We can only hope her memoir includes a chapter about being a drug smuggler and a vampire stripper
Style legend, disco pioneer, Hollywood icon. Not only has Grace Jones done it all, she’s also typed it up for her upcoming memoir, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. (It’s just a title – the book comes out in September.) A diva on and off the screen, Jones has lived quite a life: rooming in Paris with Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange; taming and dating Dolph Lundgren; slapping an inattentive chat show host; earning a lifetime ban from Disney World for indecent exposure.
But it’s in movies that Jones brought her esoteric weirdness to unsuspecting audiences. Even in supporting roles, she could steal scenes from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Roger Moore in their own franchises. Here, we round up her greatest cinematic moments.
TEACHING EDDIE MURPHY THE ESSENCE OF SEX – BOOMERANG (1992)
Wet Spot. Love Puss. Pig Puke. Afterbirth. These are all perfume names suggested by Helen Strangé, an outrageously demanding model written specifically with Jones in mind. And she more than pokes fun at her image. When suggesting Lady Eloise Cosmetics should have the sense to change their scent, she shakes off her panties and chucks them at the face of a gobsmacked board member. “This is the essence of sex,” she maintains, dryly. “Voila!”
THE VAMPIRE STRIPPER OF YOUR NIGHTMARES – VAMP (1986)
Katrina isn’t just any old vampire stripper. Well, she is old – several centuries, in fact. But Jones turns the former Egyptian princess into an even weirder proposition. Dressed like a sexed-up Ronald McDonald, she slinks around on all fours like a possessed cat. And you can’t take your eyes off her. When the top is unzipped, it’s to reveal another layer of clothing designed by artist Keith Haring. She’s fashionable in every loopy sci-fi scenario.
HANGING OUT IN PARIS, HANGING OFF THE EIFFEL TOWER – A VIEW TO KILL (1985)
Jones spent the 70s partying with Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani in Paris nightclubs, but did a different kind of hanging out around the Eiffel Tower for A View to a Kill. After grilling and assassinating a detective called Aubergine (that’s really his name), she climbs up the monument with 007 in hot pursuit. Leaping off the top with a parachute, she soars through the air with a black cape – like a stylish Batman, heading towards the Louvre.
NO CIGARETTES FOR DENNIS HOPPER – STRAIGHT TO HELL (1987)
Dressed more for the beach than a spaghetti western, Jones divas up for Straight to Hell by informing her on-screen hubby, Dennis Hopper, “I ain’t sleepin’ in no shed!” Her bodacious attitude rattles a room that for some reason includes Joe Strummer and Courtney Love. It’s only someone like Jones who can stand up to the scariness of Hopper. As he lights up a cigarette, she orders, “You’re not allowed to smoke.” Hopper obeys.
BATTLING A BASKETBALL PLAYER – CONAN THE DESTROYER (1984)
Jones plays Zula, a wandering warrior on horseback, who trots towards danger in the form of Bombaata – a giant sword-wielding dude played by NBA superstar Wilt Chamberlain. The ensuing fight is odd enough from the participants alone, but Jones takes the Harlem Globetrotter to court by whacking him with a giant stick – all while speeding past on a horse. The real three-pointer move comes when she jumps into his arms, only to head butt him repeatedly. Worthy of a spinoff feature.
HIDING A RAT IN HER HAT – SIESTA (1987)
“You nasty, nasty boy,” Jones deliciously greets Julian Sands, before pulling a real rat from her hat. “Meet Roscoe.” In a mansion decorated with charcoal self-portraits, she portrays a supernatural eccentric who sees little wrong with biting a guest on the neck – her house, her rules. It’s enough of a love it or hate it cameo to be nominated for a Razzie, but really it’s emblematic of an uncompromising performer. You won’t forget Roscoe, anyway.
BELTING OUT DISCO FOR ITALIANS – COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD (1976)
In an Italian-language crime B-movie, named after a type of revolver, why does the violence pause for a nameless club vocalist to sing the disco ballad “I Still Get the Blues”? Because Grace Jones can do whatever she wants. Miming to her own voice, she strikes a pose with the microphone like a pro. The extras have no idea what the words mean, but the camera lingers on her face, sensing she’ll soon by way more famous than everyone else on set.
AN ESPECIALLY ANGRY DRUG SMUGGLER – GORDON'S WAR (1973)
Starting off in the blaxploitation genre, Jones had a small part as Mary, a drug mule without the glamour of someone more used to the catwalk. She’s cornered by thugs, stripped, and revealed to be carrying drugs (duh). Unsurprisingly, the character is furious, but Jones was channelling real frustrations with casting directors reluctant to hire models. “I was really fed up with not getting accepted for parts,” she admitted in an interview, “so it came real easy.” It shows.
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones comes out 29 September