“And the shutters were banging,” Madonna interjects.
“I light us a fire and the whole house got enveloped in smoke, and Madonna arrived with Alek, and you both left after an hour. I remember everything. The food was disgusting.”
“O.K.,” Madonna says. “There were three things that annoyed me. I was starving and everything was burned. Second of all, your dog kept grabbing my leg like a human being, and thrusting his you-know-what against it. And he’s just humping madly, and it wasn’t just me. He was humping everybody else, and it was insane. And the storm and the rain and the lightning and the thunder and it was just-you couldn’t breathe. You couldn’t breathe. And it was just not pleasant.”
Everett nods. Shame creeps into his voice. “It was hideous,” he says. It’s been this way since they met back in the mid-1980s-two gifted, ambitious, unvarnished live wires set loose in Hollywood. Fabulousness and great shoes were not the only thing they had in common. Most significant, both were raised in deeply conservative, devoutly Catholic households, albeit in markedly different environments: he 100 miles outside of London in Norfolk, she in Rochester, Michigan, a distant suburb of Detroit. It’s no great leap to say that their development, both as performers and as people, stems from their respective rebellions against a perceived rigidness and orthodoxy. Madonna’s rebellion has for years been a matter of public record: cheerleader, mourning her late mother, angry at her father, refuses to shave her armpits, wears titillating outfits, was kicked off the squad, sneaks out to gay dance clubs in downtown Detroit, finds her muse, dreams of escaping to New York, which she does after one year in the dance department at the University of Michigan.
Adult Madonna on Younger Madonna: “It was just the rules.
There were so many rules, and I just could never figure out what they all were. If somebody had given me an answer, I wouldn’t have been so rebellious. But because no one did, I was constantly going, ‘Well, fuck that and fuck that and fuck that,’ you know? My father had all these rules and regulations: ‘You can’t wear makeup, you can’t cut your hair, you can’t, you can’t.’ So I went to the extreme … and that just continued, because I was rebelling against-what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Values?” Everett offers.
“Value system. Exactly. The same kind of rigid, patriarchal point of view about how women are supposed to behave. Listen, if I’d grown up in Manhattan and been exposed to things and had a more liberal upbringing, I’d be a completely different person.”
Asked if she misses any part of her youth, she flashes a weary smile and says, “Absolutely-I miss my tragic childhood.”
“It’s the same type of thing for me,” says Everett, who spent his youth dreaming of Montgomery Clift. “But different, kind of. I grew up in a military family. Very English, very right-wing.” He turns to Madonna. “Was your family right-wing? My family was so right-wing.”
“My father was the only person in the universe who was not interested in John Kennedy,” Madonna says.
“My childhood,” Everett says, ruminating a bit on the word. “I had a nice time. You know, my mum loved me. But when I was sent away to boarding school at age seven, that, I think, was the biggest event of my whole life. That rejection-which wasn’t rejection, actually, because that’s how English people were brought up: they were sent away to school-it calcifies your heart somewhere. And you can never-something in your heart closes, I think. England had an empire, and they didn’t want any wimps.”
“I’d die,” says Madonna, a trace of the empire slipping into her accent. “I’d go mad with loneliness.”
“I can remember the crying when my mother was leaving. My crying and hers. It was just the most unpleasant thing. But now I’m grateful for it.”
The upshot being that while Madonna and Everett occasionally go home-they love their families and keep in touch-they can never truly go home.
“I feel too weird and freakish there,” she says. “I feel like an alien,” he says.
The world’s two most fabulous outcasts dovetailed when the rebellious 26-year-old Everett, fresh off his remarkable performance as a gay schoolboy in Julian Mitchell’s 1984 drama, Another Country, was hanging out with a rebellious 24-year-old bad boy who happened to be dating Madonna. “I met you through my ex-husband?”