Interview is taking inspiration from the “selfie” and fashion’s obsession with social media for its September issue. The magazine, which was founded by Andy Warhol, has melded its heritage of the portrait with technology, to create an Instagram-themed issue featuring eight alternative covers that are essentially self portraits of some of today’s most popular social media celebs. The magazine asked Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Zayn Malik and Mert Alas to take their own cover shots. In addition, Interview tapped 150 social media stars from fashion, entertainment and music to do the same thing for a portfolio inside the magazine.
“We just asked people to imagine their ultimate self portraits — whether it was highly produced or a simple selfie,” explained Interview editor in chief Keith Pollock. “We wanted to see how they see themselves and how they want to be seen. We allowed each subject to imagine their own shoots.”
The magazine will go on sale this week, and images from the portfolio — including covers — will be posted on Instagram starting today. Using the hashtag #InterviewGang, Interview will roll out images over the course of the month on its Instagram account. Meanwhile, the subjects involved in the portfolio will post their own photos on their personal Instagram accounts today using the same tag.
The social media strategy around the issue is part of the overall project, which is both promotional and an exercise in showcasing the power of social media.
“The intention of the portfolio was not to boost our Instagram followers or generate Web traffic — it will be a result of what we’ve done but it wasn’t the origin,” said Pollock, who explained that he and editorial director Fabien Baron derived inspiration from Warhol, himself.
“We are conscious of our heritage. Andy did selfies 50 years ago. He’d be doing selfies if he were alive today.”
The team tapped Instagram chief executive officer Kevin Systrom to write a piece that includes an interview with journalist Chris Wallace, as well as thoughts on social media and Warhol’s legacy. (Pollock noted that there’s no sponsorship between Instagram and Interview but expect a partnership down the line.)
Baron told WWD that the idea of branding oneself through social media, coupled with the fashion industry’s fascination with Instagram, was at the heart of his decision to focus on this theme for the issue.
“You really understand what people are about,” Baron said, referring to the kinds of pictures that came back; some were highly produced, while others were “raw.”
“It’s interesting for Madonna because she didn’t give a sh-t,” he said, noting that she snapped a few quick selfies between rehearsal breaks while she was on tour.
This contrasted with Jennifer Lopez, which took a more glam selfie of her posed seductively looking in the mirror.
For Cyrus and Kardashian, two extremely active Instagrammers, Interview did Facetime photos, instead, in order to add a more surprising element.
Baron returned to the question of the issue, and addressed why Interview decided against dedicating the issue to longtime editor in chief Ingrid Sischy, who passed away in July.
“We didn’t have time to do a tribute to her. We really couldn’t organize it [quick enough]. Myself, I would have dedicated a full issue,” Baron said, noting that he did mention her legacy in his editor’s letter. He added that the idea of doing half an issue dedicated to Instagram and half to Sischy seemed in poor taste.
Although Interview’s history with Sischy had been tumultuous — in 2008 the editor in chief resigned with her partner Sandra Brant, who served as ceo, president and publisher. Brant sold her 50 percent interest in the company to her co-owner ex-husband Peter Brant. Baron described a “tense” meeting between Sischy, Brant and then editorial director Glenn O’Brien amid the masthead shakeup.
Looking back now, Baron said Sischy handled the transition with “class” and that he felt compassion for her, even though his direction for the magazine differed from hers.
“She really, truly made an impact as an editor in the world of fashion and to the industry. She connected some dots between the entertainment, fashion and art industries,” he said, adding that his relationship with Sischy had improved, becoming friendly in recent years. “I thought one day Ingrid and I would have sat down and ticked at the boxes, that we could…but now I can’t. There are things that are closed, and I regret that.”
Baron said before he penned the editor’s letter found in the September issue, he wrote a letter dedicated to Sischy.
“I may post it on Instagram,” Baron mused. “I’d like to do something more for her. I hope to in the future. We just couldn’t turn it around in time.”
Andy Cohen: Madonna! Hi! How are you?
Madonna: I’m tired, not gonna lie.
Andy Cohen: You’re working your ass off, aren’t you?
Madonna: I am. We work really late hours, and I got into the vicious cycle of working late then sleeping late.
Andy Cohen: Where are you right now?
Madonna: I’m in New York.
Andy Cohen: I mean, are you in your tub? In your bed?
Madonna: Ha, no. I wish I was in my bed. If I got in my bed, though, I wouldn’t get out. I’m in my office.
Andy Cohen: And are you in sweats?
Madonna: I’m in silk pajama shorts, if you must know. They were made for me by Dolce & Gabbana, I don’t know, eight years ago, so there’s sort of tattered, vintage look about me.
Andy Cohen: Perfect, you’re giving me full Madonna now! I can’t wait for you get to get back on tour – I love screaming your name at the top of my lungs. Am I going to see dancing nuns on stripper poles?
Madonna: Did somebody tell you that?
Andy Cohen: I saw the trailer.
Madonna: Oops, so I guess the cat’s out of the bag.
Andy Cohen: Was that your idea?
Madonna: I mean, yeah. It was. I just like the juxtaposition. I’m very immersed in deconstructing the concept of sexuality and religion and how it’s not supposed to get together, but in my world it goes together.
Andy Cohen: That’s one of the reasons that I love you. I assume we’ll be hearing “Bitch, get off my pole” while the nuns are on the stripper poles.
Madonna: Mmmm, you might. I don’t want to give away the details. I want people to be surprised.
Andy Cohen: How many hours a day are you rehearsing at this point?
Madonna: Well, I consider meeting for video and fittings all part of the rehearsal process, so that’s, I don’t know, 10 to 12 hours a day.
Andy Cohen: What are you eating?
Madonna: [Laughs] Anything I can get my hands on.
Andy Cohen: Come on!
Madonna: No, really, I have to keep eating so I have energy. I eat food, you know, normal food. Omelets for breakfast, healthy lunches, and things like that, but i’m also supplementing that with power shakes and those energy bars. I have a woman who follows me around. I call her the food police. “Aare you eating? Did you drink enough water?”
I’m like, “Bitch, get off my pole!”
Andy Cohen: By the way, can you cook?
Madonna: Wow, we’re really jumping around.
Andy Cohen: I’m just curious!
Madonna: No, it’s not one of my talents, I’m sorry to say. Everyone asks me that, including my 14-year-old son [Rocco], who is absolutely not satisfied with all of my accomplishments. He just wants me to cook for him. I’m like, “Okay, I’ll get to that. I promise you, when this tour’s over with, I’m gonna cook for you.”
Andy Cohen: I loved seeing Rocco on the last tour. Are we gonna see him doing anything on this one?
Madonna: I think he’s probably gonna work behind the scenes. He’s not interested in performing on stage with me right now. There’s cooler things. Your mom is not that cool when you’re 14.
Andy Cohen: So do you still have the Truth or Dare mother-hen thing going on with the dancers?
Madonna: Of course. Yep. Every day. They’re my little babies.
Andy Cohen: Tell me how you balance hits and new material on your set list.
Madonna: Well it’s tricky. Of course, the thing I’m most excited about doing is my new stuff, because I haven’t done it yet and it’s fresh.
But I realize that people want to hear my older stuff, so for me it’s always a tricky balance trying to keep some kind of continuity, not only with sound, sonically, but also thematically. Because when I first started writing music, I was a young girl, and I didn’t write about very deep things. And now I do. Although going from what I consider to be slightly superficial topics to more profound ways of thinking is also a challenge. That’s why a lot of times I have to take the songs and turn them inside out and make them more ironic than straightforward, so that they work for me.
Andy Cohen: You’ve been teasing your set list on Instagram.
Madonna:Yeah, of course I have.
Andy Cohen: So will I hear “Dress You up”?
Andy Cohen: “Who’s That Girl”?
Andy Cohen: “Vogue”?
Andy Cohen: “Holiday”?
Andy Cohen: Wow, you’re giving me good info!
Now stop right there!
Andy Cohen: Let me ask you this, do you read the comments under your Instagram posts?
Madonna: Sometimes. Like whenever I’m on holiday.
Andy Cohen: What’s your reaction to them?
Madonna: Sometimes people are really supportive and nice, but you can’t get attached to people saying nice things because then when people say mean things it will bother you. So you just have to take it all in stride, and I really don’t take any of it seriously. I can’t afford to.
The most illuminating thing about reading comments on Instagram is how literal people are, and how people have no sense of humor and no sense of irony; [they] don’t read between the lines. It’s interesting
Andy Cohen: Are you addicted to Instagram a little bit?
Madonna: No, not really. I could live without it. But it’s an important part of my work now. I like to think of it as a kind of art gallery for my thoughts, my dreams, my wishes, my state of mind. Can’t ignore social media.
Andy Cohen: I love that you share old photos of you with your fans. You seem like someone who doesn’t like to look back, but I love it when you do?
Madonna: I love to look back and see the great art and artists that I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with, whether it’s [Jean Paul] Gaultier or Keith Haring or Steven Meisel or Herb Ritts or whomever. I worked with the greatest and the best and the finest. It also feels like a time that will never happen again. Do you know what I mean? So it makes me feel really blessed.
Andy Cohen: It’s trite at this point to say that you reinvent yourself every few years. But I wonder, why is it important for you to keep creating new stuff?
Madonna: Because as an artist I have something new to say every time I make a record. I think that’s kind of a no-brainer. I’m not a “greatest hits” kind of girl. You could say it’s reinventing, but a real artist is continuously changing and evolving because the art is continuously changing and evolving. I mean, Picasso didn’t paint the same paintings over and over again.
Andy Cohen: What is the best and worst part of touring?
Madonna: You’re like, “Yeah, just shut the f— up.”
Andy Cohen: No, no, I got it! I got it!
Madonna: That’s the endless question I get: “Why do you keep doing it?”
Andy Cohen: You obviously don’t have to.
Madonna: But to me, that’s a sexist thing to say. No one said to Picasso when he was 80, “Why are you painting?”
Andy Cohen: Why is that sexist, though?
Madonna: Because he’s a man and nobody asked him that, okay? But because I’m a woman, people ask me. Does anyone ask Mick Jagger why he keeps going on tour?
Andy Cohen: Yeah, I actually think they do. What I’m getting at is, you could probably park it at Madison Square Garden and do a residency twice a month for the next 20 years.
Madonna: I don’t think so.
Andy Cohen: Really?
Madonna: No, people in New York are sick of me.
Andy Cohen: Are you f—ing kidding me? You’re the queen of New York.
Madonna: No. I don’t know.
Andy Cohen: Do you have a favorite city to perform in?
Madonna: Well, in America, my favourite city is New York, obviously. Cause it’s my hometown.
Andy Cohen: Even though they’re over you?
Madonna: You know the old saying: You’re a prophet everywhere but in your own country.
Andy Cohen: Is there a city where you’ve performed that you will not return to?
Madonna: I don’t think I should go back to Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Andy Cohen: You stirred some s— there, but God bless you for doing it. Do you think they would have you back?
Madonna: No. But that’s okay. Why would I even want to perform in a place where being gay is [criminalized]?
Andy Cohen: What’s your current favorite song on Rebel Heart?
Madonna: Well, I love “Ghosttown.” I love “Bitch I’m Madonna,” and I love “Illuminati,” “Holy Water.” The darker, crazier, more controversial songs.
Andy Cohen: Have you seen any tours in the past year that have inspired you? On Instagram, you welcomed Taylor Swift to New York when she was here.
Madonna: I didn’t get the chance to go see her show. I was bummed. We were actually gonna do something together on stage, but I didn’t go to the show because I was rehearsing and I had to shoot a video the next day. Going to shows requires free time. Who’s the last person I saw?…
Andy Cohen: I remember you really heaped a lot of praise on Beyoncé’s last tour.
Madonna: Oh! That’s probably the last big show I’ve seen, and that was really good.
Andy Cohen: What was good about it?
Madonna: She’s a great performer and she puts on a show. She’s a professional, you know what I mean? She ticks all the boxes. She’s great live, and all the stuff around her, it’s complete entertainment. And she gives it her all, so I appreciate that.
Andy Cohen: By the way, what were you gonna do with Taylor Swift on stage?
Madonna: I’m not gonna tell you, because we might still do it. You’re very nosy. You just want to know everything.
Andy Cohen: I really do!
Madonna: I’m just gonna send my diary over to your house, okay? With a key. Open it up, read it, send it back to me, okay?
Andy Cohen: Please do. I want to know f—ing everything!
Madonna: Skip over all the parts about who I have crushes on and things like that.
Andy Cohen: Oh my God. There’s no way I’m skipping that part. Well, now I want to know, do you have a crush on any of your dancers at this current moment in time?
Madonna: I mean. I always do. You have to. I call them my “stage baes”.
Andy Cohen: Perfect.
Madonna: But that’s it, it’s just on the stage.
Andy Cohen: You keep it on the stage. That would be messy, right?
Madonna: Yeah, of course, and that actually makes it more electric, you know?
Andy Cohen: When was the last time you saw your 1991 doc Truth or Dare?
Madonna: Jeez, I don’t know. Several years ago. I’ve seen bits and pieces from it. I sort of gag when I watch it, ’cause I’m like, “Oh my God, I can’t” It’s hard to watch myself do anything. I can’t even stand to watch myself in concert, like my last tour.
Andy Cohen: Really? Why?
Madonna: I just don’t like to watch it. But I think maybe Truth or Dare, I could possibly revisit it right now.
Andy Cohen: Can you call me when you do that, please?
Madonna: Let’s watch it together.
Andy Cohen: I want to film you watching Truth or Dare and release that.
Madonna: Me just going, “I can’t believe I said that. Oh my God, I can’t believe I did that.” The arrogance…
Andy Cohen: Well, the arrogance was brilliant. The shade, the arrogance…
Madonna: The shade was thrown! I’m afraid to watch it. I just think I was a horrible brat, that’s what I’m afraid of.
Andy Cohen: As a student of yours, it seems like you’re having more fun on stage recently. Am I right? Maybe just that you smile more.
Madonna: That could be it. I don’t know. I’m very invested in having a good time with this show. You know, not beating myself up if I make a mistake.
Andy Cohen: So… grill or no grill on stage?
Madonna: It’s really hard to sing with a grill in your mouth. You end up lisping, and putting your teeth together is actually essential to singing well. So as much as I love a grill, it probably won’t be in my mouth when I’m singing.
Andy Cohen: I will be there both nights of Madison Square Garden. I cannot wait.
Madonna: Thank you so much. Make yourself noticeable in the audience so I can bump and grind you.
You know Andy Cohen as the executive producer of the insanely addictive Real Housewives franchise and the host of the cable’s late-night talk show Watch What Happens Live—but what happens when Bravo’s bad-ass bon vivant takes over the pages of EW?
…Cohen, who has made no secret about wanting to interview Madonna on WWHL, sat down with the Queen of Pop as she gets set to launch her Rebel Heart tour in September. It’s the first time he has ever interviewed his favorite singer—and no question was off limits. The two discuss everything from her setlist to her thoughts on Taylor Swift and Beyonce to why she loves using Instagram. “It’s an important part of my work now,” she says of the social media platform. “I like to think of it as a kind of art gallery for my thoughts, my dreams, my wishes, my state of mind. Can’t ignore social media.”
On longevity in her career: “Popularity comes and goes. You need to know who you are, what you stand for, and why you’re here.”
On sexuality and ageism: “Don’t be fooled, not much has changed – certainly not for women. We still live in a very sexist society that wants to limit people. Since I started, I’ve had people giving me a hard time because they didn’t think you could be sexual or have sexuality or sensuality in your work and be intelligent at the same time. For me, the fight has never ended.”
On collaborating with Kanye West on her album Rebel Heart: “It’s a little bit of a bullfight, but we take turns. He knows that he’s walking into a room with a person with a strong point of view, and I do too. I listen to what he has to say, take it in, and he listens to what I say and takes it in. We didn’t agree on everything, but he has good ideas.”
On internet haters: “You can hide behind your computer or your phone and say whatever you want – you’re not known. Could you say it to my face? Would you say it to my face? I doubt it.”
For more of Madonna’s exclusive interview and photo shoot with Cosmopolitan, pick up the issue on newsstands April 14 or click here to subscribe to the digital edition!