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Did You Know 80s Sex Symbol Denise Matthews is on Dialysis 5 Times a Day?

by G. Brown

Once upon a time in the musical kingdom of the Minneapolis sound, Prince ruled the top of the charts. Pioneering a hybrid of funk, rock, pop and even new wave, this new Minneapolis sound relied heavily on synthesizers instead of horns, guitars and a faster rhythm. Prince’s reign reached across several genres from the late 70’s and was so popular that he stared forming spin off bands to capitalize on the momentum.   Prince assembled a girl trio with three of his friends. He intended to name the girl group the Hookers and dress his sirens to create an illusion of sex and fantasy. The group cut a few demos and was on its way until a young lady named Denise Matthews crossed Prince’s path.

images (2)Matthews had moved to America from Canada where she was a nude model and a small time actress.  Prince was said to be so enamored by her that after just one look he decided she was perfect for this new group.  Inspired by Matthews’ beauty, Prince replaced his lead singer with Matthews and renamed the group Vanity 6.  Matthews’ as the frontwoman was re-christened Vanity. She was joined by Susan Moonsie and Brenda Bennett.

Their first single “He’s So Dull” barely caught anyone’s attention, but by 1980 and the release of “Nasty Girl” the whole world was paying attention.  The song shot to the top of dance and R&B charts. The group would go on to release several more hits including “Under the Influence” and a self-titled album that was certified gold in 1983.  Vanity and Prince were imagesalso making music away from the studio and was romantically involved behind the scenes.  In 1983, Matthews walked away from the group, and a starring role in the movie Purple Rain after a rumored breakup with Prince.

Matthews stayed on her path to stardom, quickly landing roles in films like “The Last Dragon” and “Action Jackson”. Matthews’ life looked wonderful on screen, but behind the scenes she was like her song a “Pretty Mess”.  Years later, Matthews would admit to her longtime addiction to crack cocaine in her tell all book.  Although she would eventually kick the habit, it was not before the addiction laid waste to her career and health.  Matthews says, “My shocking testimony of 250 high blood pressure over 190, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blood clots to the brain and blindness complete as well as deafness left me with only three days to live.” She refers to her days as a star as living in “the bottomless pit of Hollywood’s deception. Lust, drugs Rock n Roll…” Matthews returned to her birth name in 1994- leaving the name and lifestyle of Vanity far behind.  She became a born again Christian and began to talk publicly about her drug abuse, suicidal depressions and abused childhood. She married in 1995, but  divorced the following year.

Her crack-cocaine addiction left her kidney damage which means every day she undergoes dialysis five times.  These days, Matthews still looks for the limelight, but only to tell others about the light of the world-Jesus. After a kidney transplant in 1997, Matthews devoted her life to evangelism. She hopes to share her testimony with a new generation as she seeks to republish her book “Blame It on Vanity”.  The gofundme project has only brought in $4000 after almost a year and is a far cry from Matthews’ goal of $50k.

0709In spite of her troubled past and current problems, the woman whose beauty was admired and envied by so many, seems to have finally found the real beauty of life in being content to reach out to others and help them steer clear of the path that ensnared her youth.



Here’s a look at Matthews as her alter ego Vanity performing “Nasty Girls”.

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