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Vanity 6

from r.: Brenda, Susan, Vanity

Vanity 6 began as a concept group of Prince's that was to be named The Hookers. Rounding out the group would be former model Denise Matthews (then known as Vanity), Susan Moonsie, and Brenda Bennett, a former singer with Ken Lyons and the Tombstone Blues Band who was Prince's wardrobe person back in 1981 and married to Prince's longtime set designer.

This group is, like, one of the mysteries of my musical world. Why did I and so many others have such a thing for them. It's not like they could sing. Well, I take that back. Vanity has a voice. Brenda's voice is deep and discernable. But that stuff Susan was doing can't be considered singing. But I even like that. Miss Brenda's classic romp (would I dare call it rap? Maybe so!) on "If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)" is priceless and funky. And Susan's song, "Drive Me Wild" (Get the 12 inch version.), is as great as the dancefloor-burner "Nasty Girl" (the long, album version is best!). Those three songs, especially the latter, are the most underrated funky tunes of the 80s I can think of. They are all classic, forgotten, trashy brilliance.

Yes I'm confused. Since when do I call three women "singing" and dancing in their underwear brilliant. Production from Prince and rhythm by The Time has something do with it. But the girls' wild attitudes for that time has even more to do with it. And their panting snarls work better in the context of these songs than a Mary J. Blige-style vocal chord hula hoop ever would.

Honorable mention: Apollonia 6--Slightly less entertaining, but just as fun.

Denise Matthews today. Publicity photo from 1999 Essence Festival program.
Update: Of course, it's no longer 1982, and Denise Matthews is no longer Vanity. She has taken back her original name and is now a reverend who speaks against her former career and for the Lord. We should all be happy for her because Denise is no longer a slave to drugs, self-loathing, and the devil. She overcame a serious crack cocaine addiction which caused her to lose a kidney, as well as much of her sight and hearing. She nearly had a heart attack and died. She called on God who has saved her and now she is an evangelist who speaks in order to "save" others. And please don't call her "Vanity" any more. As she noted, "Vanity" means nothingness, and we wouldn't want to call her that. R.I.P. Vanity. Long live Reverend Denise Matthews.

Unless otherwise noted, all written material copyright 1999, Melissa A. Weber.
No part of these pages may be reproduced on another site without my prior written consent.

Denise Matthews signing autographs at Essence Fest. Times Picayune staff photo by Ric Francis, 1999. Links:

  • Official Site --
  • Vanity 6 singles on Ken Hold's Prince Collector's Discography
  • Vanity's Mirrored Lair
  • The Vanity Web Page

    Real Audio:

  • If a Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up), 1982

    Selected Discography:

  • Vanity 6 by Vanity 6, Warner Bros., 1982

    Find Vanity 6 Music:

  • Get vinyl from

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