My name is Michael and I’m funky! What a way to start a conversation…
Michael is a Dane living in France for 27 years, who in 2015 created his brand Sex Wine & Funk after discovering a delicious rosé wine in Provence, South France. This discovery powered his passions for wine, funk, music, and touring the world.
Michael took me on a trip through my twenties with our conversation. Suddenly, I was back in the 80s with the big hair, the shoulder pads, block make-up, lace frontages, tight trousers, and overtly sexual men playing women and women playing men – it was a truly wonderful evening delving into Prince’s life – not to mention my Greek lemon chicken with Prince’s music as the backdrop in my head.
Born in Denmark in ’67 the same year that James Brown’s Cold Sweat was declared ‘funky’ gave Michael his lifelong connection with ‘Funk’, he believes. He also grew up in pretty funky surroundings, in a chateau by the sea with botanical gardens which his parents looked after for the Danish government.
His knowledge and love of soul and funk music are very evident, stemming from his family playing a lot of different music to him from an early age. He specifically remembers his older brother making him listen to T-Rex at the age of 5; ‘Ride a White Swan’ made a significant impression on his young mind, he loved the clothes, the make-up, the gestures, and the flamboyancy. His younger brother was a big Sweet fan, going to concerts from the age of 13. Who knew that Sweet were big in Denmark in the ’70s?!
Earning pocket money from the age of 9 workings in the fields with his brothers, he spent all his money on a tape machine and thereafter on cassettes, his first being Abba’s ‘Arrival’ in ’76. Once bought, Michael had arrived!
He recorded a lot of music off the radio, Radio Luxembourg being his favorite, as they played tracks 2 or 3 months ahead of the other stations.
The disco period followed, which he liked, but it wasn’t until Adam Ant came along that he made that same connection that he had with Marc Bolan. Dress and attitude along with the painted face, which retrospectively he also sees as his connection to Prince.
He really liked the late ‘70’s, through to the early ’80s with the change to the music scene, especially the late punk era, and the New Romantics, leading to Malcolm McLaren with his links between the music and fashion worlds, managing and styling various bands including The New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, Adam Ant, and later Bow Wow Wow, another connection which the young Michael noted.
Sucking up all this inspiration at the age of 14, Michael started going to nightclubs and making his own clothes, creating his own relationship between fashion and music which led to him developing his unique sense of style. His school ‘work experience’ at the same age was in a record store, which for him really cemented in his mind that he was going to work with music in the future.
When asked for his top 5 songs, Michael said that it would be easier to list his top 5,000. Anyway, he managed it after some thought!
For the last 2 songs, Michael wanted to explain that Adam Ant had slowed down in ‘83/’84 (as he was dealing with his bi-polar) and because of this he felt he was left waiting for the next best thing to arrive; when on December 26th ’82, he had just left a Rambo movie; he was on his bike and a car pulled up alongside him at the traffic lights, window open and was playing ‘1999’.
‘Wow!’ He thought ‘what’s that?’ He had to wait a few weeks for it to arrive on the radio, to know more. This single chance encounter started his massive obsession with Prince.
As Michael enthuses, Prince was a genius, for example when he wrote ‘When Doves Cry’ & ‘Kiss’ – he took the bass line out, which Warner brothers didn’t agree with, but they were two of his most successful songs early on. If you listen back now, you don’t think it’s wrong to not have a bass playing.
“The ‘Purple Rain’ period was amazing, I remember watching a concert in the middle of the night from Syracuse in ‘85, and literally a month later the album ‘Around the World in a Day’ came out, he was such a prolific song maker. This was the most important album for me, it was so different.”
Around this time Prince was writing and producing for lots of different artists.
He wrote for Sheena Easton in ‘84 (as Alexander Nevermind), ‘Manic Monday’ for the Bangles in ’86 (as Christopher), co-wrote ‘Stand Back’ with Stevie Nicks, and Kenny Rogers (as Joey Coco), amongst and including over the years: The Time, The Family, Madonna, and Patti Labelle, with lots of artistes, also covering his tracks, one of the most successful being Sinead O’Connor with ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’.
Michael had to buy German magazines, to access music from abroad, as the Danish magazines weren’t very good. Reading one of these magazines he saw a photo of Adam Ant with his new girlfriend Vanity, Michael realized that Prince had dated her too, then also Billy Idol, so another connection was made between all 3 artists that he admired and listened to in the early ’80s.
He found that following Prince became a drug; waiting for his next song, wondering what his next outfit would be, how the new look would sit.
When he made the film track in ‘89 for Batman he created a whole album around it in just 2 days. He was always like that, he would call his musicians up at 4 in the morning and expect them to get to the studio in 30 minutes just so he could record 3 or 4 songs.
“He didn’t seem to sleep. He played 27 instruments, and he got his first record deal at 17. On his first two albums: ‘For You’ in ‘78, and ‘Prince’ in ’79, he played all the instruments. Nobody could compare to him.”
In ‘92 he signed the most expensive record deal at the time for a solo artist, for $100 million. He realized afterward that it would compromise him creatively, as Warner Bros didn’t want him to flood the market with too many albums each year. To show Warner Bros that he could make music that would sell he wrote ‘the most beautiful girl in the World’ which came out under his own label NPG.
Believing that he could be released from his recording deal by changing his name, Prince was Prince no more, so the ’90s was an exciting time.
He met Mayte in 1990. Mayte, her mum, and her sister went to a couple of his concerts as her sister was a big fan. On the way into one concert, Prince spotted a girl in the queue – he told the other band members that one day he would marry that girl, that girl was Mayte.
Unbeknownst to Prince, at the same concert, Mayte’s mum gave a video of Mayte belly dancing (she was 16, Prince was 32 at the time) to a bodyguard to give to Prince during the break. After the show, Prince watched the video and found Mayte and her mum and they exchanged numbers. When she was 18 he contacted her to see if she wanted to join him on stage dancing. They married on Valentine’s day in 1996.
In ‘97 Prince more or less stopped putting out records, instead, he started to put out music online. When he put out a new song, you could access it online within 30 mins, which was amazing for the fans. He was completely self-funded at this point.
In 2002 Michael went on a Paisley Park tour for a week, along with 1,500 other fans. He listened to Prince’s jukebox, played on his ping pong table.
As fans they had access to his sound checks – in Italy there were only 100 people. Michael had conversations with him. He always knew that there was a circle, that he’d met him for a reason, but at that point, he wasn’t sure of the reason, or how the circle would close.
If it hadn’t had been for Prince’s death then Michael wouldn’t have the relationship that he now has with Mayte and his business that he created in 2015.
When Prince died in 2016, music didn’t matter as much to Michael that. Prince still to this day inspires Michael and the real Prince fans have created Facebook groups, so now they’re even more connected and committed to keeping his legacy alive.
Via one of these fan groups, Michael got in contact with Mayte and went on a group getaway to Morocco. He went around with them for a few days, and as he speaks French he realized that it could have been better organized, so he stepped in to help.
On the last night, Mayte asked him to help with future trips, so he organized one in France, that started in Bordeaux, visited St Emilion, took them down to Carcassonne, then on to St Tropez for 3 nights, and last up to Paris for a night at the Moulin Rouge.
During these trips, Mayte travels and talks to the fans about Prince and her relationship with him. She lived with him for 10 years and through this time they lost 2 babies. They split up in 2000. I sensed from Michael that Prince was a very spiritual person, so I asked him if Prince knew that he was going to die, and he said yes, he did.
He was very sad, he was in pain, he’d spent years doing the splits, his hips and knees hurt continuously. He was taking pain relief bought illegally to get a high enough dose for the pain. He died from an accidental fentanyl overdose, a powerful opioid painkiller.
He told many people that he had done everything he wanted to do in his life, he died at 57, alone in a lift in his house.
He looked very peaceful in death. Inspectors took photos and posted them on the internet, thankfully they were taken down very quickly. He looked like he was sleeping. He was on the floor next to the elevator, with a police tag on his wrist.
Prince didn’t leave any will. He had a sister and 7 half brothers and sisters. So it’s a bit messy.
Mayte and Prince used to have a house near Malaga, Spain and everything was marked with the Prince insignia, like royalty. She held onto the house after the divorce for a few years.
Prince’s sister was quite close to him, but she sold her part of his estate last year, as she didn’t want a part of it anymore, because the estate keeps releasing his songs – he had 3,000 unreleased songs in his vaults – he would have hated it.
He used to block YouTube bootlegs whenever he could, as he was still working on them and would come back to them at a later date, so nothing in the vaults was a finished song.
There were 63 unreleased songs that have recently been released; they were recorded at the same time as ‘Sign of the Times’ – Prince would never have approved them, they were never finished.
Currently, Mayte has a dog rescue in Las Vegas, she lives in a different world now. She does shows in Vegas, belly-dancing and there are still enough fans for her to have a business talking about and sharing her life with Prince.
She has an adopted child from Mexico; someone knocked on her door 9 years ago with a baby, born on the same day as Mayte, and asked her to take the baby. Her daughter is now about 10 years old.
If it wasn’t for Covid they would have been in Spain in September 2020 (on another Prince fan trip), it’s been moved to 11th-19th September 2021, starting in Madrid, going to Cordoba, then down south, and ending up in Barcelona. They’ll visit Mayte’s aunt in Granada.
Michael created the brand ‘Sex, wine & Funk’ ™ feeling it was more apt nowadays, more his generation, instead of what he grew up with in the late ’70s (Sex, drugs & rock n’ roll).
The brand embraces his passions; wine, fashion, and lifestyle. The wine is a luscious rosé from Provence, that has been endorsed by Mayte, ‘the most beautiful rosé in the world’.
He’s working on a beachwear line, with independent fashion designers to create unique designs.
You can find Sex, Wine & Funk rosé in bars and wine shops throughout SW France and online, along with SW&F branded glasses, wooden boxes, and furniture