ELLE (April 1998)
Herman: Apparently you’ve "changed your mind" about family. What do you want now?
Madonna: There was a great longing in me to find myself. Throwing myself into the entertainment world was like a journey. I was looking for a certain kind of fulfillment. And while it was a great and fulfilling experience to know that people loved me for what I was giving them, there is nothing that compares to one true act of love or intimacy with someone you truly reveal yourself to, whether that’s my daughter or a lover. In a song I say "I traded fame for love" – in other words, fame was my source of love – and I realise that the true love I require has nothing to do with fame. Not that I have regrets. It’s just that my needs have shifted. It’s always been easy for me to go on stage and reveal myself to people in a mass way. What’s been hard for me was connecting with people in a relationship, and that’s what I’ve come to terms with.
Herman: Your critics think you’re in this businesss to constantly reinvent yourself.
Madonna: I hate this obsession people have about me reinventing myself. For me, it’s all about revealing. I keep taking off the layers. It’s not something I’m calculating. I’d say that on this record I’ve come closest to revealing who I really am.
Herman: Are you through with shock tactics?
Madonna: My goal is to be revolutionary in a quiet way.
Herman: Is this the result of studying Kaballah [an eastern religion]?
Madonna: Yoga, Kaballah, having a baby – it’s just a new approach.
Herman: Are you concerned about how you’re viewed as a mother?
Madonna: I’ve already screwed that up, haven’t I? I have a child without a father – I mean, she has a father, we’re very good friends. But we’re not living in wedded bliss.
Herman: And your best friend is a lesbian….
Madonna: I only have lesbians as friends. I don’t know why, it just happens.
Herman: Those friends represent the ultimate threat to men, since they don’t really need men.
Madonna: I guess men have to get over that. The greatest guy in the world is one who doesn’t feel threatened by an independent woman.
Herman: Apparently the Spice Girls are big fans of yours.
Madonna: I’m very flattered. I love the Spice Girls. They’re just having fun and not trying to be terribly deep and profound, just running around wearing sexy clothes. You know what? I was a Spice Girl when I started out. Give them a chance and see how they develop. They’ve just started. There is infinite hope for them.
Herman: So how’s life with your little girl?
Madonna: I think we’re going to have a prety cool relationship. I’m really excited about it. I’m going to be very open and honest with her. It’s not about shame or regret or wishing I’d done something differently. I like who I am now and everything I’ve done has brought me to this place. That’s the other thing you learn in Kaballah: there are no bad things that happen to us. Even the things we perceive as being bad are actual blessings, chances for us to learn and transform oursleves. I think that’s a great message to give children.
Herman: Do you still consider yourself Catholic?
Madonna: I feel like the teachings of Kaballah, which are similar to the teachings of Buddhism, embody modern living. Catholicism is a religion based on shame and fear. And while there are some really beautiful rituals in Catholicism – and, you know, there is a certain kind of darkness I find erotic – it’s not a very loving religion, not very flexible. It doesn’t make room for human error. So, in that respect I can’t really embrace it. [Pause] Look at what’s happening to President Clinton. The media are trying to cash in on what they perceive as being puritanical attitudes, but actually the American public is evolving their ideas about sexuality.
Herman: You’ve certainly speeded up that evolution.
Madonna: I hope so. Happy to be of service.
Herman: Going back to Monica-gate. What do you think of it?
Madonna: Oh, I think it’s just ridiculous. And I think he’s handling it remarkably well. So is Hillary. Monica Lewinsky should get a life, you know what I mean? First of all, I’m into dignity and honor, okay? If you have an intimate relationship with somebody – I don’t care who it is, if it’s the bellboy or the President of the United States – shut the fuck up. Why do people have to go blabbing? If he wasn’t the President of the United States, she never would have done anything about it.
Herman: Do you think it happened?
Madonna: I don’t really know. I’m not even going to guess. It’s none of my business. And even if it was, I don’t think it makes him a bad president. It’s between him and Hillary.
Herman: So what’s going on with you and Courtney Love these days? People say you’re like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
Madonna: I just want to know who I am, Joan or Bette?
Herman: You tell me?
["You want to be Bette Davis," says Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, as she enters the room. "Better Actress."]
Madonna: But Joan had better clothes.
Herman: So you and Courtney are the best of friends?
Madonna: No, no! We’re just not throwing daggers at each other any longer. She hasn’t thrown a compact at me lately.
Herman: What do you think about her change from grunge girl to…
Madonna: Versace model? God bless her! [Sarcastically] Now we’re all in the same club.