The Style We Sportin’ - Redefining New Power Masculinities in Prince’s ‘Gett Off’

His Royal Badness stormed the MTV Video Music Awards stage on September 5, 1991, with an infamous live performance of the single ‘Gett Off’. Prince performed a giant burlesque on stage without removing a single layer: gyrating, flexing, and grinding in a two-piece crafted by Stacia Lang with an illusion net peephole that framed the musician’s pert derriere. The citron yellow Guipure lace buttocks bearing ensemble is now part of the global pop vernacular and heralds Prince as the immortal sexual deviant of popular music.

Diamonds and Pearls solidified Prince as a fashion icon for the new decade and introduced the audience to a New Power masculinity had not witnessed before. Against the growing popularity of hip hop and the genre’s aggressively heteronormative masculinities, the Diamonds and Pearls wardrobe was a defiant subversion of traditional Black masculinities, resulting in a gender and genre non-confirming sartorial statement that remains both controversial and influential today.

Looking at the ‘Gett Off’ maxi-single music videos including ‘Violet the Organ Grinder’, ’Gangster Glam’, and the salacious VMA performance, this presentation will examine the many ways in which Prince disrupted hegemonic masculinities through dress, styling, and performance.

Casci Ritchie

Casci Ritchie is a fashion historian, writer, and independent film programmer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds a BA Hons in Fashion Design, an MA in Fashion Body Wear, and an MLitt in Dress and Textile Histories. Her dissertation explored the impact of cinema-going on Glaswegian women during the 1940s and the relationship between Hollywood, personal style, and body image. She has continued to develop her passion for twentieth-century fashion from creation to consumption with a particular interest in fashion in film, popular culture, and sub-cultures.

Thanks to her parents’ excellent taste in music, Casci has been a lifelong fan of His Royal Badness and is passionate about raising awareness of Prince’s sartorial legacy within fashion studies. She is currently researching all aspects of Prince’s iconic style and has presented her purple research at various academic conferences across the UK, Europe, and America. Her chapter “Before the Rain, 1979-84: How Prince Got ‘The Look” was recently published within Prince in Popular Music: Critical Perspectives. Earlier this year her articles, “Fashioning Prince: Bikini briefs, trench coats, and zoot suits, 1978-1991” and “Prince the provocateur: The disruption of masculinities through the style of Prince Rogers Nelson” were published in the peer-reviewed journals Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion and Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture. She hosts a film night with illustrated fashion talks specializing in cult films with killer style and writes for various online platforms such as Screen Queens and Dismantle Magazine. Casci is currently in the process of writing an illustrated short book celebrating Prince’s life in fashion.