Carrie: It’s the gallows humor. You better be funny if you’re going to be a big problem.
Madonna Oh, he is funny. That boy can make you laugh. I’d like to see him have a stable life.
Carrie: Do you get along with your brother Christopher?
Madonna I get along with him fabulously, famously.
Carrie: And he works.
Madonna Many of my brothers and sisters work. It’s just that Chrisopher really understands what happens to me in my life from day to day.
Carrie: He’s the only family member who has that experience.
Carrie: [My friend Julian died of AIDS on Saturday at 4:45 P.M. in Sherman Oaks Hospital, in Los Angeles. He had been staying with me for a month. Madonna and I resumed this interview on Tuesday evening. I described some of the particulars of his death to her off the record. I tend to joke about things that are awkward or painful to me. So if some of what follows seem offhand or flippant in any way, I apologize. Being with someone while they die is a very intense and inspiring process. It hardly seems like something to cover in a Madonna interview. After all, we were there to shed some light on a glaringly illuminated individual and to talk about her new film. Death is intimate. Real. Big Real. This interview worked out to be a kind of truth or death for me. But as they say, the truth will out, or “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I found myself humming Vogue”.]
Madonna I heard your friend died, and I can’t believe you’d even want to do an interview today. I don’t want the gory details, but what happened? Was is sudden?
Carrie: Yeah, we went to the emergency room Friday morning, and he died Saturday. I got the “Vanity Fair” with the story about you when I was at the hospital, so he saw your pictures. He wanted me to hold them up. He liked them very much.
Madonna Oh, that breaks my heart. How old was he?
Carrie: Thirty-one. I’d never seen anything like that.
Madonna It’s a very cruel, gruesome death.
Carrie: He was a real shtarker about it. “This is so silly” and “My slippers are under the bed” were, I believe, his last complete phrases. He was delirious at the end.
Madonna It’s confusing to talk about other people dying.
Carrie: But when you see somebody doing it, they’re very busy doing it – so it’s not as bad as you think. He was Catholic.
Madonna I didn’t have such a pleasant experience. It was the ugliest, most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. I was in the room with my best friend when he died. I was absolutely positively horrified. He didn’t have the same sense of humor your friend had. I wish he would have. It was very “Why me?” He felt persecuted to the end.
Carrie: Everybody has their own idea about death. Do you have any death thoughts that you’d like to share with the group?
Madonna Death thoughts. That’s funny because I was thinking about dying the other day. You get to preoccupied with thinking about being eternally youthful, but every once in a while a death thought comes upon you.
Carrie: That’s what is so scary about being a woman in this business. Not only can you not age gracefully, you can’t age at all.
Madonna Yeah. The death thought came while I was sitting on my toilet peeing – that’s where I have my most contemplative moments. I like sitting on the toilet, period – number one or number two. I was thinking about dying. I’m obsessed with it because my mother died of breast cancer when she was thirty.
Carrie: So you check all that regularly.
Madonna Yes, I go to the mammogram vault on a regular basis. It’s the most horryfing thing in the world. You go in and you feel like you’re getting your death sentence. First off all it’s painful because they smash your breats into this thing. Then you put a robe on and go into this room where everybody scatters because of the radiation. You’re lying alone on this table and the radiation is coming in and you’re thinking, “Well, they’re giving me the cancer while they’re looking for cancer.” You just feel really creepy. My mother was a radiation technologist – I always thought maybe they didn’t make her wear lead aprons. Anyway, I turned thirty and didn’t die, so I felt really good about that.
Carrie: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Madonna I don’t think I’ll be dead.
Carrie: But in terms of your carreer, won’t you have to stop as sexual at a certain point before it becomes weird.
Carrie: That’s the law. Not a forty-two.
Madonna Sexy in what way? Marlene Dietrich is still sexy.
Carrie: My father slept with her.
Madonna Really? I wish I had slept with her.
Carrie: With her?
Madonna Yeah, she’s gorgeous. She had a very masculine thing about her, but I think she maintained a sexual allure. You just do it in a different way. I’m absolutely not afraid of wether I’ll find work or not in ten years. What is going to be tougher for me, I’m sure, is just the emotional idea of being older.
Carrie: Marilyn Monroe died at thirty-six, before she had to deal with all that.
Madonna I think it would have been pretty tough on her.
Carrie: There aren’t that many women who were sex objects who have survived. There are a couple of them, but when you see them interviewed, they don’t look very good.
Madonna Why do you think that is? Is it just a state of mind?
Carrie: I think when you’re valued for something that you didn’t have much business in acquiring – like your looks – you’re more out of control. As your looks diminish with age, you feel your value is diminishing and you get afraid.
Madonna But do you think that I’m valued for my looks?
Madonna Because I have never considered myself a conventionally pretty person. I look at girls and go, “They’re perfect.” I have to work at it.
Carrie: But your beauty is part of your impact – like Marilyn and Jayne Mansfield. And there’s one whose name I can’t remember –
Madonna Mamie Van Doren?
Carrie: That’s the one. She’s alive.
Madonna But they didn’t cultivate anything else.
Carrie: And you are creatively invloved in your career. It’s not simply your looks, although they help. You do get very invloved in keeping yourself attractive. But you’re not as self-destructive as Marilyn. She was very male indetified: She went from one male to the next and was constantly disappointed.
Madonna I know that feeling.
Carrie: It’s interesting that you indentify with Marilyn, because she’s somebody who didn’t survive the fire.
Madonna I identify with her to a certain extent, but then I have to draw the line. I mean, I don’t look at her and go, “Ooh, her life is just like mine.” No way.
Carrie: That’s why I think it’s better to focus on a part of your image that you have more control over – which would be your songwriting or producing – and get involved in a way that you don’t have to be young and beautiful forever.
Madonna You won’t hear me disagreeing with you on that.