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Madonna Interview : Maclean’s

Madonna - Maclean's / May 15 1991

Renegade American philosopher Camille Paglia has called Madonna “the future of feminism.” Madonna says that she finds that flattering. “In the beginning, a lot of feminists were ganging up on me, saying I was setting the women’s movement back 50 years,” she said. “I thought, ‘They’re just not getting it. They’re offended by my sexuality.’ ”

Spank: Criticizing her critics for taking her too literally, Madonna suggests that all her teasing last year about enjoying a good spanking may have been misunderstood. “I’m just being ironic,” she said. “If anyone comes near me and tries to spank me, I’ll smack the shit out of them. That’s the joke of it all. It’s a luring device, like the whole boy-toy thing. It’s playing into people’s ideas of what’s humiliating to women.” Added Madonna: “I don’t think anyone could really envision me being taken advantage of.”

Her attempts to reincarnate Marilyn Monroe seem to be part of the same image-juggling game. Monroe, said Madonna, “was this mysterious, ethereal, fragile human being who was very talented but very destructive. What I’m doing is taking this image and throwing it back at the public, saying, ‘I can have the external trappings of a sex symbol. I can have blond hair. I can wear tight dresses. But I don’t feel fragile.’ I’m trying to defy the image people have of the blond bimbo.”

Unlike Monroe, Madonna has yet to really make her mark on the movies. Her sheer force of personality shone through in both Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) and Dick Tracy (1990), but Shanghai Surprise (1986) and Who’s That Girl? (1987) were dismal failures. She says that she now plans to devote more energy to film-making than to music — “It’s a more powerful medium.” Earlier this year, she played a trapeze artist in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog, due for release this fall. Denying rumors that her part was edited out, Madonna acknowledged that she felt anxious when filming began. “I was a bit put off because I thought, ‘God, he doesn’t say anything.’ I thought, ‘He hired you for a reason. Just be yourself and don’t get uptight about it.’ ”

Madonna still hopes to star in the long-delayed movie version of the Broadway musical Evita. And she is planning to co-star with Demi Moore in Leda and Swan, a violent action picture about two female cops. Meanwhile, she is considering a role in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which director Gus Van Zandt is adapt-ing from the 1976 Tom Robbins novel about a women’s dude ranch. Madonna also intends to portray Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in a movie that she is now developing. As well, she wants to direct. And she is trying to set up her own company of actors, directors and artists. “It’s not like a vanity project,” she says. “I see this as something fulfilling me for many, many, many years — as a director, as a songwriter, as a producer. Everything.”