Did it make you reappraise from your Catholic beliefs?
No. I’ve always known that Catholicism is a completely sexist, repressed, sin and punishment-based religion. I’ve already fallen out of love with Catholicism.
When was the last time you went to a mass?
I go to church once in a while [she says, treading lightly] I love the rituals, particularly of Catholicism, and the architecture of grand, beautiful churches, and the mysteriousness of it all, especially if they say the mass in Latin, and the incense and the classical organ music. It’s a beautiful ritual, but often the messages are not so beautiful.
Did you think your stage show was shocking? How would you feel if you went to see George Michael and he pretended to masturbate onstage? Would that upset you?
It would depend on the context. It’s hard to say, isn’t it? I don’t do any of those things without humour. It’s a bit diffiicult for me to see someone like Michael Jackson grabbing his crotch and humping the ground simply because I feel he’s a very androgynous person. I don’t believe him. So it would depend how it’s used.
The song in your show that attracted the most controversy was Like A Virgin. You’ve always claimed it was about a newness, a freshness, but obviously you were aware of the song’s ambiguity.
Weeeell, [she teases] there’s many meanings to it. That’s what I like about everything. I like innuendo. I like irony. I like the way things can be taken on different levels. But, yes, Like A Virgin was always absolutely ambigious.
At one point during your live performance of Like A Virgin – where you romp on a harem-style bed – the simulated masturbation suddenly changed into something that didn’t seem quite so simulated.
Did it? [she asks with feigned naiveté] Yeah, I guess it did. The idea was to make it funny and serious. Passion and sexuality and religion all bleed into each other for me. I think that you can be a very sexual person and also a very religious and spiritual person. I think I’m religious in the broadest sense of the word, and I am very sexual in that I’m very aware of my sexuality and other people’s, and am very interested in it. Not in the sense that I want to go out and f… everything that moves. So I’m a very sexual, very spiritual person. What’s the problem? People’s sexuality and the way they relate to the world is very important.
It transcends just the trousers.
Exactly! It’s beyond trousers! It’s so much more than just fornication. Your sexual identity is so important. The more you pay attention to it, the more you realize that just about everything in the world is centered around sexual attraction and sexual power. You also become aware of people who are not in touch with their own, or have the wrong idea about it or abuse it.
Do people often misunderstand the humor in your work?
Yes. That’s the death of anybody. I find all artsits who take themselves seriously boring. I hate it when singers go, ‘I don’t want to be a pop star, I want to be taken seriously,’ blah, blah, blah. Or when actors talk about their method and all that stuff. It’s such a f…ing bore. If I took my show seriously, I would hate it, do you know what I mean? But you can only have to have half a brain in your head to see that I’m quite often making fun of myself. I mean, how obvious can I be?
Your sense of humor can be quite coarse.
That’s your opinion [she says, her smile dropping] Coarse? It’s aggressive, if that’s what you mean.
You resort to vulgarity very quickly.
Uh-huh, I s’pose [she says dismissively] Maybe that’s from not having a mother.
You can’t attribute everything on that.
Like I said [she reiterates as if explaining to a slow child] I have a lot of boyish traits about me. Thast’s probably one of them.
Are you aware that you aren’t treated like other people?
Yes, I am. Very. I’m always aware of that. I’ve developed mechanisms, I guess. It’s funny, like the way my father seems to be unaware of my fame and fortune and place in the world, I sometimes am too. I have to keep telling myself I’m not like everyone else, I have to go around looking for the ulterior motive all the time.
Does it make it difficult to find new friends?
Oh [she pauses] I guess. I haven’t really thought about that much. I tend to go to social occasions and hang around people who are celebrities as well. Celebrities kind of flock together. It’s like, I’m okay, what can they get from me?
Do you discuss being famous?
No! We don’t. God, what a boring thing to talk about.
Do you feel guilty about being rich?
Yes I do. It’s because of my upbringing. I was raised by a working-class father and he never had money. I continue to feel guilty about it, like I don’t deserve to have it, or something, even though I work really hard. I can’t help it. No one in my family has had money and they continue to not have any money and I feel guilty about it. That’s just my upbringing. I feel sometimes that someone will come and take it all away from me. That makes me work really hard, all the time.