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Madonna Interview : ELLE

“You’ve made me feel so good!” I say, referring to her fear of fouling up.

“Really?” says Madonna.

“You are filled with doubts!”

“Oooh,” says Madonna. She gives a demure shake to her Little Bo Peep hair.

“You! You! Madonna! You were scared to sing on Letterman and play guitar!”

“Well, I was incredibly nervous.”

I swear to God, even though I know this “admission” is the established cliche in the celebrity racket, I still can’t help it. I want to grab her and propose to her myself.

Madonna puts her cosmopolitan on the table. “I think my biggest flaw is my insecurity.”

Really, now. This is too much. I stand up and head toward the exit of the posh Blue Bar. “Stop the press!” shouts Madonna, laughing. “I know it doesn’t make any sense.”

I sit back down. “Explain it,” I say.

“Well,” she says. She pauses a split second, bobbing her head trying to think how to describe it. I have every confidence she will find the words. This is, after all, the woman who wrote “Borderline,” the greatest description of female orgasm in Twentieth-Century Art.

“I’m terribly insecure,” she says. “I’m plagued with insecurities–24/7.”

“So that means you do what you’re afraid to do?” I say.

“All the time,” says Madonna.

Her eyes are great, wide-set, beaming things. They are a magnificent blue, the color, actually, of the room we are sitting in. The diamond ring given to her by Ritchie sparkles on her finger, her well-brushed hair shines in the candlelight, and what with the radiant smile, the glinting eyes, and the shiny overcoat, I feel I’m soaking up the rays thrown off by a full moon.

“If I’m afraid of it,” says Madonna, “that generally means I have to do it.”

Before we turn to the historical portion of this story, I’d like to note three facts: One, Madonna stays as slim as a lettuce leaf by practicing yoga every day. Tow, she’s spending a reported $1.5 million on her wedding. And three, she says that getting older is “the cycle of life and that you just have to accept.”

“But what about all the young girls coming up behind you, filling the magazines and the movies with their prettiness?” I say.

“Oh,” says Madonna, slitting her eyes like a cat, “they’ll get old and wrinkled and die, too.”

Now, for the refresher course on Madonna’s background: Chrysler engineer Sylvio “Tony” Ciccone, a handsome first-generation Italian-American, and his wife, Madonna Louise Fortin, a captivating French-Canadian, had a happy family of sex children. Madonna Lousie “Veronica” (the name she chose at confirmation), born August 16, 1958, was their third child. The Ciccones lived in Rochester, Michigan. Madonna was only six when her mother died of breast cancer.

A show-off, a boy-chaser, a young genius at getting attention, Madonna flew to New York in 1977, asked a taxi driver to take her “to the center of everything,” de-cabbed in the middle of Times Square, and in less than three years, the straight-A student schooled by nuns metamorphosed into the stunning star-to-be. Are you refreshed yet?

Madonna - Elle / February 2001

By 1984, she was a worldwide phenomenon with her songs “Holiday,” “Lucky Star,” and “like a Virgin.”…Let’s speed things up here: So we have Sean Penn, “Material Girl,” Desperately Seeking Susan, “Papa Don’t Preach,” the wrath of Planned Parenthood, “Express Yourself,” “Cherish,” “Like a Prayer,” condemnation to everlasting hell by the Vatican, Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, “Justify My Love,” MTV ban, first artist to sell her videos in stores, flabbergastingly rich, Truth of Dare, A League of Their Own, the book Sex, a new hailstorm of controversy, Evita Golden Globe award (for Evita), birth of her daughter, Lourdes Maria, in 1996, Ray of Light, Guy Ritchie, birth of Rocco Ritchie, global hit with Music. At present she is wearing black tweed trousers and a short black sweater in the Blue Bar of the Berkeley Hotel and looking too fabulous.

So fabulous, in fact, that a couple of businessmen in dark blue suits are looking at Madonna like two English bulldogs eyeing a slice of Italian ham. At last they can bear it no longer and come over.

“Ahem, excuse me,” says the first businessman, genuflecting before her. “I know you’re busy. But can you sign an autograph for my 11-year-old daughter, Gemma?”

Madonna smiles at him like Catherine the Great.

“All right,” she says.

He hands her a large sheet of paper and a pen.

“Thank you,” he says. “Gemma with a G.”