When was the first time you laid eyes on Grace Jones?
Come on, you know you remember. Maybe she freaked the bejesus out of you as a child in Conan the Destroyer.
Or maybe you remember her as James Bond’s intimidating villainess lover in A View to a Kill— as IF the aging Roger Moore could possibly have taken on Grace Jones in the Eighties.
Maybe the first time you became aware of the force of nature that is Grace was in her iconic turn as StrangÃ© in my third favorite Eddie Murphy film, Boomerang. Seriously, she was just so perfect in that film. I loved Boomerang because it’s hilarious and sophisticated, smart and significant — and also it features two of the Caribbean’s most instantly recognizable actors sparring with each other. Jamaican Grace Jones and Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder gave that movie extra panache, for sure!
Back in junior high, Grace was described as “socially sick.” While that description certainly leaves much to be desired, Grace is certainly as um, on-the-edge and self-expressive as divas get.
If you ignore her in an interview she just might smack you in the face. If invited to sing The Little Drummer Boy on a children’s television show, she might show up wearing a surprisingly anatomically correct outfit. In 1998, she was banned for life from Disney World for baring her breasts during a performance. Why? Because Grace Jones is unpredictable like that. Does that make her crazy? Possibly.
I can’t even imagine what her performances in the Seventies must have been like, when she was on some kind of S&M punk rock trip. Fans have recalled performances where she hurled champagne bottles into the audience, smoked joints on stage, performed naked, stormed off stage and then stormed back on as though nothing has happened. Mind you, this is according to The World of Grace Jones, an internet experience quirky enough to be her official website. A vintage Grace Jones performance sounds like an exercise in insane dramatics. But despite her reputation for bad behavior, she’s still so… compelling. There’s just something about Grace.
As one of the world’s most iconic supermodels, Grace Jones was muse to many and collaborated with some of art and fashion’s all time greats. Andy Warhol and Jean Paul Goude photographed her extensively in the Seventies and early Eighties. Keith Haring painted her for her music video “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You)”. In those years, Grace Jones was a fashion trendsetter, considered one of the motivating forces behind the Eighties power suit movement.
Regarding her hair, she’s taken it to the nth degree. She goes beyond the TWA in this totally random and super Seventies video clip of her getting a haircut. Just when you expect her to come out androgynous chic with the shaved head, she’ll switch it up and go full-on glamazon on you. Please check out her makeup in that video clip, it is beyond perfection.
In fact, there are so many video clips of Mz. Jones looking unbelievably fly, it was hard to decide what clip to share with you all. In the oddly compelling video for I’ve Seen That Face Before, Grace gives us a potent dose of close-up fierce all while playing an accordion and speaking French. Huh?
My favorite early Grace Jones video is Private Life, which might be too much one-on-one face time with a very intense Grace on a Monday morning for y’all. But I love the song and again, the makeup. For lessons in black women wearing blush, check that out.
My first memories of Grace were likely formed by the video for Pull Up To The Bumper. That was her most popular song in my neck of the woods, and I was delighted to find this slightly truncated clip of her performing it at the Prince’s Fashion Rocks event in 2003.
Grace was brilliantly paired with Stella McCartney’s fashions, and she absolutely kills it.
Loving the baby locks on her. Grace appears to be settled down and in love now, so I hope the rumors of her trashing apartments and torching the underside of spoons aren’t true. But you never know — that’s Grace Jones for ya.
VH1, here’s a reality show pitch — Grace Jones, Brigitte Nielsen, Naomi Campbell, and Janice Dickenson in the ultimate Surreal Life battle of the amazon women. I think I know who would win, and finally, we’d all get to watch Naomi Campbell get the beatdown she seems to desperately need.
Whether you love her or loathe her, respect her or fear her; Grace Jones is a true original. She’s the most out-there Afrobella of the Week yet!