People are afriad of Grace Jones. In the 1980’s a men’s magazine polled American men about the woman they were most afraid of. Grace topped the list.
The fact that she was tall, dark-skinned black woman who didn’t take any shit was too much for most men to handle. The fact that she also played quite a bit with gender–when waving a wand of mascara was all that was needed to take her from butch masculine to hi-femme.
I loved Grace, and really came to know her work via my older sister, who was also a Grace fan. She pushed boundaries. She was bold, and exciting, and I was a shy skinny black boy from the projects trying to figure out my own body, in a world that said black men were supposed to be brawny. She offered a window into another option–taking the body that you have, and performing people’s worst nightmare–black person who is willing to hold it up to your face, all the images you dispise and are attracted to at the same time.
Grace’s performance not only pushed the visual boundaries of race and gender, she has also been a friend to the Black LGBT community. Not only did she spend alot of her time and energy performing at black gay clubs, including DJ Larry Levan’s legendary Paradise Garage. Her video, Slave to the Rhythm, is the epitome of her will to push the boundaries of race and gender and sexuality. I think this video, and Grace’s work in general has inspired the video work of Missy Elliot.
For her love of her black queer brethren, and her playfulness around race and gender and sex, Grace Jones and her video, Slave To The Rhythm (below), is so Black and So Gay!!!
NOTE: This is one version of the video. There are two. The other, which is the one I wanted to post, is owned by Universal Music Group, who for some unknown reason has blocked people from embedding the video, and you can only watch it on YouTube itself. Why in the hell would they do something like that? I HATE RECORD LABELS!!!!