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When the sun rose on May 4, Prince’s brilliant alfresco Aboriginal Avenue had afflicted colors. The day before, it had been white like all the added stars on the building. Now it was gold. The blush change appeared to be the club’s way of added immortalizing an immortal. The abandoned problem? Aboriginal Ave. didn’t do it—nor did it apperceive who did. This is the untold adventure of the hero-fan who pulled off a achievement 30 years in the making. 

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Peyton Russell is standing abandoned in an empty room at Paisley Park waiting for Prince to call.

The 26-year-old graffiti artisan has been pulled off what he was animate on and summoned to this room. His abandoned apprenticeship is to acknowledgment the abandoned buzz aback it rings.

It’s January 1996 and Paisley’s basic for Prince’s Valentine’s Day bells to ballerina Mayte Garcia. A day advanced they’d enlisted Russell, a breathtaking artisan at the compound, to actualize a ample decrepit glass–style affection on the building’s advanced window application 8-by-10-foot bedding of red Mylar. Over the advance of six hours, Russell cut the Mylar into odd-shaped artery and covered the majority of the window with a circuitous affection he was appreciative of. He was up on a ladder finishing aback he accomplished Prince was continuing abaft him. Russell climbed bottomward and asked him what he thought. Prince looked at him, said nothing, and absolved away. Addition man entered.

“We’ve got a problem,” he said.

“Oh no,” Russell groaned.

“Prince said the affection looks like it’s broken.” 

Russell could see it. All those little artery of Mylar—it did attending broken. 


Now, a day later, abandoned in the allowance abysmal central Paisley, Russell waits for his boot orders. As he considers the applesauce of demography a alarm from Prince aural Prince’s own home, the artisan walks in. 

“How’re you doing?” Russell says to the man he’s been abandoned with on several occasions but who has never said a chat anon to him. Prince almost registers the pleasantry. The buzz rings. And rings. Russell looks at Prince. He’s been told to answer, but now the man who was declared to be calling is continuing appropriate aing to him. Afterwards several rings, Prince looks at Russell and afresh nods at the phone. Russell answers. 

“So, OK, we gotta fix the heart.” It’s the man from the day afore abandoned now he’s in Houston for some reason.

“How do I do that?” asks Russell.

“Hang up the phone. I’ll alarm you back.”

As anon as Russell’s buzz hits the cradle, addition buzz rings. From out of boilerplate Prince produces a gold phone, bond and all, and answers it. Afterwards some whispering, Prince hangs up. Russell’s buzz rings again. 

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“Tomorrow you’re accepting added Mylar,” says the abettor in Houston. “Fill in the cracks, booty it down, try a altered design. Aloof don’t accomplish it attending broken.”

“OK, what about the blue?” asks Russell. “Do you like the blue? Because I accept lots of dejected Mylar about the red.”

“Hold on a sec.”

Prince’s buzz rings again, an aside chat is had, afresh Russell’s rings. 

“Yes, we like the blue,” the man says and afresh pauses. “But could you add some purple?” 

Peyton Scott Russell grew up in arctic Minneapolis in the 1980s. Admitting walking the aforementioned streets Prince had absolved a bearing earlier, Russell wasn’t yet a fan, preferring hip-hop to the adjacency hero. It took affective to Chicago for art academy for Russell to absolutely accept his adolescent northsider. 

All the Art Institute of Chicago kids admired Prince, and they opened Russell’s eyes. It was 1988, Lovey was out, and the attitude of the Minneapolis kid touring the apple in a anorak that said MINNEAPOLIS on one sleeve and SOUND on the added captured Russell’s imagination. To Russell, Prince was a astrologer and his songs were sparks.

By the aboriginal ’90s, the art apprentice was hooked, authoritative trips aback to Minneapolis to be afterpiece to what was acceptable the centermost of his universe. Prince’s Warehouse District bedrock club Glam Slam was the scene, Paisley Park its after-party. Russell capital in. “Hey, what’s activity on here? Paisley Park is open, can I get in there?” Not yet.

He fabricated fast accompany with anyone who knew anyone in Prince’s universe. His mix of affability, doggedness, and aptitude floated him aloft the Glam Slam jetsam. He met the club’s art babysitter and showed him his work, mainly graffiti and printmaking at the time.  

“Do you appetite a show?”

“At Glam Slam? Are you serious?” 

Russell’s bottom was in the door. Now, to airing through it. 

It’s 1993, Glam Slam is at its cultural zenith, and there’s Prince superfan Peyton Russell blind 15 screenprinted pieces on its walls. The centerpiece, the one Russell created with the specific purpose of communicable his idol’s eye, is a 40-by-60-inch book of a 1977 Robert Whitman attempt of a adorable boyish Prince.

Russell’s finishing aback Prince walks in. Calmly, and with no accepting of the artist, he sizes up the show, endlessly at the admiration to him. He looks at it for a continued time. Doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t react. Aloof stares. Then, he leaves.

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“What was that?” Russell wonders. The administrator walks in.

“We’ve been ordered to booty this one down,” he says.

“What, are you serious? The Afro print?” 

“He’s not absolutely into that appropriate now. You know, it’s an earlier picture. So we’ve been ordered to booty it down.”

As the appearance goes on, Prince begins to adumbration Russell. Aback Russell sits down, Prince sits aing to him. If Russell moves to a altered seat, Prince moves to a altered seat. 

Time passes but Russell’s amethyst adumbration persists until eventually he can’t booty it anymore and makes a bent beeline anon against him. Russell easily Prince a portfolio of photographs of all his artwork. Silently, Prince flips through the book. “This is it!” Russell thinks. 

“What are you doing?!” A bouncer yells and puts Russell in a abounding nelson as Prince reels aback in abhorrence admitting accepting aloof agreeably looked at Russell’s offering.

“Hey man, I’m aloof aggravating to appearance him my work,” Russell says as he and his portfolio get kicked out. 

Russell is bent to go added into Prince’s world, so he clearly moves home from Chicago and allotment to Glam Slam and Paisley night afterwards night. As he becomes added approved on the scene, he befriends the brand of bounded club DJ Alan Freed and Paisley Park apparel artisan John Bevill, and that aboriginal appearance at Glam Slam gives way to more. Eventually, he becomes a citizen artisan at Glam Slam and sister club Rogue and starts activity to movies with the Paisley aggregation at the Chanhassen cine amphitheater (Prince’s treat). He alike becomes accompany with the associates of Prince’s 1990s bandage The New Power Generation. He gets forth abnormally able-bodied with keyboardist Tommy Barbarella, who, forth with his bandmates, becomes a accoutrement at Russell’s 7,500-square-foot Minneapolis flat space, alike assuming there on occasion.

September 15, 1993 is a attenuate night abroad from the crew. Russell is animate at his flat aback he gets the alarm to get dressed. Thirty account afterwards he’s in the advanced row of a Lenny Kravitz appearance at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Later, he active to Paisley for a Kravitz-led after-show. The army is small, aloof the centermost of close Paisley circles. Afterwards 15 account Russell, and abandoned Russell, gets frisked by a aegis guard. 

“Just authoritative abiding you don’t accept any cameras or recording devices,” says the guard.

“How abounding times accept I been here?” says Russell. “What’s activity on?”

The bouncer rolls his eyes. “I’m aloof accomplishing as I’m told.”

As the night continues so do the friskings, which accept absorbed on reminding Russell that his abode in the arena comes with a catch. It appears that Prince wants him about but on advisedly diff footing. Prince’s world, afterwards all, is congenital chiefly of two categories: women who adulation him and musicians whom he controls. Russell fits neither category—he’s chatty in an aesthetic accent Prince can’t speak. 

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The bouncer approaches one aftermost time and says, “We aloof gotta booty you out the aback and absorb some time with you.”

“This is crazy,” says Russell. 

Thanks to his flat freeholder Kay Kropp, a breathtaking artisan who does approved assignment at Paisley Park, Russell starts accepting gigs at Paisley proper. And yet Prince continues to broadcast the adolescent artist, who is consistently one of the aftermost to get let through the doors at the Paisley parties, sometimes actuality larboard alfresco for hours. Prince, it seems, is absolution Russell into his apple aloof to accumulate him out of it.

It’s 1995 and The Gold Experience is the Prince almanac of the moment. Russell and Kropp are in the capital atrium at Paisley animate on a moss-covered dolphin carve in account of the distinct “Dolphin” aback a abettor comes in and escorts them into a baby room. Prince enters the allowance and whispers to the handler. 

“Too abundant moss on the dolphin,” the abettor says.

“OK. Where do you appetite the moss off?”

Prince and the abettor allocution agilely for a minute, and afresh the abettor says, “Yeah, aloof booty it off the head, off the fins, accent it bottomward a bit, and we’ll booty a attending at it.”

 At this point, such antic amateur are common, with Russell arena the role of afraid participant. One day, Russell can’t agitate the activity he’s actuality watched. He scans the Paisley atrium, sees nothing, and gets aback to work. But the hairs on his close are continuing up, so he turns about afresh and looks closely. Afresh he sees them: the whites of Prince’s eyes. 

“Shit! He’s staring at me through a plant,” Russell says to himself as he reticently nods against the ambuscade superstar, who afresh glides away.

Later that year Russell is advancing for an art appearance of his own at his flat space. He calls it Brown Fizz of Consciousness, and he pulls out all the stops announcement it. The invitations abide of chichi brochures and active mini screenprints. Each affiliate of the The New Power Bearing gets one and accepts. Russell asks Barbarella if he thinks he should accord an allure to Prince. 

“Yeah, man,” says Barbarella. “Give him the invitation. So what?” 

Russell walks admiral to the alfresco of Prince’s close sanctum. There’s a aperture there with a mailbox on it. He deposits the allure and leaves.

The appearance goes off afterwards a hitch, but cipher from The New Power Bearing shows. Afterward, while Russell is charwoman up, Barbarella walks in.

“Dude, acknowledgment for showing!” mocks Russell.

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“Man, I’m sorry,” says Barbarella.

“What happened?”

“He alleged a rehearsal!”


“Yep, we were accepting accessible for your appearance and he alleged a rehearsal. I anticipate he did it on purpose to stop us from advancing here,” says Barbarella as he helps his acquaintance clean. “And you apperceive what we played for the aftermost three hours? ‘Purple Rain.’”

By backward 1997 Russell has apparent it all. Prince’s admirable antic on him is demography its toll, and Russell is beneath absorbed in actuality on the accepting end of it. By now Russell’s own art has taken centermost stage. Admitting he no best works at Paisley, he still stops in on occasion. 

One night, Russell and John Bevill appearance up for a Paisley party. They delay in the antechamber as throngs of bodies are boring arrive in. The army dwindles until Russell and Bevill are alone. This time feels different,  somehow beneath hopeful, than the abandoned antechamber moments that preceded it. And then, abrupt and unapologetic, the antechamber lights about-face off. 

After actuality shut out of Paisley, a blood-soaked Russell turns his aback on Prince. He stashes his Prince tapes, CDs, and bootlegs into accumulator and moves on. He goes all in on his arts organization, Juxtaposition, teaching art to kids, and, for a time, alike competes internationally in kickboxing. 

By the alpha of 2016, Russell’s Prince era is tidily oned up. He has a family, is still an artisan and teacher, and doesn’t accept to or absolutely alike allocution about Prince anymore. He’s absent blow with best of his Paisley friends, including Tommy Barbarella. Prince is so far gone for Russell that aback he hears about Prince’s afterlife on April 21, he feels annihilation at first. But afresh he reflects on his time at Paisley. He address out his accumulation of albums. As the day rolls on, the memories and affections he’s been blame into the black backfire into the light.

His anguish turns to determination. He wants to accomplish article for Prince, to assemblage all his graffiti artisan accompany for some admirable gesture. Alike admitting Russell, like endless others, had been a assurance in Prince’s aberrant cerebral games, he wants to say goodbye to the musician—something he abjure not actuality able to do aback Prince was alive. Nor was he able to say acknowledgment for whatever it was that Prince gave him all those years ago. 

On the night of the 21st, Russell makes his way bottomward to Aboriginal Ave. As he stands attractive at the bags of people, the flowers, the aggregate mourning, it hits him: the star. He will about-face the Prince brilliant gold. And he’ll do it secretly.

After a brace of weeks, the Aboriginal Ave. crowds die bottomward and Russell stakes out the brilliant in the average of the night, eventually free that the ideal time to bang would be at about 3:30 am. He additionally settles on his agency for adorning the star: 24-carat gold leaf. 

He orders the gold blade and assembles a aggregation of co-conspirators to be on the accessible for a mission on the night of May 3. In the absorption of secrecy, he tells abandoned one of them—the man who’d accomplished him how to gold leaf—what the absolute mission is.

Gold leafing is aerial business. It takes time. Russell aboriginal tapes off the star, afresh varnishes it with an adherent. Afresh he waits for it to dry aloof the appropriate amount—too wet and it’ll booty the afterglow off the gold, too dry and the gold blade won’t stick. 

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A brace of bodies airing by. “Hey, what are you guys doing?”

“Oh, we’re putting bright covering on the star,” says Russell.

“Are you accomplishing that to the added ones?” the eyewitness queries.

“Nope. Aloof this one.”

The bodies airing on.

It’s humid, so the adorn takes a while to cure, but aback it assuredly does it happens quickly. Russell starts applying the gold blade as fast as he can. He misses a brace of big spots and has to re-apply varnish. He waits again. 

At 6 am, bodies alpha to actualize downtown. Russell assuredly finishes, and he and his aggregation apple-pie up and afresh vanish. 

The aing day Russell drives aback to analysis his work. Anon after, chat of the gold brilliant ancestor up on amusing media. At first, bodies accept Aboriginal Ave. is abaft the act, but the club stays silent. Dan Corrigan, the club’s longtime photographer, tells 89.3 The Current that “somebody did a guerrilla acrylic job.” “Benevolent abstruseness defacer paints Prince’s Aboriginal Ave. brilliant gold,” screams a City Pages headline. 

Months go by, and the brilliant charcoal gold. Russell’s character charcoal a mystery. And then, one day this fall, he decides it’s time to acquaint his story. 

It turns out Prince didn’t consistently broadcast Russell. 

Near the end of Russell’s Paisley era, aback he’d already started teaching art to  acceptance via Juxtaposition, Prince sends a bus to aces up all of Russell’s acceptance and booty them to Paisley for a concert. They all get Prince jackets and a semi-private admirers with the artisan himself beforehand. 

“OK, what do you guys wanna know?” Prince asks the students.

There are a few adults there, too, and they booty over, allurement their own questions—silly being about overplayed capacity like Amethyst Rain.

“I aloof appetite to apprehend from the kids,” says Prince. 

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But the adults can’t advice themselves and arrest again.

Silently, Prince gets up and leaves.     

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