Royal flush: Prince cleans up his act

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Prince, the pop-funk icon who broke barriers in the `80s with his leave-nothing-to-the-imagination lyrics and overtly sexual live shows, has gone G-rated for his current tour.

Gone are setlists that played up some of his more over-the-top numbers, such as "Head" and "Sexy M.F." and album covers that showed the musician nearly-and sometimes completely-naked.

In their place is a family friendly Prince, to whom the business community has quickly responded. Regal Theaters drew 25,000 people to an all-ages simulcast of one of Prince's kickoff shows recently. Though the event didn't require a movie rating, Regal executives said it could easily have earned a "G" and that many parents brought kids to the show.

The concert was shown live, with no editing, and broke Regal records for a one-night music event, said Dan Diamond, Regal's VP-new business development. The crowd ran the gamut from hardcore adult fans to suburban moms and young executives.

Prince's repositioning comes as the media world is still reeling from a post-Super Bowl backlash and the obscenity debate it's fueled in Washington. Nearly every aspect of the media, from TV and radio to traditional advertising, is under a microscope. Though parental advisory stickers still appear on CDs, live performances, so far, have not been included in the current clamp down.

all about the music

But the highly charged environment hasn't caused Prince to strip away the striptease and some of the bawdier songs in his repertoire, nor have his handlers, who are few, advised him to keep it clean, said Ronnie Lippin, a veteran Los Angeles-based publicist currently working with Prince. "He's very consciously drawing the attention to the music."

Prince, who has spoken publicly about his faith as a Jehovah's Witness, also has said he feels there's little envelope left to push, given today's crop of risque artists. What was shocking when he emerged some 25 years ago is considered relatively tame now, he has said. The enigmatic musician has done several mainstream interviews to plug his new CD, "Musicology."

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