While reading this week's The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones's profile of Prince, in Dorian Purple, amazed me. In her review of his new Las Vegas show, she brought up his height, only to toss it aside as a point of non-relevance. "Though he's just over five feet, lithe and pixieish, he never seems dwarfed by others onstage, and he is absolutely at ease guiding his ten-piece band. His backup dancers....were energetic and effectively underclad, but Prince was still the most seductive presence onstage."
What startled me is that she brought up his 5'2.5" height precisely because no one cared - it was brought up only to point out the lack of influence it had on anything in his professional life (or clearly, his romantic). His height had no bearing upon his musical skill, leadership, or sheer presence. And I couldn't help but think that, perhaps, Prince and his fans managed to do something that the rest of us with any short-person hang-ups are always reaching for - a complete attitude of height indifference.
Indeed, it's his continued status as a sex symbol at age 48 that is simply the most astonishing thing of all. Certainly, there are many talented short individuals respected for their work - actor Danny DeVito (5'0"), musician Paul Simon (5'3"), and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (4'10") come to mind. But it's not like most short famous men are noted for their sex appeal (even when they were younger). It's the most resistant area of change for the short man. The current cultural climate points out that short guys, particularly middle-aged ones, just can't be seriously seen as potential mates. Kudos to Prince, for managing to skirt the system!
Thank you Ms. Frere-Jones, for treating the height subject with such respect.