Remembering Prince’s ‘Homer-Erotica’ Project, ‘Glam Slam Ulysses’
In 1993, one of music’s greatest minds felt trapped. Stuck arguing with his record label and unable to control the output of his material, Prince explored alternative means of expression. He developed an interactive CD-ROM, changed his name to a symbol and, in an often forgotten move, created a stage show called Glam Slam Ulysses.
The production’s plot was loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey and featured live actors and dancers interacting with pre-recorded video. Naturally, the piece was soundtracked by 13 new Prince songs.
To helm the project, the purple one hired choreographer Jamie King, best known at the time for his work on Michael Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour.
Their working regimen would go like this: Each Monday, Prince would send King a selection of unreleased songs. The choreographer was then expected to develop an entire routine by that Friday. Performances would take place at Prince’s club Glam Slam West in Los Angeles. Over time, these segments would evolve into one, all-encompassing show.
“Prince showed me more of the details of how music is created and how lyrics can match choreography,” King admitted in a 2011 interview with Variety. “When lyrics match choreography with moves, you can create magic and energy that the fans relate to.”
As one would expect from a Prince production, sexuality in Glam Slam Ulysses was ratcheted up to the extreme. In the book Prince: The Man and His Music, author Matt Thorne described the cast as looking like “like refugees from a fetish club” in the opening number. The show’s star, Carmen Electra, would perform a cage-dance in a cat costume. Later, a group of sirens donned “skeleton bikinis, (with) skulls protecting their breasts and finger bones curled over the genitals.”
The result was a wild spectacle of dance, music, multimedia and sexual energy.
On Aug. 21, 1993, Glam Slam Ulysses premiered in front of a club filled with media and music industry executives. Prince had hoped to develop the project into a touring piece, utilizing it as a new and unique way of bringing his music to audiences across the country. Instead, the production was met with ridicule.
The LA Times called Glam Slam Ulysses “simply silly,” while Variety panned it as “Homer-erotica” with “seminude dancers, pointless and silly sketches and enough phallic symbols and references to make even Heidi Fleiss blush.”
While the stage production was short-lived, the 13 songs written for Glam Slam Ulysses were all eventually released over a handful of Prince’s albums. “Pope” was included in the 1993 boxed set The Hits/The B-Sides. "Pheromone", "Dark", "Loose", "Space", "Race," "Come" and "Orgasm" would all appear on the singer’s 1994 LP, Come. A year later, "Dolphin" and "Endorphinmachine" would become part of The Gold Experience, while "Interactive," "What's My Name" and "Strays of the World" would appear on 1998’s Crystal Ball.
Though most fans never had the chance to see Glam Slam Ulysses in its unique glory, videos of the production still exist. Check out footage of several of the show's numbers below.