Fan Profile: Krystal (Part 2)

Krystal, on her wedding day in 2012. “My wedding was a major turning point in my life and felt like a major transition. I finally got on the road to healing and leaving my painful past behind me. I thank Prince and his life story and music in helping me grow,” she says.

 

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series of profiles of Prince fans. If you’d like to tell your story, please contact me at lauratiebertwriter@gmail.com.

At first, Krystal would get on stage at Rick’s Cabaret in downtown Minneapolis and dance while stone cold sober, she says, smiling at the sheer naivete of it all. But she quickly learned that she could stomach the act more easily after some drinks.

“I would drink with the clients first, and then get up on stage,” she says. “I rationalized it by telling myself that socializing with clients was part of the job.”

The years rolled by in a blur of cocktails and clients. Krystal was a quick study. She watched the top girls and realized that the way they made money was not simply by dancing. The way to make serious money was by providing the experience of having a girlfriend.

“You know the way Prince would have sex with your mind?” she muses. “That’s what I did.”

Krystal, walking into work at Rick’ s Cabaret in the mid 2000’s. “I was always in an anxious state of mind before my shift started,” she says.

Through it all, Krystal kept track of Prince. As we speak, she litters her story with interjections such as, “I remember wearing headphones and listening to Come on the bus on the way to school, and it disturbed me. I thought he might die, or go crazy.” And, “When he married Mayte, I was happy because I thought it might help stabilize him, but when the baby died, I was scared he was going to lose it.”

By the early 2000s, she was a top girl at the club. One day, browsing in a bookstore, she stumbled upon Alex Hahn’s book, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince. Reading it “revived my crush on Prince,” she remembers. She became active on Prince.org, posted regularly and became a highly visible member. Although she knew, intellectually, that Prince had a history as a womanizer, she felt that “he was the template of the guy I wanted to know. He was the ideal man.” And she wasn’t afraid to talk about it on the Org.

Krystal sometimes wondered if Prince knew of her from the Org. She mentions receiving a cryptic Org note in 2005, asking “So you dig my music?” She dismissed it as someone mimicking Prince, but later questioned herself when the same person sent an Mp3 of a song she had never heard before, to which she replied, “Thank you. Whoever you are.”

By 2007, Krystal was at the height of her dancing success. At the same time, she had erected an impenetrable façade to protect her heart.

“I just couldn’t show any vulnerability back then,” she says. “It wasn’t safe to show it.”

Then one day, Prince released “Somewhere Here On Earth.” Krystal’s stomach flip-flopped when she first read the lyrics, which were posted on Housequake and Prince.org, even before the release of the song. The lyrics about somebody putting you down, the need to heal whatever you feel, and that there would be no more hurt, “as long as I’m here on Earth” cracked something open inside her.

Still, she continued to dance for a living. At a Paisley Park concert in 2009, as she danced with her sister near the stage, Prince pointed his guitar at her and called out, “I see you, baby.” It was the closest she came to speaking with him.

As she became more successful at Rick’s, “I became a brand,” she acknowledges, “And I had started drinking more to handle my anxiety.” At the same time, she’d come to the realization that her boyfriend, who she had supported for years, wasn’t strong enough for her.

“It sounds sexist, but my biological clock was ticking and I wanted to blow up everything in my life,” she says. She broke her own rule and started dating a client who was a wealthy businessman. She continued to be active on Prince.org, where she could often be found gushing over Prince (“I’m embarrassed now by some of the stuff I used to post there,” she laughs). After getting her heart broken by the businessman client and breaking up with her boyfriend, she made one final change. She left Rick’s, and dancing, forever.

“I couldn’t be a person in that environment,” she says, “and I had to heal my soul.”

Krystal moved in with her sister and her brother-in-law and went on to marry a man she met at her gym. She stopped posting on the Org. On April 21, 2016, her husband had the day off. She was cuddled in bed with her baby son and husband when the news of Prince’s death arrived via text from her sister. She knew that a part of her heart had died that day.

It’s clear to her now that there are distinct parallels between the experience Prince provided and “The Girlfriend Experience ” as she calls it — the strategy that garnered her success in that industry.

“I was providing an emotional experience to the men, as Prince provided an emotional experience to the fans. I definitely felt like I could relate to him that way,” she says. “Also, I really hated the vulnerable feeling of my livelihood being based on the whim/moods of others … the hustle wore me out, having to depend on others’ perceptions of me or what they wanted. I felt so much pressure trying to meet everyone’s needs and mold myself to what everyone wanted. I kinda wonder if Prince felt that pressure with his fans.”

“Dancing shows you the worst in men. It was disillusioning. How can you love a man when you see what they’re capable of?” she says. It was in those dark days when she needed to look to Prince and his music as the ideal of what could be. “When I was in that world, I needed that,” she says. “I needed hope to survive, and he was hope.”

Fan Profile: Krystal

 

 

Krystal, in front of the Schmidt Music mural.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series of profiles of Prince fans. If you’d like to tell your story, please contact me at lauratiebertwriter@gmail.com.

Krystal was 29 years old and had been dancing professionally for a decade when she realized she was lost.

“As I got in deeper, I felt like a product,” she says, flipping back her long, dark hair as she gazes at me from across the cafe table. “I lost who I was.”

It wasn’t the first time she’d found herself in a dark place.

Krystal has a sweet demeanor and an open face, with beautiful dark round eyes. It’s equal parts easy to imagine her as an exotic dancer and impossible to imagine because there is no hint of the world-weariness that such a job would create in a kind-hearted soul.

The sensitive, artistic and introverted daughter of a Brazilian father and a German mother, Krystal was raised in St. Paul. Her father worked for the Minneapolis post office in the 1980s and sometimes sorted fan mail addressed to Prince Rogers Nelson. At home, there was always trouble between Krystal’s parents, who struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. As she lay in bed at night, she’d turn on the radio to drown out the arguing voices of her drunken mother and father.

The year was 1991, Krystal was nine years old, and Prince was always playing on the radio.

“I didn’t know who Prince was, but I quickly learned to recognize his sound,” she said. She knew that he was from Minneapolis, and had a similar skin color to hers. Most importantly, she sensed from his music that he “got it.”

“There was a dark undercurrent to his music that I recognized,” she confesses. “I knew from an early age that there was pain in the world.”

Krystal, back in the day when hearing Prince’s music on the radio took her to a happier place.

Krystal attended a school whose student population was 80% African American, an intentional move by her mother, who wanted to make sure that Krystal would “know that part of myself and not reject it,” she says, explaining that part of her father’s Brazilian heritage includes West African ancestry. But compared with most of the girls at school, Krystal had lighter skin and straighter hair, which made her stand out. To make matters worse, she hit puberty early and developed quickly. One day, she was sitting alone in the cafeteria writing a story in a notebook, when a girl grabbed it and proceeded to read it aloud to a group of girls who roared with laughter and mocked Krystal.

At night, alone in her room, Prince’s music was a beacon in the storm. “I felt that he was like me, and I knew he was successful, and he did it with his art,” she explains.

Eight years later, at age 17, Krystal was desperate to get out of her parents’ home. Still in high school, she moved in with a boyfriend, following the same path her younger sister had taken two years earlier. She supported herself and her boyfriend by waitressing, until one day, spurred by her interest in music and dance and the desire to make more money, she decided to try exotic dancing at a local club.

She was hooked instantly.

“I thrived off the attention,” she says. “I felt powerful, sexy and glamorous. And I was making real money.” A bad night meant $300; a good night was $1,500 to $2,000.

Tomorrow: A Struggle to “Save My Soul”

Chanhassen Residents Voice Concerns Over Prince Property Plans

Last night, the Chanhassen City Planning Commission met to review Lennar’s preliminary concepts for the 188-acre parcel which is being sold by Prince’s estate. It was a standing-room-only event at Chanhassen’s City Hall.

When asked if Lennar currently owns the land, Joe Jablonski, Lennar’s director of land, said Lennar has a contract to purchase the property.

Prince’s land is the former site of his Galpin Boulevard house (as well as the former site of Larry Graham’s home). The property includes wetlands, pristine forest and extensive shoreline along both Lake Ann and Lake Lucy, two of Chanhassen’s nine lakes. Lake Lucy is populated by private residences, but Lake Ann is home to a popular public park, beach, tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields and is treasured by Chanhassen residents.

The above map shows the proposed expansion of Lake Ann Park (in green, with the red laser pointer indicating the completion of the walking trail). The proposed preserved woodlands and wetlands are shaded in light blue, to the left of the walking trails. The remainder of Prince’s land is in white, to the left of the preservation area.

Lennar presented two concepts for public comment. The first concept showed homes built on all of the available property, including the Lake Ann shoreline across from the public park. The second plan set aside land along Lake Ann for public use. It provided for the completion of the walking path around Lake Ann (there is an existing path that ends partway around the lake), the creation of additional trails, and preservation of some of the property’s wetlands and wooded areas. Both plans seemed to show 200 homes in the development.

The tradeoff for the preservation of the land in the second plan is a more densely populated neighborhood on the south end of the property, with lots of 6,000 square feet, which is significantly smaller than the average Chanhassen lot size of 15,000 square feet. (On the north end of Prince’s property, where the homes would be larger and close to Lake Lucy’s shoreline, the lot sizes would be 15,000 square feet).

For more than an hour, residents took the podium to share their concerns. Residents along the East and North sides of Lake Lucy voiced concerns over runoff caused by previous developers who used clear-cutting on forests, and which has harmed the quality of the lake. There was also concern over proposed traffic patterns. Residents along the South side of the proposed development voiced concerns about water issues that might be caused by the elimination of some of the existing wetlands. In all, there was a great deal of discussion about preserving Chanhassen’s natural resources which was entered into the public record.

Chanhassen, like many Western suburbs of Minneapolis, is experiencing continued development. When Prince purchased property here in the mid-80s, Chanhassen was a small town with a rural feel. Last night, city officials said that Chanhassen will be fully developed by 2040.

The meeting was only the beginning of a long process of discussing the development. The discussion will continue on Aug. 13 at the next meeting of the City Council.

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Prince Property Games Begin

 

News from Lake Wobegon: Chanhassen’s planning commission meets on July 17 to review an initial concept from Lennar for Prince’s former property on Galpin Road.

Some 200 houses are going to be built on the 185 acres that Prince owned. An influx of that many people is going to change Chanhassen, that much is certain. According to the news story in the Chanhassen Villager, the development may enable the city to expand Lake Ann Park and complete the loop so that you can walk the entire circumference of the lake.

How do you feel about seeing Prince’s property developed? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

 

 

 

Why a Shared Interest Will Make You a Better Person

 

It has come to my attention that not everyone loves Prince as much as I do.

This realization first surfaced about a year ago, when, at a cocktail party, I was chatting happily about my latest writing project, which of course involved the Purple One. As “Purple Me” babbled on, “normal civilian me” watched that person’s expression go from expressing polite interest to somewhat dismayed. I could practically see the thought bubble over his head, and inside, it said: “This person I am speaking with who appears normal on the surface is actually a Prince-obsessed lunatic.”

Fortunately, a waiter passed by with a tray of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. I took the opportunity to interrupt my purple monologue by suddenly declaring myself to be starving, and abruptly shifting the conversation to hors d’oeuvres — much to the visible relief of my conversation partner.

One of the best things about life is how people take interest in the most esoteric things. There are clubs and hobbies for every interest under the sun, whether that’s collecting ceramic Hummel figurines or studying French Revolution’s role in advancing the Age of Enlightenment.

I’ve never been a fan of anything, with the possible exception of the Green Bay Packers. What I didn’t realize until 2016 came along and turned my life upside down, was how having a shared interest would make me a better person. I’m more invested in life, I’m more interested, I’m more engaged and best of all, I’ve found instant kinship with new friends.

Over to you: Have you ever had a moment like I did at the cocktail party? If so, how did you gracefully navigate the situation?

 

How to See Prince in a New Light

Prince’s infatuation with the third eye could provide clues to his personality type. Artist: Erika Peterson; @erikastrada

 

Allow me to introduce myself … my name is Laura, and I am addicted to personality tests. I love them all, from The Enneagram to Strengthsfinder and the Newcastle Personality Assessor (because maybe I would have a more appealing personality in England?).

But the one that I love most of all is the Myers Briggs personality test. Years ago, I even tested my own kids and wrote an article about how to use the results to become a better parent to each individual child. The practical take away? I learned that our oldest son enjoys being spontaneous while the rest of us are plodding planners. Imagine his ongoing suffering! Ha! I came up with a plan for improving his life by building “planned spontaneity” into our day. When I knew we were going out for ice cream, I wouldn’t share it until the last minute, and then sprang the news on him. He was overjoyed! There was nothing he loved better than dropping everything and running out at a moment’s notice! And of course, I was thrilled to have secretly planned it.

But on this blog, all roads lead to Prince, and so does this post (eventually).

Myers Briggs types are indicated by four letters. Here’s a quick overview of their meanings:

E or I = extrovert or introvert (how you gain your energy)

S or N = sensing or intuitive (how you take in information)

T or F = thinking or feeling (how you make decisions)

J or P = judging or perceiving (your lifestyle preference — judgers like their world structured and planned; perceivers prefer their world to be open-ended).

Like many writers, I’m an INFJ. You’ll find us alone in a room, struggling with the complexities of life.

Over to Prince’s personality type. As with many aspects of Prince, this is a mystery. But that will not stop me from attempting to understand him better by assigning a type to him!

For the first letter, simply based on the fact that Paisley Park exists and is an introvert’s dream, I’m going with “I.”

I’m also feeling strongly about the last letter, given his propensity for epic levels of spontaneity. I’m giving him a “P,” although it’s slightly less solid than the “I.” I do wonder if his spontaneity was less something in his nature than a tactic he used to get the best out of musicians and others working for him. Hmmm. Still – “P.”

After “I–P,” things get murky. As an “NF,” I can imagine Prince falling into that category … driven by his heart, making decisions based on his emotions, holding firm to his beliefs … but then there’s the empathy part, which is normally strong in “NF’s” and seems to be (how shall I put this gently?) lacking in Prince. Still, I’m willing to chalk up that anomaly to his difficult childhood. Prince’s complexity, his oddball-ness, his intense spirituality and religiosity and the way he very intentionally uses primal desire as a lure to draw us into what he truly wants — a shared experience of God — all this seems distinctly “NF” to me.

You might be able to convince me that the “N” should be an “S,” but I’m going with INFP, with ISFP and INFJ as runners-up. Here’s a good description of INFPs. And here’s a link to a free, fast Myers Briggs test.

Over to you: Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? What do you think of my assessment of Prince’s personality type?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Gazoo

This is one of the first artworks I recall seeing in the Riley Creek tunnels outside of Paisley Park. It’s a favorite of mine, partly due to the sentiment of “Ride On,” which feels exactly like what Prince must be doing in the afterlife, and also due to the depiction of Prince not as a global superstar, but rather as a dude on a bike.

In the drawing, Prince is most emphatically not wearing a helmet. Instead, the silhouette of his Afro appears to be a kind of helmet. Why Prince disliked helmets isn’t clear, but what is clear is that I have never seen a photo of him wearing one. Perhaps Prince refused to put safety ahead of personal style. Or perhaps the helmet aversion was simply part of Prince’s nature as a rebel who resisted complying with rules.

Then a thought occurred: The dislike of helmets might have stemmed from a childhood nickname.

The Great Gazoo, from The Flintstones, was a tiny, green, helmet-wearing alien. Gazoo had been exiled for inventing a doomsday machine on his home planet of Zetox. On Planet Earth, Gazoo causes constant problems for Fred and Barney, even when ostensibly trying to help the two men.

“Hello, dum-dums.” The Great Gazoo arrives on planet Earth.

Terry Jackson, Prince’s childhood friend and the fourth member to join Prince’s teenage band, Grand Central, said the nickname was coined one day as a few friends were walking down the sidewalk of their Northside neighborhood. The sun at their backs cast long shadows in front of them. Prince’s shadow was particularly dramatic, given his huge round Afro and small body. Laughing, one of the guys declared Prince to be “The Great Gazoo.” Gazoo was small and seemed to float on air. Gazoo considered Fred and Barney to be clumsy and slow, and called them “dum-dums.” Like many nicknames, “Gazoo” had an element of truth, and had the effect of distancing Prince from the rest of the guys — something that would have felt (for lack of a better word) alienating.

According to Terry, the nickname “Gazoo” annoyed Prince. There’s an obvious reference to his stature that would certainly have provoked that irritated response. But on a deeper level, the nickname expressed the unspoken feeling that Prince was somehow different from the others. It was a feeling shared, at least at times, by Prince himself. “There’s so many reasons why, I don’t belong here,” Prince would write in his landmark 2014 song “Way Back Home.” The sentiment persisted throughout his life, and was echoed during a panel discussion at Celebration 2018, when dancer and photographer Nandy McClean referred to Prince as “a little alien.”

Prince was indeed a different breed of cat. As he moved beyond those early years on the Northside, he would learn to embrace that, and in doing so, would inspire others to value their own uniqueness.

Welcome!

Paisley Park (credit: the now-defunct “Paisley Park After Dark” Facebook page)

 

Welcome to my blog. I’m Laura, and I’m the author of The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988, a biography of music icon Prince Rogers Nelson.

Two years ago, my family moved to Minnesota. After arriving, I joined a fitness center and began taking a class that started at 6 a.m. As luck would have it, my route to the club was Highway 5. Driving west on that highway each morning, I noticed a white building lit up purple in the early dawn hours. I nearly drove off the road looking at it, day after day. Finally, I realized: This was the legendary Paisley Park, and somehow, we had landed only three miles away from my idol, the musician I’d loved ever since my teenage years — Prince. I was so excited to imagine my new life, where I would be able to attend the parties that he’d been hosting and to be part of the whole Paisley Park community.

Then, something awful happened. Only a month after we’d arrived in Minnesota, Prince died. Like millions of others, I was crushed. I was despondent. I had arrived too late to see Prince at his legendary compound. (The cry of “but I just got here!” wasn’t my first reaction to his death — although it may have been my second). Despite the fact that I was in a desperately busy season of life as a wife and mom of two boys who had just moved to a new state, plus a full-time director of communications for a company in New York, I knew I had to do something. I was a writer. I had somehow landed in Chanhassen, Prince’s home since 1986. He was suddenly, inexplicably gone. “There must be a reason I’m here,” I thought.

Through the magic of the fan site Prince.org, I got lucky and managed to track down Alex Hahn, the author of Possessed, my favorite book about Prince. Together, we went on to write The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988We published the book in February 2017.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Prince stories kept coming to me. As I went about my day, I’d meet people who knew him, and who wanted to share their stories. It happened at the grocery store, at the Post Office, and even at the Verizon store, where the sales clerk who fixed my phone turned out to the adorable little boy from “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” video.

I knew I needed a place to share these stories with Prince fans and music lovers from all over the world, so I created this blog. You can come here to find all the latest Prince stories, direct from Chanhassen.

 

Celebration 2018 – Finale

 

As Celebration continued into Friday, Saturday and the Sunday finale, I started to think of the experience as Purple Summer Camp.

The first day, you run on adrenalin and excitement. This is going to be the best experience EVER. Around the halfway mark of day two, your energy flags. You look at your itinerary and all the activities you booked, and you realize you were insanely ambitious. You question whether you will survive the late nights, early mornings, crowds and nonstop activity. Maybe you need to go home. At summer camp, you’d send a whiny, plaintive postcard to your parents. At Celebration, you want to text your husband, but you can’t, since Paisley Park has locked your phone in a pouch. That’s a good thing, since your husband is already shouldering all of your daily family-related duties and doesn’t need to hear whining from you.

Day three dawns, and you have the best day ever. You are high on the experience and never want it to end. And on the fourth and final day, you feel sadder than sad and cling to your new friends while making somewhat unrealistic promises to visit them, no matter how far-flung the location may be.

I heartily recommend the experience. Like camp, it’s character-building.

In closing, I wanted to share two of the moments that will stick with me forever, like snapshots from camp.

DEAR PRINCE: I’m in line at the merchandise counter, waiting to purchase my overpriced-but-worth-it $50 Lovesexy tour shirt, which is so perfectly 1988 in color and design that I’m beside myself with joy. My other purchase is a purple notebook embossed with a gold love symbol. The cashier looks at the notebook and says, “I have one of these too. I call it my `Dear Prince’ notebook.” I ask her, why “Dear Prince”? “Because I write to him at night when I get home,” she replies. “I write stuff to him like, `Dear Prince, I was at your house today …'”

THE RED SUIT: The only time I saw Prince in concert was the Musicology tour. Bash me all you want for not being a true fan, but I’ve had hearing problems all my life due to a bazillion ear infections as a baby, and avoided concerts to protect the hearing I had left. Still, I was determined that I wasn’t going to go through life without seeing Prince. In 2004, when I saw Musicology, I had a two-year-old and hadn’t slept through the night in two years (or so it felt). As a result, my one, singular memory of that night is Prince, standing and facing the section where I was seated, in a bright red suit. I remember telling myself, “So Laura, that’s Prince.”

Imagine my surprise when we walked into Studio A to find that life-size mannequins had been set up, modeling several of his Musicology costumes. On one end of the display was a mannequin wearing the red suit. Chills shot through me, and as the tour guide talked, I have to admit that I checked out mentally. I went and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with that mannequin, inches away. I imagined Prince standing on the stage in that suit, frozen forever in my memory.

That mannequin and I, we had a little chat, and I told him all the things in my heart about being able to see him that one time, wearing the red suit.

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Celebration 2018 – Day One Report

 

On April 19, I took off my journalist hat and put on my raspberry beret to join fans at Celebration 2018.

Sitting amidst a sea of purple on opening night, in the massive soundstage inside Prince’s creative sanctuary of Paisley Park, the lights dimmed and a young, light-on-his-feet Prince appeared on the giant screen. As the iconic opening notes of “Nothing Compares 2 U” echoed through the sound system, we watched as the newly released official video of Prince’s never-heard (at least not by me) studio recording was unveiled.

Prince, a rising star in 1984 when the footage was shot at a rehearsal in an Eden Prairie warehouse, danced with pure joy and clowned with his band, exhibiting his patented brand of Prince impishness. Watching him, my mind flashed to the emotions I felt, when, as a 22-year-old cub reporter in a small town in Wisconsin, I received a job offer in Manhattan. The world was opening up, opportunities abounded, and I had a sense that not only anything, but everything, was possible.

I’m not sure I breathed for the full five minutes of the video. I was afraid that if I exhaled, Prince might vaporize, back into the ether. The shared longing in the room was palpable: If a thousand souls could will a departed soul back into human form, it would have happened in the Paisley Park soundstage that evening.

Later that night, we viewed the second show of the Jan. 21, 2016, “Piano and a Microphone” concert, held in the same Paisley Park soundstage where we were seated. In stark contrast to the 1984 rehearsal, there was no more dancing, and no more band. But there was clowning, this time with the audience. And there were tears. From listening to the audio of the “Piano and a Microphone” shows months earlier, I knew that Prince had left the stage a few times, but until I saw the video, I didn’t realize that he was crying. After playing “Purple Rain,” he left the stage, and when he returned, he set a wad of Kleenex on the piano. It was tough to watch. Still, his voice was clear and strong. What I will hold in my heart is the knowledge that his voice never left him.

The live concert that closed out the night was Sheila E., who sensed the somber mood (in our defense, it had been a rather sobering concert video), and gave the crowd a pep talk, insisting that after two years, the time for being sad was over. Amen to that. Seeing Sheila E. bring out her niece and nephew to play keyboards made me realize: They are the New, New Power Generation.

Sheila E. did wonders in lifting the heaviness of Day One. As it turned out, the grief of that night had served a purpose: It was driving us to where we needed to be.

Next: Day Two Finds Us Ready to Celebrate