The day I hung out at Prince’s house, talking fame, disguises and Michael Jackson’s death


The Washington Post: He was small, very small — but not fragile. He was accommodating, but also a bit guarded. After zooming through small talk, he wanted to get down to business. He guided us over to a dining room area, containing a table and chairs cut in the shape of chess pieces. He took a seat and without blinking asked, “So what do you want to do?” Ruiz quickly went into a creative spiel, while Prince nodded slightly in approval — quickly processing each suggestion and idea. We talked for 20 minutes before he suddenly said, “Okay, I got it. I’ll be back.” He shortly returned, pulling a rack of clothes that he selected specifically for this particular shoot and concept. He was totally cooperative. Not quite the guy that I had read about.

During a break in the shoot — which actually turned out to be the end of the session — we chatted about his faith as a devout Jehovah’s Witness and the challenges of being a door-to-door evangelist. It’s not every day that someone like Prince comes to your door with the aim of putting you on a spiritual path, but he said that he used various disguises to deflect attention. Eyeglasses, conservative suits, a different way of combing his hair — he tried them all. People still recognized him, but he said that they never called him out on it. They listened to his message and respected his opinion.

The death of Michael Jackson (at one point another devout Jehovah’s Witness) was still fresh on everyone’s minds, and Prince admitted the two had talked about the challenges of mixing fame with a religious journey. He said that it was difficult for both of them, and he personally couldn’t have done it at a younger point in his life. He wished he could have talked to Michael more about it before he died.

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