With one platinum hairdo and three platinum albums behind her, not to mention a Broadway stage role, a new album and a possible tour, Madonna has also had more than her share of hard knocks — as recent tabloid revelations confirm. This was a night out with Sean Penn in only slightly less troubled times.
‘Do something, Lou,’ Madonna Louise Ciooone said, leaning forward on the seat.
Lou, a beefy-shouldered, balding bodyguard with a tendency to sweat, turned from where he sat in the front seat beside the driver and regarded her pleasantly.
Stretch limousines were out by the hundreds — drunken dream fish, silver and schooling there in the late afternoon light in front of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, where Iron Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks were about to go against each other in the convention centre for the pleasure of Madonna and Sean Penn and me and 20.000 other souls, plus untold millions around the world via satellite.
‘Goddamit, do something,’ Madonna said again.
What Lou was supposed to do was not entirely clear. We were in stretch-limo gridlock. That fact did not seem to oocur to Madonna. She had arrived, goddamit. She knew where she wanted to go, what she wanted to do, and she was not prepared to wait on anybody or anything.
Madonna left Rochester, Michigan, for New York at the age of 18 with nothing but a suitcase and a heart scalded by ambition to be somebody. She came with a million nobodies in the annual pilgrimage to the brutally indifferent, dirty, savage shrine of power that is Manhattan. A decade later she was married to a handsome, hot-at-the·box·office, totally unpredictable actor named Sean Penn, had more money that she could ever count, a house in Malibu and an apartment on Central Park. She also still had a heart scalded by ambition, a heart unsated and insatiable that will be lusting for action when the first shovelful of dirt drops on her coffin.
We are approaching the ballroom of the convention oentre now, where we are invited to a private party given by Donald Trump. A crush of people pressing down on the walk leading to the building. As the car pulls to a stop and Madonna becomes visible through the window, a great roar bursts from the collective throat of the crowd.
‘My fucking fans,’ Madonna said, and the word fans was a greater obscenity in her mouth than the adjective modifying it.
For the first time I noticed the incredible number of men and women with cameras of one kind or another slung from their necks and shoulders. As if on signal all the cameras raised and popped in a great flash of light as Madonna stepped from the car to take Sean’s arm.
Once inside, it went from hair, teeth, and hysteria all the way to nightmare as the howling mob of photographers broke through Trump Security and came in with us. Madonna’s bodyguard was in the lead and we followed. But Lou did not know where to go to get away from the sea of popping flash-bulbs. Finally we ducked out a back door and into an elevator and went down one floor where we stayed inside the lift with Lou positioned in the open door. Somewhere along the way we had picked up a woman who was a Trump Casino employee. Madonna was beside herself with anger, really major-league pissed off.
‘Why where those fucking people allowed in where the guests are?’ she demanded.
‘They werent supposed to be, but…’
‘Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do? I can’t believe Donald Trump. This is outrageous.’
The woman was full of apologies: ‘There isn’t a room in the hotel. But I’ve got a conference room you can sit in.’
As we were leaving, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson – Nicholson with a bottle of beer in his hand and wearing his trademark dark glasses — started into the elevator.
‘Man, you can’t go up there,’ Sean said.
‘The hell I can’t,’ said Nicholson.
‘It’s a madhouse,’ Sean said. “They’ve let photographers in.’
‘Come on,’ said Nicholson. ‘Let’s go to the party.’
Instead of the party, we went down back oorridors and back stairwells and sat in a little conference room where Madonna munched on popcorn until fight time.
Of all the celebrities at ringside — and everybody I’d ever heard of seemed to be there, including Jesse Jackson and Richard Pryor – Madonna’s picture was the one on the ‘wanted’ poster. And she was not enjoying it.