The horror! The travesty! The wretched female who broke up everyone’s favorite merry band of fuckbois! Yoko Ono is arguably one of the most misunderstood and wrongfully villainized women of the 20th century. The crime? Using vaginal witchcraft to force a privileged and completely autonomous grown man to leave his bandmates behind and lay in bed for peace. Yoko Ono is a smart, talented, and deeply thoughtful artist and humanitarian who, thanks to the male-dominated media and sexist zeitgeist of the 1970s has been reduced to a succubus stereotype. Her name has become synonymous with breaking up The Beatles and ruining everyone’s good time.
In actuality, Yoko is an artist who has consistently spoken out about the lack of female representation in the art world. She has actively engaged in advocacy and fundraising for a plethora of causes including HIV/AIDS, autism, world peace, and gun violence. She has survived some of life’s most abject horrors including war, poverty, the kidnapping of her child, watching her soul mate get murdered, and being unjustly vilified by millions of people around the world. That these experiences have not embittered Yoko or quelled her desire to help humanity is a testament to her character. She is a strong, compassionate, courageous, and perpetually misunderstood woman. We hope that Episode 1 will help to change people’s hearts and minds about this complex and gifted lady.
One of the most iconic images from the 1985 music video for Grace Jones’ “Slave to the Rhythm” features an animatronic rendering of Jones’ head emerging from a desert floor. Her mandible releases through a series of overlapping metal plates reminiscent of Medieval spaulders, and a car rockets out of her mouth and into the sands. The shot is iconic not only because of its quintessential 1980s Mad Maxian imagery but because it serves as a perfect aesthetic analogue to Miss Jones’ attitude. There’s a symmetry between Grace Jones’ legendary sass and a high-speed object racing forth from that vicious mechanical jaw.
Grace Jones is a woman who does things her way, if only for the sake of knowing she did. Its easy to imagine someone opening a door for Grace while she painstakingly sashays through the door right next to it. Raised in an abusively Evangelical household in Jamaica, Grace’s outrageous life of glamour became a primer on how not to be an Evangelical Christian. Whether this pendulum swing was an act of rebellion, a lifelong performance art piece or a complete accident is a mystery, and that mystique is part of her perennial charm. For all of her artistic endeavors, naughty public behavior, and Looks with a capital “L”, what I have always found most captivating about Miss Jones is her half-assed adherence to protocols that she is forever creating and revising. She makes rules for herself with delight and breaks those same rules with a matched joyful abandon. In this respect, she was a challenging woman to cover in Episode 1: a list of her accomplishments, songs, or accolades cannot paint a full portrait of her bad-assery. Hers is a spirit that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
If after listening to Episode 1 you wish to learn more about this indomitable woman, I would recommend you start with some of her more (in)famous interviews. Certainly, her contributions to music, fashion, and film deserve respect and reverence. Personally, I think her highest art form is living life her way, and the best way to consume that experiential content is to watch her speak as herself. Below are links to some of my favorite Grace Jones’ interviews, as well as a link to Bloodlight and Bami, a 2017 documentary about her life. (Also, check out the accompanying article about the documentary that examines how difficult it is to tell nuanced stories about female performers through film.) I hope that you will appreciate her attitude as much as I do, fellow ‘Mosas.
“Day by Day” 1985 interview in which the interviewer is sexist AF and Grace lets him know what it is.
Regis and Kathie Lee – just because I can’t fucking help how much I love that doof Regis