It's been more than a dozen years since Chappelle's Show aired one of its best-remembered skits, an iconic mid-'80s period piece that many people are lovingly revisiting again now.
The bit features Charlie Murphy, brother of Eddie Murphy, telling one of his "True Hollywood Stories." In this one, the Murphy brothers run into Prince, at the height of his Purple Rain fame, and are invited back to a home in Los Angeles to "listen to some music."
Instead, of course, they wind up playing a game of basketball. A mismatch, surely, with Prince and his androgynous crew, still in their nightclub threads, facing off against the more masculine-seeming Murphy entourage. "Shirts versus the blouses," Charlie Murphy quipped.
It was a mismatch. As Charlie Murphy learned in 1985, and Comedy Central viewers learned in 2004, Prince is a fabulous basketball player, and dribbled circles around everyone, winning single-handedly.
"Game, blouses," says Dave Chappelle-as-Prince, delivering one of the series' most delicious lines ever.
But is it true? Did Murphy's story grow more bizarre, and funnier, over the years? Did he play it up for the TV cameras?
Not one bit — not even the pancakes! — according to Micki Free, a member of Prince's entourage who was there that night. (It was Free who was so pretty, Charlie Murphy recalls, that many straight guys found themselves at first attracted to the new band member — before discovering that "she" was a he.)
In a recent interview, Free was asked about the veracity of the Charlie Murphy story, and says it all happened just as the show depicted.
"Prince said, 'give me the ball back,'" Free recalls. "And I swear to you guys listening, wherever you're going to be, it was like Michael Jordan after that. Shot after shot after shot."
And were they really wearing blouses?
"Uhhh, hey, it had ruffles on the shirts!" Free says, laughing.
Ok, we'll accept that. But "high heels"? Really?
"Prince had on high heels," Free says. "I had some heels on, I don't think — but, I'm five-[foot]-ten anyway. So Prince had his club clothes on, yes. He had on probably six-inch heels."
Here's Free's interview in its entirety, in which he recounts a bit more about that '80s heyday and his eventual break with Prince, talks about learning of Prince's death, and fills in fans on what he's been up to lately.
And here, because how could we not, is the original Chappelle's Show skit.
In later life, and now in death, Prince is beginning to look like a unique figure in American rock history. For most, the disappointing truths must be stoked, exaggerated, forged into legacy-burnishing myths.
With Prince, the stories that first sounded like myths are ultimately proven true.