VI. The Bathroom Theory
“Reggie was about one thing,” explains Madonna. “He did R&B. He’s a good producer, very open and sensitive. But Nile has worked with so many kinds of musicians, and every record he’s made is a great one as far as I’m concerned. He has the pop thing in him really strong, and he’s done great dance stuff with Chic and Sister Sledge and all those others, and he’s worked with a lot of female vocalists like Diana Ross. I identified with him, too. He’s a real street person, and we hung out at the same clubs. Even before I started to interview producers I thought he was the one I wanted for the second record.”
Rodgers is getting to be a popular interview these days for people writing about Madonna. The implication is, of course, that Rodgers is legit, see, and if he likes Madonna without being her boyfriend, then maybe she’s not a total bimbo. Rodgers is affable and willing to talk, even with a mean head cold and a long airplane trip only a few hours away. “Someone like Iggy Pop can get out there and be super-sexual and wild and that’s great. But Madonna is a woman, so they say she’s sleazy? Madonna is blatantly sexual and sensual, but not sleazy, not even a little bit. In my opinion, she’s an excellent natural singer, a natural musician, a serious artist. It would be real nice if some ostensibly smart people who know about music would get past the image and get into the music. I’m hoping she can just ride out all the crap people are saying about her. I think a lot of the real nasty stuff is coming from men. And all that arrogance bit — she sticks to her guns, that’s all. It’s that attitude that comes from growing up in a huge family, you know, always having to fight and yell for things like
time in the bathroom.”
VII. The Chauffeur’s Friend’s Theory
“I was making this movie, Desperately Seeking Suson. One of the drivers that took me to the set every day was this kid, and one day he said to me, ‘I have this bet going with my friend, he told me that all the music you do was done by someone else and they picked the songs and did it all, and all they needed was a girl singer and you auditioned and they picked you. And Madonna isn’t your real name and all of it is fabricated.‘ And I said, ‘WHAAAAATT?? Are you out of your mind??!’ But that’s what his friend told him, and it suddenly hit me that that’s probably what a lot of people think. It hit me.”
VIII. The Phyllis and Bob Theory, Part II
Here’s the catch for the modern girl: you can be self-determining. You now have the right. You should be self-determining, you must. But. If your self determines that it wants to be smart and sexpot at the same time? You got the power to choose, honey, but you chose wrong, “I thought the Gina Schock quote was pretty funny,” grins Madonna, referring to Schock recent statement to the effect that Madonna makes it hard for people to take women seriously but that Schock loved the record in spite of it. “I think people want to see me as a little tart bimbo who sells records because I’m cute and record companies push ’em because they know they can make a quick buck on my image.” Madonna gives another eyeball to eyeball look. “People don’t want to like me. And that’s because you’re not supposed to be flirty unless you’re an airhead. And they say I do all this stuff to my appearance and look the way I do because I want to please men.” The blue eyes roll toward the ceiling. “I’m doing it because I like it. If I don’t like it, no one’s going to. I do it because it turns me on.”
Any female role models or heroes? She sighs. “Carole Lombard. She’s my all-time idol. I love her so much. She’s real sentimental and vulnerable, and funny, and sometimes she’s real bitchy and tough, too. She’s it.”
IX. The Sheet Theory
You gotta pay if you wanna play, says the firm set of her mouth. “I try to have a thick skin, but every once in a while I read something that someone says about me and it’s so slanderous and moralistic, and it has nothing to do with my music. There was this one review that said things about me that boys said to me in the seventh grade.”
“For instance – ‘slut.’ Yep, they called me that in this review. And ‘cheap coquette,’ a girl who made her way into lots of back seat in the drive-in theater, the kind of girl that made your father slip you a Trojan and pat you on the back and say, ‘Have a good time, don’t stay out too late.'” Her eyes focus across the room as if she’s watching a movie. “I remember guys saying that sort of stuff to me when I was really young. I thought suddenly that the whole experience was repeating itself all over again. Those boys didn’t understand me, and they didn’t like me because I wasn’t stupid, and I was blunt and opinionated, but I was a flirt at the same time.
They took my aggressiveness as a come-on. They didn’t get it. And they didn’t get it, if you know what I mean, so I guess they had to say things because they knew that was the only way they could hurt me. That review felt like junior high all over again. And check this out! This reviewer also said that every guy across the country is stroking himself under his sheets thinking about me.” Madonna’s face creases in mischief.
“Maybe he’s doing it himself and he feels guilty. Or maybe he asked me out on a date five years ago and I snubbed him.” It’s not out of the question.
X. The Time Theory
Madonna has to vamoose in 15 minutes, cover story and unanswered questions notwithstanding. This week preceding a needed vacation is crammed with band auditions for the boys who will go on the “Virgin Tour.” The trek will start around March and cover the States as well as Europe. Before and after and probably even during the tour there are TV tapings, fashion layouts, photo sessions, videos, commercials, movie scripts to consider and on and on. And then, “I’ll check into Bellevue, or maybe the Betty Ford Clinic, huh?” Any positive press along the way will be nice, ofcourse, but serious reputation repair can only come if she keeps going, going, going. And she knows it.
“The fact of the matter is that you can use your beauty and use your charm and be flirtatious, and you can get people interested in you. Maybe at the start they’re only interested in your beauty. But you cannot maintain that. In the end, talent is the only thing. My work is the only thing that’s going to change any minds. The videos, the records, the movies are the things that will eventually make them think that I’m more than just a girl with a pretty face who’s had some pop hits. It’s just going to take some time.”