It wasn't a cult but a crowd that turned out for Grace Jones' concert last night. A freezing cold crowd huddled under the marquee of the Warner Theatre waiting for the doors to open -- which they finally did almost a half-hour after the scheduled curtain time.
For a small part of the crowd it was the chance to be outrageous. Cole Burrell, a scientist coder with Raven Systems, wore gold-lame' harem pants and a black brocade smoking jacket. His colleague Joseph Bailey was in a white dinner jacket, no shirt and a lavender satin tie. With them was Jack Edler, a waiter at Mr. Smith's, wearing a snap brim hat, a Humphrey Bogart coat and red cotton pants from Bali. "It is just appropriate to be outlandish, since Grace is so different," said Bailey.
Gregory Dunmore, a 6-foot-4 intern in the office of Rep. George Crockett (D-Mich.), dressed in black from head to foot. He said he was wearing "just a little extra black for Jones." But for Clarence Rush, a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office, the eight Indian turquoise rings, knickers and raccoon tails swinging from his belt weren't much different from what he wears for work. Sophia Lynn, a courier, and Leland Summers, a sailboat captain from Florida, locked their bikes to a parking meter outside the theater. Lynn's harem pants, she said, are the type of thing she wears all the time while bike-riding around the city, and Summers' camouflage jacket and beads are not special gear for him. "Maybe I wore the revolutionary star and red beret for Jones . Anything to look a little different because she sure is out there," he said.
Maya Lin, the young architect who won the Vietnam Veterans Memorial competition, was wearing a porkpie hat, "something my favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, might have worn," she said, and a quilted battle jacket with a printed skirt -- "just my normal clothes."
But if the large crowd was a mix of prep and punk, leather and '40s retro, cowboy and jeans, rather than flamboyant and feathers, it was not because they loved her less, but because she had become more popular, reasoned Winston Mukes, a public relations specialist with a utilities company. Mukes, who was wearing a 1940s tweed coat from Value Village and pants tucked into his tall boots with tire-tread soles, had been to a Jones concert in 1978. "She licked my hand," recalled Mukes, who also remembers that at that time everyone dressed wildly. "Her singing is not inhibited and neither is her dress," he said. "In the beginning everyone dressed outrageously for her concerts. Now she is just too popular." It also might have been because it was just too cold.
If the crowd did not dress up to her, Jones was no disappointment to them. She leaped on stage barefoot, in a gorilla suit complete with head mask, and with a gold fringed hula skirt at her waist, beating a snare drum that was hung across her. And when she pulled off her mask and revealed the familiar cropped hair, the crowd went wild.