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Literature / The Most Beautiful

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The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince is a Memoir by Mayte Garcia, dancer and first wife of pop star Prince, released a year after his death in April 2016. Born to Puerto Rican parents, Mayte followed her military father to Germany as a teen and built a successful career as a Belly Dancer, until her Stage Mom changed the 16-year-old's life by handing a videotape of her performing to one of Prince's posse at a concert. Prince and Mayte began corresponding and after a couple years she joined his band, the New Power Generation. She helped create his 1992 "Love Symbol Album," in which Prince told a story about "Princess Mayte" while incorporating some of the Middle Eastern sounds of her belly-dancing music.

Mayte recalls the exhausting but thrilling work with a man who lived his life as a work of art and pushed himself to his physical limits (which unfortunately led to the painkiller addiction that eventually killed him). When she was 21 they married and she instantly got pregnant, much to the couple's delight. However, their son, Amiir, was born with a rare genetic disease and died only a week after birth. After a second pregnancy miscarried, Prince fell in with former Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham, who converted him to the Jehovah's Witness faith, leading Prince to believe that Amiir's death was God's punishment for his sins. Mayte strongly disagreed, and things went downhill from there.


The Most Beautiful Tropes:

  • Amicable Exes: Prince and Sheila E. were engaged for a time before Mayte came on the scene, but remained friends and sometime bandmates. Mayte considers her one of the family.
  • Breakup Bonfire: After their divorce, Prince burned everything he had associated with Mayte and their child, much to Mayte's regret.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Well, this is Prince. Mayte is enough on his wavelength that she considers it merely artistic rather than kooky to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol or repaint his house every few years to reflect his mood, but she does start to see him as this once he starts spouting Jehovah's Witness theology.
  • Clueless Boss: Prince, at least on the Diamonds & Pearls tour. Mayte's pay is so bad that she burns through her considerable belly-dancing savings and is reduced to scrounging leftovers from room-service carts. Yet the other members of the troupe are so in awe of Prince that they're shocked to even hear her complain. When Mayte finally confronts Prince, it turns out that he had no idea what his dancers were being paid, and he gives everyone a raise.
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  • The Dandy: Prince never went anywhere without his hair and clothes being perfect, Mayte reports. He had a full-time staff devoted just to his wardrobe.
  • Dark Secret: Looking back on it, Mayte sees signs that Prince was already secretly hooked on painkillers in the 1990s. He would have episodes of being sick from "migraines," and after the birth/death of their child, her Vicodin starts suspiciously disappearing.
  • Death of a Child: Definitely the most wrenching part of the book is Mayte's description of giving birth to a horribly deformed baby whom she nonetheless loves for the whole week of his life.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Mayte says that she unconsciously learned this trope from her parents, who divorced and remarried twice (and are still married at press time). She admits that this led her to secretly nurse the hope that she and Prince would remarry for as long as he was alive.
  • First Love: Prince was actually Mayte's first boyfriend. She says that her teen dancing career made her too busy for romance.
  • The Fundamentalist: Mayte sees Larry Graham as a fairly benign version of this trope. While she states that he and his wife are "wonderful people," she's very put off by his attitude that all non-JW religions are false and that there's no room for doubt when it comes to God. The absence of doubt is precisely what appeals to Prince, however.
  • God Before Dogma: This was Prince's attitude during the early years of his career; he thought and sang about God a great deal, but didn't attend church and formed his own peculiar New Agey Christianity that Mayte took to as well. Mayte still retains the outlook, but Prince fell in love with dogma when he became a Jehovah's Witness.
  • Hates Being Touched: Both Prince and Mayte have a bit of this, for different reasons. Prince dislikes touching anyone but intimates because he's afraid of germs, while Mayte is rather defensive about touching after being groped by a family friend when she was a child.
  • The Masochism Tango: Mayte's parents live this trope, divorcing and remarrying twice and having multiple affairs along the way, leading to constant conflict. They come across as devoted parents nonetheless.
  • Meaningful Name: Amiir is the Arabic word for "prince." It was also the name of one of Mayte's favorite belly dancers, who died from AIDS at a young age.
  • Meaningful Rename: Mayte's romance with Prince started at around the same time that he officially changed his name to the unpronounceable "Love Symbol." While this was mainly a statement to his record company, which owned the rights to songs written by "Prince," Mayte also thinks that it had something to do with her. She at first didn't call Prince by his name because she was afraid she'd freak out if she remembered who she was talking to, but continued the practice because they always seemed to know when the other wanted to speak, so didn't need to name each other.
    • Averted with Mayte herself, however. Prince at first continued his habit of renaming his associates by calling her "Arabia," but Mayte refused because her mother was so fond of the name Mayte.
  • Never Say "Die": Mayte says that Prince could never really admit out loud that their son died. This takes an especially surreal turn when Oprah Winfrey visits his home for an interview shortly after Amiir's birth/death, and he shows her the baby room that he'd had built and talks about his future parenthood without ever acknowledging the baby itself. Mayte tries to nudge him by admitting that "I was pregnant," but he still keeps up the act.
  • On the Rebound: Mayte hooks up with Tommy Lee as they're rebounding from breakups with Prince and Pamela Anderson, respectively. She says that it was great for that time in their lives but wasn't destined to be forever.
  • Only in It for the Money: Mayte semi-defends her participation in the Reality TV show Hollywood Exes by saying that a steady gig is a rare thing for a female entertainer over 40. It did have a surprise benefit, though: a woman seeking an adoptive mother for her baby happened to see Mayte on it expressing her yearning for children, and gave Mayte her daughter Gia.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: By 20 years, in Prince's case.
  • Papa Bear: Mayte uses this very term to describe Prince during Amiir's short life. He devotes all his time to watching over the child through its many surgeries and painful struggle to live.
  • Raging Stiffie: Implied when Mayte visits Prince alone in his home for the first time. She dances for him, noticing how erotic it feels to be dancing for someone privately, and when she's done she sees that he's moved a couch pillow onto his lap.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Prince and Mayte believed that they had always come together in their previous lives, though not necessarily romantically (they might have been siblings at one point, for instance). Prince eventually rejects this idea when he becomes a Jehovah's Witness.
  • Stage Mom: Both of Mayte's parents fit this trope to some extent, though she remembers it benignly because she really did enjoy performing.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At the time that Prince's religious conversion is straining their marriage, Mayte notices the arrival of a new assistant, Manuela Testolini, who looks so much like her that acquaintances sometimes mistake Manuela for Mayte when they see her with Prince. Manuela eventually became Prince's second wife.
  • Their First Time: Mayte loses her virginity to Prince when she's 19.
  • Unequal Pairing: While Mayte doesn't end up feeling used or victimized by Prince, she does acknowledge the inequalities of their relationship. After all, when they meet she's 16 and he's 32, he's an international star and she's famous only to German belly-dancing fans, she's a virgin and he's a Pornomancer, and she spends the first few years of their relationship as his employee. She theorizes that he liked younger women not just for their hotness but because he liked to be in control.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Subverted. Given the title, you might think that Mayte was the subject of Prince's biggest '90s hit, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World." But Mayte believes that he really wrote it as a valentine to all women.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The book includes excerpts from Prince's handwritten letters to Mayte, complete with his peculiar spelling style: U and 4 in place of "you" and "for", drawing an eye to mean "I", etc.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Once Manuela comes on the scene, Mayte is sure that there's something going on between her and Prince. After her own divorce from Prince, Manuela told her that they were strictly friends during that period, but, Mayte notes, "I'd been through the friendship dance myself."


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