Last week, I said that it was a terrible week for glamour. Well, it turns out that it’s an awful year for glamour, because the planet is a lot less glamorous today now that Vanity (government name: Denise Katrina Matthews) has gone up to heaven. She was only 57.
TMZ says that Denise Matthews died in a hospital in Fremont, CA today. Denise dealt with kidney failure for years and she recently suffered from an abdominal illness. TMZ points us to a GoFundMe page that her family set up a few months ago to help pay for some of her hospital bills. She had gone through 23 surgeries up until then and was diagnosed with Sclerosis Encapsulating Peritonitis.
Vanity as we know her was born in 1980 when she met Prince at the American Music Awards. She was working as a model and a B movie actress in her homeland of Canada back then. They dated and became the IT couple of my dreams in the early 80s. At the time, Prince had a girl group called “The Hookers” and he dropped one of its members and put Vanity in her place. Prince originally wanted Vanity’s stage name to be “Vagina,” but she said fuck no to that. So Denise Matthews became Vanity because Prince said he saw the woman version of himself when he looked at her. “The Hookers” became Vanity 6.
“Nasty Girl” was the second single from Vanity 6’s first album and it was their biggest hit. Vanity was supposed to play the female lead in Purple Rain, but she left the Prince universe for many reasons. They broke up in every way and she went off to do her own thing.
Vanity 6 later became Apollonia 6 after Apollonia became Prince’s new muse and protégée.
Denise acted in a few TV shows and movies (The Last Dragon, Action Jackson etc…), and recorded a solo album before she hit rock bottom and completely changed her life. After she nearly died of a crack overdose, she found Jesus and said goodbye to the Vanity persona forever. She became a born again Christian and completely shed herself of Vanity and didn’t want anyone to call her that again. TMZ says that she was at church on Saturday and told everyone that she was ready “to go home.”
This one hurts, because I’ve been a Vanity fan ever since I was a kid gay. My ears ate up her songs and they still get a whole lot of play on my iTunes. Somebody better get Prince into a lace catsuit so he can do a proper tribute performance at the Grammys tonight.
Rest in peace, Denise Matthews. Rest in peace, Vanity.
Every Vanity song is my favorite Vanity song, but “Pretty Mess” may be one of my top 3 for obviously nasty reasons.