'Does Your Pubic Hair Go Up to Your Navel?': 31 of Prince's Quirkiest Stories and Quotes

Ebet Roberts/Redferns
Prince performing on stage during Purple Rain tour in 1984. 

In addition to a massive catalog of music, Prince left behind a treasure trove of head-turning stories about his rivalries with other pop stars, his unrelenting perfectionism and, as this roundup shows, his high-maintenance (and very purple) lifestyle.

In addition to a massive catalog of music, Prince left behind a treasure trove of head-turning stories about his rivalries with other pop stars, his unrelenting perfectionism and, as this roundup shows, his high-maintenance (and very purple) lifestyle.

More From Billboard’s Prince Tribute: Prince, the Greatest Artist of His Generation | Prince’s Defining ‘Dirty Mind’ Album | ‘Purple’ Rain Style Exclusive | Prince’s Career Control | Prince’s Female Muses | Prince’s Life as a Jehovah’s Witness | Prince’s Final Show Set List | Superfan Tracy Morgan on What Prince Taught Him | Sheila E. on Her Love for Prince | Jimmy Jam on Getting Fired by Prince | Former Warner Bros. CEO Mo Ostin on Prince’s Fearlessness | Rob Light on Prince’s ‘Creative Genius’ | Prince Remembered by Childhood Best Friend & Bandmate André Cymone | Prince's Quirkiest Stories

His Rivals

• “One day, Prince was walking around Paisley Park muttering, ‘F—ing Janet Jackson, f—ing Janet Jackson.’ When I asked the art director there, ‘What’s this Jackson thing about?,’ he explained that it was because Janet Jackson had just signed the biggest record deal of the time [with Virgin Records in 1996, reportedly worth $80 million].” — Scott Buccheit, Prince’s former personal photographer 


• “Then there was the night Madonna showed up at Prince’s Radio City Music Hall gig in New York -- front and center -- and the way I remember it, he couldn’t resist the temptation to needle her. During a breakdown in a song near the end of the show, he looked right at her and said something like, ‘I can sing and dance at the same time. I don’t lip-sync.’ Whether it was in fun or not, Madonna ran out of the gig in a huff. And although I didn’t witness this, I heard that she waited for Prince to leave and chased his limo halfway down 51st Street with her dancers in tow.” — Prince’s former publicist Michael Pagnotta 


• “When both were recording at the same Los Angeles studio, Prince invited [Michael] Jackson to play ping-pong. Michael, who had lived a sheltered life, didn’t know how. ‘You want me to slam it?’ Prince asked, according to engineer David Z, who was there. Michael dropped his paddle and held his hands up in front of his face so the ball wouldn’t hit him. Michael walked out with his bodyguard, and Prince started strutting around like a rooster. ‘Did you see that? He played like Helen Keller.’ ” — Jon Bream, music critic, Minneapolis Star Tribune (2009) 


• “Michael [Jackson] coming to Prince and wanting him to do ‘Bad,’ that really pissed him off. Prince was like, ‘Oh, he wants to punk me out on record. Who does he think I am, crazy?’ He couldn’t get outside himself enough to realize that it probably could have benefited both of them. Still, it would have forever been Michael’s video with Prince as just a guest. So that captured what the relationship couldn’t be. They were like Ali vs. Frazier.” — Prince confidant Alan Leeds (Vibe, 2010) 

Prince, Minneapolis, and a Public Wake: Finding the Man in the Stories of a City

His Work Ethic

• "Prince was the only artist I ever handled whose show I watched every night.  The smiles, the splits, the riffs, the seductive side-eyed glances --  he made it all seem so easy. Spontaneous. Even magical. But it came almost entirely from hard work. People don't realize how driven, how competitive and how artistically demanding he was, not just of himself but of everyone around him. I can remember him in more than one European city on the Diamonds and Pearls Tour, standing at the sound board in some massive arena, rehearsing the horn section for hours during sound check over just eight bars of music, until it was just how he wanted it. He wasn’t beyond taking your instrument away and showing you how to play it, because he could play it. Better than you. Oh, and there was one more big reason I watched his shows every night. Sometimes he quizzed me about the set afterward. And god help me if I got it wrong.  Pagnotta 


• “ABC network executive producer David Saltz approached us about the Super Bowl. We talked to Prince and set up a meeting at his house. It was just Prince, Saltz and [Concerts West co-president] Paul Gongaware and I. His chef made us a very nice dinner, then Prince suddenly produced this portable DVD player, and he started critiquing all these previous halftime show performers. He was saying, ‘I wouldn’t have done that,’ stuff like that. Finally, one of us said, ‘Well, what would you do?’ He replied, ‘I will show you. Follow me.’ He walked us upstairs to the living room and the entire band was in there, all set up and ready to play. They had been there the whole time. So he played us a 15-minute halftime show, just for the three of us. At one point, David held up his lighter during ‘Purple Rain.’ ” — John Meglen, co-president of Concerts West, which worked with Prince from 2004 to 2008 


• “Prince could be patient, but if you weren’t getting it, your job was at risk. No better example was one of the opening acts for the Diamonds and Pearls Tour, Carmen Electra -- a Prince discovery, Paisley Park/Warner Bros. artist and rumored girlfriend at that time. After a few gigs, he wasn’t happy with her band’s level of performance and he began replacing them one member at a time, each night, with members of his own band, The New Power Generation. They wore hooded robes so no one would recognize them. After that leg of the tour, Carmen was gone, too.” — Pagnotta 


• “Prince once fired me from a DJ gig in a nightclub and instead blasted the Finding Nemo DVD on the screen.” — Questlove (2015 tweet) 

The Inside Story on Designing Prince's Paisley Park: Exclusive

His Ego

• "I was in the office of the estate manager for Paisley Park when someone ran in and said: 'Prince is on line 1!' The manager picks up the phone and she's like, 'Yeah, okay, okay, hold on,' and she puts him on hold. Then she asks for the number of the limousine service that Prince is using. She calls the car company and explains the problem. Prince had called her from the phone in the backseat of the limo to say that she needed to call the limo company and tell them to radio Prince's driver to turn down the air conditioning because he wouldn't do it himself." — Buccheit


• “Our management got a letter from [Prince’s] management saying, ‘We understand that Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy will be at the [1985] American Music Awards presenting for [favorite pop album], and Prince might be getting that. In no way are Jack and Kelly to touch him, acknowledge him, speak to him or look at him directly in the eye.’ And we’re like, ‘Are you kiddin’ me?’ Here was their big mistake: They sat us directly behind Prince at the awards. We were like, ‘This is going to be fun.’ Every time someone won something, I’d tap him on the shoulder [and say], ‘Prince, man, isn’t that cool? Hey, man, that was unbelievable!’ He kept turning around and looking at me. We were bugging him the whole time.” — Night Ranger's Jack Blades (Billboard, 2014) 


• “I moved to New York to become a fashion photographer. In 1995 or ’96, the Venus Awards, which drew every designer and model, were held at the Tunnel nightclub. Prince came to the afterparty. He was sitting in a booth by himself with four guards in front of him. The party had been going on for an hour and no one had come up to him, so I approached the bodyguards and said, ‘I used to work for him.’ The bodyguards all huddled up and finally it was agreed I could talk to Prince. It was not much of a conversation, and the very last thing I ever said to him was, ‘You know, you said I could come in, but you don’t really seem like you want to talk to me.’ And the very last thing Prince said to me was: ‘You know me, Scott. I don’t really like to talk to anyone.’ ” — Buccheit

His Crushes, Muses & Lovers

• “Prince did an interview with a woman at Record World [in 1978]. They talked about whatever, then he asked her, ‘Does your pubic hair go up to your navel?’ At that moment, we thought maybe we shouldn’t encourage him to do interviews.” — Bob Merlis, former head of publicity for Warner Bros. Records (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2004) 


• “Prince used to write me fan mail with all of the U’s and hearts that way that he writes. And the office took it as mail from the lunatic fringe and just tossed it!” Joni Mitchell (New York magazine, 2005

• “I made [“Nothing Compares 2 U”] without him. I’d never met him. He summoned me to his house -- and it’s foolish to do this to an Irish woman -- he said he didn’t like me saying bad words in interviews. So I told him to f— off.” Sinéad O’Connor (NRK, 2014)


“Prince released a 12-inch extended mix of ‘Scandalous’ [from the 1989 Batman soundtrack] called ‘Scandalous Sex Suite’ which, rumor had it, included the sounds of him and Batman star Kim Basinger (whom he was dating at the time) actually getting it on in the studio.” — Rob Smith (PopDose.com, 2010)


“I wasn't allowed to call him, ever. Even when we were married; I had to wait for him to call me. I‘ve no idea why.” — Prince’s first wife and one-time muse, Mayte Garcia (Daily Mail, 2006)

“Eligible bachelor seeks the most beautiful girl in the world to spend the holidays with...” —Personal ad reportedly placed by Prince in U.S. and international newspapers in 1993

A Look Back at Prince's Quirky, Idiosyncratic Paisley Park Records

His Lifestyle

“Prince actually got mad at me because I was such a jeans-and-T-shirt girl. He was like, ‘God, you look like a roadie. What if Mick Jagger sees you?’ I was like, ‘Dude, it’s OK. I’m going to 7-Eleven.’ ” — Lisa Coleman, former Revolution keyboardist (Spin magazine, 2009)


“The lightbulb went off above his head. He has his wardrobe gal run out to a uniform shop and get me authentic scrubs. And Prince goes, ‘I’m going to get an easel and a canvas up there, and I want you to act like you’re painting when I introduce you. It will be weird. It will be funny. Watch.’ So for several nights I was introduced as Dr. Fink, and I’m up there painting.” — Matt Fink, former Revolution keyboardist (Spin, 2009)

“Herb Ritts, who was a great friend of mine, took some iconic photos of Prince in 1992, and they became friends. We used to go to lunch together at Le Dome in Los Angeles and talk about anything but music. Prince would wear these beautifully tailored monochrome outfits -- one time it would be red, the next time, purple -- and he always had a Tootsie Pop that matched.” — Bruce Roberts, songwriter


“Supposedly, Prince changed the front gate to the Prince sign, he changed the master bedroom to a hair salon, he changed the streaming blue waters that led to the front door to purple water. He put his Purple Rain stamp on it. Booz was like, ‘I was getting ready to go over there and beat this little man down.’ [But Prince] was just like, ‘Here, Boozer, here is a little check for about a million. Get it back the way you want it.’ And Booz was like, ‘This little man is cool as hell.’ — A friend of NBA player Carlos Boozer recounting the b-baller’s experience after renting his Beverly Hills house to Prince (ESPN, 2011)

“I always went out if I needed my hair done. The salon wasn’t for me, it was for my husband. Prince needed his space.” — Garcia (Daily Mail, 2006)


“No cows were oppressed 2 make this righteous creamy creamer, U know? It’s really good! In coffee or whatever.” — Prince’s response to questions about soy-milk coffee creamer after he agreed to be the subject of HeavyTable.com’s first “What’s in Your Fridge?” column. Also in the fridge: 5 pounds of Dunk-a-roos cookies, yak milk and 18 varieties of mustard.


“Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path. Man. He could skate like he could sing.” — Excerpt from Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove (2013)


“Paisley Park is really huge, and Prince would run all over the place. Sometimes you would see him sliding down banisters.” — Buccheit


“We arrive at this little studio [at Paisley Park] and we look in. He’s there behind the mixing board, and he had on this gold lamé blouse. Very Prince. Immediately, you felt this welcoming energy. He said, ‘You know, it’s a little tiny here, let’s go to the office upstairs, but dim the lights for the doves.’ Of course Prince has doves in his house, right? So, we walk up this candlelit staircase, and I hear cooing. I look over and see this huge, beautiful white birdhouse filled with doves. Soon after that, we go into this office and the first thing I notice is all of these chessboards set up in mid-game. And I just imagined this little genius playing himself, playing guests.” — MSNBC national reporter Trymaine Lee, recounting a 2015 visit to Paisley Park.

• "Ambient singing: Prince's doves, Divinity and Majesty" — credits from Prince’s 2002 album One Nite Alone...

His Religious Conversion

• “I literally saw him fire a guy for looking at him. He just said, ‘Why is that guy looking at me? Tell him to leave.’ But ever since Larry [Graham] came around, he’s relaxed. He’s just a lot happier.” — An unidentified Paisley Park staffer noting the change in Prince since his friendship with Graham and subsequent religious conversion (Notorious magazine, 1999)

• “The time Prince ‘evolved’ and wouldn’t sign yo mama’s Dirty Mind album cover ‘cause he said he wasn’t into that no mo’ and yo mama told him, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have made it then,’ and you were embarrassed. The time Prince had a ‘swear jar’ and you just put a $20 bill in it when you walked in. The time Prince and Larry Graham had you cornered in a Jehovah’s Witness... well, witness session.” — Erykah Badu (Facebook, 2016) •

“He hated it when I cursed. I’m from New York. I’d say, ‘What the f—.’ Every time a curse came out he’d literally cringe. ‘Marc, find other words,’ he’d say, and I’d say. ‘Are you serious about this shit?’ And he would go, ‘If you continue to curse like that, my makeup will come off.’ ” — Marc Anthony, who befriended Prince in 2006

“Once I was in a club with Prince in L.A. When 2 a.m. came, he kicked all the dudes out; it was just us and the women. Then he read from the Bible.” Talib Kweli (Twitter, 2016)

Contributors:  Leila Cobo, Frank DiGiacomo, Camille Dodero, Carson Griffith, Adelle Platon, Christa Titus, Ray Waddell, Leah Zibulsky

This article originally appeared in the May 7 issue of Billboard.