). But for all the dance-floor jams, there was a strong sense of sincerity, vulnerability and an all-embracing warmth for the entire world.

On any level, Prince made such a difference because with his music and in live performance, he always gave more than could be expected. The lyrics were often not about what they appeared ( i.e., "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" or "If I Was Your Girlfriend" ); his tendency was to favor experimentation over safety ( with clunkers like Around the World In A Day, Graffiti Bridge and Parade, the soundtrack to Under the Cherry Moon ), and he was fearless in saying what he really felt.

The fact that he crossed over into the mainstream by aggressively fusing white hard rock with Black/queer disco funk actually prevented disco from being reduced to a fad. The amusing part is that he made staunch anti-discophiles love him and dance music, unwittingly, in the process. The irony that he pulled white audiences as well as Black, straight as well as gay, and old as well as young together with his single-minded ambition, talent and personality is hard to miss.

Related coverage at the link:

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

DCASE annouces new online series Millennium Park at Home 2020-05-24 - Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events today announced new virtual events for everyone missing Millennium Park's renowned cultural programming. The new ...

Gay News

Patti LuPone: A comeback in quarantine 2020-05-22 - In Ryan Murphy's Hollywood, the wife becomes the boss, the "Black screenwriter" is simply a screenwriter, and the gay leading man is just ...

Gay News

Lola Lennox lives a legacy 2020-05-19 - At the age of 29, singer Lola Lennox is finally ready to release music and show listeners what she's all about. She was ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Idol' alum, PBS series, LGBT film, concert series, Bad Bunny 2020-05-18 - Openly gay American Idol alum David Hernandez has premiered his new song—"Sorry"—and the accompanying music video, a press release noted. "Sorry" is described ...

Gay News

PASSAGES A tribute to H.G. Carrillo 2020-05-18 - Afro-Cuban writer/professor Herman "H.G." Carrillo ( known for his 2004 novel Loosing My Espanish, which deals with the experience of a Cuban immigrant ...

Gay News

Melissa Etheridge's son dies at age 21 2020-05-14 - Beckett Cypher—the son of Melissa Etheridge and her former partner Julie Cypher—died, according to media reports. He was 21. Etheridge, on Twitter, said, ...

Gay News

Ravinia's production of Bernstein's 'Mass' on PBS on May 15 2020-05-13 - Ravinia's 2019 presentation of iconic conductor Leonard Bernstein's little-seen music theater masterwork Mass will be shown as an installment of the PBS series ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lady Gaga, Quibi shows, Alexandra Billings, 'Queer Eye,' podcasts 2020-05-12 - Lady Gaga announced that her sixth studio album, Chromatica, will be released Friday, May 29, via Interscope Records, a press release noted. The ...

Gay News

Trans-rights advocate Aimee Stephens dies 2020-05-12 - Aimee Stephens—the Michigan transgender funeral home worker whose firing led to a U.S. Supreme Court case that could decide the employment rights of ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Rock icon Little Richard dies at 87 2020-05-09 - Little Richard—a founding father of rock 'n' roll who was known for his flamboyant style and pompadour as well as hits such as ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.