The VH-1 Experience

By Adrian Sportelli
This page contains excerpts from the complete article originally published in UPTOWN #23 - April 1996.

The Love 4 One Another TV film


On Saturday, January 27th 1996, VH-1 broadcast a special half hour segment of -produced music. This was immediately followed by a new hour-long television film created by (in conjunction with VH-1), Love 4 One Another.

"Thanks a lot for taking a video break with us. I'm A.J. Hammer leading you though a half hour of some of your favourites, and we lead off with the Queen of Video herself, Madonna. This next song is a cover of a Marvin Gaye classic that Madonna recorded with the British group, Massive Attack. 'I Want You' is available on not one, but two new albums; you can hear it on the Marvin Gaye tribute CD, and also one of the three new songs on Madonna's new album, Something To Remember; a compilation of her best ballads and love songs. Here's Madonna with 'I Want You.'" Cue to the Madonna video clip, "I Want You." 20 seconds pass. Still no .

"Fffssssshhhtttt." Up flashes the "" symbol, then an outside shot of Paisley Park. A bemused is sitting reading a magazine in one of the Paisley Park studios with his back to the monitor showing the Madonna clip. Upon hearing her, turns around, glances upward, then, obviously unimpressed with what he sees, pulls a face and reverts his attention back to what he was reading.

"How much longer?" asks, leaning over the console towards Morris. Mr. Hayes chuckles and brings two wires together which let off a small explosion, knocking back in a puff of smoke. Looking up at the monitor, Morris searches for confirmation of his efforts, "That should do it, check the monitors." Amazingly, The New Power Generation clip, "The Good Life," livens up the screen; the booming intro sounding throughout the room. A delighted exclaims, "It's working!"

As "The Good Life" is heard playing, the scene switches back to the VH-1 studios, where we see engineers and producers running around chaotically. The NPG are on every screen in the control room, as people and papers fly everywhere. We also see a female assistant telling A.J. Hammer (the VH-1 announcer), "You're not on the air, you're not on the air!"

The clip continues, leading us to believe that and The NPG have taken over the VH-1 broadcast, making it their show. The format for the rest of the 30-minute video clip program is basically and The NPG at Paisley Park watching their clips go live to air, while the people at VH-1 run around trying to stop them and regain control. Occasionally we see A.J. complaining, or addressing the audience, with the assurance that everything is "back to normal." Along with "The Good Life," the other clips played are "Count The Days (Clean Version)," "Dolphin," and brief 15-second passages from "Endorphinmachine" and "| Hate U."

"If | Love U 2night"
Mayte's first single from her Child of the Sun album, "If | Love U 2night," begins. urgently calls out, "Somebody call Mayte!" The sensual video is nearing it's end, when Mayte finally arrives at the studio, accompanied by her cute puppy dog. As she proceeds to go inside, we notice that opening the door would unplug a power point with a large "Do Not Unplug" sign over it. Mayte inevitably causes the disconnection, resulting in her video disappearing from the monitor. Jaws drop and all eyes in the room turn to look at her. She stares down, realising what she has done, then, glancing upwards at the angry NPG, turns tail and runs with the puppy yelping in pursuit. smirks and, along with Tommy Barbarella and Morris, run out to chase after her.

Cue back to the VH-1 announcer, A.J. Hammer. "Well, we only have time for just one more video, so why don't we end it the way we tried to start it, with Something To Remember from Madonna. Now this one off her latest CD is actually a video sequel; in the video for 'Take A Bow,' Madonna was dumped by her matador boyfriend, but this time Madonna strikes back. Here she is with 'You'll See.' Thanks a lot for watching, I'm A.J. Hammer." Cue to the Madonna video clip, "You'll See."

Another 30 seconds or so passes before we see standing back in the studio, watching Madonna open mouthed and full of disappointment. The session finishes with a bright full facial shot of mouthing the words "I love U". This half hour program is played before and after the Love 4 One Another special.

Soul mates
The new Love 4 One Another television movie is in a similar vein to The Beautiful Experience TV special, circulating around a lonely girl who finds happiness through 's music. There's a twist however, as this girl is a true fanatic who sets off to Paisley Park for a meeting with his Royal ness.

Immediately away we are introduced to Nikki, a girl who believes that for every male there is a perfect female counterpart. She admits that she is crazy; "crazy about the man they used to call 'Prince'" and is here in Minneapolis tonight, from Texas, to let know that she's his soul mate.

Upon arriving at Paisley Park, Nikki cautiously enters to the sound of "Rock And Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis)." and The NPG are up on stage kicking the groove hard, for the crowd of party goers who are reacting in a predictable berserk manner. The band are outfitted in winter ski attire with heavy coats and snow gear. himself is wearing a large purple jacket with yellow trim and hood, over an NPG jersey of the same colour. Matching ski pants, goggles and white ugh boots compliment the rest of his outfit. The NPG are wearing similar black coats, but the most noticeable winter things are Sonny's black NPG beanie and Mayte's fur coat, ear muffs and short ski pants. The stage is set up in the same way as The Gold Experience tour with Morris and Michael on the left and Sonny and Tommy on the right. jams up the front behind a large symbol and there is also a conveyor belt which runs straight up the centre of the stage.

Due to the bright lighting, The NPG are easily visible during the performance. Notable highlights include Tommy stage diving into the crowd and snow falling from the ceiling, covering and the band as well as the stage. During the clip, we see Nikki watching the show from the front, and part way through, ask another onlooker whether he knows the password to get upstairs. Shaking his head, the man gets back to dancing, leaving Nikki to ponder how else she can get upstairs to see the Man.

The password
VH1 The song finishes and Nikki goes to check out Paisley Park's reception area. 's male secretary is behind the front desk, busily answering incoming phone calls, occasionally calling to ask him about his appointments. Nikki tries to talk to him, but because he is so busy talking, her efforts are to no avail. Instead, she watches as the secretary calls up to tell him Spike Lee is on the line. Nikki takes note of the three digit number he dialled, 777. The secretary gets up to go, but before leaving, warns Nikki not to touch anything. As soon as he's out of sight, Nikki uses the house phone to talk to .

picks up the phone, "slave" scrawled on his face, with a blue sky and moving clouds in the background. "Talk," he says. "That's a strange greeting," Nikki replies. "And who might this be?" asks in bewilderment. Nikki goes on to explain how she is his soul mate, to which humorously replies, "Sorry, we don't serve alcohol here." then goes to hang up the phone. Nikki stops him just in time by saying she doesn't drink alcohol, then pleads with him to tell her the password to get upstairs. "Come on... I come in peace! To hurt you would be like hurting myself. Don't you want to see your soul mate?" pauses, thinks for a second, then tells her the password is, "Love 4 one another".

After hanging up, grabs a nearby dictionary, circles a word and slices the page out. Nikki successfully passes the security guard to ascend a flight of stairs. At the top, a blue candle shaped like a dolphin awaits her, along with the meaning cryptically encircled for "Soul mate." The next song is an alternate version of "Days Of Wild." scat raps the lyrics and the swearing is silenced out. The NPG and are back in their normal apparel, making the crowd wave the wild sign high while chanting "These are the days/These are the days!!"

Back at reception, we notice Nona Gaye arriving straight from the airport. She speaks to via the same phone Nikki used. asks her if she's ready to perform "Inner City Blues" and reminds her that they should cut the Girl 6 track for Spike Lee soon. Nona tells to "call her" and goes to do her song.

During Nona's pleasant vocal performance of "Inner City Blues," watches Nikki talking and laughing with Tommy downstairs through a video camera hook-up. He seems a little upset and we next see him give a courier a piece of paper to take to her. The delivery takes place on the dance floor, this time the word from the dictionary is "Hypnosis." Nikki ducks out an emergency exit and calls him back. "It's working," she tells him, but already knows. "Can I come up?" she asks. "I won't be here," replies. "Where are you going?" "For a ride." "Can I come?" "No." Click. has moved on.

The comedian David Chappelle comes on stage now, to crack a few jokes. He tells one about being hypnotised, as we see model Veronica Webb arrive and give a greeting kiss to each member of The NPG in turn. "How many like the blues tonight?" is back on stage, black "" guitar in hand, jamming on a funky blues number. Midway through "The Ride," plays an extended solo, which rips through the hearts of all present. "If U got the time baby, I got the ride," sings at the end, to thunderous applause.

Nikki now enters an "Authorized Personnel Only" area somewhere within Paisley Park. Looking around, the walls display posters of 's recent Vibe cover and the front of The Beautiful Experience booklet. Picking up a video, Nikki sits down to watch interviews with Tommy Barbarella, Morris Hayes, Michael B. and Sonny T. Through the monitor she watches and The NPG live on stage starting "The Jam." Another slightly different version of the heavily performed concert tune; The NPG have changed the solos and the introductions. Sonny T. gets left out at the end because suddenly "feels a groove" and breaks the whole band down so it's just him playing. He solos for a brief 20 seconds, pulls The NPG back in, then abruptly stops the song altogether.

We go back to an overjoyed Nikki who has just accessed the extended "Purple Medley" experience. The screen changes back and forth from the pre-filmed medley video created using old Prince footage, and Nikki's delighted face. There's new film of , The NPG and Mayte during songs which don't have clips; "Sexy Dancer," "Let's Work," "Irresistible Bitch" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend." There's also classic live footage from the Tokyo Dome and of "Darling Nikki" and "A Love Bizarre." It prematurely ends at "If I Was Your Girlfriend," then finishes with the spoken introduction from "Let's Go Crazy" and the burial of Prince's chain cap that he wears in the "My Name Is Prince" clip (the same footage from the end of the Three Chains O' Gold video).

The phone rings. "Talk," answers Nikki cockily. It's . "What are you doing?" he queries. "You're not supposed to be in there." Nikki tells that she's his biggest fan, to which he responds by telling her to look at the dictionary to her right and find the word "fanatic."

Nikki reads out the meaning, "'Over enthusiastic, zealous beyond the bounds of reason', that's enough thank you very much, I'm in complete control." knows the meaning of "fanatic" too well. "'Wild and often dangerous enthusiasm.' The best you can be is a friend, I don't need another fan." Nikki then asks, "Is that anyway to speak to your soul mate?" "You're my soul mate?" wonders aloud. "Yes." "Says who?" "My heart." "Come to the stage, you'll see my soul mate. She'll be dressed in gold."

Up on the stage glitter falls over everything and everyone, as the familiar first chords of "Gold" begin. walks out, arms outstretched. The whole room seems yellow and there is gold glitter everywhere. Every time Michael crashes on the cymbals, gold glitter flies up into the air. After the third verse and chorus Mayte comes out dressed in a gold sequined outfit. She's throwing glitter about and twirling her trademark ribbons. Nikki looks up at her, "slave" etched on the opposite side of her face too, as though she's his other half. She realises what he meant about his soul mate being "dressed in gold."

We can interpret the meaning in two ways. Either Mayte is his soul mate, and was hinting at tying the knot with her, or alternatively, could have been referring to his music as being his soul mate, singing about gold with the entire stage covered (or dressed) in gold glitter. Nearing the end of the song, bows, arms outstretched, moving backwards along the convey belt to eventually vanish from sight. With the crowd still waving their tambourines and chanting "go-ooold, go-ooold," Nikki leaves the concert area to place a message on the door of 's boudoir. It's another page from the dictionary. The circled word? "Friend."