VH1’s new reality series Hollywood Exes officially premieres tonight and one of the women viewers will be meeting is Mayte Garcia, the former wife of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.
Mayte and Prince’s story is a fascinating one that began after Mayte’s love of dance led to her becoming the youngest professional belly dancer in the world, or at least that is how she was billed when she appeared on the show That’s Incredible before she had even turned ten. Years later, while Prince was on tour in Germany where Mayte’s father was stationed at the time, cupid notched his arrow.
“My dad showed him a video of me dancing and Prince asked to meet me,” Mayte recalls. Prince, who was 32 at the time, later met 16-year-old Mayte for the first time backstage.
“My first thought was, ‘Wow, he’s really – small!’ It came as a surprise, because he’s got such a huge presence on stage,” Mayte says. “When I mentioned I could flip coins on my belly, he called everyone into the room to watch.”
Prince, after asking permission of course, began contacting Mayte and continued to do so for almost two years. Amazingly, he would send her his new recordings and she would respond with her comments on the songs as well as videotaped recordings of her dancing to them. He also talked to her every other day on the phone.
^ Mayte Garcia and Prince appear on a talk show in 1997
“Looking back, it was a bit surreal,” Mayte recalls. “I didn’t tell many of my friends because they wouldn’t have believed me. It was all quite innocent, but quite intense.”
As soon as Mayte graduated high school at the age of 17, she visited Prince at his home (Paisley Park) in Minnesota and almost immediately was invited to go on an international tour with him as a dancer.
On Valentine’s Day in 1996, Mayte Garcia and Prince married. At the time, Mayte was 22 and Prince was 37. Here’s a 1996 interview with the happy couple on The Today Show conducted by Bryant Gumble:
On October 16, 1996, Mayte and Prince had a baby boy and named him Boy Gregory. Tragically, after being born a month premature, Boy Gregory was diagnosed with Pfeiffer syndrome and died at one week old.
Prince and Mayte would famously do an interview with Oprah Winfrey a week later in which they talked as if their son was still alive. Here’s the segment in which Mayte joins Prince and the couple discusses how they met as well as their relationship and Boy Gregory:
“We believed he was going to come back, that souls come back. We didn’t want to acknowledge he was gone, it was our way of grieving,” Mayte recalled in 2006. “Losing a baby is a terrible thing. Some couples are brought closer together after the loss of a child, others are driven apart; in our case the latter happened.”
Prince and Mayte Garcia had their wedding annulled on their third anniversary.
“I don’t really like to speak as to what happened in the marriage,” Mayte said in a recent interview with RealityAired.com. “I believe in soul mates but I don’t think they have to be forever,” Mayte adds. “I look at it as a beautiful time and a growing time.” She notes the experience is “something I’ll always cherish.”
Mayte then started dating Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee (the photo above was taken in February of 2001), but that relationship ended after only a couple years. “We’re still really good friends but he didn’t want children,” Mayte says of her relationship with Tommy Lee. Mayte has since revealed that she had a second child and lost it, but hasn’t provided any details.
Mayte has since settled down in Los Angeles where she currently lives with her mother, 7 dogs, 2 cats, and 4 birds. According to her VH1 bio, “she won’t be happy until she’s turned her guest room into a baby’s room … and her clock is ticking!”
You can keep up to date on all thing Mayte on her website Mayte.com. Hollywood Exes comes on Wednesday nights at 9/8 ET/PT on VH1.