Who gets to decide whether a question is good or not?
Only I can do that: let’s say I’m the favoured one in this game.
I’m not sure I can drink, this is a cover piece.
I can’t make an exception, everyone’s got to drink. And you know you’re going to like it.
Who doesn’t love Tequila after all?
See, I knew it. But the other rule is that you can’t ask stupid question on purpose, simply because you want to get drunk.
OK then, let me try with this question: do you really feel like a survivor?
Absolutely. A survivalist to be exact, a survival professional: if you are an artist there’s always some punishment for what you do or a form of self-flagellation. Whether one admits it or not.
In Rebel Heart you say that you need to be a masochist in order to do your job
You also need to be a narcissist, constantly craving other people’s eyes on you, otherwise you’re never going to be able to stand roaring on top of a mountain. But most of all, you must suffer because the same fire that inspires you is also burning you. That is particularly true at the beginning, before people start accepting you. But even today, if you try to do something different you get punished for it.
Now they are punishing you for your age or am I wrong?
You’re absolutely right.
They say you navigate through social media waters clumsily and that you can’t pose topless at your age.
56 to be exact.
It’s referred to as ageism in English
Which means: discrimination based on a person’s age. There is no difference between ageism, racism or homophobia. The cause is always limited knowledge, ignorance fostering fear and fear creating a willingness to destroy through criticism. What is the point? Show me the “How To Behave At A Certain Age” handbook. As far as I know there is no such thing in existence.
They also criticise you because you date younger boys
The truth is I can do it so I’ll do it again. In this case though ageism is connected to good old sexism: if I were a man nobody would even think about expressing criticism in this regard.
Does age protect you from suffering when you are in love?
And why should it? You do know this is another tequila question, right?
Ok then, let’s change the subject. What does it feel like for your children having a mother like you?
I hope I can instill my rebel heart into them as well. I try but it’s difficult to predict what route they’re going to take, they are still teenagers. I try to offer them an example: they see a woman who fights for gay rights, for children orphaned by Aids, for the right of Muslim women to get an education. They see me never backing down an inch from who I am and what I believe in. They see a warrior who has never stopped working for a second throughout her entire life. Obviously they’re also aware of criticism, they read insults aimed at me on social media and they get hurt by it but they also understand how important it is to follow one’s path.
Do you already see the results of that?
Yes I do. Lourdes is 18 and says things that make me realise she’s very mindful of women’s rights and how we are treated around the world. And Rocco the other day told me: “Mum, mum, you know, I think my girlfriend is a feminist” and I said “Great news”. He told me she’s a photographer, a film-maker and that she’s also into poetry. I told him I was happy for him. If that’s the type of woman he’s attracted to, it means I’m influencing him in this direction.
Do you pray a lot?
Every morning with my children and not just with them. I try to make space for the ritual of prayer, for that moment when you acknowledge and give thanks for what you would otherwise give for granted in life. It’s also important to invoke the angels.
Do you think you have a guardian angel?
I think there are many angels ready to help us and our job is to call on them, when you do that, they come to you.
As a student of the Koran what did you think about the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris?
Artists who foster discussion through provocation are the ones at risk the most at the moment.
You said you have a feeling that Europe is going through a resurgence of Nazi-Germany like racism and intolerance but don’t you think Pope Francesco is right when he says there are limits to religious provocation?
This is also true and I’ve always personally experienced it on my skin. But paying with one’s life is unacceptable and it’s blasphemous to think one could kill in the name of religion. We should focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.
She uses her whistle and I’m about to say goodbye but she stops me saying: “Before you go you must do something else”. And I think that the moment for me to drink that Tequila has finally come but she pulls out a little plastic cushion with the word F*CK emblazoned on it
“You must absolutely try the F*CK button”. I ask her how it works. “Ask any question, one that’s been left out”.
In the album you constantly refer to yourself as a B*TCH, is it that important to be one in order to survive as a Madonna?
She smiles and then proceeds to violently press the button and here’s the answer coming out of it F*CK YES! Totally coincidental of course.
© Vanity Fair Italia // Translation from Italian by Francesco Arca