Saaret Yoseph is a writer and Assistant Editor at TheRoot.com. She manages and blogs for \"Their Eyes Were Watching …\"
Back in the day, Prince wrapped himself in that whole fabulously mysterious Purple Majesty thing. If you came of age in the ‘80s, chances are that you wanted, above anything, to be a part of his crew. And usually being part of his crew meant being young, beautiful, female and racially ambiguous.
Percussionist Sheila E was all of those things. But she also had something else going for her: She could play. Prince helped her record her first solo album, "The Glamorous Life," which brought her glamor — and multiple Grammy nominations.
Once Prince moved onto other protégées —the Purple One bored easily— Nicole Richie's aunt continued to have a thriving music career, jamming with everyone from Tito Puente to Placido Domingo to Patti LaBelle. This year, she won Grand Prize on CMT's hit show, "Gone Country 3." She's found religion, too. Goes with the territory. Even Prince thinks his old songs were too nasty—now he's a Seventh Day Adventist.
In the '80s, Prince's backup band was "The Revolution"; Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, aka Wendy & Lisa, were an integral part of the action. In his music videos, Prince surrounded them with a lesbian chic vibe; back then, he was all about titillating and playing with androgyny. But they were serious musicians in their own right—Lisa, keyboards; Wendy on guitar. That didn't stop Prince from kicking them to the curb in '86, disbanding "The Revolution," arguably the best funk/rock band of the '80s. "It felt more like he had used up all he needed from us and he was going on to something else," Wendy said in a 2009 interview.
"A lot of people take meetings with us and the whole meeting will be, "What was Prince like? What is he doing now?'" Lisa (left) says in an interview with Out.com, "So it opens a lot of doors, but it doesn't fill the room with anything substantial to do with us." These days, the musical duo can be found in the studio, scoring the music for the NBC TV sci-fi hit series, "Heroes."
And there's this: Turns out that whole lesbian chic thing was rooted in reality. Earlier this year, Wendy & Lisa "came out" as a couple — after the fact. "Our marriage ended," Lisa says. "But our soul relationship will never end."
There was a time when we really, really wanted to be Vanity. She was gorgeous—and she got to hang out with Prince. So what if she couldn't sing? That didn't stop "Nasty Girl," her seriously raunchy single with girl group Vanity 6, from topping the charts in '82. Before Madonna made the bustier a fashion statement, Vanity—AKA Denise Matthews—was rocking the lingerie. Wannabe nasty girls started teasing their hair and sneaking out the house in their underwear.
Life post-Prince wasn't easy for Vanity. She left Vanity 6 in '84, trying for a solo career that never took off. She starred in a series of B-movies ("The Last Dragon") and became heavily addicted to crack. Now born-again, she's a committed evangelist who testfies about her former sin-filled life. Last year, she self-published her tell-all memoir, "Blame It On Vanity."
When Vanity abruptly left Prince's camp, Vanity 6 became Apollonia 6, with Patrica "Apollonia" Kotero filling Denise Matthews' stilettoes. Apollonia made her (topless) film debut in Prince's Oscar-winning 1984 film, "Purple Rain." But her album, "Sex Shooter," never caught on in the same way that "Nasty Girl" did. Probably because the music — how shall we say it? — sucked. Apollonia 6 disbanded in 1985.
After the demise of Apollonia 6, Kotero starred in the soap, "Falcon Crest," and acted in some Italian B-movies. She was last spotted in "Air America" and the little-known 2006 film, "Divorce Ceremony." Now 50, she has a multi-media company and coaches young talent.
Pre-Prince, Sheena Easton was a singer in her own right, winning a Grammy for Best New Artist Artist in 1981. But under Prince's tutelage, the squeaky clean Scot embraced her inner slut. In 1984, she released "Sugar Walls," an ode to her lady parts, a single written and produced by Alexander Nevermind. (That would be Prince.) The pair sang together in the 1987 hit, "U Got the Look."
Like most Prince divas, Easton didn't sparkle as brightly after she left Prince's court. She starred briefly in the '80s TV blockbuster, "Miami Vice"; her character was killed off. She hasn't had a chart hit since 1991. Broadway beckoned in the '90s, and she appeared in a 1998 revival of "Man Of La Mancha." Now 50, she's a four-times divorcee and a mother of two. (Why is it that so many of Prince's ladies take to sporting giant crosses?)