Or the people they marry. Though Madonna doesn’t care to talk at length about her relationship with Penn, she will say that the breakup of her marriage has made her “more suspicious of people. You imbue men with characteristics you want them to have. Then they’re not what you expect at all. But it’s your own fault, too, for not doing what Warren does — not doing the homework, the investigating. I’m more cautious now. But I’m still a hopeless romantic…”
Of her personal relationship with Beatty, which she doesn’t want to “belittle” by talking about, she says. “Let’s just say what I’m doing this time is starting out being good friends with somebody.” But what does it feel like, being linked with a man whose list of former girlfriends reads like a Whos Who of three decades of Hollywood celebrity. “You can be either threatened by it or flattered by it,” Madonna says. “I choose to be flattered.” A droll pause. “At least for today.”
Is there a specific type of man who attracts her? “I’ve been drawn to so many different kinds of men, 1 couldn’t say I’ve got a type. Let’s say I’m attracted to men who are in touch with their sexuality. Who are aware of it and who work it.” She also prefers a man who’s able to acknowledge his feminine side. “I think I have a lot of masculinity in me. Macho guys don’t really go for me — certainly not when they get to know me. They’re frightened of their own femininity.”
Madonna, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be frightened of much of anything. Or at least that is the strong impression this small, iron-willed, head—on-her-shoulders woman makes. But people’s strength also contains their deepest fear. For Madonna, a self—confessed “control freak” who has choreographed her meteoric career with flawless finesse, the true terror would be a loss of control, one reason drugs have never had the least allure for her. “Drinking martinis is about as out of control as I will ever get,” she says, laughing.
Though she’s a symbol of rebellion for millions of girls the world over and did herself rebel against her strict Catholic father, the imprint of Madonna’s Michigan childhood is what has really shaped her workaholic soul, “I’m a middle—class Catholic girl deep down inside, and it’s hard for me to enjoy things I don’t think I deserve.” Like the vacations she never takes. “We will not have leisure time,” she says, mimicking some faraway voice of childhood authority. “We will always be busy and productive.” To her, a vacation is “a weekend when I don’t have to do any work. That’s fun. I read, go to movies, drink martinis, have dinner parties.”
Which is not to say that the Material Girl doesn’t enjoy her success, her fame, and her many millions of dollars. “Do I know what to do with my money? Yes, I do. Buy art, and invest money in writing good scripts, and give it to people who need it. Having money is just the best thing in the world. It gives you freedom and power and the ability to help other people.”
Where does this woman of many faces see herself thirty years down the road? “I don`t know. Hopefully, I’ll have a movie career. There was a point in my life when I wanted to be Peggy Guggenheim — be this patron of artists, have a gallery and a great art collection. When I’m really, really old, that’s what I want to do. She had a wild life. I like that.”
But first, this future Peggy Guggenheim is completing a twelve-week world tour that began last month. And there’s no doubt that from Europe to Japan to Madison Square Garden, entire stadiums will be overflowing with masses of her adoring fans. Which Madonna will greet them? The sassy blond tramp goddess? The new torch singer, crooning suggestive Stephen Sondheim songs from Dick Tracy? The soulful brunette survivor of a dark childhood and a tortured marriage? Or, most likely, all of the above as well as whatever new persona she’s picked up along the way?
Custom has not yet staled thirty-one-year—old Madonna Ciccone’s infinite variety. And one suspects she’ll see to it that we remain in the amazing Age of Madonna for just as long as she sees fit to stay in the game.