One of the most exciting events of the summer is a participatory screening of Prince’s classic film “Purple Rain” in Prospect Park — but it never could have happened without one Park Slope man.
Howard Bloom saved Prince’s self-produced, 1984 film from the dustbin of history with an unprecedented one-man crusade that comes into full fruition with the sing-along presentation at Celebrate Brooklyn on Aug. 6.
“Prince made a film his way, which was outrageous at the time because people didn’t just cross from music to film in the 1980s,” said Bloom, who was then a music industry PR man — in theory, the opposite of the kind of free spirit who would’ve been attracted to a film as weird and non-commercial as “Purple Rain.”
But Bloom was Prince’s loyal subject long before the singer went to the big screen. Back in 1981, when Bloom was busy working with Earth, Wind and Fire (remember them?), Bloom finally heard Prince’s eponymous 1979 album — which went platinum.
“It was phenomenal,” said Bloom. “A kid no one had ever heard of had come out with an album no one had ever heard of and had gone platinum. It caught my attention, so I landed him as a client.”
One day, Bloom was sitting in his Manhattan office when Prince’s manager Bob Cavallo called with some horrible news: The suits in L.A. were grumbling about “Purple Rain.”
“You’ve got to be in Los Angeles at 11 am tomorrow,” Cavallo told Bloom. “We’re showing it to Warner Brothers tomorrow!”
Bloom arrived just in time to take part in the first-ever full screening of “Purple Rain.” The lights went down, the film started, and two hours later doves weren’t the only thing that had cried.
“I didn’t want the lights to go up” because everyone would see the tears, said Bloom. “The film tore through my emotional system.”
The suits remained unsatisfied — so Bloom put on the PR spin of the century.
“I got pissed off,” Bloom said. “Everyone was saying it wasn’t a movie.”
So he got up and made a speech in which he used terms like “cultural milestone,” “artistic landmark,” and “genius.”
“I also said that ‘killing “Purple Rain” would be a sin against art!’” said Bloom, who now spends every afternoon at the Tea Lounge on Union Street in Park Slope writing his latest non-fiction tome, “The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Revision of Capitalism.”
During his career, he represented Michael Jackson and Grandmaster Flash. But to this day, he is most eager to talk about “Purple Rain.”
“Kids still say to me, ‘Thank god you saved “Purple Rain,”’” said Bloom, whose other books include “How I Accidentally Started the Sixties,” which argues that he was at least five years ahead of the sex, drugs and rock and roll curve. “They tell me, ‘It’s the ultimate make-out movie.’”
So on Aug. 6, while the teenagers are going at it, and their parents are singing along, Howard Bloom will be miles away typing away at yet another book at the Tea Lounge. He doesn’t need to take part in the “Purple Rain” fun; he’s seen the movie before.
“Purple Rain Sing-A-Long,” part of Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park band shell (enter park at Prospect Park West and Ninth Street in Prospect Park), Aug. 6. For info, visit www.briconline.org/celebrate.