I don’t sit around and contemplate my fame or how popular I am. I know my manager sometimes looks at me with dismay when he tells me I’ve sold 6 million records or sold out in 17 minutes, and I just say, “O.K.” I’m glad but that’s not what interests me, numbers. What interests me is what happens in my confrontations with people every day and in my performances every night. Not figures on a piece of paper or how much money I have in the bank or any phenomenon. I don’t think money has changed my life. I never had money until now, and I never felt the lack of it. I buy more clothes. Right now I live out of a suitcase. I don’t own a car. Just before the tour, I took driver’s ed. and got a license for the first time. I rented a car and it was a thrill.
DRUGS. I don’t take drugs. I never really did. They don’t do anything for me. All the feelings I think drugs are supposed to produce in you, confidence or energy, I can produce naturally in my body. The only problem is going to sleep. But I don’t take sleeping pills. I drink herbal teas.
THE NAME MADONNA. My mother is the only other person I have ever heard of named Madonna. I never had trouble with the name. Not in school or anything, of course. I went to Catholic schools. And then when I got involved in the music industry, everybody thought I took it as a stage name. So I let them think that . . . It’s pretty glamorous.
CATHOLICISM. Catholicism gives you a strength, an inner strength, whether you end up believing it later or not. It’s the backbone. I think maybe the essence of Catholicism I haven’t rejected, but the theory of it, I have, if that makes any sense. I don’t go to church but I believe in God. I don’t say my rosary but I think about things like that. The thing that has remained with me most, I guess, is the idea that you do unto others as they do unto you. It’s not right to steal or lie or cheat. I think it’s pretty creepy when guys cheat on their wives and the other way around, stuff like that. When I was little, I had all the usual feelings of guilt. I was very conscious of God watching everything I did. Until I was eleven or twelve, I believed the devil was in my basement and I would run up the stairway fast so he wouldn’t grab my ankles. We had the kind of stairway where there were spaces between each step.
CRUCIFIXES AND ROSARIES. I think I have always carried around a few rosaries with me. There was the turquoisecolored one that my grandmother had given to me a long time ago. One day I decided to wear it as a necklace. I thought, “This is kind of offbeat and interesting.” I mean, everything I do is sort of tongue in cheek. It’s a strange blend a beautiful sort of symbolism, the idea of someone suffering, which is what Jesus Christ on a crucifix stands for, and then not taking it seriously at all. Seeing it as an icon with no religiousness attached to it. It isn’t a sacrilegious thing for me. I’m not saying, “This is Jesus Christ,” and I’m laughing. When I went to Catholic schools, I thought the huge crucifixes nuns wore around their necks with their habits were really beautiful. I have one like that now. I wear it sometimes but not onstage. It’s too big. It might fly up in the air and hit me in the face.
BELLY BUTTONS. The picture inside the dust sleeve of my first album has me, like, in this Betty Boop pose with my belly button showing. Then when people reviewed the album, they kept talking about my cute belly button. I started thinking about it and I said, “Yeah, well, I do like my belly button.” I think there are other unobvious places on the body that are sexy and the stomach is kind of innocent. I don’t have a really flat stomach. I sort of have a little girl’s stomach. It’s round and the skin is smooth and it’s nice. I like it.
BOY TOY. About four years ago, I used to live in the East Village. I used to love hanging out at the Roxy with all the break dancers and graffiti artists and the deejays. Everybody had a tag name they would write on the wall like “Whiz Kid” or “HiFi.” The thing was to see how much you could “throw up” (get your name up) everywhere. It was a very territorial thing. One day I just thought of BOY TOY, and when I threw it up on a wall, everybody said they thought it was funny too. They understood the humor of it. I can see how the rest of the world thinks I’m saying “Play with me” and “I’m available to anyone.” Once again, it’s a tongueincheek statement, the opposite of what it says. I had BOY TOY made into a belt buckle. Then I started doing stuff outside New York City and I kept wearing the Boy Toy belt, forgetting that no one outside of the Roxy was going to get it. I don’t wear it any more because it’s just become ridiculous. I think it’s funny but not too many other people do.
CLOTHES. I like to combine things but in a humorous way, like a uniform skirt and fishnets. Sometimes I like really expensive things. I like Vivienne & Westwood, Commes des Garcons and Jean Paul Gaultier. But I get a lot of stuff in thrift shops too. I really love dresses like Marilyn Monroe wore, those ’50s dresses that were really tailored to fit a voluptuous body. A lot of stuff made now is for an androgynous figure, and it doesn’t look good on me. I have always sort of elaborated with my dance clothes. I used to live in my dance clothes, my tights and leotards, but I always personalized them. I’d rip them all up and make sure the runs got really big and had a pattern to them. I started wearing bows in my hair because one day when my hair was long, I couldn’t find anything to tie it back. So I took an old pair of tights and wound them around my head, and I liked the way that looked.
MARRIAGE. I do want to get married and have kids. I don’t know when, but I think getting married is probably something very exciting and very challenging, and I would definitely like to have a child. I’ve only heard wonderful things about it from people I know who are near my age. I’m saying it like it’s baking a cake or something.
LOVE. I’m at the end of my patience with this interview. I want to run down the hallway and finish writing a song. I won’t sing it, but I’ll tell you the hook. “Love makes the world go round.” It’s really trite, but that’s what it is. Love makes the world go round and straight and square and squiggly. Now leaning back, her dancer’s legs straight up, with ankles crossed on the back of the seat in front of her, Madonna toys with the dial on her portable radio. She says, “I have to stop talking. I have to rest my voice.” Would she add anything, maybe after the show tonight? She turns her head and looks out the window at Texas, then says slowly, “I can’t focus after a concert. I have to talk to my boyfriend for a long time before I go to sleep.”
© Time Magazine