Two years with Prince
Robia LaMorte-Scott was 20 when she became Prince’s friend, muse and – after he refused to talk directly to the press – his voice. In DG#23 she talked to Marcus Webb about her time with an icon
21st April 2016 (Taken from: #23)
“I wasn’t supposed to be Prince’s muse. He always liked to find a female muse for every season of his work, and for the album Diamonds and Pearls the word was that he was looking for a set of identical twins. I’m not a twin, so that didn’t seem on the cards for me. I went along to audition as a back-up dancer for the Cream video. It just so happened that another dancer who auditioned, Lori Elle, looked a bit like me. When Prince saw us together he decided that we could work as the twins. With that a one-week job became two years of my life.
On the first day of rehearsals it was just Lori and me. We were stretching and hanging out. I remember looking up in the mirror and there was Prince standing in the doorway. It was like one of those slow-motion moments, when you feel smoke is filling the room and I was wishing I was in a more elegant pose! It was surreal. I grew up on Purple Rain, I watched that movie over and over again, and here was Prince in the flesh. At that time the biggest stars were Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. After that first day he decided that Lori would be Diamond and I would be Pearl and we would be fixtures of the entire process.
We shot the Cream video and then Gett Off, Strollin’ and Diamonds and Pearls. He had us pose for the album cover, which was amazing, and then it got really crazy. Around this time Prince changed his name to , and decided he wouldn’t speak directly to the media. So we became his voice – every question he was asked, we would answer. We did all the press, the talk shows, the radio, the magazines… all channelling Prince. We used to have mock interviews where we would learn the ropes and find out what Prince would want us to highlight. He loved us to play up about the nature of our relationship with one another and with Prince. He was so mischievous and loved the speculation about what was going on between the three of us.
He had us pose for the album cover, which was amazing, and then it got really crazy”
The only bit of negative feedback I can remember is when people asked “What’s your favourite song?”, I would say Purple Rain, because it really was my favourite song. He took me aside after an interview and said, “Everyone says that. Can’t you find something a bit more obscure, a bit more interesting?” I said, “OK, I’ll work on that,” but it always came back to Purple Rain.
Despite what everyone thought of him at the time, with the name change and everything, he was really easy going. We spent so much time together socially it was easy to forget that he was this incredible artist. It was pretty extraordinary to walk on stage and be in front of 60,000 people, but even more amazing was when you looked to the side. The calm, playful guy you’d been goofing around with that afternoon was suddenly Prince! I’d gotten so familiar with him, I’d forgotten he was the biggest pop star on the planet. Night after night he was always incredible, always so fresh and always so powerful.
When he’d play for us away from the stage it was really special. We’d be at his home in Paisley Park and he’d just jump on the piano and start composing – these beautiful melodies just poured out of him. I remember him sharing with me that he felt he could never relax because he knew that at any time he could sit down and create something that could be his next masterpiece. How can you slob out and watch television all afternoon, when you could be creating something amazing?
One of the most revealing conversations we ever had was about clothes. He always wanted me to dress like a superstar, and I preferred jeans and a T-shirt. I, in turn, ribbed him for always being dressed to the nines in his signature suit: fitted jacket, slim trousers and high-heeled boots. No matter when I saw him, day or night, he was wearing his “uniform”. I chided him, “When am I going to see you in jeans or sweatpants?” “Never,” he replied. He spoke of growing up poor and how difficult it was for him to have nothing. He divulged a vow he made to himself as a young boy that one day, when he had money, he would never wear shabby clothes again but always dress like a star. It was a moment of connection between us that I did not quite know what to do with at 20 years old.
Prince was a very spiritual person, as was I, but we never really spoke about it. It was later that he became a Jehovah’s Witness and I also became a Christian. I always thought that we would reconnect at a different stage in life when God had become much more prominent in his life and my life. I always believed that somewhere down the line our paths would cross and we could talk about the crazy journey we took to get there, but unfortunately that did not happen.
Looking back on that period now I am very proud of that time. When people hear I’m a Christian they expect me to have seen the light or regret my time with Prince or the videos we made, but that’s not how I look back on it. I believe God made us to enjoy ourselves. To sing, to dance and to produce beautiful things. I don’t think it’s godly to be impoverished and to suffer. And Prince certainly knew how to enjoy himself.”
Robia LaMorte-Scott is the author of Counterfeit Comfort: The Path to Real Freedom and a Life of Purpose published by Chosen Books at £8.99 and available from amazon.com
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