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DisGRACEfully Delicious

by John Maguire
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Grace Jones: I'll Never Write My Memoirs
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The DisGRACEfully Delicious Grace Jones is a natural phenomenon. How can such a force of nature be contained and distilled within the confines of a hardback covered book? Reckless and unpredictable on stage, her world is like a tempestuous tornado. How the devil can the whole Bacchae experience that a Grace Jones performance delivers be articulated just by the written word?

It was quite apt I read the book on a Saturday night, the traditional night to paint the town red, blue, purple and green. To exploit all the colours in the disco palette, I complimented the reading with a disco soundtrack and became totally absorbed into the small hours. The music ceased, the soundscape of a police helicopter being replaced by birdsong.

And what a tale she has to tell. I felt like I’d been completely taken up in her storm of a life, twisting through a strict religious Jamaican childhood, charmed by the sexual seduction of Paris, to the dance floors of seventies (cocaine-laced) New York and being dumped back into my chair in my little Liverpool flat, Treeview.

We see the origins of the model’s fashion lust,

I would cut up old dresses and make new ones from the material.

To her theatre-dabblings that helped sketch out her performance art and assist her in finding her natural tribe of people, the creatives.

Well I am not going back home, I don’t need no more education. This is education.

She speaks frankly about her sometimes controlled drug experimentation,

The doctor would safely guide us through the trip. It was like a clinical trip, with a bit of anarchy thrown in.

Her quest to explore the many levels of her personality,

The underground clubs satisfied the explorer in me seeking new discoveries.

Throughout the memoirs she illustrates a strong degree of self-awareness and a tenacity that can only be admired,

I knew I didn’t have a natural voice, but I was going to work at how to make it work, stretch into a new place.

She has many musical anecdotes, like turning down the song BOOGIE WONDERLAND,

Can you imagine me singing Boogie Wonderland? Preposterous. That song needs a tinkling Tinker Bell to sing it, and I’m much more of a witch with a smear of blood on my cheek.

Her values and respect for creativity and individualism are illustrated when she openly talks about one of my personal bug-bearers: the reality talent show, the modern-day equivalent of the Roman Colosseum.

I’m offered so much money to do these kind of shows, but no amount of money is enough to compensate for what appearing on them would do to my soul. They’re awful, there’s no learning experience, it’s demeaning and dispiriting. Sure, it’s part of life and you have to go through it, but to set it up as something that people laugh at is so damned cruel.

 

She is aware of reputation and plays the part of Grace Jones, particularly for the press,

I am having fun with the idea of the performance, with me as a performance. I turn myself into a kind of party, but after you’ve been to a party, you don’t come home and have the same party.

Also, the book is philosophical, she comes across at times as a glittered philosopher,

Disco in its purest sense means that you will come out of a place having gone into euphoria, feeling that you have rejoiced. That’s the sense the disc jockey in the clubs was helping crowds achieve… Mixing the music to completely control your emotions, bringing you up, taking you down, slowing you down, speeding you up, making you soft, making you hard.

Essentially, Jones HURRICANE album was autobiographical, she shrieks at the beginning of the work,

This is my voice, my weapon of choice, this is life.

And goes on to deliver a musical confessional, the most overtly personal album of the maverick’s musical collection.

Did we really need Grace Jones to pen her memoirs, ‘I’ll never write my memoirs’, a lyric she sung in one of my favourite tracks of hers, Art Groupie.

Well, if the truth be known, we didn’t really. Part of me liked the mystique, the uncertainty of the real Jones. But is she really revealing the Grace behind the mask in this book or is it simply another guise, another art project.

I am very militant and disciplined. Even if that sometimes means being militantly naughty, and disciplined in the art of subversion.

I guess we needed Grace Jones to pen her life, explain some of the incidents, as much as we need luxury truffles and caviar. We don’t really need them but there is a decadent delight in the consumption.

May she long continue being disgracefully delicious!

If you are based in the US and wish to purchase the book from an independent bookstore, the link below will take you to IndieBound – a community of independent bookstores. ten million hardbacks will receive a small commission if you do. Many thanks!

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