Prince Was My First Introduction To Sex

‘Sessed — From “I Wanna Be Your Lover” until now.

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Photo by Doyoun Seo on Unsplash

The seeds of my obsession took root one rainy afternoon in our attic, which was my big sister’s bedroom. I was on the verge of becoming a budding preteen — just shy of 11.

In a conspiratorial whisper my sis said, “You have to hear this.”

A funk song rang out exclusively in falsetto. Prince.

“I Wanna Be Your Lover” hit my ears, and my loins moved for the second time in my brief life, in a way they hadn’t since I was around the age of six when a ride on my Big Wheel down our very long and bumpy driveway gave me a sensation down there that was so pleasurable I started riding my Big Wheel all the time; my parents convinced I’d become a race car driver. I sped down our long, gravelly driveway at warp speed and zero fear of crashing. They had no idea what was really going on; I was trying to figure out why my Big Wheel was making me feel so good.

Prince had a similar effect on me.

Prince’s second album titled Prince had an A-side title track called, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The song made me a Prince fan immediately; hooked for life. I wanted to climb into him and be the lover he screamed for, even though, I had no clue or experience with what he was singing, or what his words meant.

But I felt them.

I want to turn you on, turn you out
All night long, make you shout
Oh, lover, yeah!

My prepubescent brain reeled with questions. “Turn you on and make you shout,” why would his lover end up shouting? And why does it sound like a good thing? What would Prince do to me all night long to make me shout?

We listened to that single over and over again.

“I want to be the only one you come for.” Come where for? Where does he want me to come to? I will travel anywhere for the man responsible for this song.

His voice oozed sensuality, desperation, and desire for this woman, the high falsetto accompanied by groans and grunts and heavy breathing. Obsession and passion Prince understood; the erotic words he belted, his pleading vocals yearning for something I didn’t know of piqued my curiosity. He sang of something monumental.

The bluntness of his yearning “I Wanna Be Your Lover” struck me in its vulnerability.

Lover. What an intimate word. He desperately longs to be this woman’s lover. My mind and body ached for him. My innocence prevented me from having the words to fully understand what he wanted, but my body felt it. His erotic vitality was impossible to miss even at my tender age. I didn’t know what sex was, not even that it existed, but I knew what vulnerability was — anyone who survives childhood does — and his vulnerability screamed to me.

“I Wanna Be Your Lover” details Prince’s love for a woman, and how he would treat her better than the man she is with, he is frustrated at her for thinking of him as a “child.”

I was mesmerized by his sound. Prince, is that his real name? I wanted to know everything about him.

The album cover added to his allure; a bright blue background with Prince naked, from his waist up, his big brown eyes — big enough one could fall into them — staring blankly at the camera, a poker face with the one word Prince written in cursive in purple letters, a purple heart dotting the i.

The simplicity of the cover, along with his literal nakedness, heightened the rawness of his lyrics. His lips, his facial hair, the hair on his chest, it was so candid for the times, so intimate. It had a sexual impact on me that my adolescent brain didn’t understand yet and couldn’t sort out but couldn’t wait to know more about.

We didn’t have the Internet back then. We couldn’t take out a computer from our pocket and “Google it” when we didn’t understand something or needed clarity. We didn’t have YouTube. My sisters and I weren’t allowed to have MTV, and even if we had, it was pretty tame back then.

Van Halen was probably the most explicit on MTV at the time. Having cable back then was a big deal, only one of my friend’s had MTV. When I caught a sneak peek at my friend’s house, I had no interest in bands like Van Halen, their music, or the men playing it. Too many overdone guitar solos, trite lyrics, and mullets (even at eleven I knew the mullet wasn’t a good look) American cars strewn with half-naked, cheap-looking women wearing too much makeup, ogled by men who didn’t seem too bright themselves.

But Prince, Prince was on another level.

His music, videos, and look were so Prince; he was so confident in his art.

He was surefooted in his sexual place in the world; he seemed to take it slow, linger on the one woman he was seducing. I hadn’t even kissed a boy yet or knew what third base was, but it was Prince I thought of while in my bedroom daydreaming. He would know what to do with me. He would know what I wanted, even if I didn’t know myself. I knew he understood anticipation and build-up and erotic tension.

Prince was my intro to sex. The best kind of sex — dirty sex.

He was unabashedly OK with his sexuality; no shame attached to his lyrics or in the telling of his stories about sexual encounters and desires.

For my two sisters and me, the only access to the world was through an old set of The Encyclopædia Britannica no one in my family ever looked at, or, by asking our reserved, sexually repressed parents, who were not easy to talk to, especially when it came to carnal knowledge.

But what my two sisters and I did have was the most valuable education one could want, a basement full of the best albums ever recorded.

Albums by artists including Elvis, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Carol King, The Mamas and the Papas, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, The Monkees, Elton John, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, and the kicker, The Looney Tunes album which included the standout, “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fudduh!” Our education inspired by shelves stuffed with records, a record player, and a basement all to our selves.

Then Prince graced our ears, and our world got bigger.

Not many of my peers knew about Prince; Purple Rain hadn’t released yet. Prince hadn’t yet swept the nation; he was all mine, he was quietly sliding into my “DMs” through 45 singles and LPs — contraband making me soft and wet.

I was lucky to have an older sister who gravitated toward friends who were a few grades ahead of her, allowing Prince to find a way to me.

Prince’s next album, Controversy and its title track of the same name, had an even more significant influence on me, it asked big questions.

Do I believe in God, do I believe in me?
Some people want to die so they can be free

I was now finally a teenager, and my teenage yearning for independence and curiosity drove every decision I made. It felt like Prince was speaking directly to me in this explicit album.

About halfway through “Controversy,” the title track, Prince speaks The Lord’s Prayer. The same prayer, word for word, I was forced to mumble every Sunday. Words I wasn’t sure I believed yet. My teenage mind exploded. Prince knew the same prayer I mindlessly said every Sunday.

“Life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play?” Yes, Prince, I want to play. Will you play with me?

The song continues,

People call me rude, I wish we all were nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules
People call me rude, I wish we all were nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules
Do I believe in God, do I believe in me?
Let me tell ya
Some people want to die so they can be free
I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same
Don’t ya want to play?

What teen can’t relate to these lyrics?

I was a rude teenager. I was no longer getting along with my parents, my father, especially. I was budding sexually, which was probably scaring my rigid dad half to death; luckily he was blessed with four girls, so he had a lot of practice being around blossoming teenage girls making him uncomfortable.

Prince contributed just the right score for the background of my turbulent teens, and like all teenagers, I was the star of my movie. A world I was beginning to understand. I had a boyfriend now and had even kissed him.

I became obsessed with everything Prince wrote or had a hand in producing. Everything he touched I devoured, listened to it on repeat, breathed in. I bought every album by every musician he wrote for, like The Bangles and Sheila E.

On VHS I recorded Sheila E.’s performance on the Grammys of “The Glamorous Life,” a song written by Prince for Sheila E. — one of the best performances on live TV to this day. I wore out the tape practicing each dance move she stepped and each beat of her drum. I practiced it over and over again in my living room, air drumming, dancing on tables and shaking my ass — trying to get as close to what I thought Prince wanted.

Next, Dirty Mind was released, his best album out of the first four to come out before Purple Rain.

There’s something about you, baby
It happens all the time
Whenever I’m around you, baby
I get a dirty mind

It doesn’t matter where we are
It doesn’t matter who’s around
It doesn’t matter
I just want to lay ya down

He’s obsessed with the female and the female body, and having her and pleasing her. He understands eros, eroticism, and hedonism.

In my daddy’s car
It’s you I really want to drive
But you never go too far
I may not be your kind of man
I may not be your style
But honey all I want to do
Is just love you for a little while

“I get a dirty mind whenever you’re around,” he wants this woman. We all want to be wanted in this way. Everywhere, in his “daddy’s car,” anywhere, “underneath the stars.” He has to have her; you can hear it in his pleading for her, “But honey, you got me on my knees. Won’t you please let me lay ya down”

The second song on Dirty Mind, “When You Were Mine,” is probably my favorite Prince song before Purple Rain hit, but it is impossible to choose just one.

Oh girl, when you were mine
I used to let you wear all my clothes
You were so fine (so fine)
Maybe that’s the reason that it hurt me so
When you were mine
you were all I ever wanted to do
Now I spend my time
Following him whenever he’s with you

I wanted a boy to want me as much as Prince wants the woman in “When You Were Mine.” He lost her and wants her back. He’s erotically charged for her with passionate jealousy and also refers to her as, “You were kinda, sorta my best friend.”

He understands desire is in the wanting of someone, the “will I have him? will I touch her again?” part of love. The anticipation, “will I have him completely,” and “will I own his body for an hour or two” is the juicy desire part. Prince does desire exceptionally well.

Then there comes the song “Head,” another great tune and self-explanatory.

I didn’t understand what it meant. I thought his use of the word “head” was a code word for “intercourse.” By the time Dirty Mind was released, I finally figured out what sex was.

This first part of the song “Head” I understood.

I remember when I met you, baby
You were on you’re way to be wed
You were such a sexy thing
I loved the way you walked, the things you said
And I was so nonchalant, I didn’t want you to be misled
But I’ve gotta have you, baby, got to have you in my bed

The second part was more confusing to me.

Now morning, noon, and night I give you head
Till you’re burning up
Till you get enough
Till your love is red
Love you til you’re dead

And then Purple Rain was released — my world exploded.

Prince was now a visual displayed on a 30-foot high movie screen with his music pumping through a professional sound system.

I watched Purple Rain 15 times in the theater. And at least 50 times to date. My parents had just had baby number four, (a boy finally!) so they were preoccupied, and I had more independence than a lot of my friends because of this, which is the reason I got to see Purple Rain 15 times in the theater.

I could now drive. I was free.

At my best friend Jenny’s house one night, while in her kitchen drinking English tea, I did my best to convince her to run away with me to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to find Prince.

I received all the teen magazines in the mail detailing the bars Prince hung out in, in his hometown. He was a regular at one Minneapolis bar where he played with local musicians.

As I was telling my best friend this, her mother (who was like a second mother to me) overheard our plan and came into the kitchen to talk us out of our Minnesota journey; her exact words were something like, “Over my dead body are you going to find Prince in Minneapolis.” My purple dreams thwarted we returned to Jenny’s bedroom to listen to Purple Rain for the 100th time as I daydreamed about one day having Prince naked in bed with me.

I followed him throughout his career. Bought every record that turned into every cassette that turned into every CD he made.

Even into adulthood, he was the one artist who moved me to listen to his new stuff the day of its release. I had posters on my bedroom walls throughout high school and in my locker at school. I saw him live in Boston, where I eventually went to college. I kept tabs on Prince, watched every performance on TV. I was never into watching the Grammys or the MTV Video Music Awards, but I made sure to watch them when Prince was scheduled to make an appearance. He was always the most interesting person in the room.

Prince was a perfectionist. I know he would not like his estate releasing some of his unfinished work on Spotify, he would think it wasn’t quite “cooked” enough to publish and not worthy of his talent. It would be like releasing Hemingway’s first draft of A Farewell To Arms to the public. He was a professional in his music through and through, as all greats are.

On April 21, 2016, I was in a movie theater when I got a text from my friend Jenny, that same friend I tried to convince 30 years earlier to run away with me to find Prince, that he was gone.

I left the movie theater immediately and went to my car and sobbed.

I wept for Prince. I selfishly wept for the loss of any new music from him. I selfishly wept for my loss of never again seeing him perform live. I wept for a man I never knew but whose art was the foreground music to my formative years — when I lost my virginity to a boy and fell in love with another boy.

I wept for that innocent girl in my sister’s bedroom who grew up a bit because of a song she heard. For a girl who sexually awakened through a voice.

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In my bedroom with Prince. Photo by Author

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Jessica is a writer, an online entrepreneur, and a recovering Type A personality. She lives in Los Angeles with her extrovert daughter, two dogs, and two cats.

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