On New Year’s Eve, Madonna had her fortune told. She was giving a party in her Nanhattan apartment for forty friends, including her brother Christopher and her then boyfriend Tony Ward, and one of the guests was a palm reader. The first time this woman looked at Madorina’s hand, she would not read it. She said, I am affraid of your hand, your hand, reveals too much. But Madonna pressed the woman to tell her what she saw.
“She looked at my palm.” Madonna says a month later, “and she said I’m never going to have any children. She said that I had my heart broken really badly once and it was a really important relationship in my life and it was going to happen again. I asked her, ‘What about my current relatronship?’ She said, ‘That’s just a passing thing, it’s not lasting.’ I said. ‘What about my career?’ She said. ‘Whatever you’re working on now, you’re not well suited for.’ And was just like. Get the fuck out of here. I was devastated.”
So Madonna, who is thirty-two, did something she never does — she got drunk. Two martinis may not sound like a knockout punch, but Madonna’s body is a temple — she exercises two and a half hours every day and is a strict vegetarian. She hadn’t eaten and she had to see to the caterers and her friends and her family, and by 9:30 the room was spinning. She disappeared into her bedroom and lay down on the bed and then went into her bathroom. “I puked and puked and puked,” she says. “And then I passed out on the marble floor. For the first time in my life, I got sick. I lost control. And I missed my party. When I woke up. I was in my bed. It was four A.M. I called everyone the next day and asked them how my party went.
“They all had a good time,” she continues, “but that woman…” Madonna opens her palm and eyes it suspiciously. “That woman said things that made me believe her. And I kept thinking. What a way to start the New Year.”
My fantasy was always, Oh, God. I’d love to be Madonna’s best friend,” says A. Keshishian, the director of Truth or Dare: On the Road, Behind the Scenes, and in Bed with Madonna, the destined-to-be-controversial documentary about her Blond Ambition tour. “If I became her best friend, suddenly the world would be my oyster. And now we are good friends, and it’s like, yeah, the world will be my oyster — in a little fishtank – Keshishian laughs. “Just thank God she’s the pearl,” he adds. “But her life is hardly as glamorous as you might think.”
Keshishian takes a puff on his cigarette — he is strikingly handsome, with long black hair (“Madonna won’t let me cut it”) and large brown eyes. Last night, here in Los Angeles, he showed a rough cut of Truth or Dare, scheduled for May release, to a small industry audience. The movie, which incorporates concert footage from last year’s tour and behind-the-scenes moments with Madonna, her dancers, and the rest of the entourage, is remarkably candid and extremely entertaining. Truth or Dare has a voyeuristic appeal — Madonna allowed Keshishian (and his camera) to spend almost every waking moment with her. She is seen without makeup, stripped down, and (quite literally) bare. He deftly juxtaposes her “real life,” which seems rather solitary, with her onstage life. which is quite electrifying, thereby demystifying the razzle-dazzle of stardom while simultaneously showing Madonna to be a larger-than-life performer. Oh and, just for fun, you get to see her go down on a water bottle.
This Madonna is different from the sex-bomb, shock-baby persona she usually pushes in public. In the movie, and recently in interviews, she appears more vulnerable, much warmer, than the steely vixen she seemed even six month ago. Her mood appears to have changed, and, as always, when Madonna’s mood shifts, so does her image.
Which isn’t to say that Madonna’s previous incarnations have been false — they’ve all been manifestations of her feelings at the time. The Madonna of 1991 appears to be devoutly hardworking, more accessible, and rather maternal. Gone is the boy-toy guise, although vestiges still remain. “My sister is her own masterpiece,” says Christopher Ciccone. “Is there any other way to do it right?”
Keshishian agrees. A Harvard graduate, he met Madonna two and a half years ago, but had been fascinated by her since the beginning of her career. “And at Harvard,” Keshishiar says, “I can’t say that was always considered that cool.”
For his thesis, Keshishian mounted a production of Wuthering Heights, set entirely to pre-recorded pop music. “The voice of Cathy was Kate Bush — until she marries Linton,” he explains. “And then her voice changes to Madonna.” Wuthering Height, was a smash and Keshishian moved to L.A. He wanted to direct, and got his start directing music videos, most notably for Bobby Brown. Through a friend from Harvard who had become an agent at CAA, Keshishian met Jane Berliner, who is, along with her boss, Ron Meyer, Madonna’s agent. “Jane convinced me to show this tape of Wuthering Heights to Madonna,” Keshishian recalls. “And at the end, she said. ‘I love it. O.K., what do we do?'”