Welcome to Prince’s Lovesexy Room.
OK, it’s not as provocative as the title or the cover of his 1988 “Lovesexy” album may suggest. In fact, there’s a sign in the new museum display room at Paisley Park that warns that the “provocative and frisky” cover photo – it’s a nude Prince with his privates artfully covered – is not reflective of the contents of the album.
Or the room.
The room, which will become part of the Paisley tour on Saturday, features six Prince outfits from the era, lots of photos from the 1988-89 Lovesexy Tour, videos from those concerts and a very cool, customized white guitar that he played on tour. (It was designed by German luthier Jerry Auerswald, who also made Prince’s famous glyph guitar.)
This was a room that Prince was planning for a museum he'd envisioned; he’d distributed emails with ideas and picked out most of the giant photos that adorn the walls. The photo on the outside door was even put there long before he died on April 21, 2016.
The room, formerly the province of guitar technicians, opens to the atrium that visitors enter when they go on Paisley Park tours. The atrium is where the urn with Prince’s ashes resides. It’s also where Paisley-goers can see – and sometimes hear – the studio’s doves on the mezzanine.
One of Prince’s two doves, Majesty, died in January. That left Divinity alone in its cage. But now Paisley’s staff has obtained two new white doves in an adjacent cage. They, too, are named Divinity and Majesty.
Sorry, back to the Lovesexy Room.
As for the outfits, there is a green tank top, from the bottom of which dangles silver charms of Prince's glyph, a heart and other things; he wore this top, which is covered with seemingly random letters, in the “Alphabet St.” video.
There are a couple of outfits with the black-and-white polka dot pattern he featured on tour. There is a black brocade suit with turquoise flowers (and, of course, matching high-heeled shoes) and a long blue coat that has a cut-out notch for a small heart-shaped mirror that Prince wore with it. A similar mirror appears on the sleeve of another mint-and-black outfit.
Many of the outfits have words embroidered on their sleeves – “fantastic,” “joy,” “lovesexy,” etc. One has words in Japanese.
Interestingly, various sizes of buttons appear on each outfit. No outfit – even the double-breasted ones – has all buttons of the same size.
One of the walls features a giant photo of the “Lovesexy” album cover. The phrase “I (actually a drawing of an eye) wish u heaven” appears on two walls in large type.
Another wall features video clips from Lovesexy Tour shows and photos of Prince performing.
Like the "Under the Cherry Moon"/"Graffiti Bridge" room at Paisley Park, one "Lovesexy" wall is covered with huge photos of members of the NPG band from the tour, with handwritten quotes and autographs from each. For instance, saxophonist Eric Leeds writes about “the first rule of Madness,” referring to his instrumental side project. Bassist Levi Seacer Jr. invites you to “come to God.”
“Lovesexy” was the album Prince released after withdrawing the controversial “Black Album,” a darker record that dealt with elements of African American culture. (It was eventually released in 1994.) Prince’s slowest selling album since 1981, “Lovesexy” contained the hit “Alphabet St.” as well as “Glam Slam,” a song whose title became the name of Prince-spawned nightclubs in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Miami in the early '90s.
Paisley Park’s Lovesexy Room contains no stage props from the Lovesexy Tour, Prince’s most ambitious and costly stage production. In fact, he was reported to have lost money on the 77-concert jaunt, his longest since the ’84-85 Purple Rain Tour.
When the North American segment of the Lovesexy Tour opened at Met Center in Bloomington in October ‘88, the show featured an elaborate 5,600-square-foot, three-tiered, in-the-round stage with a basketball hoop, heart-shaped platforms and a 1967 Thunderbird car that Prince rode in. (It was actually a model that was ¾ size of a real car and run electronically.)
In my review of the Met Center show, I suggested that Michael Jackson’s 1987-88 Bad Tour had moved him to the top of the list of live acts but now Prince had “reestablished himself as pop music's
premier concert performer” with the Lovesexy Tour.
On Saturday night, Paisley After Dark will feature a video of the Lovesexy Tour shot in Dortmund, Germany, the final stop on the European leg before Prince brought the show to the States.
Admission on Saturday is $60, and it includes a tour of Paisley Park. The movie will be screened at 9 p.m. For information, go to www.officialpaisleypark.com
Photo credits: Album cover NPG Records/Warner Bros.; other photos by John Wagner/Paisley Park