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Madonna dishes out gin and kabbalah cocktails!


Guests at Madonna’s Re-Invention tour launch party literally got a taste of the pop diva’s newly adopted religion, kabbalah, as she served them cocktail’s mixed with kabbalah water.
According to, at the “American Life” singer’s party, guests were served with a cocktail called “Damn,” which was a mix of gin and soda lime. However, Madonna made sure that all the ice cubes in the drinks were made out of special kabbalah water.
source :

Madonna adopts Kabbalah and new wave of controversy


The Jewish Madonna?
As the Material Girl well knows from her many incarnations, the path to spiritual provocation is marked with sacred signs.
On the road with her Re-invention World Tour, Madonna seemingly has moved from the New Testament to the Hebrew Bible, incorporating signs and symbols from Judaism and kabbalah, a mystical and esoteric study of the faith.
On a recent news-magazine show, she discussed her interest in kabbalah and how she has adopted a Hebrew name, Esther. She has worn a red string on her wrist to ward off the “evil eye,” and used sacred prayer accessories and symbolic Hebrew letters in music videos and concerts.
“What Madonna is doing ” whether or not she wants to do it ” is making certain aspects of Judaism more well known in the public,” said Rabbi Barry Gelman of United Orthodox Synagogues. “She is probably the anti-Joe Lieberman.”
As Gelman sees it, Lieberman is an example of Jewish values, and his 2000 vice presidential nomination raised public awareness about Judaism, including rituals of the Sabbath and the high holy days.
For some Houston-area rabbis, Madonna’s contribution as a Jewish representative is cause for concern. There’s the history of men; there’s Britney; there’s the nudity.
“If she were a woman of valor, that might be one issue,” said Rabbi Yakov Polatsek, executive director of TORCH, Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston. “But she is Madonna.”
Madonna is a student of the Kabbalah Centre, a worldwide education organization with a center in Houston. The center does not require students to be Jewish, and the study can be incorporated into any faith, said Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based organization.
“The aims of the center are to help people navigate through the wisdom of kabbalah and to help them understand it and embrace it and help them incorporate it into their lives so their lives can be more meaningful,” she said.
Madonna has been a serious student for more than eight years, Davis said.
“This is not a trendy thing she has picked up as a whim for the moment,” she said.
But Gelman and other local rabbis are concerned that such study is rooted less in traditional Judaism than in New Age spirituality.
Rabbi Daniel Plotkin of Congregation Beth Tikvah in the Clear Lake area is a self-described child of the 1980s and owns Madonna’s album The Immaculate Collection ” a remnant from a different time and faith. Of course, he has not personally peered into the pop star’s thoughts and deeds, he said, but he doubts she is working on repentance, t’shubah in Hebrew.
Her interest, however, may have a silver lining, said Plotkin, who is leaving the synagogue for St. Louis next week.
“Certainly, anything that causes a young Jewish teenager or an adult to say to his parents or rabbi or her cantor, ‘I saw this. What is it?’ that can’t hurt,” he said. “But at the same time, it is important not to cheapen the value of it.”

Here’s a guide to the Jewish Madonna.
– Esther: A very important woman in Judaism. Esther has her own book of the Bible, and her story is the basis for the holiday Purim. She was a queen of Persia who revealed her Jewish identity to save the Jews within the kingdom from a plot to exterminate them.
– Tefillin: Worn for morning prayers, usually by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men, as a reminder of the presence of God. Tefillin consists of two black leather boxes containing four portions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The boxes are attached to the head and to the arm with black leather straps.
Plotkin said he is familiar with Jewish feminist artists who have used symbols such as Tefillin in their work. But to use them in a video or concert is “an odd decision, at the least,” he said. Gelman doesn’t see it only as odd. “To use that in a pop concert or any way is highly offensive,” Gelman said.
– Kabbalah: The study and practice of a form of Jewish mysticism. The origins of kabbalah are disputed, Gelman said. Many date the development of kabbalah to the 11th or 12th century, Plotkin said. It became more widespread in the 13th century, especially in Spain, he said. According to Gelman, kabbalah isa secret branch of Judaism, and those who study it are supposed to be older than 40 ” some say male ” and must have extensively studied the Torah, the Talmud and many other Jewish texts before delving into the mystical practice.
“Kabbalah outside the rooted traditions of Judaism, kabbalah in a vacuum, is not real Jewish spirituality,” Gelman said. “When you have people who are studying kabbalah who don’t know the ABCs of Judaism, you have to really wonder what they are doing.”
– 72 names of God: A concept from kabbalah, Plotkin said. There are also 70 unpronounceable names of God. Those who seriously practice kabbalah meditate on the Hebrew letters that make up the names, reciting mantras, he said. “It is something you would do in a room alone or in the woods or a desert,” Plotkin said, “not on a stage at a rock concert.”
– Red string: Protection against the evil eye. It serves as a reminder to others not to think negative thoughts about the person wearing it, lest those thoughts reverberate and become bad luck, Polatsek said. Some say it protects the negative force of ill will from others.
source : Houston Chronicle

Vatican raps Madonna over Kabbalah


The Vatican has been holding a special conference of international Catholic leaders to deal with the challenges that New Age spirituality poses to traditional Christian beliefs. Special attention was reportedly given to “kabbala as espoused by Madonna.”
The Catholic-born singer’s public involvement with the Los Angeles-based Kabbala Center, accused by some of being a cult-like distortion of Jewish mystical beliefs, has intensified in recent months. It has been reported that Madonna had decided to observe kashrut dietary restrictions, and not to perform on Friday nights (Shabbat eve). Last week, the entertainer announced that she was adopting “Esther” as an additional name in honor of the heroine of the Purim saga.
“I don’t go by the name of Esther, but yes, that is my Hebrew name. I chose it,” she told the ABC-TV news show 20/20. “I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young. I wanted to attach myself to another name. So I read about all the women in the Old Testament, and I love the story of Queen Esther.”
This week the singer released her third children’s book, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, about the travails of a Jewish family in 18th century Russia.
In the on again, off again saga of Madonna’s planned visit to Israel, the latest news according to a well-informed member of the local entertainment industry is that she will be coming – but in a private capacity.
“She’ll fly in when she’s somewhere in the region,” he said, “but she won’t be performing here.”
Madonna will be performing in Europe from mid-August as part of her new “Reinvention” tour.
source :

Madonna steals the show at Kabbalah guru’s birthday bash!


Instead of the birthday boy, it was Madonna who hogged the limelight at Rabbi Michael Berg’s 31st birthday bash.
According to New York Daily News,a host of celebrities came to wish The co-director of the Kabbalah center in a private room gathering at the kosher midtown restaurant Solo.
However it was Maddona, one of the most ardent followers of the cult who got the most attention, so much so that it even sidelined the host.
source :

Madonna and Gwyneth’s Kabbalah Fight


Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have allegedly had an argument after the actress refused to join the trendy Kabbalah religion.
Sources claim mother-of-two Madonna called Gwyneth as soon as she gave birth to baby Apple, insisting she join the Jewish faith, popular with the Hollywood jet-set.
But, according to Britain’s News of the World newspaper, the blonde beauty and her Coldplay husband, Chris Martin, refused Madonna’s plea.
A friend revealed to the paper: “Madonna barely congratulated Gwyneth on Apple before she was going on and on about Kabbalah. She said that now Gwyneth was a mom, the time was right for her to join. But Gwyneth just doesn’t want to get involved and told her that in no uncertain terms.”
Madonna has successfully converted a host of celebrities, including Britney Spears and Demi Moore, to the mystic Jewish faith.
source : BANG Showbiz

Madonna Interview : Arena (Jan/Feb 1999)


Madonna - Arena / January-February 1999

And Still I Rise – A meeting with Madonna : The Last Pop Giant On Earth

On a Sunday afternoon in October Madonna leaves her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and stands in the street. It is unseasonably warm – T-shirt weather in fall – and she has, she thinks, never been happier than the day before when she celebrated her daughter’s second birthday by holding a party at which a group of teenage Insian girls performed traditional dance. She approves of dance as an element in her daughter’s development; it encourages her to be creative, expressive, free. Anyway, to cut a long story short, she has lent her car to the indian girls to get them to the airport. She wants them to be taken care of.

Which is why she is standing in the street trying to hail a cab. The minutes tick by and she looks at her watch. She doesn’t like being late for appointments, she’s insistent on that: act professionally, do your job, even the bits you don’t especially like. Cabs come by, but only with passengers in the back. Even if you’re Madonna, and everyone knows your face as well as you do yourself, sometimes a beacon of yellow light just doesn’t come over the horizon. Imagine! The Most Famous Woman In The World, The Last Pop Giant On Earth, forlornly standing at the kerb waiting for her luck to change. The minutes tick by and, goddamit, there’s no cab in sight. The warm weather means there are a lot of people on the street and – Ohmygod! Isn’t that Madonna?! – her famous person’s disguise of black sunglasses wears thin. She’s rumbled. In the quarter-hour she’s on the street she is accosted by maybe 20 people. She loses count. Still no cab. She’d like to run. She’s been running all her life, these days mostly from what she calls her ‘demons’.

For years she ran from a middle-class, Middle-American upbringing in search of fame, chased it relentlessly and now, aged 40, she can’t get away, it defines her, possesses her. But she hatches plots and schemes to escape its clutches, to operate in a private space, finds way to work some much needed freedom. She is, if nothing else, her own woman.

The cavalry arrives. She jumps in and the car takes her off downtown. Maybe the driver recognizes her, maybe he doesn’t, this woman who has engineered herself so intensely through constant purposeful intervention. But it hardly matters, she is a person that we all think we know so intimately, so excessively – nakedly even – that we think that maybe there;s nothing else to know, no need for further familiarity. Madonna knows better than this, she knows that we hardly know her at all.

‘I ran to the lakes / And up to the hill / I ran and I ran / I’m looking there still / And I smelt her burning flesh… / Her decay / I ran and I ran / I’m still running today’ from ‘Mer Girl’ by Madonna


Madonna - Arena / January-February 1999

Madonna: For me [the] running is running from the idea of death, facing my own demons, facing my mother’s death and dealing with… whatever. People get obsessed by the idea of fame and being acknowledged by people and having approval and all these things for any number of mostly unhealthy reasons. So if you do start to better yourself you have to figure that one out – why? What is it that I’m looking for ultimately? What is it that I want? Why am I here? And so the running is a symbolic running really, from the truth of not wanting to face myself. Running from fear, running from being alone, running from being abandoned. All of these things.

Isn’t the only reason you’re now confronting these kind of existential questions because you’re succesful and materially fulfilled?

Madonna: But the things I’m thinking about are deep and profound. [They’re] not easy things to think about. In fact it’s quite the reverse. What I was thinking about and doing was much simpler, you know? To really, really try to figure things out, to go deep and examine myself and really say ‘OK, why am I here? Why is anyone here? What is my purpose?’ There’s nothing easy about it.

Why are we here?

Madonna: [laughs] I don’t think that’s something anyone can tell another person. Do you know what I mean? Because everyone is here for a different reason, but I don’t think we’re put on this earth just to work hard, earn a lot of money and die.

What is the purpose of Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone and her costumed, carnival pop life? This is a question she is currently in the process (as she is most likely to describe it) of trying to fathom, 16 years on from her first success in the New York clubs and a belt that read ‘Boy Toy’. To be sure Madonna is alone. There’s no one else left. The pantheon of Eighties pop stars who could rock a stadium from Rome to Rio has been sacked, its false idols collapsed or worn down by time. Madonna, the first woman to fill a stadium, knows this, although she tries not to think about it too much, tries to keep moving, and has been vindicated – 1998 has been a good year for her. She has released an album, Ray Of Light, which was enthusiastically received by press and public alike, the single ‘Ray Of Light’ swept the board at the MTV Video Music Awards, and she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from music channel VH1, although she picks awards up for just getting out of bed these days. Ray Of Light, which has now sold over eight million copies worldwide, saw her team up with English producer William Orbit to create fluid soundscapes that provide a lush backdrop and rhythmic mantra to what is lyrically a rawer, more vulnerable Madonna. ‘I hadn’t worked with her before,’ says Orbit. ‘But Ray Of Light was clearly very personal. She was really laying it bare.’

The opening line of the album ‘I traded fame for love’ suggests that she now has a more intricate relationship with her fame than ever before, although to speak of fame to Madonna is like asking someone who has lived with a condition for so long to see themselves anew. When asked about it she slips into the impersonal, as if fame were a universal experience, something we have all undergone.


Madonna - Arena / January-February 1999

‘Fame does a funny thing to you,’ she says. ‘Everyone thinks that they know you. Perfect strangers coming up to you and asking very personal things and touching you and taking liberties and asking you for thing. And if you weren’t famous then people would have too good manners to actually do those kind of things. Even though everyone’s paying attention to you, actually they don’t know you at all, which you feel just kind of exaggerates everything.’

Maybe this is modesty, shying away from the funereal toll of the subjective pronoun through defence. maybe it’s more than that – a separation of the person who brushes her teeth and has a daily disco with her daughter from the pop Frankenstein that she has created. Maybe it’s the way a middle-class girl from Michigan who took New York before conquering the world copes by putting some distance between the person she still is (or at least the person she feels she is) and the person she always wanted to be. Like many, she thought that fame would make her complete, furnish her as whole. What she discovered was that performing on a stage in front of 100,000 hysterical people can be as lonely as anything you can imagine.

She has been driven at speed through the Place de l’Alma underpass in Paris where Diana’s car crashed, has been pursued by paparazzi through the gloomy expense. There were mutterings when she was staying in London last March that photographers tried to flush her out of her hotel by setting off a fire alarm, nevertheless she concedes that the press, particularly in London, has given her a bit more room since Diana’s death and dismisses any suggestion that the video to her single ‘Substitute For Love’ , in which she is hounded by photographers in London, is in any way a reference to Diana’s death. ‘I was kind of confused and bewildered that people were drawing those kind of comparisons because that’s my life. I get chased by paparazzi to, and why people said I was trying to imitate her I don’t know. It really was like a night in the life of me.’

I ask her how it feels, now that Diana is dead, to be the most recognizable female face on the planet.

‘Really?’ she says. It’s odd that she appears not to have thought about this before, to have prepared a stock answer for a not unsurprising question. She stares into space for a few seconds as if trying yo think of someone else more famous. Really famous. Madonna famous. ‘It just seems so absurd,’ she says, eventually and not unkindly. ‘Anyway, it’s pretty strange thing to sit and think about: “I’m the most famous woman in the world.”‘

Maybe not; not if you’re Madonna. Fame is the defining aspect of her life – more than her music, or style, or movies she will be remembered for being one of the most relentlessly self-realized people of the century. Along with Monroe and Ali, Madonna will be remembered for defining the times by inventing and changing and promoting herself and ambition and, in so doing providing us with a way of understanding ourselves and remembering what we used to dance to, who we used to be.

Madonna - Arena / January-February 1999

Do you think about your own death?

Madonna: All the time.


Madonna: Why not?

Because it’s morbid and might depress you.

Madonna: It depends on how you look at it. If you start practising yoga the whole idea is that you learn detachment and ultimately this is preparation for your death, and so you can’t help but thinking about death. There are actual positions in yoga that activate a feeling in you that supposedly – and this is based in ancient Vedic text – is very similar to the fear that you experience when you’re facing your death. And the idea is to bring yourself closer and closer to that feeling and actually make yourself really comfortable with it.

So the idea is not to fear death…

Madonna: Yeah, exactly. Which I still do. But I’m more comfortable with the idea of thinking about it. I mean, I grew up… [this seems a little difficult for her, she halts slightly]… I grew up incredibly fearful of death and obsessed with it because my mother died when I was so young, so I was very fixated on the idea.

How would you like to die?

Madonna: Really. I’d like to die ready.

Famously, Madonna smells nice. She first appears from the gloom of the concrete-and-steel hotel lobby, her face glowing pale. She wears a black ribbed jumper, loose trousers, black-wedged Spice Girls shoes. She is petite – even the Most Famous Woman In The World is smaller than you thought! – frailer even, although the body is athletic, all business. The shoulders are square, the walk, rangy and loose-hipped. The walk of an athlete. We sit down and mmmmm! – doesn’t she smell good? We sit in a circular room lined with padded faux leather. Perched on a stool Madonna leans against the wall. The lights are dimmed and the air conditioning is on too high. The room is separated from the rest of the lobby by a velvet rope. (Madonna spends more time than she would perhaps like in private nooks and dens and fuselages that you and I will never see.)

The face is fragile. It’s not conventionally beautiful, but unexpectedly beautiful, like a painting that starts to reveal itself the more you look at it. She looks at you sometimes, and although you’ve seen the face a thousand – no, many more – times before there is much about it that you haven’t taken in. The greenness of her eyes, for instance, which contrast dramatically with her pale face. She looks better with dark- or honey-coloured hair than she did in her peroxide days when it seemed she would do anything to shoehorn herself into the vestiges of fuck-me pop stardom.

She knows that all the things that you have read about her are mostly false. What is true is that Ray Of Light affirms the belief that she’s at her best when she’s riding the prevailing cultural mood, when she is in harmony rather than discordant, truculent troubled, as she seemed to be at the start of this decade when she reached a personal law after releasing Erotica, publishing Sex, and suffering poor reviews for the Movie Body Of Evidence during 1992. She is not the kind of person to let things creep up slowly upon her, so we must deduce that Sex was an attempt of a kind to engage us in some kind of discourse.

‘I see a lot of things I did in my Sex book now in advertising and I think, well, I was happy to get the shit kicked out of me so that you guys could have this freedom.’ she says, laughing long and hard.

There was a part of you that wanted to provoke?

‘Yeah, absolutely/’

Madonna - Arena / January-February 1999

Why? Because you wanted to change things? Because you felt that America needed it?

‘Because I was dealing with my own demons.’ she says. ‘Because I couldn’t deal with the fact that people were constantly saying, “Oh, she’s sext and she’s this and that, but she doesn’t have any talent.” And it really irked me that you couldn’t be a, you know, sexually provocative creature and intelligent at the same time. So I went to the extreme and pushed the envelope to kind of prove to myself more than anything that that was bullshit.’

And you think that you achieved that?

‘Yeah. Uh huh.’

Do you feel like you’ve changed things for women?

‘Yeah. I sort of lived out a lot of things that they wanted to do,’ she says. ‘ You have to go through a process. I sort of grew up in public. I went through a whole period of saying, “Fuck you, I will wear what I want to wear and act in a way I want to act and I will grab my crotch if I want to and I will say fuck on TV and I will do all the things that men are allowed to do and you’re just going to have to deal with it.” And that was me trying to figure things out, because ultimately a lot of women are very different, and you don’t have to act like a slovenly pig [laughs] to get respect. But you do have to go through things. I grew up in a very repressed home, in a very strict kind of Puritan family environment and, in a way, America is that way too. So, you know, you have to get to the other side and everyone has to go through their form of rebellion to figure out that they didn’t actually have to do so much kicking and flailing.’

Do you think that you provoke such a string reaction because America doesn’t like the idea of a woman being sexually liberated?

‘Or anyone being liberated. I mean look at what they’ve done to President Clinton. [She takes on a stern English voice] We do not have sex in America.’

Not with interns.

‘Not with cigars.’

She is famous for having sex. With men, with women, with herself. She has sex with the famous, and people become famous for having sex with her, but the fact remains that she cannot have sex with anyone more famous than her. Not anymore. Mostly she cannot meet anyone who has not seen her naked. She practices yoga for two hours a day and doesn’t eat lunch but returns phone calls instead. She has revealed herself to us intimately in a book and in the movies, but rarely in interviews. To read interviews with Madonna is to encounter a set of different women, all of them smart and talented, but some waspish, other compliant; some warm, other distant. She is bored easily and likes to be active. Madonna likes to do things and some of these things get her into trouble of a kind. At times she has offered us hope and a belief in the power of self-creation and at others she reminds us that getting what you want, arriving at a place of your own conception, can offer as bleak a vista as any.

She is wary of being misunderstood, even though she talks eloquently and at length and favours explanation over occlusion. She changes her opinions just like normal folk, and maybe just because she might have heard a question before. She uses a lot of British vernacular, including the word ‘bollocks’, and is the only American who can say the word ‘wanker’ without making a fool of herself. She looks like a woman of 40, which is just fine, because this is her age and she is The Last Pop Giant On Earth. She has never known the zero-degree freeze of failure.

But she does know what it is to feel alone, to feel pain. And having a child has both alleviated and exacerbated this. We talk about mortality and she says: ‘I was thinking about that the other day. I was carrying my daughter to bed, and I just thought some day she’s going to be a very old woman and someone’s going to be carrying her. And the thought just devastated me.’

Listening to taped of our conversation over the following weeks I am struck by the number of time she yolks intimacy and death.

She has a reputation for control, or wanting to control, although I suspect that much of this is down to the fact that she is powerful woman and women are not allowed to be powerful unless they are also perceived to be manipulative. Men often fear her. She had not be sanctified like a Diana, Jackie or a Marilyn., but then she is no victim and is big enough to make her own errors, of which there has been more than one. Clearly there are parts of her life, namely her work, over which she still insists on exerting almost total mastery, but there are other areas where she feels freer. We talk about the song ‘The Power Of Good Bye’.

‘It’s about not wasting so much energy,’ she says. ‘It’s really about accepting [things] and the freedom that it gives you. I did waste a lot of time trying to hold on things and control things. The song is also about facing death because ending a relationship is a kind of death – that’s why it’s so hard to break up with people. If you become emotionally intertwined with someone else it is a kind of small death in a way.

‘So, you know, it all leads to the same place – fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, facing your own death. All of that is connected to the idea that life does go on and the reason that people don’t want to let go of people or things is because they see everything as finite. But, in fact, I don’t believe that is true. And if you can embrace that then saying goodbye to things can be very empowering.’

In her answers he uses the language of self-help a great deal, talking of ‘empowerment’, ‘the growing process’, and ‘the next place’. She is clear that music is central to her own ‘development’ and throws her guard up sharply when it’s suggested that the fickle nature of pop music might not be a place for a grown woman.

‘Am I a grown woman?’ she asks.

You’ve turned 40, so society would say you’ve grown up.

‘So? That’s bourgeois society. I’m not interested in that.’

So you’re going to continue to do everything on your own terms.

‘Why not? I mean the thing is I do think that what I do is art. And does an artist, does the creative, you know, mind turn off at 40? Did Picasso stop painting at 40, youknowadimean?’

Are you still going to be having number one records when you’re 50? 60?

‘I don’t know. But, you see, that’s not how I define myself.’

Have you lived the best life you could have had?

‘Yes,’ she says without equivocation, without a doubt.

Her life, its actions and meaning has been the subject of much conjecture that she will never know or care about. From trashy cobbled-together supermarket biographies to a volume dedicated solely to dreams about her, there is much to read if you wish to experience the full gamut of opinion. The internet makes scary reading. (‘Hey Madonna whats up [sic]… I’m not some freako that wants to stick a dildo up your ass or something. I’m a little Asian girl that would love to chill with you some time,’ is just one gem.) Of little greater worth is the furious debate conducted by feminist academics as to the effect she had had upon womankind…

Once, her life was private.

Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan, the eldest of eight children. Her father, Tony, was an engineer at Chrysler, her mother, whose name she was given, a housewife. Later the family was to move south to Pontiac where she shared a room with two sisters. As a girl Madonna spent her summers working in her father’s vegetable garden weeding and spraying insecticide, or she was sent to her grandparents’ house in Pennsylvania where she would be expected to work on the house and garden. The regime was rooted in instilling a work ethic: church before school, housework that was assigned by her dad’s chore chart, and no TV. (This, incidentally, is her top tip for successful parenthood: no TV.) Madonna was expected to defrost the freezer, wash the dishes, baby sit, vacuum. She was a voracious reader and loved the stories her mother told her about a garden involving vegetables and a rabbit.

The family was devoutly Catholic. On Good Friday her mother would place a purple cloth over all the religious pictures and statues in the house. This was before she fell ill with breast cancer, which would take her life when Madonna was six. Like many children who lose parent, Madonna expected her mother to return. But nobody talked about it. For years it seemed that way. Three years later her father married again, this time to the family housekeeper whom Madonna never acknowledged as a mother.

She learned to dance to get out of the piano lessons that her father insisted the children took. ‘I loathed sitting still,’ she says. ‘[Dancing] gave me a sense of belonging. I was very derailed by my mother’s death and I never really felt I fitted in very much at school and things like that. When I started to dance it meant that I was good at something. It made me feel special, so it helped my confidence.’

Like many provincial teenagers she knew that she would leave for the big city as quickly as she could. She says that she knew she wanted to leave Michigan from the age of five. She lasted one term at her home-state university on a dance scholarship. Her heart wasn’t in it. Even though she’d never visited, there was really only one place for her: New York, the true home of the ambitious.

She arrived, in her late teens, at La Guardia airport and took a taxi to Times Square. She had no money or connections and lived hand to mouth, eventually settling in a tenement on the Lower East Side at 4th and Avenue B. Every weekend she went clubbing in search of A&R personnel and DJs who might be able to assist her career. She recalls dancing to ‘Don’t You Want Me’ by the Human League at New York’s famous Danceteria club.

‘I didn’t know what I was going to become,’ she says when asked if it ever crossed her mind that she might fail, ‘but I knew that I was good at what I did. When I came to New York I wanted to be a dancer and I had an enormous amount of confidence in that area.’ Her voice hardens a little. ‘I didn’t have any choice because I wasn’t going back to Michigan. So, for me, there was just no way that I was leaving. I was just going to stay in New York and learn how to survive. How that manifested itself I didn’t know.’

Enamoured by New York nightlife, she met people who could help her career and befriended influential DJ Mark Kamins who, after being impressed by a cassette of her music, produced the singles ‘Everybody’ and ‘Burning Up’ which brought Madonna her first success in the dance charts. On the strength of this she was signed to Sire records and released ‘Holiday’ which was produced by Jellybean Benitez and hit the top spot in the US dance charts before crossing over to become a worldwide hit in 1983. When she first arrived in the public realm, she seemed like nothing more than a cute little pop missile of the month. This was not the case. At 25, she was an adult, which perhaps partly explains the longevity of her career: she had fought, struggled and experienced much before tasting success. This was no overnight thing, no teen sensation.

With her first royalty cheque she bought a synthesizer and a bike which she had to carry up all six flights to her new apartment, a loft on Broome and West Broadway. Deep down she also carried much resentment about her family, was often unhappy and relied greatly on music, which she had written was ‘a vehicle for transcending misery (the story of my life)’ to get her through thin times. Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ meant a great deal to her. Yet, within five years, she had made two of the definitive pop albums of the decade – True Blue in 1986, and Like A Prayer in 1989 – creating a world of opposites and attraction, the plus and minis, the virgin and whore, which sparked a change of electricity that ran up and down the spine of pop culture. She understood the power of image on a way that only Michael jackson had done before, starring in elaborate theatrical videos that introduced her to a global market via TV. In 1989 her video for ‘Like a Prayer’ was censured by the Vatican, but no matter, she was off and running, working like a bastard, touring, recording, acting. This is the story of her life: she believes that the important things must be earned, must be learned.

She has never stopped and talks about needing to make another album, going back on the road again. Her work has been her passion even though she has realized she might never get the recognition from her father that she once craved.

His favorite female artist is Celine Dion.

Still, she has dreams. She says she dreams about all kinds of things, works out her demons (that phrase again) dreaming about her past, dreaming about her daughter. She dreams of those who make a strong impression on her and dreamed of Sharon Stone, of Courtney Love. recently she went to see some musicians playing ancient instruments. One of them played a device that was shaped like a gourd, with three strings on it. beneath there were 32 minute strings which resonated when a bow was drawn across it. ‘He was sitting in the lotus position and I was completely fascinated by him,’ she says. ‘There was something that looked really fragile about him, like he was going to kick the bucket any moment, but also something really magical and powerful. He seemed otherworldly to me. He was completely detached from everyone in the room and all the other musicians.’

That night Madonna had a dream. She dreamt that the man could fly. ‘I want you to fly,’ she said to him. ‘I know you can fly, and I want you to show me.’

The man was irritated by the request. He didn’t want to have to prove his powers. he wanted Madonna to have faith. But Madonna wanted to see him do it and she got her way. The man lifted off the ground hovering above her, flying around.

She believes that dreams are a way of communicating, that when we sleep we ‘plug into some kind of universal memory bank’, that the physical world is only ‘one per cent of what’s actually going on out there’. She tells a story in which she was staying at a friend’s house and had a dream about having to beat rats off. In the morning she discovered that someone else sleeping in the same house had to leave a retreat because of a rat infestation.

‘I am 100 per cent sure that I was visited by someone in my dreams last night,’ she says.


‘I don’t want to talk about it. You know when you do an interview, I don’t want to bring up names. But I think that happens all the time.’ She pauses. ‘And now you’re sure I’m completely bonkers.’

Bonkers, no, although her search for spiritual enlightenment had led her, once again, to be put in the pillory, this time for flirting with panacea merchants and gurus who claim to administer parts of the future as well as a number of different organized religions. She has used Catholic iconography, explored Buddhism and is now studying Kabbala, an ancient Jewish mystical tradition.

‘I subscribe to the school of being incredibly well informed before buying into things,’ she says. ‘I’m not just jumping on a bandwagon going, “Vote for that person”. It’s about experience.’

What do you get from Kabbalah?

‘Looking at my life from a different perspective,’ she says. ‘Studying comparative religions in general, the mystical interpretation of any text is going to be interesting and fascinating and going to have some truth that you can relate to. The whole thing about spirituality is that at the end of the day everyone thinks you’re a wanker and you’ve lost your marbles and trivialises it. The fact is that it’s hard to explain. It is very personal. And, you know, you change your mind all the time to. So, that’s the other thing – I don’t want to commit to anything.’

Which has been the case, in greater or smaller measure in other aspects of her life. She has yet to find an enduring love, although has a daughter and the memory of her mother looms large. In 1985 she married actor Sean Penn while 13 news helicopters hovered above them. By 1989 the marriage was over, and although she has referred to Penn as her ‘one true love’ you suspect that still the most overpowering relationship she has had has been with her own fame.

Maybe she will never see her for what she is, never be able to properly make out what is in her heart, so we choose to interpret her as a woman in cast-iron balls, the girl who asked for everything and got it, and by the same token forever prejudiced her relationship with humankind. Or most of it, for occasionally, she meets people who have no idea who she is. A few weeks before she had gone to watch a performance by a group of Indian musicians and singers. She slipped into the room with no fuss and sat and watched the performance. Afterwards they approached her and asked her who she was, what did she do? The man who had invited Madonna told them she liked to sing. ‘Oh, you’re a singer!’ the musician said. ‘That’s wonderful.’

Her voice quietens a little, when she tells the story, although it is laden with pleasure. “They were just relating to me as a human being,’ she says. ‘And I liked it. It was nice.’

Someone else who relates to Madonna as a human being, specifically a mother, is her daughter Lourdes, who was born by Caesarean section weighing 6lb 9oz in October 1969. Named after the most celebrated Christian healing shrine, Lourdes has offered her mother catharsis of a kind. “The great thing about having children,’ she says, ‘is that for the most part it turns us back into human beings.’ Having a daughter has caused her to think about her own mother’s death, to confront pain she has carried around for a lifetime and write about it explicitly in songs like ‘Mer Girl’.

There’s nothing like having a baby to make your face your own… mortality or immortality or however you want to look at it,’ she says.

When the birth was imminent, photographers stalked out every maternity ward in beverly Hills in pursuit of the $350,000 reward offered for the first shot of the baby. With that in mind, can Madonna offer her daughter a life with a semblance of normality?

‘I think it’s going to be gradual,’ she says. ‘She comes and she watches me rehearse for things, and she watches me on stage, and she watches me shooting things, and she watches me on stage, and she watches me shooting things, and I think she’s very clear that what I do for living very expressive, music has a lot to do with it. She sees what’s going on. So when she sees me on stage she just thinks I’m being silly, which I occasionally am being. So it’s not going to come as big shock when she grows up one day and realises thatI’m an icon, as you say.’

What’s been the most surprising thing about motherhood?

‘How much I could love something,’ she says. ‘That’s been the most incredible… You say that you feel it with other people, with lovers and such, but you just can’t imagine it.’

Lovers and such. If Madonna had as many lovers as catalogued in the press then she would be hard pressed to achieve mush else. What we know is that Lourdes’ father is Carlos Leon, as personal trainer who was 29 when the pair met in Central park. There have, reportedly, been other men since the birth of Lourdes, although Leon, who has seven per cent body fat, remains close to both of them.

Then there is the personal fortune of around $200 million and her successful record label Maverick, set up in April 1992 by Madonna’s ex-manager Freddy DeMann and of which she is enormously proud. According to the contract, Madonna must come up with seven albums, each of which receives an advance of $5 million as well as offering a platform for books, movies and other recording artists. Warner Bros has a 50 per cent stake in the company. There were teething problems. Maverick’s first project was Sex, its first music signing, Proper Grounds, disappeared without a trance, and its attempt to sign Hole got a famous finger from Courtney Love. But in 1994 everything changed when Maverick signed Alanis Morissette whose Jagged Little Pill sold in excess of 25 million copies. And when America woke up to the enormous success of The prodigy it was Maverick who secured the rights to distribute them there. With a long, sharp laugh she says that the main thing she has learned from Maverick is ‘what a pain in the ass artists are’.

Surely not.

‘Oh God. All I think about is: “God, if I was as rude to my record company as these people are to us…” It’s unbelievable.’

I ask how Maverick changed her relationship with Warner Bros. ‘They’re still buggers to me,’ she says. ‘They still treat me like… Ugh! Fahgeddit! I don’t want to even go there! Warner Bros still act like I still have to prove myself. After all the records I’ve sold for them, the success of the label, you have no idea. I mean Guy, my partner and I, we scratch our heads every day, we think they should be kissing our asses.’

She says that at the moment she’s happiest when she’s in London, where she is currently looking for a home. She has sold up in LA after a stalker, Robert Dewey Hoskins threatened to slash her throat and twice broke into her estate. The second time he was shot and wounded by one of Madonna’s bodyguards, and was sent down for ten years last March. Currently she is in New York where she lives near Central Park in the duplex where Warren Beatty famously accused her of not wanting to live off-camera. She has no photos of herself but an art collection, including a Picasso, a Leger and a Basquiat, which she has described as her most prized possession (she dated Basquiat and when they split he demanded she return the paintings he’d given her). It’s at this apartment that William Orbit one day appeared fresh off a plane with a bag of cassettes which he tipped out on the floor and rummaged among to find what might become the sound for her new album. There is also a picture of Muhammad Ali inscribed: ‘To Madonna. We Are The Greatest’.

Strange rumours occasionally surface. My favorite featured a visit last year to a pet psychiatrist when Madonna’s Chihuahua, Chiquita, was acting up. The amazing diagnosis was that the animal had become jealous of her daughter. Madonna does not have a favourite piece of newspaper tittle-tattle, finds most of it ‘tiresome’ and is quietly resentful of the suggestions made in some areas of the media that she was an unsuitable parent when it was announced that she was pregnant. ‘That was annoying,’ she says dryly and in a way that makes you understand the extent to which it pained her.

She does not like to be called a pop star, preferring instead the phrase ‘performing artist’. I suggest that despite the acres of newsprint devoted to her and the best efforts of our telephoto democracy she has survived relatively unscathed. She lets loose a big, breathy laugh and hunches a little. ‘Relatively,’ she says, by way of qualification. ‘Well, I am resilient, I’ll give myself that.’

Why are you [still] doing it?

‘Because I have something to say,’ she replies firmly. ‘It’s a growing process for me. An adventure.’

Ray Of Light suggests that Madonna has regained her understanding of the moment. When her last album, Something To Remember, was released in November 1995, she complained that ‘very little attention gets paid to my music’. And while the collection had its attractions it was clear that this kind of brawny balladeering should be left to the caged imaginations of the Celines, Mariahs and Whitneys. In one album we saw what Madonna, God forbid, might become: a twenty-first-century Barbra Streisand.

It’s not a pretty thought, admittedly, but at least it offers some perspective on Madonna’s core talent: Persistently staying in touch, mirroring and exploiting the fault lines of contemporary culture, in essence staying interested, giving us what we want.

You ask the woman whose life is a work in progress, if she has a motto. ‘Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends,’ she laughs. It’s a line from John Maybury’s biopic of Francis Bacon, Love Is The Devil. It makes her laugh. She says it’s ‘the mutt’s nuts’ which is as good a piece of vernacular as you’re likely to pick up all week. She won’t tell me a joke though, she says she never remembers them. And I don’t tell her a joke. She just won’t get it.

The afternoon has passed and Madonna’s answers are shorter. She is tired of accounting for herself and maybe even a little bored. The voice that we have lived with almost as long as she has, fades with the daylight. She smiles and it occurs to me that while she may sometimes feel lonely, she is never really alone for we measure ourselves against her journey, her extraordinary vault from the humdrum to the universal. And what a life, what a face. She has lived with it and she will surely die with it. But she’s alright with that. She’ll be ready.

© Arena

Madonna Interview : The Advocate (March 2012)


Madonna - The Advocate / March 2012

Nearly 30 years into her reign as the greatest gay icon, Madonna is back in a big way with her new film, W.E., and her first studio album in four years, reminding us why so many adore her.

The temptation to apply layers of meaning to the story Madonna tells in her new film, the cryptically titled W.E., is irresistible.

The pop superstar’s second feature film as a director, W.E. is a tale of two women, two cultures, and two eras. Wallis Simpson was a real-life American socialite of the 1930s who was vilified for falling in love with England’s King Edward VIII; he abdicated the throne to marry the divorcée. Madonna’s movie attempts to reclaim Wallis’s image by turning a polarizing woman often perceived as a villain into a sympathetic figure.

And then there’s Wally Winthrop, the other woman — this one fictional — in New York City in the late 1990s, at a time when Simpson’s jewels and other possessions were being auctioned off for charity. Trapped in an abusive marriage that appeared to be fairy-tale perfect, Wally obsesses over Wallis, her bygone namesake, and turns to her for support.

Like Madonna’s best videos and music, W.E. is a pastiche of eras past and present, with a heavy emphasis on style, fashion, and design. Her presence is clearly felt. More oblique is the connection to Madonna’s own life. The movie depicts Wallis as a dramatically different person than she was in her private, tortured reality. Wally’s fantasy facade, concealing a darker truth, invites comparison to Madonna’s now-dissolved marriage to filmmaker Guy Ritchie and raises the question of whether Madonna feels as vilified as Wallis.

“I was intrigued,” Madonna says of the royals. She had a vague awareness of Wallis but only really got to know her story when she moved to England. “Like Wallis Simpson, I felt like an outsider. I thought, Life is so different here, and I’m used to being a New Yorker, and I have to learn how to drive on the other side of the road. Suddenly, I found myself living out in an English country house and trying to find my way in this world, so I decided to really take it on and do research and find out about English history and learn about the royal family.”

Madonna read every book she could find about Simpson and her time. She became obsessed with the tragic notion that a woman then was only as good as the man she would marry. “The idea of making a choice for love wasn’t really part of their world,” says Madonna. “The fact that they eventually found each other and were willing to jump into this fishbowl of scandal and rile people up, even though Wallis knew, as she says in the film, that she would become the most hated woman in the world” — that’s what captivated Madonna.


Madonna - The Advocate / March 2012

While she doesn’t claim the title “most hated” for herself, she feels a connection to Simpson. “I mean, I certainly don’t engage [with the media] as much as I did,” she says. “When people are writing about you in the beginning and they’re saying nice things, you’re like, ‘Oh!’ You feel this lift of energy. Then they say bad things, and of course, you’re affected by that too.”

Madonna spent a lot of time caring about the bad, but she claims to have moved on. “I don’t really dwell on it anymore. I used to be kind of fixated on it and think, It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair, but it is what it is, and I just have to get on with my life.”

But Madonna’s passion for this topic belies that resolute attitude: “If you are threatened by me as a female or you think I’m doing too much or saying too much or being too much of a provocateur, then no matter how great of a song I write or how amazing of a film I make, you’re not going to allow yourself to enjoy it, because you’re going to be too entrenched in being angry with me or putting me in my place or punishing me.”

Meeting Madonna in person can be a little jarring. For someone so larger-than-life, she’s surprisingly petite. Sitting down and launching into conversation, she is disarmingly engaged, and she slouches a bit, like any mere mortal. But she’s not, of course. A burly man is guarding the door of the suite at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel where she has settled in for the afternoon. And she’s dressed eccentrically — black leather fingerless Chanel gloves cover her hands, silver bracelets of varying shapes run up both forearms (and, predictably, a red kabbalah string), and a royal blue asymmetrical shift hugs her taut figure.

Her experience of feeling burned by the press has made her particularly deft at dodging questions, discussing what she wants to discuss. But after a few tangential monologues about duchesses and dowagers, the most famous woman in the world offers a bit of insight into the connection she feels to Wallis Simpson. “It’s intriguing because we are raised to believe in the fairy-tale kind of love, that we are going to be swept off our feet by … you know, in both of our cases, Mr. Right, and our knight in shining armor is going to come along and save us, pick us up, and put us on the back of his beautiful steed, and we’re going to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.” She pauses. “God knows, that doesn’t happen.”

Now she’s on a roll. “There are so many things about her. The fact that she said he left his prison” — Madonna’s talking about King Edward feeling imprisoned by the monarchy — “only to incarcerate me in a prison of my own.” And with that, Madonna answers the question. And doesn’t. “In spite of it all, I think she lived her life in a very dignified manner. And she wasn’t a victim.”


Madonna - The Advocate / March 2012

When Madonna first became famous, almost 30 years ago, she was defined by that very quality: She was no victim.
For the gay men who were there in the beginning, when she was shaking it on the dance floors of New York City, the men who reveled in her early hits, Madonna was the ultimate expression of in-your-face sexuality. She was self-possessed and uninhibited. She dressed up for the party, and she took it all off for the after-party.

Her impact wasn’t limited to gay men. Madonna boldly toyed with transgender imagery on a grand stage: She co-opted the Harlem drag balls for the “Vogue” video, she featured trans people and cross-dressers of all stripes in her banned “Justify My Love” video, and her coffee-table tome, Sex, posited couples in all sorts of configurations. Her high profile are-they-or-aren’t-they friendships with such queer women as Sandra Bernhard, Rosie O’Donnell, and Ingrid Casares as well as her promotion of bisexual artists like Meshell Ndegeocello helped to take queer sensibility into the mainstream.

In the midst of the AIDS crisis, when fear was rampant and gay men were dying at a horrifying rate, Madonna was among the first to take a stand, to say, as she did in the tour documentary Truth or Dare, that it’s OK to be a gay man who is openly sexual.

“That it’s OK to be gay, period,” Madonna says emphatically before launching into an impassioned recounting of her experience of the AIDS onslaught. “I was extremely affected by it. I remember lying on a bed with a friend of mine who was a musician, and he had been diagnosed with this kind of cancer, but nobody knew what it was. He was this beautiful man, and I watched him kind of waste away, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend. They were all artists and all truly special and dear to me.”

In retrospect, Madonna sees that as the moment when her sense of self became entangled with that of gay men. “I saw how people treated them differently,” she says. “I saw the prejudices, and I think probably I got that confused with, intertwined with, you know, maybe things that…ways that people treated me differently.”
As Madonna reinvented herself, gay fans hung on through thick and thin, through Who’s That Girl and Body of Evidence, weathering reported flings with Dennis Rodman and Vanilla Ice. Fans bowed down at the sight of her as Evita and shored up support upon hearing Ray of Light, only to have to endure Swept Away and American Life and that British accent. It’s been a bumpy ride for Madonna fans.

Perhaps Madonna wasn’t the only one to “confuse” her personal treatment with that of gay men. The feeling was mutual. As she exploded in popularity Madonna became identified with the collective gay male sense of self. So when she moved on, devoting less and less time to her gay compatriots, many felt a twinge of abandonment. That’s when bitching about Madonna became the great gay pastime.

“I never left them,” insists Madonna, echoing a lyric from Evita. “When you’re single, you certainly have more time to socialize and hang out with your gay friends, but then you get married and you have a husband and you have children, and your husband wants you to spend time with him. I’m not married anymore, but I have four kids, and I don’t have a lot of time for socializing.” She’s been back in New York for two years, after splitting with Ritchie.
“I hope nobody’s taking that personally. It certainly was not a conscious decision. As it stands, most of my friends in England are gay. But I’m back,” she says, adding reassuringly, “Never fear.”

© The Advocate

Madonna & Katy Perry on the Power of Pop : V Magazine (Summer 2014)


Madonna - V Magazine / Summer 2014

Bow down to two of pop’s biggest icons as Madonna and Katy Perry unapologetically demonstrate the power move that have taked them to the top. But millions of albums sold and the love of billions aren’t all the duo have in common. They rap about tour strategies, religious upbringings, and what it means to rule the world.

Madonna: Have you recovered from the photo shoot? Because I have a sore neck.

Katy Perry: I was sore in my upper body and my butt area from all that squatting.

Madonna: It’s good to be sore in your butt. My neck is sore from that wonderful moment when I was sucking on your heel. I kept thinking, How many bacteria do you think there are on the heel of a shoe? Then I thought, There’s no point. Do they have Purell mouthwash?

Katy Perry: Why don’t they have that? I feel like I want to live in a Purell world. This sounds very first-world problem, but we meet so many people a night on tour, and you never want to cancel a show because you caught a cold.

Madonna: Yeah. It’s something I think about. I load up on B12 shots and things like that.

Katy Perry: I actually have a B12 shot sitting outside my room, ready to jab me in the butt.

Madonna: I think you should learn to do it on your own, so you don’t have to deal with strangers coming into your dressing room. What you do is you just turn. I put my knee up on a chair and put all my weight onto the leg I’m not shooting it into and squeeze the fat together so that it goes into the fatty tissue.

Katy Perry: Right. Madonna and Katy Perry shoot up! Yeah!

Madonna: Let’s face it, the person who has the least amount of fun on tour is the artist. Because after the show everybody else can go out and party and not worry if they get a cold or whatever, but the artist has to go home and recover and prepare for the next one. So speaking of being on tour, it’s such a massive undertaking for me, but when I saw you the other day, you looked so chilled and relaxed and beautiful. A couple of weeks before my production rehearsals I look and feel like a truck ran me over.

Katy Perry: Oh, thank you, but I look like that now.

Madonna: (laughs) I want to know what your secret is. Because you didn’t look like that.

Katy Perry: Now I definitely look a little bit stressed. I’m actually sitting on the couch and I’m into my fourth day of production rehearsals. I’ve already ordered a doctor.

Madonna: (laughs) It is the ultimate immune destroyer, being on tour. Aside from long hours and dancing and singing, you’re also in places where it’s freezing cold or insanely hot or dry or the air-conditioning is crazy…

Katy Perry: Don’t do AC…

Madonna: I don’t either. It drives everybody insane.

Katy Perry: I’ve done some preventive stuff. I went to Chinese doctor about a year ago and all the vitamins I take are curated to my blood. And then the thing that I do that I really believe in is Transcedental Meditation.

Madonna: Really? I didn’t know that you meditated.


Madonna - V Magazine / Summer 2014

Katy Perry: Yeah. I do TM, and it saves my life.

Madonna: And you do it in morning or at night?

Katy Perry: I usually do it in morning. You’re supposed to do it twice, but I just wake up and plop right into it. The trick is to do it before you look at your phone, because once you look at your phone, you’re done.

Madonna: Yeah. Good idea. I used to do it, but I would sometimes fall back asleep.

Katy Perry: But that means you’re already exhausted. I feel a hundred times better when I do iy.

Madonna: Do you do two run-through a day?

Katy Perry: Not every day, if I’m being honest, but we definitely do one, and a lot of clean up.

Madonna: But you’re also doing a lot of tech stuff, so there’s probably a lot of stop and start.

Katy Perry: I’m doing lights. I’m doing video. I’m doing edits. I’m picking my next single.

Madonna: Oh my good. It’s too much. It’s just too much.

Katy Perry: Sometimes you wish you were a girl group, so you could delegate more, you know?

Madonna: Yeah. It’s kind of like being a single perent. (laughs)

Katy Perry: Yeah, I can imagine. You’ve got a lot of kids. They all have different attitudes.

Madonna: Oh yeah. We all went to see the New York City Ballet last night. It was fun to see my children’s reactions to ballet and the theater in general.

Katy Perry: Who liked it the most?

Madonna: Lola. She had ballet and dance training and could appreciate the discipline of everything.

Katy Perry: And I’m sure she has the understanding and the consciousness to really be able to love that kind of approach.

Madonna: Yeah. Totally. So getting back to the rehearsals and the process, the fact that you even have the patience to do the interview is amazing to me, because when I start doing rehearsals and my manager comes to me to stop for a photo shoot or an interview, I’m like, “Get out! Get out of here!”

Katy Perry: That’s what I did last night… I never said that in my life. I’ve never blown off Madonna.

Madonna: I get it. I’m sure you’re very involved with your lighting design and your rear-screen projections and the costumes. All of it is so time-consuming.

Katy Perry: Oh yeah. I’m picking the shoes for dancers!

Madonna: Of course you are. You have to. You can’t leave that up to other people, because then when you see them on stage and you don’t like them, it’s too late and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Katy Perry: Do you have little things that you carry around for protection? Like, I have crystals and little tchotchkes around my dressing room.

Madonna: Yes, I do. I carry 22 volumes of the Zohar with me everywhere.

Katy Perry: Oh wow.

Madonna: That’s one thing that I do. I’ve been studying Kabbalah for 18 years. And I feel like it protects me. So wherever I go and they set up my dressing room, I have a bookshelf with the Zohar. But I also take miniature copies of one of them and my crew guys tape them up inside of every lift and any mechanism that has potential to fail.

Katy Perry: Really ?

Madonna: Yes. I’m so superstitious and don’t trust stages. You know, people are human, they make mistakes sometimes. They don’t set things up properly. So I drive everyone insane, because if there are mechanisms and moving parts in the show, I make them test everything and show it to me during the sound checks.


Madonna - V Magazine / Summer 2014

Katy Perry: All the serials and stuff.

Madonna: Absolutely everything, and I drive people nuts. But, you know, that’s manifestation of OCD and just having things go wrong in the past and having people get hurt. I can’t afford that.

Katy Perry: I’m so OCD I want these letters in alphabetical order. C-D-O would be my preference.

Madonna: Details.

Katy Perry: God is in the details. I really appreciate people being the best they can be in whatever field they’re in.

Madonna: Speaking of people who are the best. You have the best dresser. I love Tony.

Katy Perry: Oh, Tony! He’s such a great, hard worker. I don’t know if Lisa was ever on tour with you as well? Because he brought her.

Madonna: They’re a great team. I hope they’re both dressing you in your quick change. You’re in very good hands with those two.

Katy Perry: I love that that’s exactly what they do and I can yell at them and at the end of the night there are no hard feelings.

Madonna: They got thick skin. I’ve had some major temper tantrums in my dressing room.

Katy Perry: Having your flesh zipped up in your boots before you’re supposed to go act spritely on stage is the worst thing ever.

Madonna: Yes. So many things can go wrong. It’s all about the quick change. It’s kind of like in Formula One when the drivers stop and the crew takes the car apart and then puts it back together again. You better hope and pray that they do it in right order.

Katy Perry: That’s great analogy.

Madonna: Okay, who’s your director ? Do you work with the same person every time ?

Katy Perry: Yeah, I do. His name is Baz Halpin. He did Pink, Taylor Swift, Cher.

Madonna: Pink’s show was great.

Katy Perry: Amazing. That’s excruciatingly hard looking show. I don’t know how she does it.

Madonna: She’s a little toughie. She’s an athlete.

Katy Perry: When did you start dancing ?

Madonna: When I was in junior high. I’m sure that’s what saved me. My dance training and my super catholic upbringing. The combination of discipline and rigor and stick-to-the-plan and don’t be a flake.

Katy Perry: Are you always on time then ?

Madonna: No, no. Unfortunately. I expect everyone else to be, of course.

Katy Perry: Sure! I understand.

Madonna: But I’m only a few hours late. (laughs) I want to be on time. I try to be on time.

Katy Perry: There are many variables.

Madonna: Well, when you have four children, everything goes out of window. They slow me down enormously with their surprises. But in terms of my show, we got major aggro from my management for being late. But I have this set amount of time between sound check and the show. I need exactly three hours to get ready.

Katy Perry: That’s about as much time as I need. Even if you are a little bit late, it’s not like you’re sitting backstage drinking champagne and watching your favorite TV show.

Madonna: Right. I’m not partying. I’m not being frivolous or lazy. there’s no time to waste.

Katy Perry: Right.

Madonna: So… the thing about touring is that it’s the one thing left that nobody can mess with. People can download your music and you can make a video and create a whole new version of yourself, but when you get on tour, you have to pay your piper. When you go on stage, you have to do it, and there’s no faking. You could lip-synch, that’s true, but I feel like there’s something about live performance where it’s the one thing left for an artist that’s living on the edge and there’s no way to cheat it. It’s the one risk we’re still allowed to take. Do you feel like that too ?

Katy Perry: I feel like that’s where the true connection with music comes from. I still believe that you reap what you sow on tour. If you’re touring, you’re really planting personal seeds in the fans. I’m very one-on-one.

Madonna: Do you stop during your sets sometimes and talk to them ?

Katy Perry: Oh, yeah. There’s nothing more boring than an artist coming to a city and saying “Hi, City Center” and that’s the only thing they say. I like to go outside the palace walls, put on a hat, get on a bike. being a real observer and ingesting the vibe of a city so that when I walk on the stage I have something to say. Otherwise it feels like you’re just using the fans in some ways.

Madonna: Yeah, I think it’s super important. Does it bother you that you can’t just think about making music and being an artist? You have to think about branding and selling products as well?

Katy Perry: I am a healthy percentage left- and right- brained, so I can dream dreams and be very pragmatic and that has server me well. Everything has to pass through my eyes and my ears, but I think that’s why in a time of short-span pop-up careers I’ve had a longer one than most people would have bet on for me.

Madonna: If you get down to betting, no one’s going to bet on you. Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where people support or encourage longevity or people doing well. You have to manufacture that yourself.

Katy Perry: I’ve done things for creative reasons and also to make sure that I can have the type of tour that I want. I have to pay the bills, because there are a lot of them to pay. We’ve got over 120 people on this tour, not counting our openers. I always say, I’m the biggest domino and if I fall then everybody falls.

Madonna: It’s a huge responsibility, when you think about how it used to be and how it is now.

Madonna - V Magazine / Summer 2014

Katy Perry: It seems everybody expects so much transparency these days. Like when someone at the photo shoot was talking about Google contact lenses, I just thought, I’m never leaving my house when that thing comes out.

Madonna: It’s too much. I don’t want everybody to know where I am all of the time. I don’t understand people who say “I’m here now” and how they leave bread crumbs and say “I’m in the city and now I’m on the plane. Now I’ve landed.” Like, Okay, alright, stop telling everybody.

Katy Perry: We get it!

Madonna: I don’t want to see the inside of the plane you’re on.

Katy Perry: We live in a really self-important time. People want complete transparency, but I don’t think we understand that when we get it there are all kinds of faults that I don’t think we want to see. It’s weird saying this, because I like to be an encouragement and a light, but everyone is in a state of self-indulgence. I think it’s a by-product of social media. Everybody is encouraged to…

Madonna: …to just put their shit out there.

Katy Perry: Yeah. I’m at fault for it too, so it’s hard to even comment about it.

Madonna: We all are, to a certain extent. The internet is the greatest invention of all time. It’s incredibly helpful and you can start revolutions with it, but it’s also absolutely the most dangerous thing in the world. The same amount of darkness and the same amount of light are in the same place.

Katy Perry: All just made out of zeros and ones.

Madonna: (laughs) Okay, another question. Can you think of situations or people that inspire you or inspired you to begin with or that keep you going? It could be anyone from your parents to some artist or a teacher.

Katy Perry: An artist? Oooh.

Madonna: My big inspiration when I first started out was teachers. Teachers that believed in me, or painters, or writers, or people who don’t have anything to do with the business that I am in.

Katy Perry: I would say it would be the love of music that I had when I was really young. It was like finding another language. Music touched me, like I had someone that I could finally speak to like a therapist or a friend. It was finding solace in lyrics.

Madonna: So you found words…

Katy Perry: Words are so powerful to me. There was a real connectedness with lyrics, so I picked up a guitar at 13 and started writing my way then.

Madonna: So I imagine reading and writing were important to you when you were growing up. That method of transporting, transmuting, transmitting information.

Katy Perry: Reading and writing were important, but I didn’t have the formal education to continue that into the end of my teenage years, when things were supposed to be really developing. I was homeschooled sometimes. I was always being taken out of school. I was in quote-unquote Christian schools, which weren’t always focused on the education. I never really went to high school.

Madonna: You didn’t? You didn’t go to high school, but you were homeschooled to get your GED?

Katy Perry: Yeah, I only ever went to one semester of my freshman year of high school, but now more than ever I’m thirsty for education in any way, shape, or form that it comes. I’m soaking up information constantly. I want to know more. I never want to stop learning.

Madonna: I think you have to, in order to stay relevant and continue to be creative. I’m a big ballbuster about people reading and asking questions. I don’t see how there can be any other way. It’s about information and digging deeper and investigating. Pending back the layers. Speaking of Christianity. Like where it started or how it began.

Katy Perry: My dad is very Pentecostal and emotional and excited and dramatic with his preaching, but my mother studied at Berkeley and speaks French. The approach with her style was more educational, and I was always more drawn to that. I liked knowing the true hard facts, because it took more than just the idea of faith for me. I wanted more.

Madonna: There needs to be a balance of both, and I think that works in all areas of life. You need the heart and the brain to be married. At a certain point you have to have faith. You can’t explain everything. Some things are inexplicable. You need to intellectually understand things, and I think that’s a big problem with religion. The idea of religion and science. People feel like there has to be a separation.

Katy Perry: No. I wish they would be married.

Madonna: I agree. I think if they were married and if people did understand that there was an interface between religion and science, we wouldn’t be in the situations that we’re constantly in. Wars over religion. I believe that the evolution of our species can coexist with the story of Genesis, Adam and Eve.

Katy Perry: When people don’t know the facts, they feel inferior and get defensive. Then they react in a way where they’re more passionate about something they don’t understand.

Madonna: I agree. So are your parents supportive of your work?

Katy Perry: It’s very strange dichotomy. They love me and support me, of course. But I think they do a turn bit of a blind eye and don’t necessarily agree with everything I do. Thankfully we have come to a wonderful place of agreeing to disagree.

Madonna - V Magazine / Summer 2014

Madonna: Yeah, that’s where I am with my dad too. He spent many years just freaking out. Being a very traditional Italian Catholic father and not really understanding why I had to do the things I had to do. I would always say, “Dad, I’m an artist, I have to express myself. You don’t understand.” I think he finally come to terms with it. It’s only taken 30 years. He’s like, Do you have to simulate masturbation on the bed? Do you have to? Yes, Dad, I do.

Katy Perry:I haven’t gone that far yet, but maybe under your great mentorship I might reach that point.

Madonna: [laughs] Well, one doesn’t discover these things until becoming a parent. Now I have huge amounts of admiration, respect, and sympathy for my father. So the last question, which is kind of connected. Obviously you were the curator for Art for Freedom for a month, which I hugely appreciate. I don’t know how much of a dent it is making on the world, but I do believe that we are responsible as artists to not only reflect what’s going on in the world but also to shape it. I believe that wholeheartedly. Do you agree ?

Katy Perry: I do. I think that it’s something that you realize along the way. Sometimes that’s the initiative for becoming an artist, and then sometimes you are… what’s the word… a messenger, and you don’t even know it.

Madonna: You’re the channel.

Katy Perry: Yeah, you’re channeling and you’re not conscious of it and then suddenly you become conscious of it. I feel that my music is more on the inspiring-joyful-light front. Not light as in lighthearted, but bringing light to a dark world. I believe that we can offer light, love, inspiration, and equality through these songs.

Madonna: I think of all the art forms music is the most accessible and healing and universal.

Katy Perry: One hundred percent healing.

Madonna: Alright, let’s end on that note. The healing energy and capacity of music. Whilst looking at pictures of the heel of your shoe in my mouth. I love the paradox. I really enjoyed working with you on the photo shoot. People always expect when two divas get together that there might be weird vibes or a strange competitiveness, but this was nice and easy and fun.

Katy Perry: If you ever come to the show, there’s a little wink for you. I’m paying my dues!

Madonna: I’m looking forward to it.

© V Magazine