Myth #2: The Workaholic
It’s a couple of days after the hangover and she is about to return to London to resume house-hunting and work on her latest album with collaborators William Orbit (Ray of Light) and French producer Mirwais. (I say resume house-hunting because she tells me that, due to architectural codes, she will not be able to make the house in Chelsea she bought late last year paparazzi-proof and secure.) “Everybody I’m working with lives in England. I love London. I’m having a love affair with England. Har, har. I used to hate it,” she laughs. Which is true because she had the audacity to miss my wedding there because of her dislike of the place. “It’s exotic for me. I’ve lived in America for 40 years. I’ve lived in L.A., New York and Miami and I grew up in Michigan, and in a way you feel when you go to another country that you can sort of start all over again. I don’t want to say the word reinvent because that’s so boringly overused on me, but for me its a different culture. It’s exciting. I like how formal everyone is.” Can she be serious?
“Mind you, I probably couldn’t take it all the time because I wasn’t raised that way. I like the eccentricity that is bred with all that repression and formality. It makes for good creativity. I feel really inspired when I’m there. I love to take a walk to a nice pub.” Now I’m beginning to wonder.
Me: Madonna in a pub? / know . . . and I never in a million years could have imagined myself sitting in a pub drinking. And what do you drink (still smiling at the thought of it)? A pint, of course. A pint? Yes. Oh, God. Well, I have to. What kind of beer do you like? Guinness.
I point out that since she recorded the music for Evita in London, she has made an awful lot of new friends there. “What I love about it is that most of my friends aren’t in the business. There’s nothing I hate more than actors or singers or performers sitting down and talking about their work. I just find it deadly dull. Dreadfully dreary, darling.”
That last part sounds a little like Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve been practicing my posh accent all week. I’ve been getting really good grades. For any purpose … or just to annoy people? The only one who’s annoyed is my boyfriend. He likes to keep me on my toes. He says, ‘American birds really get the upper-class accent down, but nobody can do a good London accent.’ I say ‘Okay I’ll work on that.’
Myth #3: The Man-Eater
Despite attempts to the contrary. Madonna has managed to keep who she really is a bit of a secret, especially when it comes to men. In fact, I’m sorry to say — since technically I’m a member of the press — we have given Madonna and her friends a jolly good laugh on more than one occasion. Every day during her last visit to London, a new story appeared in the papers, each more far-fetched than the other: Madonna Having Paul McCartney’s Baby!
While it doesn’t make good copy, the reality is that Madonna wants what we all want: a happy, long-term relationship. She is the most optimistic, romantic and giving person when it comes to that sort of thing. Her new boyfriend is Guy Ritchie, the adorable and down-to-earth 31-year-old British director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He has just finished directing Brad Pitt in his latest film Snatch. The couple was introduced to each other some time ago by another relatively new British friend, Trudie Styler, wife of pop star Sting. Well done, Trudie. I thoroughly approve!
Do you want to discuss — No. — your boyfriend? Oh, God, no — only in an extraneous way. He’s bound to come up, especially if we are talking about England, pub-going and accents. Aha, the instigator of the pub episodes. A bit of a lad. Oh, God, you are trying to get me to break one of my rules: I never mention boyfriends. I feel like it jinxes everything. In the last few months there’s been so much about you being pregnant. I know. Isn’t it time to clear up some rumors? So you are not pregnant? No [as if to say “don’t be silly”]. And what about getting married? No, just trying to have a proper relationship. One thing at a time. I read about a study that said the best marriages were where the women were in charge. Would you be happy in one like that? I have no interest in being in a relationship with someone who is a pushover. I think the recipe for a good relationship/marriage is that two people really enjoy their life and love what they’re doing. If you’re both busy and working, then you’re going to spend some time apart and when you come back you are filled with new experiences to share. I quite like the way Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did it: Houses a couple of blocks away from each other. It’s good to miss someone. It’s horrible to take someone for granted.
The one person who she rarely misses, since they are always together, is her daughter, Lola.
I remember you telling me a story recently about Lola looking through a magazine and pointing to all the people she knew personally. Has she been affected by your fame? She’s too young to understand what celebrity is. All I really care about is that she’s surrounded by good people with positive energy and love. She’s just as fond of someone who isn’t in a magazine as she might be of someone who is, and just as suspicious when she first meets anyone. She knows what paparazzi are and she says they’re yucky. But she doesn’t really understand what it’s all for. I don’t think anyone could at that age. Would you like to have another baby? Yeah, I would, but I want to be in a stable relationship. I think Lola should have a brother or a sister. I think she’s incredibly spoiled. She needs a bit of competition.