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Madonna Interview : Smash Hits

“He’s so loyal,” purrs Madonna. “He won’t say anything bad about me.”

That is the last we see of Sylvio Ciccone (known to his friends as Tony) until the very end of the interview when there is a piece of film from Madonna’s 1985 Virgin Tour video, At the end of “Material Girl”, a voice booms out over the music:

“Madonna! You come off that stage this instant!” he bellows.

“Daddy,” she asks. “is that you?”

“You’re coming home with me now, little lady.”

“But Daddy. I’m having a good time…”

“You heard what I said…”

And with that the real Mr Ciccone appears and pulls her off the stage.

Most odd. For the rest of the interview Madonna just chats away, about this, that and everything. For instance:

“The thing is, if my father hadn’t been strict I wouldn’t be who I am today. I think… I think that his strictness taught me a certain amount of discipline that has helped me in my life and my career and also made me work harder for things, whether for acceptance or the privilege to do things.”

Fighting for Mr Ciccone’s Affection
“You know my nickname in my family was The Mouth. When you’re from a big family everybody’s really competitive with each other, so aside from lust screaming really loud and doing things that got me attention like… we would all get in various kinds of trouble to get my father’s attention and then be punished accordingly. I was really competitive in school with my grades and stuff because my father used to give us rewards if we got ‘A’s on our report cards. So it was my goal to get the best report cards all the time. It wasn’t so much that I was interested in learning, it was more that I was interested in getting the best grades and getting the most… my father gave us 25 cents (about 17p in real money) for every ‘A’ that we got so I wanted to earn the most amount of money. I wanted to be the envy of my brothers and sisters.”

Learning Music
“Everyone in the family studied a musical instrument. My father was really big on that. Somehow I only took about a year and a half of piano lessons and I convinced my father to let me take dancing lessons instead, so I escaped the dreariness of piano lessons every day which I despised. But there was always music in our house, either records or the radio or someone singing in the bathtub… noise. Lots of noise.”

The Video for “Express Yourself”
This one I’ve had the most amount of input. I oversaw everything – (she makes a list on her fingers) – the building of the sets, everyone’s costume, I had meetings with make-up and hair and the cinematographer… everybody.
Casting, finding the right cat – just every aspect. Kind of like making a little movie. We basically sat down and just threw out every idea we could possible conceive of and of all the things we wanted, all the imagery we wanted… and I had a few set ideas, for instance the cat and the idea of Metropolis (Metropolis is a ‘celebrated’ 1926 German film futuristic fantasy in which society combines fancy technology with slave-like working conditions: the original film is, spook fact fans, now owned by Queen and scenes from it appeared in their video for ‘Radio Ga-Ga’). I definitely wanted to have that influence, that look on all the men – the workers, diligently, methodically working away. David (the director)’s idea for the cat to, like, lick the milk and then pour it over… it’s great but believe me I fought him on that. I didn’t want to do it, I thought it’s just so over the top and silly and kind of cliched, an art student or a film student’s kind of trick. I’m glad that I gave into him.

“The ultimate thing behind the song is that if you don’t express yourself, if you don’t say what you want, then you’re not going to get it. And in effect you are chained down by your inability to say what you feel or go after what you want.”