MAILER: I take it for granted that people are. We come from a mother and a father. And that mother could have been more male than the father, and the father’s male aspects could have come from his mother….
MAILER: So I’m more interested in the stance one assumes afterward. There are people, male and female, whose only real difference is that one has a phallus, the other a vagina, yet the structure of their lives is built around their genitals. For me, the question is to what degree are these structures oppressive?
MADONNA: I just think it’s important to f### what you want to f### and not feel shame about it.
MAILER: No, shame is a guide. Except you don’t agree, do you? You laugh while watching pornies.
MADONNA: I do. Every time I’ve seen a porn movie, I’ve just laughed my ass off. I think they’re funny because they always try to construct these thinly veiled excuses to f###.
MAILER: In a porny, when actors are bored and faking it, I agree, it’s deadly dull. But there are people who are stars at it, and while they’re not always much as actors, nonetheless they can get excited while a crew of people are watching them, and their life destiny is being shifted. Once a girl is photographed in a porny, it’s a point of no return. She’s become a professional.
MADONNA: It’s for life.
MAILER: Yes. They’re locked into that profession, and it’s not altogether agreeable. Where do they go afterward? Because female porno stars age very quickly.
MAILER: I’ve noticed it over and over again. Why are there no female porny stars whose careers last for even ten years? Porno stars get burned out. There’s something about it that is dangerous. Something in them gets killed early. So I look upon it as a cruel sport. But, nonetheless, when porny actresses get hot, they don’t necessarily come, but they’re excited, and you’re struck by the fact that something real is happening even while the director is probably saying, “Show us more ass, honey,” and telling the camera where to move. What you get then is the nature of modern reality, our double reality. I find that endlessly fascinating. And I would have thought that would be something to interest you.
MADONNA: Well, I didn’t get into it.
MAILER: All right.
MADONNA: I’m not dismissing what they do. It’s just how it affects me. Going to places like the Gaiety and watching men dance, that turns me on, men dancing naked.
MAILER: Can you conceive, if you had a different life, of ending up a porny queen?
MADONNA: That’s so hard to say. Isn’t it about intelligence? Not to say that porn stars are stupid, but where I am in my brain is what has brought me to where I am here, the explorations. I mean, maybe if I were a little smaller, I’d be a housewife in Michigan.
MAILER: With an unhappy husband.
MADONNA: People ask me all the time, “If your mother hadn’t died, do you think? …” And I can’t think that way because I am who I am.
MAILER: You can’t think “what if,” but you can use “as if.” While there are certain things a porno queen does that you didn’t do in Body of Evidence, nonetheless you were treated as if you had transgressed even further. And you certainly didn’t need that.
MADONNA: No. I wanted to make it.
MAILER: That’s my point. Something deep in you said it’s worth taking these chances.
MADONNA: In the sex scenes, I did feel that this must be what it feels like to make a porno movie. Like when we supposedly were having intercourse, Willem and I were absolutely faking it; there was no penetration or anything like that. But if you’re sitting on someone’s face, you are sitting on someone’s face. You can’t really fake it. I don’t know if I’m answering your question….
MAILER: You’re more than answering it. I think in effect you’re agreeing with me that you’ve had the experiences of a porny star, and so it comes back to what I said — you found it interesting in a lot of ways and finally stimulating, because you were entering a world that was forbidden, and you were maneuvering in it, living in it—
MAILER: And yet you were left with no curiosity about porny stars afterward?