For over a decade, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, the wholesome Catholic girl from Bay City, Michigan, has remained one of the most alluring entertainers in the world. Many would agree her success is the result of her cunning business prowess and accurate calculation of the media. From the very beginning, she has understood the innermost workings of the press, their love for controversy, and has used them most effectively to promote each of her multi-million selling albums and movie projects. Sean Lee Talks to the woman behind the whip.
It’s 1995 and Madonna continues to hold a firm grip on the ladder of success that has seen her climb to its highest peaks. It is no secret that she has always wanted to be ‘the biggest movie star in the world’. With her recent signing to play Eva Peron in Alan Parker’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s hit musical Evita, she may just have found the vehicle to make her dream come true. The part of Eva Peron is a major victory for Madonna – most of Hollywood’s top female stars have chased the role at one point, including Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. Of course, Madonna has had more failures than successes in her quest to be accepted by Hollywood, as films of such dubious quality as Dick Tracy and Body Of Evidence show. Indeed, there are many who publicly scorned her for her attempt at making the transition from pop diva to movie actress – but critics beware: Madonna has not forgotten those who said her success would never last. “I think I’d have to say the articles on my private life haven’t bothered me at all. Rather, the stories that were written about me that said I was finished really hurt me the most.” she reveals.
“I don’t know what it is, but the media shoots me down with thorniest ideas – but that just makes me want to go on even more.”
The backlash against the material girl has been in full effect for several years now. Despite it all, she has enjoyed consistent success. At the height of all the negative publicity, there was even an I Hate Madonna book published. Madonna has developed a tough outer skin, refusing to let her critics phase her.
“I find it hard to comprehend that someone could spend their time writing a book about someone they hate.” she says. “This illustrates one of the latest ills of our society: speaking badly of someone makes people feel good! Unless it’s just a case of unrequited love,” she chuckles.
In this exclusive interview, Madonna speaks openly and honestly about a variety of subjects close to her heart including her family, career and fame. As only Madonna can, she confronts the issue of sexuality, frankly discussing what she feels is the repression of sex in Western society. She even addresses the issue of masturbation and why she feels the public is so obsessed about what she has to say about it.
Do you think people have a misconception about you?
“I think that’s inevitable. Most stars are misconceived by the public. I think people make up their mind to give you one attribute and that’s all you’re allowed to have. You’re not allowed to have a full life. Every star does but I tend to think that the public doesn’t always see it.”
If there’s one thing you’d like to get across to people that you haven’t, what would that be?
“I’m a human being just like everybody else. I’m the same as everyone else in that way. We all go through our forms of anxiety. Most of us have had love affairs. I’m sure that most people have experienced the death of a close friend. These are just a few of the things I have to deal with just like most people.”
You once said you never thought of yourself as the best singer or the best dancer or the best performer. You did say, though, you thought you were really good at provoking people into thinking about issues.
“I don’t think any artist can sit there and go, ‘I’m the best painter. I’m the best songwriter. I’m simply the best.’ I don’t think it’s even a fair statement to male. I say that because I think once you get into the arena of competing with people then you lose the essence of what you’re doing.”
We know so well that you’re so efficient at shocking people. What shocks you?
“Ignorance shocks me.”
There have been rumours that you want to have a child, that you’re pregnant, that you’re ready to embrace motherhood. Care to share your feelings about motherhood?
“Well, I suppose I have a bit of an obsession with motherhood and mothering because I didn’t have a mother. All my life I’ve wandered around, you know, wondering what it would’ve been like if I would’ve had a mother. I think I sort of transfer all those feelings onto other people. I try to be the mother I never had.”
“You’ll often find me doing that a lot with the group of people I’m working with on a particular project. Instinctively I’ve always been drawn to people who need mothering so that I may live out this fantasy that I have of what it must be like to be a mother. And I see these people as me – as sort of a young person needing a mother.”