I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen
The Methodist version of The Apostles Creed
As I knelt in front of the altar reciting this in my pristine white dress with my hair freshly permed, (permenantly straightened) I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment. I was getting confirmed -- I was going to become a member of the United Methodist Church in my own right. I did well in my confirmation classes. I memorized three creeds, The Apostles Creed (which I still remember), the Nicene Creed and another creed which of I've forgotten the name. I learned the history of the Methodist Church and of its liturgies and at 11 years old, I couldn't have been more proud of myself.
However, I had a dark secret - something I felt so ashamed of that I prayed to God and asked him deliver me from my sinful nature. I wanted to be a good girl and a good Methodist. What was my dark secret? I liked -- no LOVED Prince. In the 80's and much like it is now, I suppose, artists and our tastes in music defined who we were to our peers. There were many rivalries between artists in the 80's and most of them were instigated by the fans. Amongst black girls in the 1980s, two performers had the most impact in defining who we were to each other -- Prince and Michael Jackson. Prince was the bad boy. He oozed sex. Every song he sang and every performance he did was wrapped in a blanket of sexual suggestion. He licked and humped his guitar and he caressed his body while staring directly at some lucky woman in the audience. His falsetto voice sounded like he was constantly on the edge or orgasm and it didn't help that he had and still has a nice, firm, perfectly formed posterior. Michael Jackson, on the other hand was the boy next door. He was the guy you wanted to take home to mom and dad. You could imagine going steady with him and receiving that precious first kiss on the day he asked you to be his girl. His falsetto voice was as sweet as honey and when he sang a ballad women would drop like flies. Before his unfortunate plastic surgeries and his penchant for grabbing his crotch, he seriously was a force to be reckoned with. So, if you were a Prince fan, you were a bad girl and if you were a Michael Jackson fan, you were a good girl. Of course, it was absolutely possible to like both--and I did -- however, during those days no respectable church girl would ever admit to liking Prince. He was just the Devil! This really slammed into my psyche when my cousin Felicia, who is the daughter of a Baptist preacher told me one day,
"I can't believe anyone could like Prince. He's so nasty! He's bad and he needs to be saved."
I felt so guilty that I decided not to even look at a magazine if I saw Prince's picture in it. This was extremely hard to do. Not only was he in every teen magazine on the newsstands, he was too damned sexy not to at least spare a glance . One day, my dad brought home the 1999 album. In it there was a picture of Prince drawing in a bed of purple satin sheets. The covers were pulled down to show the top half of that magnificent deriere. I remember staring at it feeling hot and flushed. On top of that, my tummy started to feel funny. I had to face the facts. I liked Prince and I was going to fry in hell for it! It was inevitable.
In all honesty, most of the content of his songs were things I didn't understand. For instance, he had a song called "Head" on a previous album. I thought the man was saying "hey". Even though the content matter was something I wasn't able to comprehend, the way the song was sung just gave you the impression that it was something naughty. On the 1999 album he had a song called "International Lover" in which he compared himself to an airplane ride. He moaned and sang so breathlessly that I refused to listen to it.
In an attempt to forget my feelings for "His Royal Badness", I decided to replace him with Michael Jackson. It wasn't too hard because at the time Michael came out with Thriller which was a bad assed album. The Thriller video was and still is the livest ..er..I mean tightest video ever made. Then came Purple Rain. For almost two years I had been able to fight my love for Prince, but the song "Let's Go Crazy" hit the air waves and I went nuts my damned self! When he released "When Doves Cry" my resolve weakened and I found myself wanting -- no NEEDING that album! I didn't dare ask for it for my birthday and I definitely didn't pray for it. Once again, my father acting as Satan's helper came home with the album. When I listened to the album I realized "Computer Blue", "The Beautiful Ones" and "Darling Nikki" had to be the sexiest songs I'd ever heard! I was doomed. I once again prayed for deliverance from my sinful nature. I was glad that I was too young to see the movie Purple Rain in theaters.
Because my dad is an engineer and a gadget-o-holic, we were always one of the first people in the neighborhood to have the latest inventions. We were pleased as punch when he bought home our first VCR. It was the size of a stereo and the remotes came with wires that attatched to the cassette player. When you pressed a button at the top of the VCR, the tape bed would pop up! People would come over and watch movies at our house all the time. One day, Daddy, who I felt at the times was probably prompted by Beelzebub again, came home with none other than the movie Purple Rain on video. How could I resist? How was I supposed to fight the pull of lust when I knew Prince would be riding around Minnesota in tight pants on motorcycle? I decided to give up. I couldn't fight it anymore. I loved him damn it and I didn't care who knew. I called my cousin Felicia that night and confessed that I liked Prince and saw Purple Rain. She replied, "Cool Cuz. That video for "When Doves Cry" is all the way live!" (Cousin Felicia eventually started rapping and singing under the stage name Lee-Lee). My mother soon after confessed that she liked Prince's song "Count Your Blessings." We later figured out she meant the song "Controversy". She thought he was saying "count your blessings". Daddy said he liked Prince because he thought Prince was a musical genius. When I thought about it, I knew he had a point. The man wrote and produced his own songs. It was said that he played about 17 different instruments and he came up with a very distinct sound of his own. He was a good performer and he had catchy tunes. No wonder I liked him!
I find it funny that the more I prayed for God to deliver me from my lust for Prince, the more I was exposed to Prince. I no longer think my dad was a tool of Satan, but rather a voice of reason. We are both music lovers and I was (am) a musician. It took my dad's explanation of why he liked Prince to make me realize how trivial I was being. Sure the man was sexual, so were a lot of performers. But, because I found myself aroused by him I felt like I was embracing sin. If I had thought Prince was a crappy artist, I wouldn't have felt anything for him at all. It also helped me accept who I was and to not let other people define me. Duality exists in just about everyone.
So who was it for you?
*the term catholic spelled with a lower case C comes from a Greek word meaning "universal" or "general"