Amy Penwell
Prince taught me a lot about sex.
I was always a bit obsessive about my idols as a child.
I got stuck on him……well until Bono. First it was Journey. Yeah, I know… but in my defense I am from Massachusetts and I grew up in the early eighties. Steve Perry taught me about melancholy and shameless power- pop balladearing. Very valuable stuff I might add.

I had one of those scary cemented basements that I transformed into my own private roller skating haven. I would blare Journey on our Hi-Fi upstairs (bless my parents) and let the songs flow through my own private Xanadu. The dark, scary basement was the only space in the house to transform. This space was sacred to me.

I have to pay homage to the siblings for introducing and shaping my musical influences. Some times they led me a stray, but most of the time they just led me to a new world to explore. So in comes 1984 and the album/movie Purple Rain. These events changed my life. An album and a movie? To this girl that’s heaven. Yes, horribly acted, self indulgent, a piece of crap movie, but in my opinion a great fucken album. I always wanted to be the hot, black chick, with ass-length hair, and a big round booty who danced on Solid Gold. Needless to say that is not me. I loved the way she moved, and all though she scared me a bit, she possessed something I wanted to be. Sexy.

I loved the album so much that I begged my mother to let me see my first rated R movie in the movie theater. She was reluctant, but more lenient with her rules during this time, because my family was being ripped a part for a myriad of painful reasons. Any fun that could be had, we took take advantage of, so it was off to the movie theater in Boston with two big Krackle candy bars to spend two awesomely uncomfortable hours with Prince.

I had naturally memorized the record in it’s entirety.
I was fascinated to see how the music would fit into the story.
This is where I learned what “grinding “meant,
and who Wendy and Lisa were.
They were the two tough chics with hair slicked over to one side.
One played guitar, one keyboards. They played Princes’ minions and band mates in The Revolution. It was at least a year after that I wore my hair the same way except I just looked awful. It was the first of so many bad hair mistakes in the name of finding an identity of my own. My entire 4th grade year was so odd and lost, but I felt secure knowing that I looked like Wendy and Lisa. I was also deluded enough for years to come, in thinking that maybe one day I would run into Prince, and he would think I was sexy and ask me to join his band.

The song “Darling Nikki” comes to mind as one of the most uncomfortable tracks to listen to around a parent. The explicite sex scene with Apolonia in Princes’ parents’ basement was also one of those moments you wanna shrivel up like a salted snail while witnessing with a parent, but as I said before the boundaries at the time were skewed. Let me just say the my Mom is a sweet, kindergarten teacher type. This was a new world for both of us. In her parental defense I am grateful to her for letting me have my likes, and curiosities. She is a trail blazer that one.

After the movie we went out and bought a poster of Prince with flowers all around him. I put it on my door, and proceeded to worship it daily. I practiced being a roller skating solid gold dancer (or a future stripper) with the poles in my basement. I also learned how to kiss on those poles. Ewe!! I would then take my moves upstairs, skate-less of course, to perform them for Prince, though I couldn’t pretend to make out with him because I hung the poster too high. I then bought 1999 and listened to “Let’s Pretend were Married” over and over again because it had the nastiest language on the album, I quote “I sincerely want to F**k the taste out of your mouth.” What!?!? Most of it I didn’t even understand, I just knew it was somehow important.

I look at kids now and think to my self “Britney? Whatever!” She’s a pansy – ass compared to how raunchy and perverse Prince was. I don’t remember when the Prince shrine came down. I moved so much during this time in my life that my memories are a bit jumbled. I do remember a combination of glam metal bands taking over the door one year. Thank God that was short lived. 86’ a sad year for music for the most part, except of course, Peter Gabriels’ “SO” record. Thank God for “The Joshua Tree in” 87’. I’ll get to my love affair with those albums soon. Steve Perry to Prince. That’s a lot to take in. These set the tone of my musical extremes. Hang in there. I’ve got more…….

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