(Grace Jones, present day)
“You know who you look like?” a woman said to me while I was getting my hair pressed. “Grace Jones.” The musky smell of hot hair andÂ Afro Sheen lingered. My twelve-year-old face sullened. “She thinks I look like that scary lady?” I thought to myself. Detecting my dismay, she offered, “I mean that as a compliment.”
Yet, decades since I was offended by theÂ Grace Jones comparison, I’m completely flattered– although the only real similarity is that we’ve both been blessed with high cheekbones and deep brown skin. Â AndÂ I’m re-discovering and embracing my love Jones for this fierce icon of brazen sexuality and avant-garde style (the mad geometric hats, leather bodices, and spandex body suits). Â At age 60, the Glamazon has a new album — “The Hurricane” — and is currently touring Europe.
For a few years now, I’ve been combing vintage stores for a t-shirt with her androgynous image.Â Luckily, I found copies of her 1982 “Living My Life” LP and the 12″ version of the undulating single “Slave to the Rhythm” while digging in the $1 bins at a Brooklyn Salvation Army.
During a visit to the Contemporary Museum of Art in MontrealÂ a couple years ago, I sat in awe as I watched the uncensored version of Grace’s stereotype-riddled, gender-bending high-art-meets-couture fashion video for “Slave to the Rhythm.” I was mesmerized. She was and is unashamedly bold and beautiful. Â One day I hope to be as fearless in my skin as she is in hers. Â Grace is a muse for self-empowered women of color everywhere.
(Flashback video: Grace Jones’ “My Jamaican Guy”)
Photo credits: Newscom