Are you ever scared of your own success?
“Yes. ‘Cos I know that lots of people are paying attention to me and watching my every move. Also, I think I feel it more than ever now because I’m doing stadium shows and I get up on stage and I see 65,000 people all standing there and all of a sudden I feel like (sharp intake of breath) you know, I have o big responsibility.”
Would you call it stage fright?
“No, no. It’s like, it’s just that knowing that you’ve sold a certain amount of records or that so many people have bought this magazine is much different than seeing them all in one room and feeling their presence and knowing that they’re there to get something from you.”
Do you enjoy having people look at you?
“Mast of the time! But you know you always have your ugly days when you have a big zit on your face and you don’t want people to see you.”
Madonna gets zits?
“Oh yeah! Ask my make-up artist. Or you just have a bad day – you don’t feel great and people are looking at you when you’re walking down the street and you don’t want them to.”
You seem to handle it better than Sean, though. It seems he just can’t stand being looked at, at any time.
”It’s not that he can’t stand being looked at. He just likes his privacy. He’s a very private person.”
But there us a school of thought that says if you’re a big star you have to accept that sort of invasion into your life. Do you believe that?
“There are certain things you have to accept in this business. That you become a larger than life figure and people wanna know about you. You have to expect a certain amount of an invasion. People walking up to you on the streets, doing interviews, people wanting to know you, touch you. But then you also have to draw the line somewhere.”
And where do you draw the line?
“I draw the line when I get to my house, and I go up my driveway. That’s where the line is. Wherever I live that should be sacred. My own private life and, you know, my romantic life — that’s where I draw the line.”
Do you think your fans understand that there is a line?
“I don’t think that it occurs to them to understand. I mean, if you really, really like someone, or idolize someone. you’ll do anything to find out about them. It depends. Certain people go to extremes. People hang out at the bottom of our driveway a lot and constantly ring our doorbell and they want to see us. They think that we’re going to invite them up for a cup of tea or something!”
Does that frighten you?
“Frighten me? Yeah, sometimes when they’re relentless and they never leave us alone.”
And yet you expose yourself to it. You play the seductress on your album covers. You invite that sort of reaction. Don’t you ever think that it’s a very dangerous role to play?
“Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m not really afraid of that. It’s meant to be provocative. But it’s not only meant to be provocative in a sexual way. I don’t think about it. Not that aspect. I like to provoke people. I don’t think about the danger of it. And if there is a dangerous element, that’s exciting to me.”
Does your relationship with Sean ever strike you as bizarre? Here’s this bubbly, famous singer and actress married to this sulky, rather aggressive man.
“Well, opposites attract! I specifically don’t want to discuss Sean and how he handles himself. He’s a grown man and he makes his own decisions abaut that. When he wants to talk to the public about it he can do that. But I don’t want to.”
Let’s talk about your character in your new movie Who’s That Girl? What made you want to play Nikki Finn?
“She’s fun and she’s sweet, and she’s tough and she’s street-smart and she’s vulnerable. She just has lots of interesting personality traits. Also she’s resourceful and she’s funny. I think I identify with the last two points the most.”
Griffin Dunne, your co-star has described how sometimes he would look at you during filming and ask himself ‘Just who is that girl?’ It’s a fair question. Who is Madonna?
“Oh well, that would be giving all the mystery away. I mean, I’d be glad to explain my character in the movie. But I think Griffin was asking that question because when we first met and we had our meetings and stuff, I think I was fairly low key. Then when I got into character – I mean my character has no-stop energy and she’s extremely loud and chatty and she’s just like this human fireball – I had to maintain that energy all the time. Even in between takes. So, yeah, I think I drove him a little bit insane.”
Tell us about your childhood. Where did you come from?
“I came from Michigan, I was born in Bay City — a little smelly town in northern Michigan. When I say ‘smelly’ that’s because there was a lot of chemical dumps there. But I don’t mean I hate it. I have a great affection for Bay City.”
How does someone like you happen to come from a “smelly little town”?
“I think a lot of it has to do with imagination and the great desire and need to get out of that small town kind of feeling and go somewhere and be somebody because you feel like you’re missing something.
I think, also, coming from a big family had something to do with it.
There’s that competitiveness that you have when there’s a whole bunch of you and you want your parents’ attention and you don’t want the hand-me-down clothes. You wanna stand out, you wanna be treated special. And then also my mother dying when I was six and a holf, I think that had a lot to do with me saying – after I got over my heartache – well I’m gonna be really strong ond if I can’t have mother to take care of me then I’m gonna take care of myself.”
What was your mother like?
“She was beautiful and very loving and devoted to her character. Very child oriented.”
Are you really the strong person you portray or is it just a cover-up?
“I think some of it is. You know, I think I have as many vulnerabilities as I have strength. But the strength usually overpower the weaknesses. Hopefully.”
A lot of critics say that you’re all glamorous, all phenomenon – but underneath, no talent. Do you feel a bit hard done by in that way?
“I think I’m misunderstood, but that’s OK. I don’t expect everyone to get everything that I’m about. It’s part of the mystery and that way people keep discovering things about me. As for my being talented – that’s obviously not true. I think an image and a good hook gets you in the door, but something has to keep you in the room!”
Are there people, who have helped you along your way, whom you have forgotten?
“I’m sure there are, but there’s too many people in the world for me to be remembering them all the time. The people I do remember are the people worth remembering.”
That makes you sound incredibly cold.
“No, I’m not cold. But it’s true. I mean, you meet a lot of people along the way but that doesn’t mean that you have to call them or send them postcard and Christmas presents and stuff. You’re implying that I’m cold because I say that I can’t remember everyone. I mean, the people who really mean something to me and who are going to enhance and enrich my life as I grow are the people who are still around me. The others are people that I’ve gotten what I could possible get from and I appreciate that. Or, they’re people who I would never have gotten anything of, really. That’s just the way of life.”
Is it all the way you dreamed it would be when you were a little girl?
“No! How could I dream all this? It’s just bigger than anything I could ever imagine. It’s hard work. I guess you have to have a very large ego and a good tolerance for pain. You have to be addicted to work and keep going and going and going.”
When you say pain, what kind of pain do you mean?
“All kinds of pain. When you’re tired and you’re sick and you can’t go on stage but you have to. When you work really hard on something and it doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to. And you’ve put your blood and guts into it for months and months. That’s pain. But you learn from it – so it’s worth it.”