Do you want my body?" Prince asked as he jumped on his piano and began squirming on the keyboard. The girls in the Capital Centre audience were going wild. Of course, they wanted it. But to my surprise, so did the boys.
"Yeah!" they screamed. I knew then that it was time for me to leave, but it was too late: Prince and the Revolution band were bringing the house down.
"Let's go crazy," Prince said as he ran around the stage in tight leather pants and a shirt open to expose his baby-haired chest.
My feet rumbled as if an earthquake had hit Landover. People were standing and jumping all around, so I asked the guy in front of me to please sit down. And everybody looked at me like I had gone crazy. "This is Prince, man," said the fellow blocking my view. "You better stand up." I never felt so old in my life.
Until then, I thought I was hip and could handle one of the seven local performances by Prince. I had seen the Funkadelics in the early '70s and had only shrugged when the group's leader, George Clinton, showed up on stage wearing nothing but a diaper.
But here comes this 26-year-old kid from Minnesota who wears trench coats, stockings and furs and shakes and bakes his music, and I find myself at a total loss to understand what is going on.
When the lights went out, the roar of the crowd became deafening. Scores of concertgoers pulled out butane cigarette lighters, turned the flame on high and acted like Statues of Liberty.
Don't ask me to explain it, but I was ready to ease to the nearest exit lest he command them to set fire to anyone who did not stand when he sang. And I'm sure that some of them would have obliged.
Instead, Prince began a song called, "Little Red Corvette," which I thought was really "Bill It Collect." I had no idea what Prince was singing about until he made an allusion to condoms, then produced a plastic bag supposedly filled with some and threw them into the audience.
Now, I had a vague idea of what he was singing about but I never knew those things were so popular until the crowd started snatching for them like they were gold bullion. It quickly became clear that this outlaw sex stuff was the theme of the night, starting with Sheila E's opening act in which she called a man from the audience onstage, dropped to her knees and put her head in his lap. It was a pretty novel twist on audience participation. The crowd began convulsing more than the poor guy onstage.
The tremendous screams and passionate moans of the crowd -- not to mention the extraordinary sexual and racial mix of those tuned in and turned on by Prince -- suggested something powerful was being unleashed by his brand of music. To his credit, he didn't advocate the use of artificial ingredients to reach the state of euphoria that he preached about.
"Justtakeayourbodyandpressitclose atomine," he sings, and the audience screams. In fact, half of his songs are screams like he's in pain, and after a few minutes, so were my ears. I took a break to the popcorn stand, but even then there was no escape.
A throng of girls wearing their hottest hotpants and silkiest silk blouses all in purple homage to the purple Prince milled aimlessly around the concourse. There were so many in fact that the line from the women's restroom wound endlessly. For those who could not wait, there was the place where I was going: the men's restroom. To my surprise, there were more women in the men's restroom than men.
It had been years since I had last sneaked into a women's restroom, having finally come to the conclusion that this was in bad taste. But this was no sneaky activity going on here. Women just routinely stood in the john putting on makeup and waiting for a free stall. I figured that surely it was time for me to leave.
Prince, after all, had been right. In his song, "I Would Die 4 U," he sings, "I'm not a woman. I'm not a man. I'm something that you'll never understand. I'm not your lover. I'm not your friend. I'm something you will never comprehend."
The truth is that there were thousands at the Capital Centre who do comprehend Prince. But as the gray hairs rise from my sideburns, I am confronted with the reality that I am not one of them.