The Constant Metamorphosis of Nona Hendryx

Hendryx was once fast to connect the Black Rock Coalition, a nonprofit based to counter racism within the trade, and raised cash for H.I.V./AIDS and L.G.B.T. reasons. Publicly out early — “It’s an open book,” she informed The Suggest in 2001, of her sexuality — she has been in a courting with Vicki Wickham, a British manufacturer and Labelle’s supervisor, since 1971. They’ve lived in a rent-stabilized Higher West Facet rental, with one room as Hendryx’s gear-filled studio, for greater than 40 years.

“She’s been very comfortable in her own skin,” stated the tennis big name Billie Jean King, a pal for roughly that lengthy. “She doesn’t go, ‘Oh, well, is this good for my image?’ She’s very authentic. It comes from the center of her being.”

Hendryx releases song handiest sporadically. “I really, truly know that fame is fleeting,” she stated. “And actually, money is fleeting, right? So my joy is in the doing.”

And her doing is frequently wildly imaginative, like the multi-sensory homage to Sun Ra that she arranged on the Met Museum’s Temple of Dendur on Soar Year in 2020.

Clinton, the 82-year-old Parliament-Funkadelic frontman, is her longtime brethren: He did her hair within the ’60s, when he was once nonetheless a Unutilized Jersey barber. A couple of years in the past, then a display, they danced on tables in Ibiza. “A lot of musicians our age are not relevant at this stage in our life, but she’s been able to stay in touch,” he stated, as a result of she was once experimenting from the leap. “You do that with a risk of not being normal or top of the pop charts,” he added, in a telephone interview between excursion stops. “But you last much longer.”

On the Betty Davis tribute, in a white shirt with twirling, floor-length sleeves, a skintight holographic silver swimsuit, pompadoured ponytail and big-eyed butterfly glasses, Hendryx appeared like she beamed in from a planet handiest inhabited by way of Prince (whom she additionally collaborated with). She incessantly ceded the highlight to her background vocalists, but if she got here ahead, she killed: Bringing out a falsetto and a growl, she carried out virtually a whole music in a deep crouch on the underpinning of the degree, after twerked from atop the drums.