But while she is super-rich and super-famous, it seems that the artist in her is still struggling to be discovered. “In the beginning,” she said, “I was dealing with pop music and themes that were, you know, fairly artificial — just escapist entertainment. Since I’ve decided to face my own torment, it’s coming out that way in my work: my mother’s death, my father’s alienation of me, my stepmother.” On last year’s tour, she confronted her father’s squeamishness over the graphic nature of her show, and tried to make peace with her alcoholic older brother, Martin. “He’s a con artist, like a character out of a Jim Thompson novel,” she said. “He thrives in the under-life. Martin says my fame doesn’t bother him, but it really does.” She understands, however, that being the sibling of a star is not easy. “When people find out, the expectations suddenly rise, and it can be infuriating — I wouldn’t want to be one of my brothers or sisters.” Madonna seems closest to Christopher, whose homosexuality she revealed in print for the first time in The Advocate.
Coy: But she remains coy about the extent of her own bisexual experience. She refuses to confirm whether she slept with comedian Sandra Bernhard, but is delighted if people think she did. Meanwhile, Madonna, who declared in The Advocate that “every straight guy should have a man’s tongue in his mouth at least once,” told Maclean’s: “I always ask every man I go out with, ‘Have you slept with a man? No? Would you ever sleep with a man?’ I’m completely fascinated by people’s sexuality.”
She expresses strong affection for homosexuals and is an ardent supporter of AIDS-awareness campaigns. “When I’m around gay men,” Madonna said, “I look at them and go, ‘God, they’re just not afraid to feel and be who they are.’ And they’re just a f**k of a lot more sensitive than most of the straight men I know. They’re more fun to be around. They’re freer. I also feel that they’re persecuted, and I can relate to that.”
Heroine to the gay movement and sex goddess to the straight world, Madonna seems to have all the angles covered. But despite her enormous popularity, she still appears to be insecure about being accepted. “I always think no one’s going to buy this record, this video,” she said. “I always think my audience is getting narrower and narrower — and hope that there will be a handful of people who will understand what I’m trying to say.”