While Madonna and dancers are waiting backstage to rehearse “Hung Up,” the topic of body language comes up. “I find it very disconcerting to talk to people who don’t look you in the eye,” she says. “I don’t know what to do. It freaks me out. Or when they shake your hand and hold on to it too long.”
When I mention that you can always tell when someone’s lying by looking for tells in their speech, body language and eye contact, she says she wants to learn this skill for business negotiations. So I demonstrate by asking her to tell me three things she’s done that day and to make one of them a lie.
Her answers: “I worked out.”
“I had sex.”
“I ate a tuna-fish sandwich.”
Despite rumors to the contrary. Madonna is not a good liar. When I point out which statement isn’t true, she cracks up and throws her legs into the air. “We have to learn this,” she squeals to her manager. For readers who need closure, let’s take a moment to wrap up some loose ends: The four guys actually win the bet about the drum sets and the SUV. Madonna took the large helicopter. The popcorn was for a snack, though neither Madonna nor her manager actually ate any. And the lie was that she ate a tuna-fish sandwich. Good for her. It means she had sex today, which brings us to the subject of her marriage.
Her relationship with Ritchie, whom she originally met at a dinner party at Sting and Trudie Styler’s house, is one the themes of her new and surprisingly personal tour documentary, I’m Going Tell Ton a Secret. In it, Ritchie is depicted missing concerts he’s promised to attend, boring her to tears while he sings drinking songs with his buddies and slapping ass nearly every time he walks past.
What do you thinly are the three most important things in a relationship?
The ability to listen, resilience and a sense of humor.
How did you feel your relationship came off in the movie?
I think it came off as peculiar. Not a typical relationship. A lot of macho men see the movie and like Guy’s character, because he doesn’t give me any special treatment. I think we come off as a couple that has that has a genuine and deep connection. He is always there for me, but he’s not impressed.
But you were pissed at him a few times in the movie.
I feel like we are sort of The Honeymooners, only I’m the Jackie Gleason character. Obviously, he irritates me on a significant basis, as everyone’s significant other does.
He often seemed to not care about your feelings or what was important to you.
Yeah, like when he was singing in the pub all night, and I had a show the next day and wanted to go home. Well, he’s a human being. It’s hard for him. He was pretty much there for a lot of my tour, but it’s hard for a guy to be traipsing around the world with a girl. No one wants to be anybody’s trailer bitch. It’s easier for girls to do that than guys. I think Gwyneth [Paltrow] is having an easier time going on the road with Chris Martin. You have to be a pretty evolved man to go on the road with me and not for a moment have this glimpse of yourself as someone who’s lost their identity.
Maybe, on some level, you both enjoy the power battles that take place in your relationship. Tou challenge each other.
Yeah. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
This question is answered not with words but with an evil cackle. It is the coulaugh of a vixen, and Madonna uses it often – six sharp has – when she is laughing at the flaws that she loves about herself. For example, the next time I hear the evil cackle is after the sentence “Being monogamous is revolutionary – at least it is for me. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.”
The other man in Madonna’s documentary is her father, Tony Ciccone, a longtime Republican, a practicing Catholic and seventy-two-year-old Michigan vineyard owner who, on camera, wanders through his daughter’s world unaffected by the circus around him. This is the man from whom Madonna inherited her workaholic tendencies.
“My dad sent me an e-mail after he watched the movie,” Madonna says. “And at the end of it, he wrote, ‘In spite of our differences – I don’t agree with everything that you say – I’m very proud of you.’ That’s the only time my father’s ever said that. I mean, he’s only liked certain things I’ve done: my last tour, Evita, DicTracy and a couple of my ballads. That’s about it.”