Vince: For some reason, Liz Taylor came to mind, but most of the stars around today are complicated because they’ve made so many compromises along the way.
Madonna: Hollywood is about playing the game, and I can’t think of any successful actresses who didn’t play the game. there’s a lot more renegades in the music business, from Patti Smith to Janis Joplin.
Vince: So Lee, Tina and Frida, but neither of us can come up with someone working now who could qualify.
Madonna: It’s lonely out there.
Vince: Is there a masculine ideal, either now or in the past?
Madonna: I would say David Bowie, absolutely. I was terribly inspired by him and I still think he’s an amazing human being. He keeps pushing the envelope in his way. I can think of a lot of male artists that I admire, but everytime I start to think about them, and how they behaved, they were all real shits. F*ck-faces. And the thing is, all those women that I names – I know a lot about them. I’ve gotten into their work and then read their biographies and really followed them and really studied them, and they’re women that I really look up to. Whereas the men, I haven’t followed as much; I haven’t felt the desire to know more about them. I mean, everybody knows what a shit Picasso was. But all of those guys – they were all pigs. I’m sure Man Ray was a pain in the ass, too.
Vince: But is there an ideal image of masculinity, one that doesn’t depend on biography?
Madonna: I got back and forth. For me, a male image that I’m really moved by is somewhere between of Oscar Wilde type of a male: the fop, the long hair, the suits, too witty for his own good, incredibly smart, scathingly funny – all that. But then my other ideal is more like the Buddhist monk – the shaved head, actually someone who sublimates their sexuality.
Vince: Not exactly like anybody you’ve ever been involved with.
Madonna: I wouldn’t say that.
Vince: I shouldn’t assume.
Madonna: No. Like one of my yoga teachers, for instance. He has a Jesus-like quality to him. I know he’s heterosexual, he wears earrings and he’s got a very androgynous look to him and long hair. But he has an aesthetic and a humility about him that I think is very appealing and something to aspire to.
Vince: Interesting. When I think of you and males, I think of all the guys in your videos, most of whom have been like thugs.
Madonna: Hunky boys? Yes, I am attracted to a thug. I like that quality, but I like the other side of it, too. Because all guys who go around behaving in macho ways are really scared little girls. So you have to look beneath the surface. There’s a difference between my ideal man and a man that I’m sexually attracted to, believe me. Therein lies the rub.
Vince: What is your overriding visual inspiration?
Madonna: The crucifix. It’s the first image that sticks in my mind from my childhood. I’ve used it a lot in my work; I’ve used it in my videos; I’ve used it on stage. The whole idea of the crucifixion and the suffering of Christ is all kind of intertwined with masochism and Catholicism is a huge part of my upbringing, my past, my influence. And it’s a very powerful image.