Pulling Up to the Bumper, Baby
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Grace Jones’ anthem lets you hear what it felt like to hit the club in 1981.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Forget for a second her self-parodies that began with 1984’s Arnold Schwarzenegger-helmed Conan the Destroyer and ended with Eddie Murphy’s middling Boomerang in 1992. Grace never stood as tall (or taller than her 5’9”) than she did with “Pull Up to the Bumper.”
It had an edge that bordered on the dangerous, the crazy confluence of free and freaky, the blurring of gender identity and the mating of music and high fashion. The city saw and had it all. And the standard bearer for “it all” seemed for a time to be none other than model and soon-to-be-singer Grace Jones.It’s almost impossible to describe the New York of the late 1970s to early 1980s to someone who was not there.
Co-written by Grace and a few others, the song is a sly paean, ostensibly, to how difficult it is to park in Manhattan.
“Pull up to my bumper baby / In your long black limousine / Pull up to my bumper baby / Drive it in between,” followed by “Grease it / Spray it / Let me lubricate it.”
Responsible for shows in which half-naked and hysterical fans climbed on stage and handcuffed themselves to her ankles, Grace, daughter of a minister, is a Jamaican colossus and a gay icon nonpareil. And if she never did anything else, she could rest content at having created a West Village anthem for the ages and being a source of fearless inspiration for everyone from Miley Cyrus to Tina Fey.
And because seeing is believing: