Her Majesty Grace Jones is 68 years old today, which is kind of a moot point because Grace Jones is not human and thus Grace Jones does not age like the rest of us. Nevertheless, it seems like a good time to appreciate the enduring awesomeness of Grace Jones. This isn’t, of course, a comprehensive history or examination of Jones’s influence and legacy — if you’re after something in-depth, you could start with her memoir, which is excellent, or with Barry Walters’ excellent piece for Pitchfork last year. If, however, you’re in the market for an affectionate rundown of Grace Jones’s most memorable moments of Grace Jones-ness, you’ve come to the right place, baby.
The Island Life cover
Jean-Paul Goude created this iconic image from several photographs — there’s a step-by-step examination of the process in his book So Far So Goude, which has surfaced on several blogs since the book’s publication. Anyone decrying the image as a “pre-Photoshop fake”, though, is missing the point — as Goude himself said, the basis of his work is “creating a credible illusion,” and really, the point is that if you believe anyone can pull off this pose, it’s Grace Jones.
Grace Jones slaps TV host Russell Harty
Do not ignore Grace Jones. If you do, Grace Jones will slap you. You do not want Grace Jones to slap you.
Grace Jones has cocaine blown up her ass
If you are Grace Jones, you do not snort cocaine like everyone else. No, if you are Grace Jones, you have a minion blow cocaine up your ass — and unlike Stevie Nicks, Jones will readily admit to this. From her memoir: “If I had taken as much cocaine as it is rumored, I wouldn’t have a nose. Actually, I preferred to put a rock up my ass rather than snort it. Sometimes it might get blown up there, one way or another. Then you get a very wonderful sexual feeling in your lower half. Stick a tiny little rock up your butt and it feels fantastic.”
Grace Jones does not “do” time (or wardrobes)
“I wandered around Soho for a while before the Mapplethorpe shoot, knowing that Grace would be good and late — two hours usually timed it right for her. Three hours later I finally tracked her down at Bergdorf’s getting a fur coat out of the Revillon cooler. She spends all her money on furs and stores them in the cooler.” — Andy Warhol
Grace Jones appears topless and body-painted on stage in Brooklyn, at the age of 67…
…at last year’s Afropunk festival. Grace Jones does not “do” aging, neither.
Grace Jones tries to find Lady Gaga’s soul
For once, Grace Jones is unsuccessful. (Semi-related, Grace Jones on why she refused a collaboration with an unnamed pop star, widely assumed to be Gaga: “If the fuck don’t feel right, don’t fuck it.”)
Conan the Destroyer
Everyone knows Grace Jones was in a James Bond film, wherein her character had superhuman strength and was generally unfuckwithable. Less people know that Grace Jones was in the sequel to Conan the Barbarian, wherein her character had superhuman strength and was generally unfuckwithable. Is there a universe wherein Grace Jones does not have superhuman strength and/or is not unfuckwithable? No. No, there is not.
Grace Jones nearly kills a fan, who loves it
“She started singing and the microphone didn’t work,” he says, “so she threw it into the audience complaining that ‘the damned thing doesn’t work’, and somebody got smashed in the head. And the kid starts screaming, ‘Oh my God! Grace Jones hit me! I gotta keep this mic!’ Management are running around saying ‘we’re gonna get sued!’ but she didn’t care. That’s when I realised that aggressive, strong side of her was what people liked.” — Tom Moulton
Grace Jones records “Private Life”
Chrissie Hynde’s “Private Life” is an excellent song that was performed in a perfectly adequate fashion on The Pretenders’ 1980 self-titled debut. The definitive version, however, was recorded six months later — if there was anyone born to sing lyrics like “Your marriage is a tragedy/ But it’s not my concern” or “Your sentimental gestures only bore me to death”, it is, of course, Grace Jones. As Hynde notes in the liner notes to the song’s re-release, “When I first heard Grace’s version I thought. ‘Now that’s how it’s supposed to sound!'” Damn right.
Grace Jones gives birth — and then does push-ups
Like, literally straight after giving birth. “I’m an athlete,” she told the Guardian’s Barbara Ellen last year. “I didn’t want to be the stereotype of when a woman has a child and it’s an excuse to get out of shape.” (She can still smash out a casual 50 push-ups, too.)