Friday, August 9, 2019

"High-Class Model ... Over in Paris, France" - Interview with Tracy Hudson

"It was like he was looking into your soul."

Tracy Hudson with NPG rapper Tony M.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Hudson.
Prince wants to play you a tape or CD of his new music. How do you react? Smile and enthusiastically bob your head to the beat? Offer constructive criticism? Ask questions about his songwriting process?

Record label executives and journalists weren't the only ones put in this predicament. Prince was known to play material for colleagues, friends, girlfriends and others--usually in the car.

Former model Tracy Hudson took her turn nearly 30 years ago on an airplane.

"He had asked me to listen to versions of [a song] to see which one that I liked," said Hudson, who now owns her own business, Tracy Hudson Skin Care, in Los Angeles. "I remember I was super nervous."

That's about all she can recall of the moment, one of many she was able to spend with the late superstar. He booked her for music videos, including "Insatiable" and "Sexy M.F.," as well as photo shoots.

"Initially, he was contacting me through L.A. Models," she said. "Then, he asked to just call me directly to book me, which was really great. I think it was the 'Insatiable' video that we did first."

Released in 1991, the "Insatiable" video finds Prince making a sexy tape with a love interest. Hudson wasn't in the starring role--that honor went to Barbara Lee--but you can spot her among the dozen other women who joined in for the filmmaking fun.

Hudson had a bigger role in 1992's "Sexy M.F.," shot at Paisley Park Studios. At the beginning of the video, Prince lures her and two other women--Robin Power Royal and Troy Byer--away from a group of rivals. According to Hudson, cast members slept on the premises. She recalled the sight--and sound--of Prince's cane as he rapped on their doors, waking them up for a 6 a.m. call time.

"He was fully dressed," she said. "He had a suit on, and his hair was done and his heels were on and his makeup was on. He was almost like Willy Wonka. He was just super happy and ready to shoot."

Hudson said the experience was a lot of fun because of Prince's sense of humor.

"He was always cracking jokes and just kept us in stitches," she said. "He was very specific about his creative vision, but at the same time, he was a great to work with."

Hudson began her modeling career at 19, when she moved from Los Angeles to Europe. On her first day overseas, she signed with a prestigious agency. By her second day, she'd booked a campaign. She went on to work in runway shows and commercials, and appear in publications like Vogue Italia and Elle Greece.

She worked with Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks--both part of the popular supermodel era of the '80s and '90s.

"It was a great time," Hudson said. "It was great money. ... There was probably a bit more prestige associated with it. Now, you don't really know models' names and faces as much as you did then."

Related Content
Interview with "Sexy M.F." Co-star Robin Power Royal
Interview with "Sexy M.F." cinematographer Scott McCullough
Favorite Prince Songs of the '90s 

Hudson has starred in a multitude of music videos for other artists; she singles out Eric BenĂ©t's "Femininity" as a favorite. The photo shoots she did for Prince were promoting his band, the New Power Generation (NPG).

"One time he had this huge dog that he had me straddle," she said. "They were always really provocative pictures."
Photo courtesy of Tracy Hudson.
Hudson will always remember Prince as warm, friendly and generous. And he was reserved and contemplative as much as he was funny.

"You kind of always stayed off-balance a little bit," she said. "Sometimes there were these really quiet moments where he'd just stare at you really deeply and intensely. ... It was like he was looking into your soul."

Highlighting stories like Hudson's are important as we unpack the full extent of Prince's legacy, including his elevation of black women--a detail that has been overlooked by many journalists, scholars and people in the fan community.

"I remember thinking it was really cool that he took notice of this little chocolate girl," Hudson said.

Follow Tracy Hudson on Instagram @tracyhudsonskincare.

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