“AMAZING GRACE” JONES that is!
It is important to have an insight or remembrance as to who Grace Jones is before seeing: GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT and BAMI.
Born in Jamaica, the singer, supermodel, and actress Grace Jones moved with her family to Syracuse, New York . She also attended Syracuse university where she was a theatre major. In her late teens in the 1960s, she was quickly invited into the NYC social scene. By 18, she had a modeling contract with Wilhelmina and began working with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana and Kenzo Takada to name a few. In Paris she was a photographers muse for Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, and Hans Feurer, who fell for her androgynous style and bold features. Vogue and Elle are just two of the many covers she graced.
From the moment Jones arrived in Paris in 1970, she was a part of the nightlife’s elite. Whether she was sharing a Parisian flat with Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall, getting photographed by Antonio Lopez or taking to the dance floor at Club Sept with Karl Lagerfeld , Jones was a part of the conversation.
In the late ’70s, she had a successful singing career, where she would become the patron saint of both disco music and style. Grace, quickly found herself in the seductive vortex of the most glamorous discotheque of all time, New York’s Studio 54, where her greatest fans were the star-studded clientele, all were forever dazzled by her unique goddess-like, image, including Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, along with numerous actors and disco magnates. All eyes were on Grace. She was the “Get” to have at your booth. All vied to have her Grace their presence. Grace, didn’t just sit and be a voyeur, No! she was on the dance floor with the people who were anointed to be let in past the velvet ropes. Her energy on the floor was infectious! It carried over to the best Gay/straightish disco’s in N.Y.C, Brazil, Paris, LA, London, Fire Island. She was the queen of a once in a lifetime nightlife.
Only extraordinary artists keep transforming and keep fascinating others, and Grace Jones is a real expert at that! She started her career tearing down the stereotypes about what models should look like, quickly discovering her true love – music. In 1977 her debut album, ‘Portfolio’ was released, it contained her first big hit single, ‘La Vie en rose’ by the famous Edith Piaf. The success of her first album prompted her to release her next album in quick succession. ‘Fame’ was out in 1978. The album’s lead single was ‘Do or Die’ became a huge club hit on the U.S. and Canadian dance charts. In 1979 she released the album ‘Muse’. The first side of the album contained a continuous medley of four songs and a narrative about someone who has sinned; the second side had disco songs. The most successful album of her career, ‘Nightclubbing’ was out in 1981. It spawned the hits ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’ and ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’. After the success of her previous album, next came ‘Living My Life’ in 1982. It was a commercial success and reached Top 20 in several countries.
Grace is a living part of the “Alien Club” of artists who leave their unique mark on Earth before they physically leave, such as David Bowie, Prince and Michael Jackson. She was the first to introduce avant-garde art and high fashion in the world of music, way before Madonna, Lady Gaga or Rihanna. Vogue itself proclaimed her as the “ultimate fashion muse,” and the music authority Rolling Stone calls her the “compelling artist and a symbol.” What would the music scene be around the world, as well as contemporary art, look like without her influence, is almost unimaginable, as numerous artists state Grace as their role model or inspiration. It has been written about the attempts of Lady Gaga wanting to work with Grace Jones, who refused it with a clear message: “Young pop stars like to play the pioneer without taking the actual risk.” Whether we are talking about musical or fashion transformation, provocations or remarkable live performances, one thing is certain – Grace did it first!
Ten years later, she would land her first major acting role as a Bond girl in “A View to a Kill” alongside Roger Moore, proving that she really could do it all. Today, at the age of 69, she’s still as bold and busy as ever, with new music in the works and a documentary film. The connection of glamour and an unstoppable force, forged into “glamazon” the expression that describes her genuine authenticity and strength of a warrior that appears alongside Schwarzenegger in the Conan movie saga, or a fatal “ Bond woman” who can take on agent 007.
Her commanding presence broke down the walls of the limited idea of femininity, as well as gender stereotypes, destroyed through her androgyny, empowering the entire LGBTQ community whose everlasting icon she remains to this day.
In the beginning of her book memoir, she writes “If you want me, this is me. Not the caricature of me. This is the deeper me, the other me, and there are other me’s I’ve not even thought of. But I’ll get to them. I’ll keep following the trail I left behind and find out where I’m going next. I’ve got one life to work with and I’ll squeeze it dry before I’m through.” What you see is what you get with Grace, that is what we admire the most.
BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI
Directed and Edited by Sophie Fiennes
With Grace Jones, Jean-Paul Goude, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Ivor Guest
If you are of a certain age that has lived through and experienced the “Studio 54 disco” nightlife years, then you were part of the Grace Jones phenomena. If not, that is why it was important to have given you this insight as to who Grace Jones is. You will not get this in Sophie Fiennes film. Her direction and editing does not measure up to the privileged access she had to the legendary Grace Jones. The slice of life footage, Fiennes shot in telling of the “behind the scenes” of Grace Jones life on a family holiday trip back to Jamaica, where she was born. Showcasing the artist, daughter, sister, mother and grandmother, Fiennes, tried to do all of it in a raw “artistic” way which simply did not work (for Me). Too much screen time spent on footage shot through a truck or car windshield traveling on dirt roads. Jones, always eating something! If it wasn’t for the fact that no matter what Grace does or says she holds your attention in spite of the direction, poor editing rhythm and choices of footage that she shot. You almost feel sorry for Jones, knowing the artistic perfection that Grace has used to guide her career, to have ended up with this film version. In Jamaican patois,”Bloodlight” is the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording and “Bami” means bread, the substance of daily life. Like the title of this film you already need to be in the know or you won’t get it.
Grace, knows her own captivating power and says in the film “even if the lights and power went out on stage and the theatre was black I could still hold and audience without them leaving”
Truer words were ever spoken. You will probably need them if you see this film.
Opens April 27th
Landmark Embarcadero in San Francisco
Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley
One Show Only April 28th
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael
RATED: 2 Honey 🐝🐝’s for being part of the studio 54 Grace Jones era