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Madonna Interview : Maclean’s

Madonna - Maclean's / May 15 1991

The World’s Hottest Star Speaks Her Mind

Madonna’s house sits high above Los Angeles, at the dead end of a road that climbs above the traffic of Sunset Boulevard and twists into the enveloping calm of the Hollywood Hills. It is a white stucco bungalow guarded by rusted iron gates. A security camera and an intercom system check the visitor’s identity. A female assistant answers the door. Then Madonna appears, without ceremony. She is surprisingly compact, and less glamorous than her image. Her bleached hair, showing dark roots, looks limp. Her lips, amplified by a signature slash of scarlet, are offset by the paleness of a not quite immaculate complexion. She is dramatically dressed: black boots, dark-red Gaultier slacks armored with black-leather patches (“fierce moto-cross pants,” she calls them), and a clinging white lace top that leaves her shoulders bare and her nipples visible. Stepping into the living room, she opens a sliding glass door to the afternoon air and slips on a plain black sweater. White throughout, the house is spacious, elegant and adorned with art. But by movie-star standards, it is small. “As you can see,” says Madonna, “I don’t live in a mansion.”

That is one of many misconceptions that the world’s most famous—and infamous—female entertainer tried to dispel during a two-hour interview with Maclean’s. Answering questions with levelheaded candor, Madonna clarified old controversies and kindled new ones. She talked about her motives for exposing herself so intimately in Madonna: Truth or Dare, a voyeuristic documentary about last year’s Blond Ambition tour that is being released in theatres across North America this week. She also discussed her relationship with ex-flame Warren Beatty, her reaction to Sean Penn’s new baby, her own aspirations to motherhood, her desire to give singer Michael Jackson a radical make-over — and her belief that “God is bisexual.”

The Material Girl also revealed a streak of idealism, coupled with a shrewd sense of her own influence. “It’s not as calculated as you think,” said the 32-year-old singer, actor and sexual provocateur, who rose from humble origins in a Detroit suburb. “I did not set out to be a controversial superstar. I did not say I’m going to sell a zillion records and be some sort of pioneer. It all happened very organically.” Added Madonna: “I suddenly realized at some point in my career that people really listen to what I said — and that I did have a certain amount of power being who I was, and could use that power as a platform to say certain things that I believe in.”

Madonna’s detractors can be as vociferous as her fans. And she is often criticized for having more success than she deserves. But she is clearly more than the sum of her talents. In Truth or Dare, Madonna acknowledges her limits. “I know I’m not the best singer,” she says, “and I know I’m not the best dancer. But I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in pushing people’s buttons — in being political and provocative.” And in that, she has no rival. Said her manager, Freddy DeMann: “I think everybody loves to hate Madonna. But I think her frankness is very charming. She says things that people really want to say but are too inhibited to. That’s the secret of her success.”