Stray thought: forget about race for a minute. Thinking about it in gender terms, the reason Dirty Mind was so decisive for Prince was that it crossed him over to boys. Remember, the debut was marketed largely to teenage girls; he was marketed as much as a sex symbol as a prodigy early on. The second album was the one with the pop hit and the metal "Bambi" but also featured him shirtless and riding a goddamned pegasus. And I'm sure the cover of Dirty Mind made a lot of boys recoil in homo-fear, but it also opened the possibility that this dude really was as dirty as a lot of other dudes' imaginations, and that's always an intriguing proposition at 15. Plus his punky presentation screamed rebel, which has its charms for boys of 15 as well.
I used to sell hologram bolo ties at the Mall of America