It transcends just the trousers.
“Exactly,” she says delightedly. “It’s beyond trousers! It truly is. It’s so much more than just fornication. Your sexual identity is so important. The more you pay attention to it, the more you realise that just about everything in the world is centred around sexual attraction and sexual power. You also become aware of people who are not in touch with their own, or have the wrong idea about it or abuse it.”
But you have used your sexuality as a career …
“Move?” she interrupts. “Were you going to say career move? (This is a reference to her famous quote, “I always thought of losing my virginity was a career move.”) Well, no, it wasn’t a career move. It’s just the way it happened.”
Can we talk about your last visit to Britain, where – if the press reports are to be taken seriously – you jogged in Green Park and spat at old people and murdered small children?
“0h that,” she laughs. “But I’m used to that. It happens every time I come to London. It’s a joke now. At first I was really shocked by it when I was married to Sean. In the newspapers it said that I ordered my limousine driver to run over some paparazzi. I was like. My God! I didn’t! Then I realised that this is what they do to everybody. It’s their sport and now I realise that I’m not affected by it any more. It annoys me to the extent that I absolutely can’t ever go out in London. I can’t take a walk down the street or go to a museum or go shopping and that’s a drag,” she says, adopting a poor Southern girl accent, “because there’s so many wonderful things there that I’ve been completely de-prahved of.”
But you did have an awful lot of minders with you.
“You just get thrown into those situations where suddenly you’re told. These are your bodyguards and they’re all going to go running with you. I go, OK, great. Then you turn your head while you’re jogging and later on you hear that apparently one of your bodyguards hit someone. Now I don’t know if they did or if somebody just wrote it. It’s hard to tell. A lot of policemen and security men tend to be a little over-anxious to hit people and I know a lot of people would like to think that my minders do that sort of thing on a regular basis because it makes me a more hatable person. But if someone’s running after me and one of my bodyguards is being paid to protect me, do they let the person jump on me and then attack them or do you stand in their way and sometimes they get an elbow in their mouth?”
Then there was the “f###” incident where you used the F-word 200 times in five minutes or something on a live Radio One broadcast.
“That was because it was all they wrote about,” she pouts. “So then I decided that I was just going to say it all the time to make a point.”
Wasn’t that a little churlish?
“No,” she says curtly. “That’s me being mischievous, sticking my tongue out at people and f##### with them for not having the brilliance to understand it in the first place. They don’t get the humour. They take everything I do so seriously. That’s the death of anybody. I find all artists who take themselves seriously boring. I hate it when singers go, I don’t want to be a pop star. I want to be taken seriously blah blah blah. Or when actors talk about their ‘method’ and all that stuff. It’s such a f##### bore. If I took my show seriously, I would hate it, do you know what I mean? But vou only have to have half of a brain in your head to see that I’m quite often making fun of myself. I mean, how obvious can I be?”
Your sense of humour can be quite coarse.p>
“That’s your opinion,” she says, her eyes narrowing. “Coarse? It’s aggressive, if that’s what you mean.”
You resort to vulgarity very quickly.
“Uh-huh, I s’pose,” she says testily. “Maybe that comes from not having a mother.”
You can’t attribute everything to that.
“Like I said.” she reiterates slowly, “I have a lot of boyish traits about me. That’s probably one of them.”
What comes to mind when you think of the Live Aid concert? It was a very pivotal point in your career.
“Oh wait,” she says, retrieving the memory. “I remember the sun burning my face which was a strange experience because I’m used to performing at night and I was really hot and it was right at the time when the Playboy magazine had come out and people were screaming, Take it off, take it off! And I said, I ain’t taking sh#t off! I don’t want you to hold it against me in five years. Before I went on I really thought, I can’t do this. I just can’t. I can’t go on. I was so unsure of what was going to happen. There were those Playboy pictures and I’d just gotten engaged to Sean and I really wasn’t sure of myself. So I decided to be a warrior and it worked and that was the first time that I really understood my power.”
What is the attraction of power?
“Well, power is the great aphrodisiac … and I’m a very powerful person!”
When people consider the idea of Madonna, music usually comes very low on the list. There isn’t a great deal of music in the film, for example.
“Well, ultimately I wasn’t that interested in making a film about the live show because it was just that and everyone saw it. What I tried to do was put the live songs into the movie as they related to the various incidents. To show that art imitates life. Or to show how the relationships with people I have in life manifest themselves in things on stage.”
Is music still a major part of your life?
“Absolutely. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. I’ve just been listening to Billie Holiday. I’ve been playing her a lot lately.”
Have you bought anything contemporary recently?
“Oh. Let me think. I just bought that Enigma record which I love. And, hang on, what else did I get? Oh yeah, I bought Boy George, his new album, which I like. I buy a lot of stuff to work out to, so I have a lot of dance music, fast, hi-energy things. But I’m sick of them all because they get played on the radio so much – C&C Music Factory and Black Box. I loved the songs but now I’ve heard them too much. I always buy albums of my contemporaries just to see what they’re doing, like I bought George Michael’s album and Sinead O’Connor’s album and I like a lot of the songs on that.”
How does it feel when your contemporaries bad-mouth you?
“I get brought up a lot when those people are being interviewed, you know what I mean?” she asks. “It’s always. What do you really think of Madonna blah blah blah? And George Michael or maybe even Sinead will have a comment something like: while they really respect me, they would never want the kind of fame I have. You know, poor pitiful me! My life is so miserable I can’t go out or do anything. They really don’t know. My life is not so horrid. You only ever know anyone’s celebrity from the outside. You don’t know how it affects them or what really is going on in their mind. I don’t know George Michael or Sinead personally so I would never presume to know how it’s affecting them and how they’re taking it.”
Do you feel in competition with these people?
“No. I mean, I always want to be successful but I can’t be bothered to compare sales figures and that boring stuff. I think I have completely different things to say about life than George Michael or Michael Jackson or whoever. I think all of my stuff is a lot more personal and confessional than theirs is. How can I compete? It’s like saying I want their life and I certainly don’t.”