How much freedom do you think you have?
“To me the definition of freedom is to be without fear, so I am free when I am fearless. My fearlessness depends on what is going on in my life, what day it is, what mood I’m in and if Mercury is in retrograde.”
Today, what factors restrict your freedom – as an artist, and as a human being?
“I feel that I don’t have the same freedom as a man has in our society. I believe that we live in an ageist, sexist society that seems to be specifically focused on women because men have the freedom to behave however they like whatever their age is. We live in a time when a woman is considered dangerous or hysterical if she thinks or behaves in an adventurous way, in a joyful way, in a sexual way, in a frivolous way, or in an experimental way past the age of 35. So those are the restrictions that impinge on my freedom as a woman and as an artist. But as a freedom fighter I will continue to fight against these discriminations.”
Do you pay much attention to what media say about you? Does it ever worry you?
“Unfortunately one does have to think before one speaks because we don’t live in a society that allows for irony, wit or sarcastic humor – all areas in which I am comfortable. Which is why most of the things you read that I say are most likely taken out of context and misunderstood. I continue to suffer the indignities of literalism.”
You took to Instagram in its early days and with great enthusiasm. What is its appeal to you?
“I like Instagram because it’s like keeping a diary and every day I get to share different aspects of my personality, my life, and what inspires me, what infuriates me, or what causes I want to fight for. It allows me to be mysterious, ironic, provocative and proud. I get to use it as a platform to bring attention to people or issues that I think are important. It allows me to be the curator of my life.”
When do you know that a track, an album or a tour is a success? How do you measure it?
“Martha Graham has been quoted for a phrase, ‘Divine dissatisfaction.’ I feel most artists feel that way about their work, I feel that it is possible to measure the success of your work. Ultimately it’s how you feel about it, not how the rest of the world feels about it. For instance I could love the way a song turned out and I could work and work on it, but at a certain point one has to stop and share it with the world. But one is always wondering if one could have done something better or different… changed on thing here, altered one thing there. I think that’s the curse, privilege and beauty of being an artist. ‘I love this song but it could have been better. I love this film but this scene is too long. If I has more time it could have been different. The show I did was amazing except for that one moment…’ I am my own worst critic. One is never completely satisfied. I could be proud of something I’ve done and yet dissatisfied at the same time.”
Do you get to decide what is the ‘other part of you who no one sees’, and how do you protect it?
“Of course I get to decide what people don’t get to see. A lot of that is my family life, and it’s important to me to keep that as private as possible.”
Was your Tears of a Clown show less about Madonna the icon and more about Madonna the human being?
“It’s about all those things. Because Madonna the human being is an icon and Madonna the icon is a human being. My Tears of a Clown show allowed me to talk to the audience and to do a show that was more about the process of performing. It was more about working things on stage in front of people and more about sharing the rehearsal or a work in progress with others. That’s certainly more liberating than saying ‘TA-DA! This is the finished show!’ Because then you feel everything has to be perfect. With Tears of a Clown I got to make mistakes and acknowledge them, laugh about them, I got to tell jokes and play with the audience. It was fun and liberating.”
Has the success of the Tears of a Clown show tempted you to present more spontaneous performances in the future?
“I enjoyed it immensely and I will be doing more in the future. Even if my manager doesn’t like it when I wear a clown suit. Clowns are deeply underrated and undervalued in society.”
What pushes you to keep on creating?
“Love, of course.”