That Wasn’t Prince’s Bare Ass You Saw at the 1991 MTV VMAs
"[T]hat yellow suit — his ‘butt suit’ — did not show his butt," master fabric dyer Marliss Jensen, who custom-dyed the one-piece, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2017. "That was fabric.”
Regardless of the fact that the apparent cut-outs were actually exactingly matched flesh-colored panels, the outfit helped Prince's already spectacular performance of "Gett Off" steal the show and dominate the following morning's headlines.
Jensen began working for Prince in 1985, helping to create the deep shade of purple that he wore to the Academy Awards, when he picked up the Best Original Song Score Oscar for Purple Rain. But during the more than 10 years she spent in his employ, she continued, “I never met him, which was kind of odd, because many times I had to dye fabric the color of his flesh. They used it for linings of lace garments, pockets and things like that."
Prince's rendition of "Gett Off" closed out the Sept. 5, 1991 telecast, with host Arsenio Hall introducing Prince and the New Power Generation by calling it "the reason I took the gig again." The performance continued the orgiastic choreography from the song's video, which had been in rotation since its release that summer as the lead single from Diamonds and Pearls. But even though R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" was the big winner that night, taking home six statues including Video of the Year, Prince wound up stealing the show.
As Chris Willman wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "With a bumping and grinding cast of dozens arranged in various beyond-suggestive permutations -- some of which made it to the TV screen and some of which were destined to be seen only by the Universal [Amphitheatre] crowd -- Prince’s swingers’ scene was the kind of fleshy spectacle that sends writers running to their dictionaries to look up the proper plural for menage a trois."
Watch Prince at the 1991 VMAs