Do you think that even in this age of insatiable celebrity curiosity, you may have upset people by giving them more than they thought they wanted – that with “sex,” and some of your other very revealing projects, you may have been a conduit for their secret desires?
People couldn’t take having the mirrors turned on them like that, absolutely. Sexuality has always been forced down our throats, but it’s always been from a male point of view. The woman is always objectified. And in this circumstance it was the opposite. I think that not only men but women responded in a really hostile way.
People didn’t attack me in a personal way before the book. After the book, they did. I’m talking about criticizing everything from my choice of men to my body – things that have nothing to do with my work. I also found myself the subject of almost any interview anyone did with a female. Writers used to just throw my name up there just to get six paragraphs of sensationalist journalism.
Yet you sound as though you’ve worked your way through this avalanche of scorn…
I don’t take it as personally as I used to. I’m a much more forgiving person now. I’m sure my daughter has had a lot to do with it. But I feel much more compassion toward people who have hostile feelings towards me. Because I know that it’s coming from the opposite place than it appears to be coming from. And once you accept the format and learn to forgive people… it’s just been a lot easier for me. Everything. Being famous has been a lot easier.
How and when would you say you made this turn?
It’s just an evolution, really, since I made Evita. Because going down to South America and getting beaten up the way that I was in the newspaper every day – and sort of living vicariously through what happened to Eva Peron – then finding myself pregnant. Going from the depth of despair and then coming out on the other side… you know, becoming a mother, I just have a whole new outlook on life. I see the world as a much more hopeful place. I just feel an infinite amount of compassion towards other people. That’s the effect that she has on me- in addition to many others. It happened before she was born. The peace began once I left Argentina and went to London. Absolutely.
If motherhood has helped you forgive your detractors, has it also affected your more positive relationships?
Yeah, I do have a close set of women friends now. I’m much closer to women who have children now; I’m drawn to them. being surrounded by good friends always helped. But having my daughter helps me deal with (the celebrity circus) because everything else pales in comparison anyway. She’s almost a year old. She just started walking, the drunken walk.
You’re working on a new record now, which means more videos, a tour. Given the level of expectations now – “What’s Madonna going to do next?” – do you feel more or less pressure to come up with something astonishing?
I feel much less pressure. In a way, I feel I have a lot more freedom than other people do. Does total creative freedom exist? [Laughs] Yeah, you’re just have to be willing to not be popular.
And you’d be comfortable in that place?
[Bigger laugh] Please! I got there sometime ago. In a way, it’s very freeing you know. When the whole world turns on you, and then people start to be nice to you again, you go, “Well, I can handle anything. Whatever.”