By: Neil Feineman

Back in the early 1980s, when Minneapolis was known primarily for The Replacements and Husker Du, word started reaching Los Angeles about a funky black dude called Prince whose records, with titles like Dirty Mind and Controversy, were blowing up in the young black communities, to their elders' dismay.

It was also the year Road Warrior (Mad Max II to the rest of the world) had opened in America. I was emraged when the movie failed to get a single Academy Award nomination. In protest, I decided to boycott the Oscar hooplah and go to Flippers, a private roller skating club catering to the music industry (on the site of what is now a CVS on Santa Monica and La Cienega) and check out the Minnesota dude, who was going to make his Los Angeles debut that night.

Prince was pretty jaw dropping from the start, coming out in that long black raincoat and then, by the end of the song, had stripped to reveal fishnet stockings, high heels, garters and a charisma that made me forget all about the movies. I also temporarily forgot about the woman I'd dragged along, who had majored in feminist studies at Berkeley and was having trouble with the outfit and, specifically, Prince's performance of oral sex on the strings of his guitar I tried to tell her Hendrix had done the same thing, but she was having none of it.

She lasted almost until the end but all too soon, she told me we were leaving. I told her I'd never forgive her for making us miss those last two songs. And, truth be told, some 28 years later, I still haven't. Still, coitus interuptus is still coitus, so I counted myself lucky.

In the years since, Prince has virtually given DJs a template on how to beat the system. The short guy who got the sexiest, toughest girls, he lived inside his studio and had recorded more than 800 full-length, catalogued albums by the time he left Warner Brothers. He endured ridicule for changing his name to a symbol, but he was the one who laughed last. Free of the record labels, he figured out the Internet years before anyone else. And he still does his own afterparties, treating his chance to play for himself and a small circle of friends and fans his reward for a solid night's work.

So, Minneapolis, here's what I think you should do: Paint the town purple and, while you're at it, change your name to Erotic City.

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Apr 18, 2008

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110 N 5th Street
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