At the appointed hour (Madonna is stickler for punctuality), I arrive at her Upper West Side apartment. I am greeted by her assistant, Ellie-Mae, who instantly returns to her computer and constantly ringing mobile phone, in an attempt to keep the mogul’s life running like clockwork.
As I wait for Madonna, who has just finished yoga, I find her daughter Lourdes – Lola to her friends – in the kitchen, waiting for her nanny to make her a toast before a trip to the movies with her father, Carlos Leon. Madonna enters. Knowing she doesn’t have to impress me – after all, I saw he in labor – she is wearing combat trousers, a black tank top (bra showing) and pair of divine, intricately beaded slip-on Fendi shoes. Her blonde hair, parted in the middle, is still wet. After telling Lola where she’s off to and what she’s doing, she leads me up to the spiral staircase to her upstairs living room. There are leather couches, red satin curtains and a colorful rug. The walls are dark green. She plops herself on the floor. ‘I’m going to do the interview lying down,’ she announces. Having spoken to her before for MTV and ABC, I note a big difference today. Not only is she without the usual entourage, but she is also in an excellent mood. This is the real Madonna, my friend – relaxed, funny and willing to poke fun at herself.
‘So how was your New Year in Miami?’ I begin. ‘Let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty,’ she laughed. ‘It was a true night of decadence and debauchery. It was the best New Year I’ve ever had, funnily enough, because I didn’t expect to have a good New Year’s. I just said, “OK, I’m going to adinner party and then I’m gonna go to a party afterwards, it’s no big deal.” Anyway, we took a boat ride across the bay. We went to Donatella’s (Versace) house for dinner. There were shirtless men with oiled bodies dancing on podium and there was a mambo band playing and this really yummy food. People were pogoing , people were jumping up and down on the furniture. I didn’t know how many drinks I had,’ she beams. ‘All I know is they kept sloshing out of the glass and pretty soon you have a 20 half-drunks and then it was 5am and I had a really horrible blisters on my feet and I had to go home.’
Given that Madonna is possibly the most clean-living (substance-wise) person I know, I wonder how much she must have suffered the next day. ‘How was your hangover?’ I ask. ‘Um, it was forceful,’ she laughs. ‘Fortunately New Year’s Eve fell on a Friday and we don’t do yoga on Saturdays I wouldn’t have been able to do one forward bend without puking.
The thing about this New Year’s Eve that I’ve never noticed before,’ she continues, ‘was that this time everyone was happy. And I was with the perfect group of friends – minus you, of course,’ she adds mischievously. ‘You were sorely missed.’ ‘Thanks,’ I reply, making a mental note never to spend another New Year in LA, dubbed the place with the most lackluster celebrations in the US by the New York Times.
So, what else did she do with her ‘perfect group of friends’ in Miami, I ask begrudgingly, ‘We did yoga,’ she replies. ‘That’s my one indulgence. I flew my yoga teachers in. I have to have yoga wherever I go. And we did really, really exhausting, taxing thing like fishing and swimming and playing backgammon and eating. A lot of eating. I’ve grown very fond of Doritos and beer.’ ‘At last,’ I quip, ‘I’m having an influence on you.’ ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ she says wryly. It doesn’t really go with my yoga regime. I think it was because there were a lot of strange people staying in my house and my refrigerator was suddenly full of foods I don’t usually eat. You know when that happens and you think “I’ll try that?” I feel like a big fat slob now as a resault of my holiday, and I’m going to throw myself into a regime of deprivation and self-flagellation.’
Noting her impossibly flat stomach, I could argue with her, but decide instead to find out just who were her perfect group of friends. ‘My brother (Christopher),’ she sais. ‘Guy Oseary, my business partner, Gwyneth, Rupert (Everett), Orlando (Pita, her hairdresser) and Ingrid (Casares) who lives down there, although she may as well live in my house because she’s always there eating the food out of my refrigerator. Fortunately, her feet are a lot bigger then mine, so she can’t wear my shoes.
As we’re on the subject of Miami, I ask her if she has decided to sell or keep her Miami house, now that she’s buying a house in London. ‘I don’t know,’ she sighs. ‘I hardly ever get down to Miami, so I just feel guilty that I have a house I’m never in. I figure let someone else enjoy it. I did rent it out to that boxer, Oscar De La Hoya. I was in a complete state of panic. I kept thinking, “He’ll break my lamps. He’ll be sparring in my bedroom.”‘