I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A REBEL. I NEVER DO THINGS THE WAY THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DONE. EITHER I GO IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OR I CREATE A NEW DIRECTION FOR MYSELF, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE RULES ARE OR WHAT SOCIETY SAYS.
I first learned of Grace Jones in the movie Boomerang, where she played the eccentric model Helen Strangé (who could forget her crazy perfume commercial? Video a bit NSFW, btw). Through VH1 specials and magazine articles, I gained a curiosity about this woman who grew into a full-on fascination.
To be honest, this post has taken me a while. I was going to write this post simply about a recent interview I had read. Afterwards, I found out that this Wednesday, May 19th, will be Grace’s 62nd birthday. In honor of that occasion, I have pushed this post until today. During my research, I read through Grace Jones’ personal website, which is primarily collected photographs accompanied by quotes from Grace throughout the years. I find many of these quotes very powerful, so they I have included them as well. You can find more of these quotes at her official website, linked at the bottom of this post. The source for the magnificent photos can also be found at the end of the post.
Here, mere mortals, is a brief primer to the force that is Grace Jones – one of the most inspiring women ever, in my humble opinion.
I WASN’T BORN THIS WAY. ONE CREATES ONESELF. I BELIEVE WHATEVER I DREAM. WHATEVER I DREAM I WANT TO DO.
Grace Jones was born in Jamaica on May 19th, 1948, to Marjorie and Robert W. Jones in a religious, Christian household. She cites her strict upbringing as a driving force in her persona. Her family relocated to Syracuse, New York in 1965.
Her music career started in 1977, where she secured a record deal with Island Records and she created a large gay following with her string of disco albums. She was also a muse to Andy Warhol and a common presence at the legendary Studio 54 Nightclub where she would sometimes be found performing. Grace was an early adopter of the New Wave music style in the late 1970s as she reinvented herself to the style that many are familiar with to this day. After creating a partnership with Jean-Paul Goude, she adopted the well-known androgynous look that would become her trademark, complete with square-cut hair and angular, striking clothing.
Since then, her career has flourished, as she has reached acclaim with her talents in modeling, singing, performing and acting, in both television and on film. Her persona itself, however, is a world-famous entity on its own.
I LOVE LIVING FOR THE PRESENT. THE PRESENT IS WHAT MY PAST WILL BE AND THE PRESENT WILL BE MY FUTURE.
Grace Jones is an extremely striking figure, standing at 5’10 1/2, adorned with a crew-cut haircut, originally favored solely by men. Her manner of androgynous dress influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s, including artists such as Annie Lennox. Also, while her music reached further acclaim in Europe than in the United States, she has left a lasting legacy in the recording world as well.
She exemplified a completely different image of a black woman, defying the archetypes of a Mamie or even the Black glamour queen in the model of Diana Ross. She was quoted as saying, “I think I’m doing a service to Black women by portraying myself as a sex machine. I mean, what’s wrong with being a sex machine, darling? Sex is large, sex is live, so it should appeal to anyone that’s living.”
While I have admitted to being highly influenced by the classic elegance and style of women such as Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt and Lena Horne, the outlandish space cadet inside of me will always have a soft spot for Grace Jones. Her forward-thinking nature and irreverent zest for life is refreshing in a sea of perfectly coiffed dolls. She has hardly aged and continues to be an unstoppable force of nature to this day. This Guardian interview from April will attest to that fact and I love her all the more for it.
And as she says:
I CAN’T RUN OUT DIFFERENT IDEAS.I AM DIFFERENT. WHEN CAN I RUN OUT OF ME?
Happy Birthday, Grace.