I was never a Girl Scout, but I was a Campfire Girl and a Brownie. Campfire Girls had the cooler uniform. I was never good at being part of an organization. When I was a Brownie, I ate all the cookies. When I was a Campfire Girl, I’d camp out with the boys and get into trouble.
Of all the great photographs in history, I’d most like to have been in one of me having dinner with John Kennedy, with Marilyn Monroe sitting next to him, singing “Happy Birthday.”
Madonna’s First Movie
Young director Stephen Lewicki was throwing out old resumes and head shots when one fell from the basket. As he stooped to pick it up, he noticed, behind the unimpressive photograph, the last page of a handwritten resume that gave the same birthday as his, August 16. He re-read the letter, reconsidered the urgently hopeful face, and hired Madonna Cicconi to star in his first movie.
That was just over five years ago and “star” might be stretching exaggeration, compared to where Madonna has since taken her career. A Certain Sacrifice is an hour-long melodrama of surprising intensity and value, shot, unfortunately, on Super 8mm, then edited on one-inch video to further visually obscure it In the movie. 20-year-old Madonna plays Bruna, a post-punk drifter, who meets a refugee from the suburbs in Washington Square’s fountain. The two become lovers and ultimately avengers of their own love’s desecration. Sleazy Raymond Hall rapes Brune in a coffee shop toilet but is hunted down and kidnapped by the lovers and Bruna’s former “family” of sex-slaves. In one of the massive, cathedral-like arches under
the Brooklyn Bridge, Hall is executed in an eerie human sacrifice.
Before shooting the rape scene, Lewicki instructed Charles Kurtz. who plays Hall, to tear Madonna’s shirt off when raping her, without telling Madonna beforehand. This heightens the intensity of the scene, which is played to perfection.
Lewicki concedes to having had a mild, unconsummated crush on her and recounts one afternoon spent in Battery Park when he ate blueberry yogurt out of her ear. “That woman has more sensuality in her ear than most woman have anywhere on their bodies.” he says wistfully.
But he was more concerned with her as an important element in his movie. In his opinion she is a good actress. Not another Garbo, except perhaps in mystique, but gifted. She really does want to act more than make music, he feels.
Asked to sum her up, after much thought he concludes simply: “ambitious,” and tells how she seemed happy only when the center of attention, especially on camera. In the letter/resume she sent him, she wrote how drama class was an oasis in an otherwise mostly despised schooling. “For one hour every day all of the megalomaniacs and egotists would meet to compete for roles and argue about interpretation. I secretly adored each moment, when all eyes were on me, and I could practice being charming or sophisticated, so I would be prepared for the outside world.”
One anecdote provides a revealing insight: apparently Madonna had already met her leading man, Jeremy Pattnosh, a couple of years earlier on a park bench, but he didn’t remember. Just before filming a key love scene with Pattnosh, she reminded him. Lewicki had already turned on the camera and so recorded it, though not the conversation. When he reviewed the silent footage, he saw a side of Madonna that “you never see, she doesn’t allow you to see. A tremendous vulnerability. She seems to have a tremendous need for approval.”
Recently, Madonna, her fashion coordinator, Mary Paul, and her ex-boyfriend Jellybean went to Lewicki’s apartment to see the movie, which she claimed she liked. She talked constantly when she wasn’t on screen. As she was leaving, she stopped in the doorway and turned to Lewicki.
“Well Stephen, fuck you.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well we’ve always had an adversarial relationship and I wanted to keep it up.”
Then she disappeared into the New York night, taking her entourage, mysteries and secrets with her.