Vanity vs. Apollonia

           Washington vs. Du Bois. King vs. Malcolm. Ali vs. Frazier.

            Vanity vs. Apollonia.

            In the annals of history, there have always been great debates. Since school is out and I am freezing, I decided to dig into the great Vanity/ Apollonia debate of the mid-1980s.

            First a little background. I started thinking about this a few days ago when I came across a CD copy of Sheila E.’s self-titled 3rd release. I had a cassette of the release and I found a vinyl copy in Harvard Square a couple of months ago. But the CD has been out of print and had risen up to the top of my wish list – along with, The Harp, by Augusta Savage. (If anyone has one, hook a brother up). It is a great album, probably Sheila’s most complete album and features, Hold Me, Love on a Blue Train and the classic, Koo Koo, my favorite Sheila E. song. Check out the Koo Koo video featuring the incredible Cat. So the album got me thinking about women who have been affiliated with Prince. As far as full talent is concerned, Sheila is rivaled only by the great Wendy & Lisa, the musical and spiritual backbones of The Revolution. Could you imagine what a band made up of just Prince, Sheila and Wendy & Lisa could produce?

            But when you think of Prince women, the first thoughts always go to Vanity and/or Apollonia – the interchangeable sexpots.

       Vanity  was the first. She came in 1982, when Prince got the idea to form an all-girls band called The Hookers. Simply known as Denise Matthews at the time, Prince wanted to call her Vagina, but she balked and Vanity and Vanity 6 was born. Their first, and only album was kind of hot, with songs like the funky, “If a Girl Answers, Don’t Hang Up,” and the classic, “Nasty Girl.” Here is the video and here is the audio. (I couldn’t find them both together.) Vanity and Prince became somewhat of an item that was based more on perception than artistic merit. Prince wrote and produced all of Vanity 6’s songs, and The Time played behind them in concert. But when Prince decided to do the movie Purple Rain, Vanity jetted, because she wanted more money.

            So in steps Apollonia. Patricia Kotero was a model who won a nationwide audition to replace Vanity. She became Apollonia and the group, Apollonia 6. Their first and only album came out to coincide with the movie and featured, “Sex Shooter,” and “A Million Miles.” Because of the movie tie-in, Apollonia’s album actually, outsold Vanity’s.

            But musically, Vanity 6 was better than Apollonia 6. While Apollonia’s album seems rushed, the Vanity album was a complete package and drenching with drenching sexuality. “Nasty Girl,” was a song that could be played on the radio, but what about “Wet Dream,” “Bite the Beat,” and the beautiful, “3X2=6.” In all, there were 8 solid songs on the album.

            Apollonia’s album had 7 songs. But what is probably more significant is what is not on the album. Somewhere midway through the project, Prince lost interest in the album and removed several songs that had been intended for, or originally recorded by Vanity. Those songs, which probably would have remained had Vanity stayed, were farmed out to others and became major hits – like Manic Monday (Bangles) and Glamorous Life, Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar and Oliver’s House (Sheila E.). Prince used another song, “17 Days (The Rain Will Come Down, Then U Will Have 2 Choose. If U Believe, Look 2 The Dawn And U Shall Never Lose),” as the B-side to his, “When Doves Cry.” And yet another song, “Take Me With U,” a duet with Prince and Apollonia, was used on the Purple Rain soundtrack. So all that was left for the Apollonia 6 album was “Sex Shooter,” another song that was originally recorded by Vanity.

            The singing on both albums is not great, but voice wise, a prefer Vanity. Her voice was throatier and sexier. Conversely, at times, Apollonia sounds bored. I feel that Vanity believes it more. Side by side, in their prime, Apollonia might have looked slightly better than Vanity, but Vanity might be one of the most desired women in modern pop history. She could be nasty, raunchy, seductive and playful at the same time. Apollonia is that girl you grew up with who was regular until she became a senior and made a conscience effort to become one of the popular, hot girls. Sure she was popular and hot, but there was still something missing.

            Vanity was that girl that was always a year or two ahead of you. Mysterious, a little bad and not attainable. And you liked it.

            Long live Vanity.

           Epilogue: I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Susan Moonsie and Brenda Bennett, who were in both groups. They are way underrated and long forgotten. But they had a couple of nice tunes on both albums – “Bite the Beat” and “Some Kind of Lover,” by Brenda. And “Ooo She She Wa Wa,” “Make Up,” and “Drive Me Wild,” by Susan. Interestingly, all of Susan’s songs were done in strange, on note monotone. But they were so innocently hot. In retrospect, Susan could lay claim to being as hot as Vanity and Apollonia. Check out “Drive Me Wild,” for yourself and be the judge.

            (add your comments to the debate.)

The great Vanity

The great Vanity

Apollonia in her heyday

Apollonia in her heyday


You be the Judge



Published in: on January 3, 2009 at 3:56 am  Comments (20)  

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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I must admit these two women were in a class of their own! They are in two different categories concerning how I view them. Vanity came off as a naughty bad girl/women whom all the guys wanted to be with but if you did not step correct, you would get crushed !! Apollonia gave you two sides of her. She came off as a sweet and innocent girl who lived next door feeling but she had the sex appeal/look to come off as Vanity. This two women lets you know the Power of my man Prince !

  2. Most likely, I would have gone with Vanity. However, her drug addiction would have sent me jetting to Appollonia. The Lord was ‘Very’ generous when he created those two women.

  3. Hi Ernie!
    It’s a long-lost AJC friend (think CityLife).
    On the two (if you care to her a woman’s view) I liked Vanity. To me, she was the real Indi sound and energy. Appollonia seemed packaged for the part. And, side by side, I think Vanity was much more beautiful.


  4. Vanity, Vanity, VANITY!!! Vanity and Vanity 6 over Apollonia any, each and every day.

    The thing one must remember is that nobody was running around in lingerie (pronounced Linger-ree if you’re a Johnny Taylor fan and you hung out in the back room of the Red Rooster) in the 80s before Vanity and the girls…and Prince. There is Madonna, but she “wont” necessarily sexy as they say in High Point. So, Vanity 6 was not only sexy, they were pioneers of sorts, and outside of Millie “Nasty-A” Jackson, no other limited singer of note was able to pull off singing the kind of suggestive lyrics Prince gave Vanity and the girls. You had the exotic Vanity, a high-yellow-honey, with those eyes, those lips, those hips, whew; the tasty and under-aged looking Susan for all the pedophiles, who was as old as Prince, who in turn was older than the PR dept at Warner Bros was saying; and Brenda “The White Girl”, looking like she would kick your ass and make you like it. On some songs Brenda sounded like she was singing bass…it made me shudder.

    Vanity looked like a, found at Port Authority, turned out and made into a soft-porn star, girl next door…who happened to be Canadian. Even after she left Prince and went to Motown and released the God-awful “Pretty Mess” single, she was still hot. She looked really drunk, tore out-the-frame high a lot of the time, but she was hot. Even later as a plumper, sober, born again christian on Pat Robertson’s, cable show, she was HOT.

    When Apollonia hit the scence, she had to face the inevitable comparisons. She was pretty, fine even, but she was also older and we had already seen Vanity. And, a big minus was she couldn’t sing any better than Vanity and she was a little stiff. Nobody would kick her out of their Little Red Corvette, but she was a 2.0 edition that wasn’t really an upgrade.

  5. Hey Ernie. I’ll vote Apollonia.
    Also I think maryAnne was cuter.

  6. AND let’s not forget Vanity’s co-starring role along Carl Weathers in the BLAction hit, Action Jackson!

    Vanity in a landslide.

  7. This is no contest…Vanity all the way, hands down! She did a film in Canada, Tanya’s Island, before she met Prince. I wonder sometimes if Vanity really needed Prince after all.

  8. I vote Vanity. Mechanical Emotion and Nasty Girl run rings around Take Me With You, although Sex Shooter was my jam… hmmm. Nope, still Vanity.

  9. Vanity Was the Most Beauitful Women in the early 80’s-Apples can not compete

  10. VANITY, VANITY, VANITY U SEXY, FIONE, BEAUTIFUL ASS WOMAN I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF U. AND I WANT, WILL NOT STOP. I’ll eat all of my food out of your hairy v$$$$a. 4-ever = + 4 always = 4 real!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I’ll Love u always VANITY, until the day i’ll die. u are so f*****g beautiful to me. i swear i never loved a at all nor a another woman in my life but u. every time i think or look at your younger photos i cum!!! off of u. NO F*****g KIDDING. U ARE THE STAR IN MY WET DREAM!!

  12. I vote Vanity all the way! I don’t know how you can say Apollonia was better looking lol. The only thing Apollonia had on Vanity was a bigger bust lol. Vanity had everything else-more beautiful face, more natural in front of the camera, more talent and charisma.

  13. Vanity was physically more beautiful and more talented. I could lick her until she went cross-eyed.

  14. Hah am I actually the first comment to this great writing?


  16. This is absolutely no contest! Vanity! And Ernie, shame on you for saying Appolonia was more attractive. No way! You must be a breast man. And let us not forget the 80’s classic, The Last Dragon. I grew up in the 80’s and Vanity and Jayne Kennedy were my beauty idols. Vanity all the way!

  17. Vanity was unusually beautiful and a great performer. I loved her gothic wicked swag. Apples was gorgeous too and her spanish was sexy. I love both of them.


  19. how could apollonia 6 out sell vanity 6, do you know the real records sales?


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