AMAZING GRACE

She has wowed, aroused and confounded in equal measure for half a century. And Grace Beverly Jones — grandmother, septuagenarian, original — isn’t done.

Grace Jones at the Warm Leatherette album premiere party in June 1980 (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Grace Jones is an intersectional iconoclast whose fluid approach to style, identity and creativity was decades ahead of its time. Transcending national, sexual and racial stereotypes, she has cross-fertilised music, fashion, cinema and her own life into one ceaseless performance. Both quintessentially eighties and timelessly prescient, she often improved on originals and smuggled the vanguard into the mainstream.

Born in British Jamaica in either 1948 or 1952 (depending whom you believe), Grace was the third child of Marjorie and Robert W. Jones, a local politician and clergyman. When her parents moved to the American East Coast for Robert’s work, the children were left with Marjorie’s mother and her younger new husband, Peart (nicknamed ‘Mas P’), an abusive disciplinarian whom Grace “absolutely hated”. At the age of 13, Grace moved with her siblings to the New York district of Syracuse. Teenage Grace rebelled against her parents’ religiosity and visited gay clubs with her brother Chris. As part of a college theatre tour to Philadelphia, she embraced hippie communes, worked as a go-go dancer with a whip, took LSD, and lived (briefly) as a nudist.

Published

February 2021

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