The idea of reading a tell-all memoir chronicling Mayte Garcia’s 11 years with Prince has been met with a lot of fanfare but also with a bit of resistance among some of the Purple One’s fans, given how private he was before his passing a year ago. However, on Tuesday night, support, optimism, and general curiosity outweighed any criticism as a crowd packed into the University Club of St. Paul to hear Garcia read, ask her questions, and get their books signed.
SubText Books hosted Garcia—a dancer, actress, and reality TV star who was Prince’s first wife (1996–2000)—as she presented her new book, The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince. Local writer and musician Jim Walsh, who covered Prince for the St. Paul Pioneer Press during the 1990s, introduced her. “Prince and Mayte presented a version of love on stage with the NPG [New Power Generation] that was just beautiful to behold,” Walsh told me afterward. “It was funky and sexy. I knew her mostly from her performances. It was wonderful introducing her, and saying hello at a bittersweet time.”
On a rainy and humid night, Garcia took the podium inside the stuffy University Club with her five-year-old adopted daughter, Gia, and brought happiness and fun anecdotes to a local group still healing from what happened in April 2016. “Being in Minneapolis has always been a special, special place for me,” she said as she started. “And I’ve been coming the last year a lot lately—of course to honor this great man—so I might get a little emotional.”
Garcia met Prince when she was only 16 years old after sneaking backstage at a show in Germany. She must have made quite the first impression because she quickly became a long-term fixture at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, joining the New Power Generation and eventually marrying the music icon in Minneapolis on Valentine’s Day 1996. The excerpt she read from her memoir, which was ghostwritten by Joni Rodgers, recalled the pair first meeting, displaying how remarkable, awkward, and overwhelming it must have been.
After the reading, Garcia transitioned to a question-and-answer session. Eloquent and honest, she wasn’t fazed by any question. In response to one about misconceptions surrounding Prince, she answered, “He worked so much, and he toured so much, but that was his drug. He said it himself: it was a blessing and a curse.” Another inquiry focused on theories as to why the music legend didn’t have a will, despite how organized and protective of his art he was. Garcia explained how surprised she herself was at the news: “I’m still shocked because his music was like his children. He was very detailed.” The heaviest part of the evening came when someone brought up the inevitable topic of Amiir, Garcia’s and Prince’s child who died after just a week due to complications of Pfeiffer syndrome type 2. Like every other question, Garcia faced it head on and told her story with a smile, even though it was a key factor in what destroyed the pair’s marriage.
It wasn’t all serious, though—the audience was supportive of the visiting author and overall kept things pretty lighthearted. “I loved the anecdote about [Prince] being funny and mimicking a Minnesota accent,” Walsh said, highlighting his favorite moment. Someone also asked about perfume and fragrances the couple liked.
Tuesday’s programming had to be put together in a hurry, as Garcia became available on short notice, but SubText Books was organized and handled the affair well, showing polish and poise like few independent bookstores can give under such time constraints. The shop charged $30 for admission, which included a hardcover copy of the book and a chance to meet Garcia, who took her time chatting and signing given the crowd was capped at 150 entrants. “It just fell into our laps, and we did everything we could to make it happen,” said Sarah Cassavant, event coordinator for SubText Books. “Thankfully Prince is so beloved here in the Twin Cities that you mention an event with Prince or Mayte, people will come.”
The last time Garcia spoke to her ex-husband was in 2008. Most of her memories of the music icon are rooted in the 1990s, when much of the public shied away from the man who was combating his former label, Warner Bros. Records, which presents a perfect opportunity for fans to discover what their Prince was like when he was perhaps the most misunderstood. Regardless of their personal feelings surrounding the book’s creation, readers can take note that Garcia has been adamant that she wrote the book from a loving place and that she wasn’t interested in writing a tell-all that would draw negative attention on the music legend.