TVG: I can’t imagine you feeling sorry for yourself.
Madonna: It manifested itself in different ways.
TVG: For you it was just rage?
Madonna: Totally. Then I got pregnant. And I said, “Well, I’m just going to go with this.”
TVG: You are taking a walk down memory lane, visiting your old New York City haunts in your new VH1 documentary, Madonna Rising. Are you trying to tie up all the disparate phases of your life?
Madonna: I guess so. Enough time has passed. And like I said, I have a whole new outlook on life. So it was kind of a
good time for me to actually reflect.
TVG: The show is hosted by Rupert Everett [costar of “My Best Friend’s Wedding”). Are you friends?
Madonna: I have known him for years. I met hint when I was first dating Sean. I enjoy him. And Rupert totally gets me. He can hold his own with me.
TVG: You even adopted his British accent?
Madonna: Oh, I was just being silly. Rupert had one. Heh, heh. Mine wasn’t a very good imitation.
TVG: You returned to your New York beginnings, when you were a squatter in a decrepit building. There wasn’t even a shower. Just a sink.
Madonna: When I looked back to all these places and saw how dirty they were, how dangerous living they were…I mean, even Rupert was scared. He said, “I can’t believe it.” I realize how brave I was. It made me realize I must have had a guardian angel.
TVG: What kind of memories did making the documentary evoke?
Madonna: Memories of people. I went back to a hotel. It was like a flophouse. I shared a bathroom in the hallway. These two guys used to sleep with the doors open. I think they were drug dealers. I realized that I put myself into some pretty harrowing, potentially dangerous situations. I’m not saying I didn’t feel despair. But I never doubted that I was going to achieve my goals.
TVG: Were you on good terms with your family at that time?
Madonna: Oh, yeah. I mean, I fought them. My father was horrified that I gave up going to the University of Michigan to go New York to be a dancer. He was concerned for me, as any father would be. He spent the next 10 years asking, “Are you going back to school?”
TVG: Well, if you had gone back to school chances are you wouldn’t have a new album to promote. How does Ray of Light fit into your new attitude?
Madonna: It’s a true reflection of where I am in my life right now. It’s different because I am different. This record is a watershed moment. So much has happened between my last album and this album. Between “Evita” and having a baby. I am looking at life with eyes wide open. This record is a reflection of that.
TVG: In one song, “Drowned World / Substitute For Love,” you make it clear that you traded fame for love, and that it was a poor substitute.
Madonna: I am just coming to a realization that actually fame doesn’t give anything. That it can’t take the place of love.
TVG: Some say that you’re hooked on fame and that you’re incapable of having a real relationship.
Madonna: That is dime-store psychology. I have been searching for myself, and to me that is the search for intimacy. I may not have achieved it. I may have gone in the opposite direction at times. But it was my goal.
TVG: The last song on Ray of Light, “Mer Girl,” is about coming to terms with your mother’s death. Your words paint the picture of a forlorn child frantically running through life.
Madonna: That (song) is an encapsulated point of view of me and my life.
TVG: Do you think you’ve changed enough that you could settle down and get married?
Madonna: Is getting married the only way to settle down?
TVG: No, but it helps.
Madonna: I don’t rule out settling down. My whole outlook on life has changed immensely.
TVG: You are studying a mystical, medieval branch of Judaism called Kabbalah. Has that helped?
Madonna: It’s given me a whole new outlook on life.
TVG: But you are Catholic.
Madonna: It is not about religion. It is sort of like a manual for living. It has nothing to do with dogma. It is the mystical interpretation of the Old Testament. How has it changed me? It’s helped me stand up and take responsibility for everything to do with me. To stop saying, “You did this to me,” or “They did this to me. It is their fault.” It has taught me to take responsibility and look at everything that is happening to me and be grateful for even the painful things.
TVG: Do you think you will ever find a man who is as evolved as you are?
Madonna: Yeah. They don’t have to be as evolved as I am. I will help raise them to the next level (laughs].
TVG: You are a pop icon, a woman who can command 50,000 screaming fans. At this point in your life, compare that with being a mother.
Madonna: There is no comparison. They don’t love me in an unconditional way. My daughter does. Just looking into her eyes I know it is not based on me being fabulous or rich or famous or talented or successful. Its just having a soul connection for the first time in my life.