Lake Minnetonka is calling Apollonia back

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 27, 2014 - 11:55 PM

For the first time since filming that famous “Purple Rain” scene, the actress returns to Minneapolis Saturday for a benefit at First Avenue.

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Apollonia Kotero had the female lead role in the 1984 movie “Purple Rain.”

For the record: Apollonia never did purify herself in Lake Minnetonka. In fact, she’s never been to the Twin Cities’ biggest lake. And she hasn’t been in Minnesota since filming “Purple Rain” in 1983.

That will change Saturday when the Los Angeles actress returns to First Avenue to appear at the third annual Benefit 2 Celebrate Life, organized by former Prince and the Revolution drummer Bobby Z to raise awareness about heart health. She might even sneak in a trip to the lake.

Prince’s entreaty to her — “You have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka” — became the most quoted line from the movie, repeated time and again by singers who perform at First Avenue.

“I had no idea that it was going to be such a standout scene,” the real-life Patricia Kotero, 54, said by phone last weekend. “I thought it was the stage performances that would capture people’s hearts and souls.”

Apollonia also had no idea what she was getting into when she stepped into that exurban backwater near the Minnesota River town of Henderson, southwest of the Twin Cities.

Let’s set the scene. It was Nov. 2, 1983, the second day of the film shoot. It was freezing — the season’s first snow had fallen that day — and Apollonia was wearing a skimpy outfit. A stuntman was stationed in the water to catch her and keep her from getting stuck in the mud.

“As an actor, I was like, ‘Let’s go for it, man. I can do this.’ I did it and when I got out, I kicked [Prince]. I could feel the mud. There was dialogue, but it became improv. I couldn’t breathe when I got out. I wanted to check my body parts to see that they were still on me. They said ‘Cut’ and then we did it three more times. By the fourth time, I felt delirious. They took me to a tent, where they dried me off and there was a nurse.”

Apollonia was experiencing hypothermia. “I couldn’t see anymore and everything sort of faded to black. Prince came into the tent and he held me and I could hear the nurse, like it was in a faded dream: ‘We’re losing her’ and someone yelled ‘Ambulance!’ Prince started to tear up and said, ‘Please, don’t leave me, don’t leave me. I love you.’ It was surreal. I had no control. The two of them held me really tight with the blankets, and with the body heat, I started to come back. At one point, I was finally coherent and I was able to talk and I said, ‘We’ve gotta get more film in the can, man.’ ”

Here’s what else you might want to know about Apollonia:

• She talked to Prince two weeks ago. He told the Star Tribune last weekend, “it was the first time we talked in years.” No, they never were an item — just friends.

• Apollonia joined the cast of “Purple Rain” just a month before filming, when Prince’s girlfriend/protégée Vanity dropped out. They met later, at Vanity’s request, at an L.A. restaurant before the release of “Purple Rain.” Apollonia told Vanity she’d been offered a part in the movie “The Last Dragon” but “the script was awful. I showed it to Prince and he drop-kicked it across the living room.” Um, Vanity ended up with that role.

• Vanity had been the star of a Prince-formed female group, Vanity 6, which evolved into Apollonia 6. The vampy, lingerie-clad trio recorded a “very country western, rough demo” of the Prince-penned “Manic Monday” for their 1984 album but Prince decided it didn’t fit, according to Apollonia. He later gave the song to the Bangles, who took it to No. 2 in 1986. “Take Me With U” and “The Glamorous Life” were also originally planned for Apollonia 6’s album.

• Since making a 1988 solo album, Apollonia has not pursued singing but she has sung with Greg Dulli’s Twilight Singers on a couple of records.

• Apollonia had a post-“Purple Rain” acting career, including a season on TV’s “Falcon Crest” and several movies such as “Black Magic Woman” with Mark Hamill.

• About 10 years ago, she formed a production and management company, Kotero Entertainment. Right now she is focused on a band called the Fulcos, sort of a modern-day Partridge Family featuring mom and dad and four kids between the ages of 8 and 17.

• She will be the host of Saturday’s VIP pre-concert reception, and, during the concert, she and Bobby Z will discuss the movie that made her, Prince and First Avenue famous — and she might sing.

• She will probably wear purple to the benefit but cautions: “I’m very last-minute when it comes to choosing an outfit.”

• When told that the lake she made world-famous is now at its highest level ever, she said, “I think I might take a drive to Lake Minnetonka to check it out in its rare form. That sounds beautiful.”

  • related content

  • Apollonia

  • Benefit 2 Celebrate Life

    What: Heart fundraiser organized by drummer Bobby Z.

    Who: Performances by Apollonia, Slug of Atmosphere, Paris Bennett, the Sounds of Blackness and former members of Prince’s groups.

    When: VIP reception at 6 p.m. Sat., concert at 8 p.m.

    Where: First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $50 general admission, $100 VIP. www.etix.com.

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