Could U be the most beautiful girl in the world?
It’s plain 2 see U’re the reason that God made a girl
When the day turns into the last day of all time
I can say I hope U are in these arms of mine
When I saw the beautiful cover of The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, I knew I was interested. I became a Prince fan in 2004 during my senior year of high school. A strange time to become a fan, but my dance class used Prince’s song “Thunder” for our spring recital and I couldn’t get enough. I needed more Prince in my life! Lucky for me, Prince was releasing his album “Musicology” that year and going on a concert tour. My aunt got tickets to one of the three Minneapolis shows (thanks Aunt Cathy!), so we went to see him LIVE! Simply amazing. So much energy and charisma! My favorite part of the show, though, was when he sat down in a swivel chair and played some of his hits on a plain old acoustic guitar. It was a huge venue, but felt so special. The author of The Most Beautiful, first ex-wife of Prince, Mayte Garcia, mentions in the book that she also loved when Prince played an acoustic guitar.
“The acoustic guitar is my favorite,” I told him. “I like that little squeaking sound when you slide your fingers up and down the neck. It’s so personal.”
While I enjoy Prince’s music, and relished every sighting of him on TV – be it the Super Bowl, promoting his music on a late night show, or even appearing in an episode of New Girl – I didn’t really know anything about his personal life (other than the strange fact about him becoming a Jehovah’s Witness). I didn’t know who he had dated or married or divorced or that he had lost a child – all of this took place when I was just a child. Mayte’s story of her life with Prince provided all sorts of new information and insights for me.
Along with these intimate looks at life with Prince, Mayte also tells readers about her life. Mayte’s father was in the military, so she moved around frequently during her childhood. She began training as a belly dancer at the age of three, and dancing became a passion and a source of revenue for her. When she was 16, she went to see Prince at a concert in Barcelona. Her mother miraculously managed to get a videotape of Mayte’s belly dancing to Prince when his tour passed by near their home in Germany, and the rest is history.
Mayte and Prince began a strange friendship. He would call her on the telephone and they would talk for long periods of time. He would fly her to different cities so they could hang out. He would send her song ideas he was working on and ask for her opinion. When she graduated from high school, Mayte put her dreams of dancing in Cairo, Egypt, on hold so that she could join Prince’s tour. She spent years traveling with him, dancing in his shows, appearing in music videos, and being a friend.
“For me, this relationship was the opportunity to step out of my ordinary world into a rarified existence in which life itself is a work of art. It had never occurred to me that each shoe and rock and handwritten letter is an opportunity to express yourself—or it’s just one more of a million little things that don’t. It’s up to you. But why would you choose to create a life from a pile of little things that don’t actively matter to you?”
Eventually, their friendship became a courtship, and Prince proposed to her over the phone. They got married in Minneapolis in 1996. Mayte was 22 and Prince was 37. From the book, it’s clear that the couple was very much in love. They pushed each other creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. They both had big dreams of creating a loving family. Two months after their wedding, Mayte was pregnant with their first child. Unfortunately, after a difficult pregnancy and labor, the baby did not live long due to Pfeiffer Syndrome, a rare disease where bones fuse together. The loss of their child and their grief created a rift between Mayte and Prince that they were not able to repair. After a strange appearance on Oprah in which the couple refused to speak about their child, a molar pregnancy, a period of separation where Mayte bought a house in Spain while Prince started a relationship with another young girl and began studying as a Jehovah’s Witness, Prince finally asked for their marriage to be annulled. Their divorce wasn’t finalized until 2000. It wasn’t until Prince married Manuela Testolini in 2001 that Mayte truly realized her relationship with Prince was over.
At first, the writing style of The Most Beautiful didn’t feel very polished. I thought it was going to be a cringe-worthy celebrity book. Mayte would be telling the reader about something that happened in the 1980s and that would remind her of something that happened much later, so sometimes the timeline felt confusing. However, as I read more and more of the book, I became less bothered by this, and was sucked into the strange and wonderful world of Mayte and Prince.
I highlighted many songs and music videos that I want to look up now. (Prince had managed to block most of his videos from appearing on YouTube, but Mayte’s website has a few videos and a dance reel at https://www.mayte.com/). I hadn’t realized there was so much belly dancing in Prince’s music! I also want to see some of the things that Mayte has done post-Prince (for instance, she helped Wade Robson choreograph Britney Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” music video and infamous MTV performance).
While it’s obvious to anyone that this book could be a chance to grab some of the money and fame after Prince’s death, the book was so….so real….so loving, that I didn’t come away thinking poorly of Mayte or Prince after reading the book. She wasn’t making Prince out to be some perfect, awe-inspiring thing just to please his fans, and she wasn’t being cruel to get back at him as a scorned lover either. She just wanted to share with us – the fans – a part of his life. It felt very genuine. There were bits of humor, like when Prince sent Mayte back to her apartment to change when she showed up in sweat pants one day. He expected everyone around him to be dressed to impress and dressed to work hard. He had a wardrobe department in Paisley Park that tweaked his clothing so that it fit him perfectly and wore one-of-a-kind pieces. He often stole Mayte’s clothing and had them revamped for himself. Remember that period of time where he wore really big sweaters? Those were Mayte’s pregnancy sweaters! Prince also employed a “foo foo” staff member who was responsible for zhooshing up hotel rooms to make them more comfortable and homelike for Prince.
“The foo foo was not about a pampered star’s outlandish demands; it was about this hydraulic engine being well maintained, fed, and rested enough to pull an entire train.”
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a Prince fan. The book paints a picture of a life just as surreal as you would imagine. It couldn’t be easy to be married to a celebrity, but for a little while, Mayte had it all. Today, she is still dancing and choreographing. Additionally, she runs an animal rescue charity. But most poignantly, she finally became a mom after adopting a little girl. I walked away from this book feeling like I knew a lot more about Prince and I hope other readers will enjoy it as much as I did.
“With love, there is no death.”