She’s the hottest, shrewdest be-bop darling on the pop charts – a crossover dream with a powerful, girlie-sweet voice and the best dancer/performer since Michael Jackson: hip enough for the attitude of the Lower East Side, hep enough for the thousands of East Coasr fans in the nightclubs who’ve seen her show or the “Burnin’ Up” video. Although there are plans to form a band, Madonna (her given name) currently performs to a pre-recorded rhythm track, with three back-up dancers who mimic her lead in a sort of Ruggedy Ann, “Solid Gold-gone-berserk” choreography: a very happy dance.
A product of Detroit, Madonna is endowed with a geniune dose of Motown. Good grades and great dancing earned her a scholarship to the University of Michigan’s dance program, and from there she headed to New York, where she danced and starved in the Alvin Ailey School and the Pear Lang Dance Company. Next she became a back-up singer/dancer for a European tour of Patrick hernandez whose manager recognized her potential immediately and sent her off to Paris, “where we make big star.” Things became a little too comfortable, and after a great deal of ennui and money spent, Madonna returned to the East Village with the idea of joining a new wave band.
Making a demo of original meterial, Madonna hustled the tape until Mark Kamins, the disc jockey at Danceteria, finally played and then produced it. The song, “Everynody,” became a club favorite and her first single, followed by “Holiday,” “Physical Attraction,” “Burnin’ Up,” and most recently, “Borderline.” Her album, “Madonna,” (Warner/Sire) was released last summer. Currently managed by Fred DeMann (Michael Jackson’s ex-manager), Madonna will make her film debut in Jon Peters’ “Visionquest” this August.
Madonna: I’m remixing “Borderline,” the next single we’re releasing. We’re doing a seven-inch and a dance mix… It’s been a really long day: if it looks like I haven’t slept in three days it’s because I haven’t.
Glenn Albin: Tell me about your film Visionquest.
M: We shot it in Spokane, Washington. It was very cold, lonely and boring. I do three new songs, two that I wrote and one other that’s a ballad. Jon (Peters) and I met for another movie that he’s producing, and when it came time for Vision Quest, they didn’t want to get an actress to pretend she’s a singer. They wanted someone with a lot of style already.
GA: You met Barbra Streisand through Jon Peters. How was your meeting with her?
M: Oh, it was great. I had dinner at her house and she was genuinely ineterested in an exchange as one singer to another. I has this rag tied in my hair the way I do, and she wanted to know everything about the way I dressed, the jewelry I wore, the way I sang, about how I grew up in Detroit.
GA: What do you think of people comparing you to Frances Farmer, and the new Monroe? But the best one I heard today – Baby Dietrich.
M: That’s what Scuvallo called me. I was lying on the floor posing for photographs and he’s going, “Lower your eyelids,” and so I did that and he’s saying, “Oh my God, it’s Baby Dietrich.” I couldn’t stop laughing. Everyone gets compared.
GA: So what about the kids you grew up with, the black kids in Detroit? I mean, you come from a house with eight kids and a housekeeper.
M: Housekeeper meaning a big, fat black maid that made dinner for us, not this hoity-toity girl in a little white apron.