Her current theory is that Americans voted for Bush because he made them feel safe. But all that, she acknowledges, has changed since the government’s slow, inefficient response to the flooding of New Orleans. “9/11 was too ambiguous,” she says. “You couldn’t prove how the government was somehow in on the deal. There were too many arguments against it. You could say, ‘Oh, that’s just Michael Moore,’ ‘Oh, that’s just hearsay.’ New Orleans was undeniable irresponsibility.”
Madonna suits up in a puffy silver disco jacket and her superior silver boots, and bounds off to the soundstage. After the performance, in which Madonna and company lip-sync, air-guitar and dance their hearts out for a listless studio audience, Madonna sits on a couch in her dressing room, surrounded on adjacent couches by the members of Green Day.
Madonna has a funny way of relating to strangers. She will ask you questions – lots of questions. She will pay attention closely and ask good follow-up questions, yet you will get the uncomfortable feeling that she isn’t so much listening as she is allowing you to speak. And so long as you are interesting or able to offer something she wants to learn, she will keep allowing you to talk.
“Do you have any kids?” she asks Green Day.
“Have you ever seen Napoleon Dynamite?”
“What do you do for fun?”
To the last, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong replies that the only dance he knows is the “drunken-sailor dance.”
“What’s that?” Madonna asks.
He stands up and demonstrates by slouching forward, letting his arms dangle at his sides and swaying drunkenly from side to side. When a string of drool begins dangling out of his mouth, Madonna lets him know that she gets the point.
“Have you ever noticed how the places that pay you the most are the least fun to play, like Las Vegas?” she asks.
The questions continue.
The answers are witty.
A good time is had by all.
Then Madonna decides that it’s time to fly back to London.
“Green Day are going to have to leave before you,” one of the show’s producers informs her.
“Why?” she asks. ‘We were supposed to leave first.”
“Their cars are here, and yours are waiting elsewhere because you stayed backstage longer t h a n you said you would,” the producer explains.
Madonna is flustered. She doesn’t like the fact that Green Day are leaving first.
“Well, I’ll just fly back with them,” she says.
“But they’re taking a car to Frankfurt.”
“Oh,” Madonna says, suddenly relieved.
Her status as queen has been restored. ‘We’re in a helicopter.”
Green Day have just experienced a Madonna moment.
An hour later, on the flight back to London, the subject of Armstrong’s drunkensailor dance comes up. Madonna recalls the one and only time she ever got so drunk that she threw up. Everyone then discusses the theory that when people are drunk, their true personalities – the side of themselves that they repress – often come out. That’s why some people become angry and mean when they drink, while others become free and fun-loving.
“How am I when I’m drunk?” Madonna asks.
“You’re kind of the same,” Price, her producer, says.
“You’re mellow,” Shavawn says.
“Yeah, you’re less worried and preoccupied,” Becker, her manager, adds.
“So the real me is less worried,” she proclaims. She sinks into her seat, and her lips part in a wide, toothy smile. “The real me likes living in the moment,” she concludes.
This is not a Madonna moment. It is just a moment.
© Rolling Stone Magazine