||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
|Birth name||Denise Katrina Matthews|
|Also known as||Denise Matthews-Smith, D.D. Winters|
January 4, 1959 |
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
|Genres||Soul, R&B, Funk|
|Labels||Motown, A&M, Geffen|
|Associated acts||Vanity 6, Prince|
Denise Katrina Matthews (born January 4, 1959), better known as Vanity and sometimes credited as Denise Matthews-Smith and D.D. Winters, is a Canadian-born former singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and model. Vanity's career lasted from the 1980s until the early mid-'90s. She was the lead singer of the female trio Vanity 6, which recorded the 1982 R&B hit "Nasty Girl".
Early life 
Vanity was born Denise Matthews in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her mother is of Polish and Jewish descent and was born in Germany  while her father was African American, Hawaiian and Native American. Her sister is Canadian model Patricia Matthews. She grew up up in Niagara Falls and came from what she called a "broken home". Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother suffered from alcoholism and depression. Matthews' father was abusive towards her and her sisters. As a child, along with her sisters and step siblings, she regularly moved back and forth between her father and stepmother, mother, and grandparents.
Vanity began entering local beauty pageants before moving to Toronto, where she modeled. She won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977, and went on to compete for Miss Canada in 1978. At age 19, she moved to New York to further her career. She signed with Zoli Model Agency. Because she was short in stature, her modeling career was limited to commercials and photo shoots; it included no runway work. Matthews appeared in ads for Pearl Drops toothpaste, before completing a modeling stint in Japan. As Vanity, she posed twice for Playboy magazine, in May 1985 and again in April 1988. Throughout the 1980s to the mid-1990s, Vanity appeared in many magazines around the world. Additionally, she was the cover model for the funk/R&B band Cameo's 1982 album Alligator Woman, as well as their 1984 album She's Strange.
In 1980, she met Prince at the American Music Awards. Prince renamed her Vanity because, he said, he saw his female reflection when he looked at her. After learning that Vanity could sing, Prince asked her to become the lead singer of the group Vanity 6. This group was known for its sexually explicit lyrics, performances, and costumes (the "6" in their name referred to the female trio's breasts). The group's biggest hit, "Nasty Girl", was produced by Prince. In late 1982, the group went on the 1999 tour with Prince and The Time until spring 1983. Vanity 6 made headlines and gained a following with their provocative performances during the tour.
After one album, Vanity decided to leave Vanity 6. She did not appear in the film Purple Rain in 1983. Several songs for Vanity 6's proposed second album were recorded. They were later released as bootlegs.
Vanity signed a record deal with Motown Records in 1984 and recorded two solo albums, Wild Animal and Skin On Skin. Extended versions of the single "Pretty Mess" from Wild Animal b/w "Mechanical Emotion," which featured Morris Day, were released as a 12" by Motown. Her solo albums were moderate successes. Her biggest hit was "Under the Influence" from her 1986 album Skin On Skin. Not long after Vanity's second album was released, she either left or was dropped from Motown and signed with A&M Records. Later she signed with Geffen Records.
In 1988, under the production of friend/former The Time member Jesse Johnson, she recorded songs for the Action Jackson movie soundtrack, including the song "Faraway Eyes," which became one of her most well-known hits. That year Vanity also worked on a third album with two of her peers from her days with Prince, former The Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as Tony LeMans, but the album was either never completed or never released. Vanity's work as a recording artist ceased.
In 1980, Matthews had a small role in the horror movie Terror Train, which was filmed in Montreal a year earlier. She then went to Toronto to film the lead role in the B-movie Tanya's Island. At the time of both film roles, she was billed as D.D. Winters. After her music career started, Vanity starred in a number of movies, including The Last Dragon, which featured her underground hit "7th Heaven." In 1986 she starred in Never Too Young to Die opposite John Stamos. The film also featured Gene Simmons. She went on to appear in 52 Pick-Up and 1988's Action Jackson, her highest profile role, in which she starred opposite Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, and Sharon Stone.
From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Vanity guest-starred on numerous TV shows. She played a villain who tortured Nancy Allen's character in the 1990 TV movie Memories of Murder, guest-starred in an episode of Miami Vice's third season, and in 1992 appeared in an episode of Highlander: The Series She also appeared in Friday the 13th: The Series in the episode entitled "Mesmer's Bauble".
Personal life 
Vanity liked to paint surrealistic and erotic paintings in her free time. She also personally designed many of the outfits that she wore on stage and to events.
Besides Prince, Vanity was linked romantically to Adam Ant and Billy Idol. In 1987, she stated that she and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx were engaged (although Sixx denied this claim). She joked that she would become Vanity 6 (Sixx) again. They never married. In Sixx's 2007 autobiography, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, he describes his 1987 drug use with Vanity, who was addicted to crack cocaine at the time. In 1995, Vanity married football player Anthony Smith, of the Oakland Raiders. They divorced in 1996. Due to the effects on her kidneys of years of drug use while a performer, she must now undergo peritoneal dialysis five times a day (each session is 20 minutes long).
Christian conversion 
Vanity gave up her stage name and became a born-again Christian in 1994, the year she almost died from the effects of smoking crack cocaine. She claims that after being rushed to the hospital, doctors said she had three days to live while on life support. She said that Jesus came to her at this time and spoke to her, saying if she promised to give up her Vanity persona, he would save her. In 1995, she said, "When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — every interview, every tape, every video. Everything." She has stated that she has chosen not to receive any further revenue from her work as Vanity, and has cut off all ties with Hollywood and her former life in the music business. After a kidney transplant in 1997, she decided to devote her life to evangelism. She now speaks at churches across the United States and worldwide.
In 2010, Matthews released her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity.
Studio albums 
With Vanity 6 
- Vanity 6 (1982)
Solo discography 
- (1985) The Last Dragon: the song "7th Heaven"
- (1988) Action Jackson: the songs "Undress", "Faraway Eyes", and "Shotgun" with David Koz and featuring vocalist Kareem
Guest vocals 
- (1982) provided backing vocals for Prince's song "Free" on the album 1999.
- (1982) provided spoken vocals for The Time (band)'s song "The Walk" on the album 'What Time Is It? (album)'.
- (1982) along with other Vanity 6 members, provided spoken vocals for The Time (band)'s song "Wild and Loose" on the album 'What Time Is It? (album)'.
- (1986) provided backing vocals for El DeBarge's "Secrets of the Night", on his album El DeBarge. In the liner notes, Vanity's backing vocal contributions are referred to as "sensuous".
- (1994) on Prince's track "Orgasm", from his album Come. Prince sampled Vanity's moaning which was originally recorded on an unreleased track from 1983 entitled "Vibrator". In the liner notes for "Orgasm", Vanity is simply credited as "she knows".
Other work and unreleased songs 
- (1982/1983) 3 unreleased tracks which were originally scheduled to be on a second Vanity 6 album before Vanity left the group:
While the versions with Vanity's vocals remain officially unreleased, all 3 have been leaked extensively to the internet.
- (1989) performed a cover version of "Nature Boy" during a guest appearance on the TV show Friday the 13th: The Series in the episode 'The Secret Agenda of Mesmer's Bauble' as a pop star named 'Angelica'. It was thought this song may have been from Vanity's unreleased/never completed third solo album.
With Vanity 6 
|Year||Title||U.S.||U.S. R&B||U.S. dance|
|1982||"He's So Dull"||—||—||—|
|"Drive Me Wild"||—||—||—|
|Year||Title||U.S.||U.S. R&B||U.S. dance|
|1986||"Under the Influence"||56||9||6|
Music videos 
Vanity appeared in 7 released music videos:
- (1982) "Nasty Girl", "He's So Dull" and "Drive Me Wild"
- (1984) "Pretty Mess"
- (1985) "7th Heaven" (the video clips were taken from the movie The Last Dragon)
- (1986) "Under The Influence"
- (1988) "He Turned Me Out", a song performed by The Pointer Sisters from the soundtrack of Action Jackson. Vanity's co-star in the movie, Carl Weathers, appears alongside her in the video.
- a video for "Mechanical Emotion" was made, but never released, in late 1984/early 1985.
- (1980) Klondike Fever (uncredited)
- (1980) Terror Train (as D.D. Winters)
- (1980) Tanya's Island (as D.D. Winters)
- (1985) The Last Dragon
- (1986) Never Too Young to Die
- (1986) 52 Pick-Up
- (1987) Deadly Illusion
- (1988) Action Jackson
- (1992) South Beach
- (1992) Neon City
- (1993) Da Vinci's War
- (1997) Kiss of Death
Television work 
- (1987) Miami Vice (episode: By Hooker By Crook)
- (1987) The New Mike Hammer (episode: Green Lipstick/Mike's Daughter)
- (1988) T. and T. (episode: A Secret No More)
- (1989) Friday the 13th: The Series (episode: The Secret Agenda of Mesmer's Bauble)
- 1989) Booker (episode: Deals and Wheels: Part 1)
- (1990) Memories of Murder [made-for-TV-movie]
- (1991) Tales from the Crypt (episode: Dead Wait)
- (1991) Sweating Bullets aka Tropical Heat (episode: Mafia Mistress)
- (1992) Silk Stalkings (episode: Powder Burn)
- (1992) Lady Boss [TV mini-series]
- (1992) Highlander: The Series (episode: Revenge Is Sweet)
- (1993) Counterstrike (episode: Muerte)
- Courtland, Milloy (1997-06-04). "Former Siren Is Singing A New Song". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-15.: "Denise K. Matthews, of Niagara Falls... daughter of an African American father and a Polish Jewish mother..."
- Buchalter, Gail. (1984-10-15) Her Romance with Prince Hit the Rocks, but Vanity's Singing Career Is Going Grrr-Eat. Peopledf.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
- Christian, Margena A. (2007-11-26). "Vanity". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 112 (21): 49. ISSN 0021-5996.
- "Vanity Weds Pro Football Star Anthony Smith After Monthlong Courtship". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 87 (23): 14. 1995-04-17. ISSN 021-5996.
- Rettenmund, Matthew (1996). Totally Awesome 80s: A Lexicon Of the Music, Videos, Movies, TV shows, Stars, and Trends Of That Decadent Decade. Macmillan. p. 57. ISBN 0-312-14436-9.
- denisematthews.com. denisematthews.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
- Blame It On Vanity. Blame It On Vanity. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
- Whitburn, Joel (2005). Bubbling Under The Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004 (2nd ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 277. ISBN 0-89820-162-4.
- ((( Vanity > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles ))). allmusic (1959-01-04). Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (10th ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 739. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Denise Matthews website (with no Vanity content)
- Vanity at the Internet Movie Database
- Vanity at Allmusic
- Denise "Vanity" Matthews from The Last Dragon Tribute