PMRC's 'Filthy 15': Where Are They Now?

Three decades after W.A.S.P., Vanity, Judas Priest, Prince, Madonna and others shocked Tipper Gore and her committee, Rolling Stone takes a critical look at 1985's worst of the worst

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Vanity,
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Vanity, circa mid-Eighties. Mark "Weissguy" Weiss9/15

Vanity, "Strap On 'Robbie Baby'"

Proposed PMRC Rating: Profane or sexually explicit

Explicit Lyrics: "Come on and stroke me/Strap this thing on tight/If you want to glide down my hallway, it's open/Strap yourself in and ride"

Vanity Then: After Denise Matthews met Prince at the American Music Awards in 1980, the future "Darling Nikki" singer appointed her frontwoman of a girl group he eventually named Vanity 6 (after she refused to let him rename her "Vagina"). Prince wrote most of the songs on Vanity 6's 1982 self-titled debut, including the hit "Nasty Girl," and produced the LP. She was originally supposed to play Prince's love interest in Purple Rain, but she severed ties with the singer before filming, telling People, "I needed one person to love me, and he needed more." She put out her first solo album, Wild Animal, in 1984, which contained the suggestive "Strap On 'Robbie Baby'," a tune written by her then-boyfriend Robbie Bruce. In 1985, she posed nude for Playboy.

What She Said Then: "I put the sexual image of me in my music," she told The Associated Press in 1985. "My music is very sexual, so you could say I'm just putting all of me out there."

After the PMRC: Vanity put out another solo album, Skin on Skin, in 1986 and subsequently focused her attention on acting. In the Eighties, she was also linked romantically to Adam Ant, Billy Idol and her onetime fiancé Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx. She turned to Christianity and returned to her birth name, Denise Matthews, in the early Nineties after nearly dying from smoking cocaine. She told Joan Rivers she felt she was possessed by demons and that a friend had found her levitating three feet over a bed. Matthews has since become an evangelist and authored the memoir Blame It on Vanity. She now leads her own Pure Heart Ministries in Fremont, California. Matthews has distanced herself from her past and has not recorded any new albums, though Prince's 1994 album Come featured a 1983 recording of her moaning on his own song "Orgasm."

What She Says Now: "I was young and irresponsible, a silly woman laden with sin, not caring for anything except fame and fortune and self," she tells Rolling Stone. "But I have lived seeking truth in Jesus Christ and found it has made me free.

"According to God's word, we haven't done a very good job concerning our little ones, nor our teens," she continues. "I haven't given the song any thought [in many years]. I don't listen to my old music of Vanity's unless I have to hear it playing in a mall or something place like that. I sing to Jesus for Jesus now. This gives me pure joy ... worship! I apologize profusely to those I have offended deeply a million times over."

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