Island Afterlife: Grace Jones Speaks

April 21, 2010

words by Eddie STATS Houghton, via The Guardian


Our UK brethren just posted this fascinating interview with fashion’s fiercest warrior queen, Jamaica-born Grace Jones. Jonesy drops some gems on being raised by preachers and politicians, her false arrest and solves a minor mystery by naming the Wailers’ Tyrone Downie as Her Jamaican Guy. Check the excerpt below and get the full story at the Guardian:

Jones grew up in Jamaica among a family of leaders – on one side there were pentecostal ministers, on the other politicians. In her early years she was brought up by grandparents because her parents had moved to the US. Her step-grandad, she says, was ferocious. He used to beat her at the least opportunity. “Sometimes we’d have to climb a tree and pick our own whips to be disciplined with. When you had to pick your own whip, you knew you were in for it.” Could she pick a tiny one? “No, you had to pick a proper whip, take the leaves off and fftttt ffffttt.” The wind whistles through her teeth. How old was she? “I guess I was six years old. I thought everybody had the same.”

At 12, she went to live with her parents in the US. She showed a talent for languages and hoped to be a Spanish teacher, but discovered she preferred theatre and rebellion to school and God. Could she ever have been a serious woman of the church? “No, never. I made a special effort not to be.” And how. She took drugs, took her clothes off, got into all sorts of trouble. Were her parents embarrassed? “Of course.” Ashamed? “Totally.” At what? “What d’you mean at what?” She raises her voice, affronted. “I get on stage, show my tits. I do crazy things. I get arrested.” For what? “This girl set me up with cocaine. It was such a tiny amount that the judge laughed it out of court. Not even a cockroach could get high on that, the judge said.” How old was she then? “I don’t know. I don’t count! I don’t count! I just know it happened when I was recording in Jamaica, and the girl that was running the studio was in love with my boyfriend and she wanted me out of the way.”

Who was he? “He was a Jamaican guy. My Jamaican Guy is not named after him.” Who was it named after? “A guy called Tyrone who was with the Wailers. But I couldn’t have him because he was with somebody else. He was a beautiful guy. He doesn’t even know I wrote it about him.” She laughs. “Well, he’ll know now.”