(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 and 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.”

(Grace, circa 1990)

Yet, decades since I was offended by the 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.  And 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).  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.  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 Montreal 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.  One day I hope to be as fearless in my skin as she is in hers.  Grace is a muse for self-empowered women of color everywhere.

(Flashback video: Grace Jones’ “My Jamaican Guy”)

Photo credits: Newscom