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Grace Jones the autobiography: ‘If the fuck don’t feel right, don’t f*ck it’

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26:  Grace Jones performs live at the Royal Albert Hall on April 26, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Grace Jones performs live at the Royal Albert Hall on April 26, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)


Grace Jones has a book out. I’ll Never Write My Memoirs’ includes the following bon mots (via Time Out):

I come from the underground. I am never comfortable in the middle of the stream, flowing in the same direction as everyone else. I think people assume that’s where I want to be, famous for being famous, because as part of what I do there is a high level of showing off. But my instinct is always to resist the pull of the obvious. It’s not easy.

Trends come along and people say, ‘Follow that trend’. 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.

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.

Rihanna… she does the body-painting thing I did with Keith Haring, but where he painted directly on my body, she wears a painted bodysuit. That’s the difference. Mine is on skin; she puts a barrier between the paint and her skin. I don’t even know if she knows that what she’s doing comes from me, but I bet you the people styling her know. They know the history.

I remember when one of the singers on the list of those who came after me first said that she wanted to work with me. Everyone around me is going: ‘You have to do it, it will be so good for you, it will introduce you to a whole new audience, you will make a lot of money’. No! It will be good for her; she will draw from everything I have built and add it to her brand, and I will get nothing back except for a little temporary attention. No one could believe that I said no, but I am okay on my own. I am okay not worrying about a new audience. If the fuck don’t feel right, don’t fuck it.

With this one, who I will call Doris, I thought she was trying on other people’s outfits: she’s a baby in a closet full of other people’s clothes, a little girl playing dress-up, putting on shoes that don’t fit. I could see what she wanted to be when I watched her doing something when she started out that was starker and purer. Deep down, she doesn’t want to do all the dressing-up nonsense; she loses herself inside all the play-acting.


BERLIN - FEBRUARY 7:  Singer and actress Grace Jones arrives for the screening of the new film "The Missing"at the 54th annual Berlin International Film Festival  on February 7, 2004 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Kurt Vinion/Getty Images)

Singer and actress Grace Jones arrives for the screening of the new film “The Missing”at the 54th annual Berlin International Film Festival on February 7, 2004 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Kurt Vinion/Getty Images)


The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajes and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent. There will always be a replacement coming along very soon – a newer version, a crazier version, a louder version. So if you haven’t got a long-term plan, then you are merely a passing phase, the latest trend, yesterday’s event.

They dress up as though they are challenging the status quo, but by now, wearing those clothes, pulling those faces, revealing those tattoos and breasts, singing to those fractured, spastic, melting beats – that is the status quo. You are not off the beaten track, pushing through the thorny undergrowth, finding treasure no one has come across before. You are in the middle of the road. You are really in Vegas wearing the sparkly full-length gown singing to people who are paying to see you but are not really paying attention. If that is what you want, fine, but it’s a road to nowhere.

I look at Doris and I think: Does she look happy? She looks lost, like she is desperately trying to find the person she was when she started. She looks like really she knows she is in Vegas, now that Vegas is the whole entertainment world filtered through the internet, through impatient social media. I don’t mind her dressing up, but when she started to dance like Madonna, almost immediately, copying someone else, it was like she had forgotten what it was about her that could be unique. Ultimately, it is all about prettiness and comfort, however much they pretend they are being provocative.


LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 06:  Grace Jones onstage at the MTV Europe Music Awards, held at the Echo Arena on November 6, 2008 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Grace Jones onstage at the MTV Europe Music Awards, held at the Echo Arena on November 6, 2008 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)


Kate Moss often says to me that I am the only performer around at the moment who deserves to be called a diva.That gets us arguing, seemingly a little too serious if anyone hears us. I hate that word diva. It’s been so abused! Every singer given a makeover or a few weeks on a talent show seems to be called a diva these days! Christ almighty. Where’s the exclusivity? It’s so commercial now. For me, a diva is like the great opera singer, the great film star – out of reach, in their own world, with a real gift for invention, attention-demanding performance artists with a flamboyant, compelling sense of their own importance, so special and inimitable it verges on the alien. And of course the word is usually used to describe an apparently erratic female whose temperamental qualities, survival instincts, and dedication to perfection are seen as weaknesses, as self-indulgent, not a strength. So, Kate, I am not a diva. I am a Jones!

This is what I would say to my pupil: you have become only your fame, and left behind most of who you were. How are you going to deal with that? Will you lose that person forever? Have you become someone else, without really knowing it? Do you always have to stay in character for people to like you? Do you know that you are in character?

Doris, I would say fame is all well and good if you want to take it to another level. If you have some greater purpose. Me, I am just a singer, on one sort of stage or another, who likes to have an audience, but not all the time. Listen to my advice; I have some experience. In a way, it is me being a teacher, which is what I wanted to be. I still feel I could go into teaching. What is teaching but passing on your knowledge to those who are at the beginning? Some people are born with that gift. With me, the teaching side morphed into the performing side. It’s in there. And these are my pupils – Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley, Kanye West, FKA Twigs and… Doris.

Grace Jones: if you ever get the chance, do see her live. She’s a force of nature.

I’ll Never Write My Memoirsby Grace Jones.

Posted: 10th, September 2015 | In: Books, Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Kitten Covers (2)

TUMBLR Site of the Day: more from The Kitten Covers is a great collection of kittens in the mode of classic pop and rocks album covers: Blondie, Leonard Cohen, Saturday Night Fever, Beastie Boys, Dr Dre, Peter Tosh, The Doors, Grace Jones, Dolly Parton and Marvin Gaye… First Part is here.


Spotter: The Kitten Covers

Posted: 23rd, April 2012 | In: Key Posts, Music | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Skin I Live In Photos: Grace Jones Gives Good Face

TO The Skin I Live In screening at Somerset House, London, which opens the Film 4 Summer Screenings. If Pedro Almodovar’s film looks as good as Grace Jones, it’ll be a hit. The plot is:

A brilliant plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas), haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig is (Elena Anaya) a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

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Posted: 27th, July 2011 | In: Film | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Lady Gaga Is Not Madonna’s Camel: She Also Looks Like Kylie, Britney And Christina

LADY Gaga is pilloried for being Madonna’s cameal – a popstar formed by committee. But the criticism is unfair: Lady Gaga has also adopted the looks of Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Grace Jones and Britney Spears. It is all done with a massive sense of self-awareness, of course. Gaga would not more pass off an old look as her own as she would bash out a Euro pop number entitled Alejandro that sounds a lot like an Ace Of Base track, which in turn was not overly different to Aswad’s Don’t Turn Around


Posted: 20th, April 2011 | In: Music | Comments (4) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Lovebox Weekend: Grace Jones And Duran Duran Blow Mark Ronson: Pictures (Not All SFW)

THE Lovebox festival in London’s Victoria Part welcomes Grace Jones, one part of the hybrid Jones-Madonna Camel that goes by the name Lady GaGa. Jones’s aroused power saw, peacock hair was was almost outdone by Tahita Bulmer of New Young Pony Club and Peaches’s genitalia. And then Mark Ronson and The Business Intl performed with Duran Duran in a bouffed display of hair not seen since Vidal Sassoon discovered Dallas on the telly. We took pictures:


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Grace Jones performs live on stage at Lovebox in Victoria Park, London.

Posted: 19th, July 2010 | In: Key Posts, Music | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

In Pictures: Grace Jones Presses Stillness On Lady Gaga

GRACE Jones took her original Lady Gaga face to artist Chris Levine’s exhibition ‘Stillness at the Speed of Light – Grace Jones‘, at the Vinyl Factory, Soho. We stood. We listened. We dared not. We wondered how long Lady Gaga – Madonna’s Camel – would last in a fist fight with Gaga, or a bitch slapping contest. The smart money was on “not too long”…


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Grace Jones performs a poetry reading at a preview of artist Chris Levine's exhibition 'Stillness at the Speed of Light - Grace Jones', at the Vinyl Factory, Soho, central London.

Posted: 30th, April 2010 | In: Celebrities | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

In Pictures: Grace Jones Gives Lady Gaga Her Unicorn Of Pity

ANORAK went to see Grace Jones perform live at the Royal Albert Hall, London. How close would you dare get to Grace Jones? We got close enough to smell her pelt. Jones is like a modern-day Medusa. One stare and you’re transfixed. One day Jones will turn Lady Gaga to stone. Says Jones of being asked to work with Madonna’s camel: “Yes, she did, but I said no. I’d just prefer to work with someone who is more original and someone who is not copying me, actually.” There’s only room for one unicorn on this beat. Although a fight would be good watching…


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Grace Jones performs live at the Royal Albert Hall in central London.

Posted: 27th, April 2010 | In: Music | Comments (6) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0