Madonna looks exhausted, with dark circles under her eyes, as she sits in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. She has been up tending to her sick daughter, 17-month-old Lourdes Maria. Ever the professional, however, she not only drove herself to the interview (in a Mercedes sedan), but showed up on time.
Clad in a black Balenciaga jacket and Donna Karan pants, sipping Earl Grey tea, and curled up comfortably on a sofa, Madonna is eager to talk about motherhood, which, she says, now “has informed my entire life” — as well as giving her an inner calm and peace that have eluded her since her mother died when Madonna was 5 years old. “I feel as if I started my life over.”
Far the next hour or so, Madonna addresses an array of topics, everything from her newfound spirituality to her new boyfriend, and from her new album, Ray of Light, to her VH1 special, Madonna Rising. The new Madonna, 39, may be spiritual, but every once in a while her street toughs came out, particularly when the subject is the public’s perception of Carlos Leon. the father of her child.
Two nights later at the Academy Awards, a glimpse of the old, in-your-face Madonna appears to emerge when she seems to roll her eyes during her introduction of Celine Dion. (A wild misrepresentation, according to Madonna, who insists that she “really likes Celine.”)
One thing is certain: Madonna is poised to burst back on the scene after her self-imposed maternity leave. In addition to the album and TV show, she’s shooting a new video plus preparing to star in two movies, Wes Craven’s “50 Violins” and “Chicago.” But, she says, it is being a mother that engages her most.
TV GUIDE: I understand your baby sick.
Madonna: She’s been crying for 48 hours. I haven’t slept. The nanny took long weekend.
TVG: Your life certainly has changer, including the way you exercise. I saw you on The Rosie O’Donnell Show — you were teaching her yoga.
Madonna: In my 3-inch platforms. I pulled my calf muscles doing it. It was a really big mistake. I thought, “I can do it in platforms. I hurt myself more than she did.
TVG: Yoga seems like such a change of pace for you.
Madonna: I guess everybody associates me with this incredible sort of workout ethic. Incredibly punishing exercise routine. Well, I used to do that. I am here to say it is a huge waste of time. I didn’t have to push myself so hard, and I didn’t know it.
TVG: I think of you as someone who is always pushing herself hard.
Madonna: I was hooking into aggression. Now, with yoga, I have to look inside and deal with the stillness.
TVG: Friends say you are a more peaceful person since the baby.
Madonna: When I went into the hospital I remember thinking: “I don’t have a baby right now. But in a couple of hours, I’m going to have a baby. So I will be a totally different person.” I just think it is like crossing the border.
TVG: Into feminine territory.
Madonna: Yeah, I think it made me face up to my more feminine side. I had a much more masculine view of the world. Divide and conquer. I grew up without a mother, and I have always had this real kind of I-don’t-need-anybody-and-I-will-never-rely-on-anybody attitude about the world. You always have your guard up. And you can’t really do that with a child.
TVG: Did having a child, particularly a girl, help you heal the hurt you felt about losing your mother at such a young age?
Madonna: It had an incredible healing effect. What I missed and longed for was that unconditional love that a mother gives you. And so having my daughter is the same kind of thing. It’s like that first true, pure, unconditional love. It is the first time it has happened to me that I am aware of. The love you get from your father isn’t the same.
TVG: Even your hair has changed. It was so severe, now it’s wilder, definitely more feminine.
Madonna: My hair has been every color known to man. Every shade of black, brown, red, pink. Every shade of blond — platinum, champagne, golden, strawberry, you name it. I’m glad it didn’t fall out.
TVG: Has anything else changed?
Madonna: I don’t like around people who are negative. Like, I used to sit around with my girlfriends and everybody would be really catty and go: “She is such a bitch..” or “Can you believe her boyfriend did this, and blah, blah, blah.” I used to be totally into it. Now, people start doing that and I can’t join in. I feel like I am hurting people.
TVG: You’ve been hurt a lot by the media. What is the worst media storm you have ever been in?
Madonna: God, There’s been so many! My wedding [to actor Sean Penn in 1985]. When the Playboy pictures came out. When I got divorced. When my Sex book came out. When I got pregnant. When I had the baby. You know what I mean? My whole life is like a series of being in the middle of a media storm.
TVG: Do you think the media ruined your marriage to Sean Penn?
Madonna: My marriage to Sean didn’t work for a million reasons. Neither of us were prepared for the media assault. Sean was freaked out. It added a layer of tension. But I wouldn’t blame the media.
TVG: Do you pay attention to the media when it’s not about you?
Madonna: When something’s happening that’s newsworthy. I did watch the Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley interview. And when Ellen DeGeneres came out and kissed a girl. What I think are milestones on TV.