I Wish We All Were Nude: Allen Beaulieu’s Infamous “Shower Poster” as Aesthetic Linchpin and Artifact


The U.S. LP release of 1981’s Controversy came with a fold-out color poster of a remarkable image by Minneapolis-based photographer Allen Beaulieu. In the photo, Prince poses seductively in the shower, wearing only his black bikini briefs, a gold hip chain, and an insouciant stare. A vulgar stream of water trickles from the bulge of his crotch; a crucifix is mounted beside the showerhead. This poster–the scourge of thousands of early-’80s parents, and likely more than a few domestic partners–is a crucial, but overlooked part of Controversy’s visual presentation: dramatizing in a single image the various racial, sexual, and religious ambiguities laid out in the title track. My presentation will examine the infamous “shower poster”: both as a linchpin for the disparate elements of Prince’s Controversy-era aesthetic; and as a cultural artifact that has retained its divisiveness and, well, “controversy,” for the past 40 years.

Zachary Hoskins


Zachary Hoskins is the author of Dance / Music / Sex / Romance, a song-by-song blog examining the music of Prince in chronological order. His essay, “Rude Boy: Prince as Black New Waver,” was published in 2020 in a special issue of Spectrum, A Journal on Black Men. He has presented and appeared on round tables at the Prince #DM40GB30 virtual symposium in June 2020 and at the University of Minnesota’s Prince from Minneapolis conference in April 2018. He holds an M.A. in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and B.A.’s in Film & Video Studies and Creative Writing & Literature from the University of Michigan.

dance / music / sex / romance
dance / music / sex / romance
dance / music / sex / romance