The studio door opens. Angela Becker, her personal manger, has bought drinks from Starbucks.
Madonna: This is Chai Latte. I’m off coffee now because I’m on homeopathics. For my eight broken bones.
Interviewer: All healed now?
Madonna: Not all. I have one rib that has not formed a union, as they call it in the mysterious world of orthopaedics. But all my other bones – there’s cellular fibrous tissue that has joined them together, but my collar bone is still a bit of a problem. I can’t lift my arm over my head yet, but I’m doing lots of rehab. Lots. I can’t lift it above here…but I can still slap you.
Interviewer: It’s like that Tommy Cooper joke. You know, quaint English humour.
Madonna: I like quaint English humour.
Interviewer: You know Tommy Cooper?
Madonna: The comedian.
Interviewer: Yes, died on stage and everyone thought it was part of the act. Did terrible magic tricks. And he used to tell this great joke; man goes to a doctor and says, lifting his arm a bit, “It hurts when I do that,” and the doctor says, “Well, don’t do it then”.
Madonna: Uh. [Tumbleweed.]
Interviewer: So where were we?
Madonna: Talking bollocks.
Interviewer: That song on the new album, “I Love New York”.
Stuart Price: That was written on tour at a soundcheck.
Madonna: After an excellent police escort. The song is ironic! I love London. Please embrace my irony.
Interviewer: You diss London and LA and Paris. [“If you don’t like my attitude, then you can eff off/ Just go to Texas, isn”t that where they golf?/ New York is not for little pussies who scream.”]
Madonna: Funnily enough, I live in all those places. Well, I don’t live in Paris, by the way. But let’s face it, with New York, it’s like putting your finger in a socket. When I walk down the street anywhere people say, “Oh, there’s Madonna”, but in New York the cops are like, “Hey, you’re back”. It feels like I’ve come home.
Interviewer: What happens when you walk around here?
Madonna: Here? I don’t walk around here! I live in Marble Arch, and everyone’s Saudi, everyone wears a veil and nobody pays any attention to me. If people notice me in London they don’t make such a big deal about it.
Stuart Price: Oh, believe me, they notice you.
Madonna: In New York they shout, “I don’t like the hair colour!” Here, they”ll make their judgments but keep them to themselves.
I’m Going to Tell You a Secret will be shown on Channel 4 in December and then made available on DVD. It combines a backstage journal of the last tour with meditations on her spiritual quest for a good way to live her life. It ends with Madonna’s trip to Israel last year to learn more about Kabbalah, and the closing shot is of an Israeli child and a Palestinian child walking down a road together. It’s a political and revealing movie, and it provides a less artful insight into her world than her last tour movie Truth or Dare more than a decade ago.
It is particularly revealing about the scenes Madonna has chosen not to remove, not least the sequences with her children and husband Guy Ritchie. In one scene, Madonna and her kids are trying out the bed in her suite at the George V hotel in Paris: “Who’s the Queen, Rocco?” she asks her five-year-old son. “You, you, YOU!” Rocco replies. In another, Lourdes, who is eight, teaches her mother how to say “let me tell you a secret” in French; Lourdes tells the camera she’s looking forward to the tour ending so she can see more of her mother. In a limo after a show, Madonna is upset that her husband has attended so few of her gigs, and doesn”t believe his explanations. “I got married for all the wrong reasons,” she says. “My husband did not turn out to be the person I imagined him to be… There is no such thing as the perfect soulmate. Your soulmate is the person who pushes all your buttons, pisses you off on a regular basis and makes you face your shit. It is not easy having a good marriage, but I don’t want easy.”