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Madonna Interview : Maclean’s

Madonna - Maclean's / May 15 1991

Bisexuality: But beneath the gossipy surface of Madonna’s recent revelations is the political stance of a star who is changing the rules of celebrity conduct. Her promotion of bisexuality is unprecedented for an entertainer of her stature. Many artists start out by indulging a taste for social subversion. But as they acquire fame and fortune, they learn to play it safe. Madonna has done it the other way around. She has evolved from being an innocuous pop tart to a star who takes increasingly greater risks with her image. Still, no matter how far she goes, she keeps being accused of simply seeking attention to further her career.

As she sat down to talk with Maclean’s, Madonna seemed a little weary of revealing herself. “I’m going to spill my guts again and try not to bore myself in the process,” she said. She sat on a gold-brocade divan in a living room sparsely furnished with 18th-century Italian pieces. They struck a surprising harmony with the modern angles and gallery-white walls. The open-concept house was renovated by her brother Christopher Ciccone, who is also her set designer. A canvas originally painted for Versailles — featuring nude figures of Cupid, Endymion and Diana — hangs face down, Sistine-style, from the ceiling.

Legs crossed, her back as straight as a schoolgirl’s, Madonna talked with careful elocution about the joys and pressures of fame. “There’s an overwhelming sense of responsibility,” she said, “that you always have to be brilliant if everyone’s listening to you — that you have to be clever and witty and wise. You always have to be standing on that pedestal. You have to be a rock. You can’t break.”

And any sign of weakness can be magnified in the public eye. At the Oscars, the camera showed Madonna’s hand trembling as she sang a torch song from the movie Dick Tracy, and her nervousness became instant news. “People were really interested in my trembling hand,” she recalled. “And I wonder why. I think they probably went, ‘Oh God, she’s a human be-ing.’ ” Asked why she had stage fright, Madonna replied: “I want to do everything perfectly. I had four minutes to be perfect and three billion people were watching me on television. That’s a fairly daunting situation.” The audience, she added, “was probably not particularly interested or respectful of me and what I do. And many things could have gone wrong. I had to climb up out of the floor. I had a dress that was so heavily beaded that to walk straight in it was a feat. And my head was like, ‘Oh God, if I can just hold this together.’ I was very nervous.”