Madonna and I had met many times over the years, but we had never actually had a conversation. It took this interview to bring us together – she as icon, I as inquisitor of icon [after all, I have already distinguished myself as friend of icon, relative of icon and ex-wife of icon]. I had never done an interview before, and I don’t know that I will again. For me, this has all the makings of a waterloo.
The first of the two sessions for this interview took place in the restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Madonna wore gold lame; I probably wore black. The last session took place in the offices of her manager, Freddy DeMann. Madonna wore a negligee; I probably wore black.
I was late for that first meeting because a friend who had AIDS and who was staying with me had suddenly developed a fever. I called Madonna to say I was on my way. “You’re late,” she informed me. I explained about my friend. “Well, okay, that’s a good excuse,” she said.
By the time of our final meeting the following week, my friend had died. He had been extremely courageous, fighting an unbelievable battle. I relate this because it factored somehow into our meetings, making them even more bizarre and certainly changing the tone of our conversation from time to time.
Madonna has no equal at getting attention. She often seems to behave like someone who has been under severe restraint and can now say and do whatever she likes without fear of reprisal. She delights in being challenged, in telling more than she had planned, in going further than she had intended.
And judging from her new film Truth Or Dare, there is no “too far” for Madonna. She has a quality that I’ve always enjoyed in some people, mainly public ones: She will answer any question because she is genuinely interested in her own reply.
A conversation or an interview, then, can become an oppurtunity for self-discovery, or just discovery. It’s a hearty mix of self-consciousness and self-confidence. It’s a type of courage, a free fall into the perplexing public now.
I had heard a rumor that Norman Mailer was the first choice to do this interview but that it didn’t work out. I’m sure he would have cost more than I. No doubt that Norman on Madonna would have been a historic piece. But this time around, history was not in the budget. Unfortunately or not, I was. So a lot of money was saved, and history was not made. Or made, at least, of cruder material. Discount history, at those low, low, no-Mailer prices.
Carrie: We have a lot of things in common. We go to the same shrink.
Madonna Yeah, everything I do is measured by what I think her reaction will be.
Carrie: The choice is to be either her worst patient or her best patient, but to be distinct somehow.
Madonna I’m so worried about impressing her – not impressing her, but being good – that when I know I’m fucking up.
Carrie: She becomes the superego mommy conscience.
Madonna Absolutely. And so far she’s disapproved of everything I’ve done since I’ve started seeing her. That’s why I haven’t gone lately.
Carrie: We’ve also been married and divorced.
Madonna How many years were you and Paul [Simon] married?
Carrie: We did a six-year stint on “not married”, and then suddenly it was “Let’s fix this relationship”, or “We might as well be married”. Then we were married for two years, and it was very on again, off again, as it was for the whole relationship over thirteen years.
Madonna So nothing changed after you and Paul got married?
Carrie: It got worse because I was supposed to get better. Now I was supposed to be a better wife.
Madonna But you weren’t.
Madonna We also both got married on August 16th.
Carrie: The day Elvis died.
Madonna Is that why you got married on the sixteenth?
Carrie: No. I don’t remember why. Why did you? Because Elvis died? No, I know it was because that’s your birthday, and his [Sean Penn’s] is the next day. Do you still speak to him?
Madonna I have been speaking to him recently. You know how it is. First it’s like anything bad you can say comes out.
Carrie: I’ve never heard you slam him.
Madonna No, I’ve never slammed him publicly. But I went through a hostile period. My heart was really broken. You can be a bitch until your heart’s broken, and when your heart’s broken, you’re a superbitch about everything except that. You guard that closely. So, no, I never really slandered him. And then we went through a period where I never would have known I was even married to the guy. It was like that part of my life did not exist. Four years. The first year was good – sort of.
Carrie: But you weren’t together that long before you got married.
Madonna Seven months. It was really a romantic thing. We were madly in love with each other, and we decided quite soon after we started seeing each other that were going to get married – and then we got married. He didn’t get a tattoo on his arm.
Carrie: You weren’t like Cher and Josh [Donen]?
Madonna Or Winona and Johnny? Actually, Sean did get a tattoo but not until after we were married. It’s my nickname on his toe. So, none of his girlfriends can see it unless they’re really inspecting him.
Carrie: Which I should think they would.
Madonna Yeah, at this point. It’s Daisy.
Carrie: Your nickname is Daisy?
Madonna It was when I was with him. No one calls me Daisy now. Now it’s Dita, from Dita Parlo, an actress from the Thirties. She did a lot of silent movies.
Carrie: And who gave you this one?
Madonna Actually I gave it to myself., but everyone thought it was very fitting, so it just stuck. You know how you have to pick names when you stay in hotels. After Daisy there was Lulu.
Carrie: Why were you named Daisy? For Daisy Buchanan, Daisy Miller?
Madonna Daisy Miller. There are a lot of good Daisys.
Carrie: Mostly high strung.
Madonna Yeah. And then there was Lulu because I was worshiping Louise Brooks. My name was Lulu Smith.
Carrie: Why did you worship Luise Brooks?
Madonna Because she was hyperactive, she didn’t mince words, and she was a rebel – at least from what I’ve read. I thought she was a fab girl.
Carrie: Who else do you like who doesn’t mince words?
Madonna Bette Davis. Oh, everybody I like is dead. The next name, while I was on tour for six months, was Kit Moresby from [the book] The Sheltering Sky. She’s fairly high-strung but not exactly my personality.