RG: Yes. Because nobody asks men that.
M: Does somebody ask Steven Spielberg why he’s still making movies? Hasn’t he had enough success? Hasn’t he made enough money? Hasn’t he made a name for himself? Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso and say, “Okay, you’re 80 years old. Haven’t you painted enough paintings?” No. I’m so tired of that question. I just don’t understand it. I’ll stop doing everything that I do when I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll stop when I run out of ideas. I’ll stop when you fucking kill me. How about that?
RG: Do you still feel the same rush when you accomplish some new milestone? Or does it become commonplace?
M: No. When I made secretprojectrevolution [the 2013 short film that Madonna directed with the photographer Steven Klein, which dealt with the subject of artistic freedom], that was really exciting because it was a very political statement. And whenever I do my live shows, I feel artistically inspired and excited because I get to do and say a lot of things that I can’t if I just make a record. A lot of times it’s the only way people are going to hear my music because you don’t get to have your music played on Top 40 if you’re above the age of 35. It’s always exciting for me to perform. I’m liking the idea more and more of just standing up with a microphone and talking. I like talking; I like playing with the audience. That’s what I’ve started to do with “Tears of a Clown” [Madonna’s most recent stage show, which combines music and storytelling]. I’m obsessed with clowns and what they represent and the idea that clowns are supposed to make you laugh, but inevitably they’re hiding something. That’s how I look at my life. I keep telling Amy Schumer and Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock that I’m going to do stand-up and they’d better watch out. I’m coming. I’m coming right behind them.
RG: What are you reading right now?
M: I’m reading several books. I cheat on my books a lot, which is not a good thing because it’s good to stick with one book and get to the end of it, but I’m a book philanderer. I’m reading The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman, and before that I was reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I was also reading Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa, even though it’s not a new book.
RG: My editor at Harper’s Bazaar told me that you read an excerpt from The Beautiful and Damned for a video that you did for the magazine. I was curious as to why you chose that book.
M: I worship F. Scott Fitzgerald and I love his writing, and I felt like what we were shooting, that somehow there was some kind of connection to his stories and the decadence of that time, but also to the lack of expression. Or the inability of women to express themselves really. They were beautiful and damned.
RG: I have one last question: What do you like most about the art that you make?
M: I think it depends on what I’m making. I like pushing the envelope. But I don’t like to do it just for the sake of doing it. I don’t like to be provocative for the sake of being provocative. I like to be provocative. I like to make people think. I like to touch people’s hearts. And if I can do all three of those things in one fell swoop, then I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.
© Harper’s Bazaar