At Moistworks, Alex Abramovich and Emily Barton discourse at great length on the 1982 pop song “Nasty Girl” by Vanity 6, a Prince side project. (They even digress into a discussion of Bessie Smith’s gloriously vulgar “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl” vs. Nina Simone’s more staid version.) Highlights include this, from AB . . .
Weird, too, is Vanity’s idea of what a “nasty girl” might be: I don’t think she means “nasty” as in “yellow teeth, and a cha-cha that smells like a hot day in Chinatown.” But neither does she mean “nasty” in a totally funky get-down-on-the-get-down (preferably on my limousine floor) sort of way—and not just because (I.) whorish Madonnas are sexier than pure-hearted prostitutes, and (II.) the nastiest girls often turn out to be librarians on vacation. In fact, the more I think about the nasty girl under discussion, the safer she comes to seem. There’s so much distancing involved—the mask, the mystery girl, Vanity channeling a Prince who’s imagining what it’s like to be a woman imagining a man imagining her as a nasty girl—that, dirty-minded or not, Vanity might as well be wearing a chastity belt.
And this, from EB . . .
I like your reading—that she’s Vanity channeling Prince imagining what it’d be like to be a woman imagining a guy imagining her as a nasty girl—but I also want to ask, do you really think she wrote this song? Because if she didn’t, then it’s more like Prince channeling Vanity imagining Prince imagining what it’d be like to be a woman imagining a guy imagining her as a nasty girl. If we were in college, this is the point at which I’d write, “And so, as you see, the text literally deconstructs itself;” and the point at which our TF would make a little red exclamation point in the margin.