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The nightclub scene in Minneapolis since the events in Purple Rain has centered on an area called Seven Corners, which houses four venues: the Clinton House, owned by George (George Clinton); an eponymous club belonging to Melody Cool (Mavis Staples) who is raising a son, Tevin (Tevin Campbell); the Glam Slam, which the Kid (Prince) oversees, and Pandemonium, run by Morris (Morris Day). At a meeting with his sidekick
Jerome (Jerome Benton) and members of the Time who serve as enforcers, Morris announces a game he wants to play called See How They Run, in an attempt to bogart (monopolize) control of all the clubs. The owner of the club First Avenue died and left an even split of interest in the Glam Slam between the power-hungry Morris and the Kid, so Morris tends to focus on ousting his rival. Terry (Terry Lewis) speaks on behalf of the other enforcers, saying if Morris is going to make more money, they also want a larger cut of the profit. Morris responds by challenging Terry to eat a whole, extremely hot chili pepper. Morris starts by easily biting off a pepper nearly to its stem, then passes the jar to Terry, who eats a pepper but cant tolerate its heat and makes a hasty exit, losing the bet for his friends.
Meanwhile the Kid is in his living space below the stage at the club, and his obsession with writing music is keeping him awake, so he gets out of bed, leaving Jill (Jill Jones) alone so he can sit and compose on his computer. She has had enough of living with a musician, and his particularly quirky lifestyle, and announces she is leaving him, saying Morris has offered her a job at his club which will pay better.
A feather floats from the sky, and a woman named Aura (Ingrid Chavez) appears seemingly from nowhere. In her thoughts she asks Heaven why she has been sent there. The enforcers have planted a mild explosive at the Glam Slam, and the blast brings the Kid upstairs to see the damage, which is minor and doesn’t seem to deter him.
Morris arrives at Seven Corners angry because the Glam Slam is still standing, but makes a grand entrance while his girlfriend and lead dancer Robin (Robin Power) stands with the crowd. A puddle separates Morris from the curb, so Jerome approaches Robin, pulls off her dyed fur cape and sets it on the water for Morris to deliberately step on as he passes. He enters the Glam Slam and the Kid plays a synthesized fanfare to announce his arrival to the audience. Morris reads him off because he is not happy with the more spiritual musical themes the Kid prefers to perform. Everybody in the audience laughs at the intruders until Morris and the Time turn a recorded piece of their banter into a complete song and commandeer the stage from the Kid and his band. The band members are embarrassed by being upstaged in their own club, and watch helplessly as the club patrons head to Pandemonium. Morris touches a plant on the floor and says it feels thirsty, so he and Jerome tease the Kid by singing the alphabet song and, when they reach the letter P, urinate on the plant and then set it on fire. The Kid rides to a popular spot called Graffiti Bridge and sees Aura, but they do not talk to each other. Instead, he returns to the club thinking about her and a message haunting him that something is “just around the corner.” he starts to paint the lyrics on a brick wall near the back entrance to the club, but stops.
Morris is angry that the Kid is usurping power he wants, and Robin is angry at him for ruining her cape and reminds him that she helped fund Pandemonium. The enforcers arrive with money collected from the other clubs, noting that George might be holding out and the Kid should have a light evening with little income. He is performing a spiritual pop number and few patrons stay to enjoy it, but those who do are completely absorbed by the message of peace and love. Aura leaves the club to write poetry at the bridge, while the Kid mentally writes a letter to his now deceased father, noting he is curious about Aura and has visited his mother, who is institutionalized.
Tevin draws the Kid out to watch him and his crew perform, and an appreciative audience throws money, which Melody encourages him to collect after he tells her there are twenty dollar bills among the tips. Jill walks by, and the band members tell the Kid she is now working at Pandemonium. When he asks about her relationship with Morris, she silently reaches up her skirt and removes her panties, leaving them on the ground as she walks away with contempt.
Aura is still sitting at Graffiti Bridge writing poetry when Morris and Jerome drive in. Morris asks Jerome to set up a meeting with her while he leans against the vehicle with his hand deliberately poised at his fly. Once Jerome has introduced himself, Aura asks him if Morris needs a restroom, and he replies that Morris is posing by the Porsche, but she is not impressed. Morris behaves rudely, but she rides back to Pandemonium with him, certain he has redeeming qualities. He plies her with alcohol at the club, while Jill is given her shot at performing. The band members drag the Kid to the club, telling him Morris has a new girl who might be better suited for him. Meanwhile Aura is acting as if she is inebriated while trying to win over Morris, thinking over what to say and do to sway him. Robin, feeling she is being replaced, storms out.
Morris and Jerome lure Aura into the car and take her home, and the Kid follows on his cycle. Morris sets a sleepy Aura onto the couch and tells Jerome she will awaken and fall in love with the first face she sees. The Kid slips into the room and blows out the single lit candle, carrying her away as the room goes dark. Morris decides he wants to touch Aura and then tells Jerome that she seems to have a hairy chest as they fumble for the lights. Only Jerome and Morris are in the room when the lights come on, sitting on the same couch, and they realize to their disgust that they were touching each other.
The Kid carries Aura back to the Glam Slam and, while he puts her to bed, imagines a love scenario with her, but he does not touch her. In the morning she awakens and the Kid draws a simple game of hangman on a pad, but she simply runs the alphabet until she loses. When he fills out the answer (mine), which is really a question about their relationship, she says no and points skyward, saying she is His. She looks over the songs on his sheet music and warns not to get too close to her as she will not be staying long.
Morris becomes short tempered with everybody after the mayor calls about a payoff, and he grumbles to Jerome that he grew up in a family that had nothing and he intends to keep what he has. Jerome challenges his authority, and they launch into a contest in which they dole out their paper money bill for bill to determine who has the most. It appears to be a draw until Morris pulls a bill from a hidden compartment in his shoe.
The Kid tells Aura he hopes for a sign that everything will be okay. As they embrace, he says nothing matters anymore. They spend the day together. When he says he feels nobody likes his music, Aura tells him he loses nothing by believing. Encouraged by her support and wanting to end the rivalry, the Kid goes to Pandemonium and challenges Morris to a battle of the bands for control of the Glam Slam. After hurling a few insults, Morris agrees. Back at the Glam Slam, the Kid rests and questions how much more he can take from Morris in another imagined letter to his father. The enforcers enter the club and wreck the instruments and sound boards to cripple the band.
The night of the battle, Aura tells Jerome she will do whatever it takes to make Morris stop, while the Time take the stage for a rousing number. The Kid and the band arrive outside and set up with their few intact instruments and pyrotechnics, drawing the patrons from Pandemonium to hear his song, which is filled with sexual innuendo. Ultimately it is not considered a match for the style of Morris and his band. Aura worries the Kid will sink into despair as he smashes a guitar through a window in front of his club and rides off, heading to the bridge. Aura catches up with him and sees he is depressed. She shows him her poetry and tells him not to give up.
Morris begins to compose his takeover letter to the other club owners but is interrupted by Robin, who asserts herself as his number one woman, strips down to a thong and leather wear revealing a strong dancing body, turns on strobe lights and appears to be about to work him over like a dominatrix for selecting Aura over her, and he seems to break the cinematic fourth wall to announce a commercial break as the screen goes black.
The enforcers start to work out their plan to take full control of all the clubs for Morris by having the owners sign over their deeds, but Melody Cool stands her ground with the help of Aura and a mass of friends, including the Kid. The enforcers proceed to work over George, but the Kid warns him not to sign. In the chaos the feather, which has always floated freely if Aura was not holding it in her hand, suddenly rises on the wind, and Aura heeds its call as if in a trance. She reminds the Kid not to give up, then as the bouncer for George (Scott Parham) makes off with the deed for the club before the enforcers can take it and speeds out in a jeep, Aura walks into its path and is killed instantly. The vehicle crashes into the front of the Glam Slam. An ambulance takes Aura away, and as the two sides face each other in a silent standoff, Morris asks the Kid how he wants to die.
Feeling he has lost everything and everyone who mattered to him, the Kid goes to Graffiti Bridge with a handgun, prepared to commit suicide as his father had, but he envisions Aura from their time together, reminding him that he would win if he would not give up. He drops the gun and returns to Seven Corners.
The Time put together a celebratory concert on a float outside Pandemonium, but nobody attends, as they are joining the Kid in singing and dancing to a religious ballad he is performing using the words he had been hearing when Aura arrived (“It’s just around the corner”). A choir joins him in song. Robin pleads with Morris to give the Kid his club, and finally he enters the Glam Slam to concede, and they embrace. As he leaves and the group starts to restore the club, Morris notices his skillet has been painted over, but Robin will not let him take action on it. She takes him home to Pandemonium to give him her own brand of consolation. On the wall outside the club, the Kid has painted the title lyrics about finding Graffiti Bridge.
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