Artist Keith Haring painting Grace Jones in 1986 on the set of ‘Vamp.’
Grace Jones was 36 in 1984 when she, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and pop artist Keith Haring all converged in Mapplethorpe’s studio in New York City. The reason for the epic get-together was to shoot photos of Jones covered in body paint done by Haring in his distinctive style. The session lasted a marathon eighteen hours during which Jones was photographed by Mapplethorpe adorned by Haring’s body paint, a towering headdress and an ornate “skirt.” Orchestrated by Warhol—who had introduced Haring to Jones a few years prior—Andy had been wanting to feature Jones on the cover of Interview magazine and believed that an artistic collaboration between Haring and Jones would be awesome. And he wasn’t wrong. However, Mapplethorpe and Warhol didn’t exactly click despite Mapplethorpe’s desire to be among Warhol’s ever-growing gang of muses, friends, and hanger-ons. In fact, during the photo shoot, it has been alleged that Mapplethorpe attempted to sabotage Warhol while he was taking photos of Jones by requesting Andy not use his flash in his studio. Meow.
Haring’s handiwork on Jones’ magnificent bodyscape was not the first time he used a live human as a canvas. In 1983 Haring painted Bill T. Jones, the legendary Tony Award-winning dancer, choreographer and cofounder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. This session was photographed by Tseng Kwong Chi, a prominent figure in the downtown NYC art scene.
Getting back to Haring’s work with Grace Jones, he would get to paint the Jamaican goddess more than once, including when Grace performed live at the Paradise Garage before the much-loved gay-club closed its doors. Perhaps most memorably Haring would use Jones’ body as his canvas when she landed the role of Katrina the Queen of The Vampires in the 1986 film Vamp. The look Jones cultivated for Katrina is said to be based on the character played by actress Daryl Hannah in the 1982 film Blade Runner—at least when it comes to Jones’ startling red wig and face makeup. For Jones’ 1986 video for the song “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You),” Haring was enlisted to paint the massive 60-foot white skirt Jones wears in the video. The video also includes time-lapse footage of Haring painting the giant skirt and a brief appearance by Andy Warhol—one of his very last before he passed away three months later on February 22, 1987.
I’ve posted images of Jones “wearing” her famous body paint done by Keith Haring as well as photos of Bill T. Jones looking like her muscular male doppelgänger. You can also watch footage of Grace Jones stripping down to her Haring body paint in a clip from Vamp and the video for “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You).” Much of what follows is NSFW.
Jones in body paint and adornments by Haring, photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe in his NYC studio in 1984.
Another shot of Jones by Mapplethorpe.
A cheeky shot of Haring and Jones.
A polaroid of Jones taken by Andy Warhol during the marathon eighteen-hour photo shoot in 1984.
Jones in body paint by Haring performing at the Paradise Garage.
Jones being the center of attention at Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio with Andy Warhol and a few friends in 1984.
Jones as Katrina the Vampire Queen in ‘Vamp.’
Jones holding court at the Roseland Ballroom wearing the 60-foot skirt painted by Keith Haring, 1987.
Warhol, Jones, and Haring.
A candid polaroid of Haring and Jones in Mapplethorpe’s studio.
Haring and dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones in 1983. Photo by Tseng Kwong Chi.
Jones in a scene from ‘Vamp’ featuring her in Haring’s body paint as well as a statue/prop made by Haring for the film. Though Jones’ character Katrina has no dialog in the film, during this scene you hear a song sung by her which didin’t make it to the movie soundtrack. In 1989 Jones released “Seduction Surrender” which included many components of the song she stripped to in ‘Vamp.’
The video for the the 1986 hit single by Grace Jones (her only one), “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You).”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
That time Grace Jones tried to ‘kidnap’ Dolph Lundgren from his hotel, at gunpoint
Grace Jones asks ‘It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?’ 1979
Grace Jones is greeted with laughter at her duet with Pavarotti (then she blows them away)
Grace Jones wows ‘em in Chile 1980
Lou Reed, Miles Davis and Grace Jones selling Honda Scooters and TDK tape in the 1980s