This is Madonna – The introduction seems a trifle unnecessary. She is probably the most famous woman on the planet and you are, after all, standing in the middle of her living room.
Up above you, as you shake hands, is a beautiful Langlois ceiling painting of the naked Hermes flanked by similarly unclad women. All around the walls are works of art from Mexico, England and France, and original black-and-white photos – mostly female nudes – by Edward Weston, Man Ray, André Kertész and Herb Ritts.
To your right in this low, white 10-room home, perched atop Hollywood Hills, is a spacious office area, complete with chattering fax machine and sleek filing cabinets. Across the lounge, which is dominated by the somber presence of a huge grand piano, you can just see into the bedroom, where a sleeveless black dress is hanging on a wardrobe door.
Off the bedroom is a small bathroom, which, judging from the minimasterpieces on display, could qualify for the world’s most compact art gallery. In keeping with the arty ambience, there’ is a copy of The Andy Warhol Diaries beside the lavatory.
Madonna’s Los Angeles home has the strange atmosphere of a lived-in modern-art museum: stark and sophisticated, but somehow comfortable, even homey.
But look out through the full-length windows, past the pool, and there lies the reason why this residence is just so desirable: a genuinely breathtakinng view that seems to take in all of Los Angeles.
Isn’t it beautiful? asks a rough-edged and slightly nasal voice from behind you. Madonna is standing close enough for you to smell [the pleasingly uncomplicated aroma of warm, clean skin] and to notice the flesh-toned cover-up on two small pimples on her left cheek. It immediately makes her seem human.
She is a small woman, maybe five feet four, with large hands and a lean, almost sinewy body. Today she is wearing a loose-woven thigh-length green cardigan [beneath which, it is plain to even the untrained eye, she is sporting a black bra], loose-fitting black trousers cropped above the ankle and threadbare green espadrilles. Her bleached hair is tied back in a bun, exposing her dark roots, and she is fully made up. Her legendary beauty spot is reassuringly present.
Uncommonly beautiful is the phrase that springs to mind as she walks with an almost regal grace across the room and composes herself on an 18th-century European chair. She has agreed to this interview to promote her new movie, Truth Or Dare. The controversial film has prompted the New York Post to declare What a Tramp! and has raised the highbrow eyebrows of critics and censors the world over.
As you are probably aware by now, Truth Or Dare chronicles the behind-the-scenes fireworks during the superstar’s 1990 Blond Ambition Tour and focuses unflinchingly on her relationships, professional and otherwise, with her colorful entourage, which includes a fleet of catty dancers, a long-suffering road-crew and Warren Beatty.
It is Madonna’s attempt to give us mortals a glimpse into her complex life. It is a touching, vulgar, erotic and revealing documentary that – like most things given the Madonna touch – will be the subject of much heated moral debate for some time to come.
Do You think Truth Or Dare will change people’s perceptions of you?
First of all [a quaver in her voice betraying a slight nervousness] everyone overreacts to everything I do. They overreact to really simple, mundane things I do. So I can just imagine the overreactions to this. People are primed to overreact to everything I do, and this isn’t a threeminute video dealing with some touchy issues. This is a two-hour movie and it’s real life. But I don’t think it’s my real life, as such. I think it’s life in general.
It’s a very emotional film.
Well, I’m a very emotional person. Then, being on the road is a really emotinal thing anyway. The insanity of the life I lead is very emotional also. So, to me, it was a very emotion-packed time.
Presumably your life outside of your work isn’t as emotionally hectic as that?
I’m afraid to say, it is! [she says laughing] Yes, it is. It truly is. Because I’m very maternal with people. Like with the dancers in the movie: I mother them all during the movie and I still do. Still! I’m still very close to them and completely embroiled in their lives and trying to help them. In addition to that, I have my own, very large family, who are all emotional cripples in one way or another. So, I’m the matriarch of all these little families. I can’t keep my hand out of the fire. I just keep getting pulled into everyone’s lives and try to help them out of their messes. Meanwhile, I’m neglecting all of my own. So… my life remains completely insane. Don’t let this calm facade fool you.
The impression one takes away from Truth Or Dare is of someone who wants desperately to be in charge but also wants to be looked after.
Is that the only impression you came away with? [she asks briskly] I think the impression of me will be twofold. I think people will think, ‘Oh, she isn’t just a cold, dominating person’. I think that’s the world’s perception of me, that I’m power-hungry and manipulating. I think a great deal of the movie shows a gentler side of me.
Could you explain the film’s ending where you inexplicibly appear in bed with a bunch of naked men?
That’s there because it’s me bidding farewell to everyone. You’ll notice throughout the montage, I’m saying, ‘I love you. I hate you. I love you’ It’s my need to be loved and my need to dominate. So, to me, it’s like a witty presentation of the whole thing. In two minutes it underlines what you’ve just seen in two hours. It’s my need to be in charge.
Parts of the film could almost be described as too revealing.
Yes, but if you’re going to reveal yourself, reveal yourself. I mean, what do I do, say I’m only going to reveal myself up to a point?
Most people would.
I’m not most people. And if I’m going to make a documentary and tell the director that I want to reveal truths, then I’m not going to say, ‘But this is where I draw the line’. If you take all those parts out, what would you have? Life is about the highs and the lows, and if you just present the mids, then what’s the point? I chose to show that part of myself because I know that other people feel the same way. The only difference between this and other movies is that I don’t have the safety net of saying ‘This is fictional’. These issues are dealt with in drama all the time, but I think the hard thing for people to take will be that there isn’t someone playing the part of my life in a movie 50 years from now on when I’m dead. I’m doing it myself. No one has ever done this before.