Pulse, Product, and Panties: Expanding Prince's Audience with Dirty Mind

In October 1980, Warner Brothers released Prince’s third album Dirty Mind. The 8-track album, often touted as a radical departure from the musician’s first two efforts For You and Prince, became Prince’s most acclaimed effort to date. But a careful look and listen reveals Dirty Mind as a promise fulfilled, sonically and visually. Disco and punk music, two popular genres at the time under attack for different reasons, opened the door for Prince’s galactic ambitions to flourish. From the beginning of his career, the multi-instrumentalist was adamant that he be promoted as a pop artist, and not a “black” one. Besides demanding the autonomy to build his musical journey, perhaps Prince also sensed that the ’80s would be less segregated. By the end of that decade, Prince—along with Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston—were celebrated as global music icons who just happened to be black. This presentation considers the effect and affect of Dirty Mind, the album that delivered Prince the diverse, larger audience he craved clearing space worthy of his fecundity and vision.

Steven G Fullwood

Steven G Fullwood is a documentarian, archivist and writer. He is the project director for the Center for Black Visual Culture at New York University. He is also the co-founder of the Nomadic Archivists Project, an initiative that partners with organizations, institutions, and individuals to establish, preserve, and enhance collections that explore the African Diasporic experience. His published works include Black Gay Genius (2014), To Be Left with the Body (2008), and Carry the Word: A Bibliography of Black LGBTQ Books (2007). He is the former assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives & Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 1998, he founded the In the Life Archive (ITLA) to aid in the preservation of materials produced by LGBTQ people of African descent housed at the Schomburg Center.

Nomadic Archivists Project (NAP)