“I want this to be a collaboration,” Madonna told photographer Bruce Weber. “I want us to create this together.” Madonna and Weber had just met, but they brought a mutual admiration to the project. Madonna, says Weber, is “an original.” Weber, says Madonna, imbues his photographs with “sexual energy” (she has special praise for a Weber photograph of actress Jessica Lange). The day before the session. a photo scenario that had been planned fell through, and the two artists began to improvise.
Freed of a script, a whole cast of Madonnas — the narcissistic, the comic, the brazen — assaults the camera’s lens. Weber snaps freeze frames while the singer rock – videos from sultry to innocent. As this portfolio demonstrates. Madonna, at 28, exudes old-style Hollywood excitement like no other entertainer today. She’s a diva, but with a difference. “Maaaax!” she caterwauls from her studio dressing room. ‘You screamed for me?” her hairstylist asks. Madonna breaks out laughing.
Her star power grows ever stronger. In addition to making best-selling albums and innovative videos, Madonna has had a highly visible, if uneven, film career. Shanghai Surprise with husband Sean Penn was a disaster, but her talent as a natural comedian earned her raves for Desperately Seeking Susan. Her greatest role, though, is the one she was born to play: Madonna.
For Madonna, it’s easy being today’s hottest sex symbol. There she is, the new platinum girl. She has opted for a more glamorous image; gone is the shocking Madonna of 1985. “Oh, that was last year’s stuff,” she scoffs, referring to her “Boy Toy” belt and the sacrilege of all those rosary necklaces. In their place is a hair color to match the sale of her albums — more than 25 million LPs sold in only three years. No wonder Madonna Louise Ciccone is loving every minute of herself.
“C’mon, c’mon,” she cries impatiently. “Lemme see the clips. What dirt did they write about me?” she asks her publicist. “I wanna see the clips.” Madonna stories are a staple in the tabloids. “I have three favorites,” she says. “That I have a shrine to Manlyn in my bedroom, that I believe the spirit of Elvis is inside my soul and that I lost fourteen pounds on a popcorn diet.”
Gossip that cuts deeper “really annoys me,” says Madonna, but the fans love it just the same: a skin flick, nude photos in men’s magazines, constant fights with paparazzi, marriage to bad boy Sean Penn and her “Papa Don’t Preach” single, which some see as glamorizing teen pregnancy.
The Ciccone family shares her love of the limelight. At Madonna’s request. her seven brothers and sisters are invited to the photo session. “It’s an act of love,” says Madonna. “They have always watched me in front of the camera. Now it’s their turn.” Is she the same girl they all knew and loved and lived with back in Rochester, Mich.? “She wasn’t rich. She wasn’t famous then,” says her brother Martin. “But she was the same.”
Meaning what? “She was a bitch,” Madonna shoots back with a laugh. “Well, I always thought that I should be treated like a star when I was a kid. The biggest piece of the cake. Y’know, stuff like that.” If success hasn’t changed Madonna, it has affected her family. “They ask to borrow more money,” she says, blunt as ever. “I don’t think it’s hurt them in the outside world. We are all very competitive. I think it’s only natural.”
But not exactly fun. “It’s difficult to walk in that shadow,” says her brother Anthony, who is studying to be an actor in New York. “People pretend they’re interested in you, but they really aren’t… For Martin. a deejay in Detroit, his sister’s fame is “a real pain in the ass.” Madonna’s success did make her father more tolerant when other of her siblings went into show business. “He wanted me to use the dance scholarship I got to the University of Michigan to become. like, a marine biologist,” says Madonna.
After the photos are taken. the Ciccone brothers and sisters walk to a nearby restaurant in New York City’s Little Italy. Madonna, though, has other plans. A stretch limousine is waiting outside. Dragging her Norma Kamali fake leopard coat, she leaves with her bodyguard, her publicist and her personal assistant for a ride uptown. Sometimes you can’t go home again because you don’t want to go home again.
© Life Magazine