The Life of Grace Jones

The New York Times has an interesting article about singer, songwriter and actress Grace Jones.  She has a new book coming out next week titled I’ll Never Write My Memoirs.

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Undisturbed at last (and still in her bathrobe), she settled onto a twin bed to discuss her singular career as a style icon, disco queen, avant-garde rocker, Bond girl, provocateur and sphinx, all chronicled in her new autobiography, out Sept. 29.

The title is “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs,” a lyric from her 1981 song “Art Groupie.” Why the about-face?

“I’m allowed to change my mind, you know,” she said with a grin.

For fans who have relished her contradictory pronouncements, reinventions (though she hates the word) and blasphemies over the years, the book contains a bounty of hedonistic flashbacks from a woman whose greatest achievement has been remaining her defiantly idiosyncratic self.

From her breakout as a model in Paris in the early 1970s, where her roommates were Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange, her predatory, androgynous style subverted notions of race and gender. Embraced as a modern Josephine Baker, she relocated to New York and became a ribald disco sensation at Studio 54 and a habitué of Andy Warhol’s Factory.

When disco turned tacky, she abandoned it for reggae-inflected New Wave rock, sung in her signature deadpan purr. Between albums, she played off her savage persona in movies like “Vamp,” “Conan the Destroyer” and the Bond film “A View to a Kill.”

Boomerang isn’t mentioned in this article but I loved her in that movie as Helen Strange and her Strange perfume.

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In her memoir Grace Jones talks about her childhood, her romances and her diva behavior.

But the memoir’s deepest revelations have to do with her repressive childhood in Jamaica, where she was born in May 1951. (Or so she says; some reports have her born earlier.) As part of a prominent family of clergy in the Pentecostal church, she and her five siblings were raised under strict religious supervision.

Her parents moved to upstate New York when she was small and left the children under the authority of their step-grandfather, Peart, known as Mas P, who Ms. Jones describes as a “ferocious disciplinarian.” For minor infractions, like doing a handstand in a dress, she would be whipped with a leather belt.

She also talks about today’s young pop stars.

In her memoir, she similarly criticizes the generation of young pop stars who “play the pioneer without taking the actual risk.”

With pride bordering on paranoia, she writes: “I have been so copied by those people who have made fortunes that people assume I am that rich. But I did things for the excitement, the dare, the fact that it was new, not for the money. And too many times I was the first, not the beneficiary.”

She names names, writing: “There’s a lot of that around at the moment. Be like Sasha Fierce. Be like Miley Cyrus. Be like Rihanna. Be like Lady Gaga. Be like Rita Ora and Sia. Be like Madonna. I cannot be like them, except to the extent that they are already being like me.”

Check out the entire article about Grace Jones at the New York Times.com and you can order her book at Amazon.com.

And check out the video Slave To The Rhythm.

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