For those of you who are still bummed out that Prince's rumored St. Paul concert never materialized and don't have the time or the money to travel to see him play in Chicago, you should check out this hilarious 1985 clip of Prince look-alikes vying to win a contest impersonating the Purple One. Halloween is coming up too!
The talent on display is impressive, with participants going all-out trying to capture both the striking looks and the sensual stage moves of Prince, but the setting is what makes this event truly surreal.[jump]
It takes place in a Champions Sports Bar full of screaming women in Washington, D.C., and is judged by other celebrity lookalikes like Hulk Hogan and Tina Turner. Let that sink in a bit before you watch the clip below (and yes, thankfully, "Hulk" and "Tina" make a brief appearance).
But the year-long contracts on offer for these contestants aren't anything to laugh at, with organizer Ron Smith offering part-time impersonation gigs worth upwards of $25,000 a year, which must have been quite impressive back in 1985 (and still is now, actually).
One of the contestants emphatically states: "The greatest thing that I can get out of this is when I come off the stage and somebody tells me 'You made me believe that I was really at a Prince concert.' And I just had that happen at Champions." Ride that wave for as long as you can, pal, and hope that it never crashes.
Now, I don't know what kind of drinks they were serving at this event at Champions to make someone believe that they were at a Prince concert (and I bet the person who said that has never seen the real Prince live), but it just reminds you how much Prince captivated the country during 1985, and how people from all over America truly took his music and style to heart. He was so hot that year that there was a definite need for people to dole out impressive contracts to Prince impersonators, who in turn might have been hired for a party you attended.
While my money would have been on the young kid getting down on "I Would Die 4 U," there are plenty of contestants who obviously took this contest seriously. And the winners probably spent the better part of the next year impersonating Prince at events throughout the United States, while making a decent living doing so.
Here's to hoping that Prince eventually gets around to setting up some local shows for his dedicated fan base in Minnesota before we have to rely on an impersonator to get our own Purple fix.
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