Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

#throwback: 2009

This Entire Week Is Celebrating Grace Jones's Birthday As Far As We're Concerned, and We're Dedicating This Throwback Thursday To V57's Cover Model

#throwback: 2009

This Entire Week Is Celebrating Grace Jones's Birthday As Far As We're Concerned, and We're Dedicating This Throwback Thursday To V57's Cover Model

Photography: Jean-Paul Goude

JEAN-PAUL GOUDE: Would you agree that you have always had a problem with authority?

GRACE JONES: Yes, definitely. I was born into a very religious family where everything was about setting the right example for the community and having to obey orders blindly. I felt that everyone was growing up in the world, except me. This is probably one of the reasons why I had such a rebellious attitude towards any form of authority. I also systematically associated authority with masculinity. With one exception: my great grandmother, who I actually saw chase and beat up my great uncle, the bishop of Jamaica. She was 98 at the time and 6 feet tall. Sure the bishop was her son, but still…

JPG: What did she beat him with?

GJ: A paddle I think, or a broomstick, anything she could grab.

JPG: Didn’t he laugh?

GJ: No, this was very serious! Very dramatic!

JPG: How about Master Patrick, your grandfather?

GJ: Master P., oh God, he was born the same day as you, you know!

JPG: The 8th of December? Well, I’m not a woman beater.

GJ: Of course you’re not! You don’t have to.

JPG: Do you consider that someone raising his voice at you is an act of aggression that deserves retaliation?

GJ: Yelling between people in love is normal. I still always say that you’re the only man who made me buckle at my knees.

JPG: Me? Doing what?

GJ: Just coming up to see you. I remember how I used to climb these stairs, my heart pounding.

JPG: Oh, come on. You mean my studio at Union Square?

GJ: Yeah, I’d go up the elevator and as I reached the stairs that led to your studio, my legs would go weaker and weaker—a strange sensation.

JPG: But it didn’t have anything to do with fear, did it?

GJ: I don’t know. No, it wasn’t fear. It just had to do with the intensity of the feeling—a very intense feeling.

JPG: How would you describe it?

GJ: Well, first my breath would get a little…hyperventilated. I would stop halfway up the stairs and think, Let me get my composure back. The door is about to open and I don’t want to be seen in such a state. And as I’d make my entrance, I’d try to mask my feelings.

JPG: Do you always hide your emotions?

GJ: I always had to mask my emotions. I could never show that I missed my mom or my dad, especially when they moved to America. My grandparents were tough. I was not allowed to receive letters that had not been read before. Everything was controlled, everything!

JPG: Would you say that your rebellion towards your family’s authority extended to your relationship with the men in your life?

GJ: I think so, yes. And I think that is what contributed to my masculinization. I deliberately challenged men’s roles. In fact, I survived by taking on both roles. By the way, I also think that men need to be penetrated.

JPG: I beg your pardon?

GJ: At least once in their lifetime.

JPG: Why?

GJ: Because then they would understand what it is like to receive. It’s my own theory, which I think could help take some of the aggression out of the world.

JPG: But isn’t the nature of man to give, or should I say to provide?

GJ: Of course not. It’s the nature of man to give and receive—to be man and woman, all in one.

JPG: But you’re not about to become a man, are you?

GJ: No, but some men think I’m a man…

JPG: What men?

GJ: [Laughs] Look, I’m not your average woman. I know that! I try to live with myself and figure myself out. I have terrible relationships because of my temper and some men actually want to kill me because they think I have more balls than they do. To most men, it’s intolerable. For years, I’ve had to consciously try to balance, even repress, that side of me in order to make a relationship work. It’s quite scary to realize that if one’s behavior doesn’t actually change, one will probably end up alone.

JPG: Does it worry you?

GJ: Not really. I simply must decide to accept it.

JPG: Do you know that I have been angry at you many, many times?!

GJ: I know, and I did it on purpose! I can’t explain it… It’s almost as though I was trying to take the risk to make people angry. Like in Las Vegas, when you know that even though this is the last of your money, you put everything on the line.

JPG: But why do that?

GJ: To get a reaction. A clear reaction.

JPG: But a clear reaction to aggression has to be anger.

GJ: Not necessarily, if in the height of an argument you can control yourself and go to sleep on your rage, what’s wrong with calling back in the morning and begging for forgiveness? What’s wrong with, Oh my God, I’m so sorry? It’s in my nature. I don’t like to hold things in.

JPG: So you create havoc at the risk of destroying your own accomplishment?

GJ: I know, but I prefer to be truthful.

JPG: How do you see the future?

GJ: I just want to be okay, you know, happy. I don’t know what the future holds but if I should end up living to be 100, I’d rather be by myself than live in a rotten situation. Besides, living alone can be fun. One can enjoy simple things, like looking at the sunrise or the sunset, taking pictures, writing, even gardening… If I was stuck in a bed, I’d want a view. I’d want to see lights change, rain, snow, the seasons.

JPG: Do you see yourself growing old alone?

GJ: Alone, maybe, but not lonely. This is why I’m so attracted to spirituality. Not the religious side of it—religion is at the root of too many evils. As years go by, I tend to be more and more attracted to nature—to its beauty and to its violence. I mean, it helps me understand things. I watched my father die. I actually helped him die, I wrote a song: “You Died a Beautiful Death, Dad.”

JPG: What did your father die from?

GJ: He was given some very strong medicine that his system couldn’t take. My dad didn’t live like me, you know. Sometimes you need to take some poison to survive, like a vaccine. My dad’s system was too pure. He was a minister who didn’t drink or smoke. Yet, this medicine poisoned his liver, and in a week he was gone. I’m positive that the medicine he took killed him. He was 84. I couldn’t believe he was dead. I thought to myself, No, you can’t close his eyes, he’s still looking at you. His eyes were dark but circled with blue, very bizarre. They looked like contact lenses. My dad and his family have these eyes because their ancestors came from the Maroon tribe of Jamaica. I didn’t inherit them. Neither did [our son] Paulo.

JPG: Was your dad upset at your career in show business and at your irrational behavior?

GJ: At first, yes, he definitely was. My dad was a very private person. He didn’t speak much, which is unusual for a minister.

JPG: I heard he once told you that you were the incarnation of the devil.

GJ: No, that was my grand uncle, the bishop of Jamaica—the one who wrote a letter to my mum calling me the devil.

JPG: What did you think of that?

GJ: Well, I didn’t go to his funeral. That’s what I think of that!

JPG: Do you think that you are the incarnation of the devil?

GJ: Of course not!

JPG: Are you an angel?

GJ: Of course not! I’ve got my own relationship with God. God knows me; he knows my heart. We are friends. I really strive to be a better person.

JPG: Hallelujah!

GJ: Amen.

JPG: Praise the lord.

GJ: [Speaking in tongues] A-shallahlahlahlah!

Credits: Makeup Terry Barber for M.A.C. Pro  Hair Laurent Philippon using Bumble and Bumble (Calliste)  Photo assistants Philippe Baumann and Franck Joyeux  Stylist assistants Vanessa Lina and Jina Song Location Studios de l'Olivier, Paris  Production Belleville Hills  Retouching Janvier


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