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Madonna’s Evita Diaries : Vanity Fair

Madonna - Vanity Fair / November 1996

Buenos Aires [Saturday, January 27, 1996]:
Dreamt last night that there was going to be a big earthquake and it was going to destroy the world. I ran around trying to pack my suitcases but stopped when I realized I really wouldn’t need to pack. Met with a brilliant Argentinian historian named Jose Luis Peco, who spoke to me for three hours about Argentinean hirstory and the Peronist movement. Wonderful man, but he kept getting up to go to the bathroom. Maybe he only has one kidney. Later on I had drinks with Plácido Domingo, who was very charming and said he had turned down Alan Parker’s offer to play Perón. After speaking to me for 20 minutes he said he regretted saying no. Latin men were put on earth to charm women. And torture them! Later: Did makeup and hair tests and finally settled on a brown wig for the younger Eva that didn’t make me look like a cocker spaniel. Agaist the wishes of my security I went out on my balcony and waved to about 500 screaming fans. I blew them several kisses and saw the tears in their eyes and it almost made me cry. I thought if I went out and waved to them they might be less ferocious when I go out to dinner. We shall see.

Buenos Aires [Sunday, January 28, 1996]:
Finally slept last night – deeply and sweetly. Of course, I wasn’t in my room. I’ve been sleeping in a room the size of a broom closet upstairs to avoid the noise in my suite. Sneaked out this morning in what I thought was a disguise to walk around the street fairs of San Telmo. People recognized me and stared but no one attacked me. Nevertheless, I felt uncomfortable and after an hour of being gawked at I came back to my hotel prison and sulked. I needed some peace and quiet.

Buenos Aires [Tuesday, January 30, 1996]:
I seem to have misplaced a diary entry. Or else I’ve misplaced a day, which isn’t difficult to do in this godforsaken place. Every day is a new and interesting form of chaos. Yesterday my trainer arrived and thank God. It would be very easy to get an enourmously fat ass on this shoot, as there are no gyms and no decent food. I made a solemn promise to myself to start eating better, but every time I go to a meeting or an interview, someone whips out the trays of croissants and petits fours and bonbons and I’m so hungry I’m forced to inhale a few. Etiquette alone demands that you at least sample the lard sandwiches. I went to the National Library with Xavier Fernandez, a die-hard Peronist and very charming man. The library was built on the exact same spot where the Peróns lived and where Evita died. I asked the director of the library where the house went. It seems the Argentineans, in their true hotheaded fashion, demolished the house brick by brick until there was nothing left but dirt! This, of course, did not happen until Eva died and Perón had fallen out of favor and fled the country. [It’s very easy to fall out of favor here.] Years later when Peronism was fashinable again, the National Library was built as a sort of memorial to Evita, and there’s an enormous amount of research material pertaining to her there. Another glaring example of the fickleness of thois country. First she’s a queen and she lives in a palace, then she dies and you’re assassinated if you speak her name. Finally, years later she’s a saint who can do no wrong. The library director is a true man of letters. We talked about Pablo Neruda and Gabriel García Márquez and then discussed cinema: Renoir, Godard, Rossellini, and Visconti. Whew! I had a butter sandwich and a chocolate truffle and ran off to a cocktail party to mingle with the cre`me de la cre`me of B.A. Ha! As I walked in the door, hoping for champagne, I was served a glass of warm water which tasted like it had been chlorinated. Met the British ambassador and lots of radio and television personalities and the man who owns all the soccer teams. There were a few rakish-looking young men with very long hair and lust in their eyes, and I think I was supposed to take one of them home with me, but I was too tired to be shallow, so at 10:30 I bid everyone adieu and ran into the elevator with my escort, Victor Alfaro. Of course, I had to pose for a zillion photographs before I left. I felt very empty rifing down in that elevator. I suddenly missed my friends terribly. Couldn’t sleep again and I went to work with puffy eyes and a sheet-lined face.

Buenos Aires [Wednesday, January 31, 1996]:
Slept in silence at last. I moved upstairs to the top floor. It’s not much bigger than the broom closet but at least I can’t hear the fans screaming on the street. Forgot to mention that I met with the chief of police and his first lieutenant. Two very charming and handsome men – what else is new? They assured me that they were going to look after me and that I shouldn’t worry about death threats. What, me worry? We discussed Peronism and of course Evita and how her enemines were divided into two camps, the aristocracy and the communists. The lieutenant said he admired Evita but he was not a Peronist. Then he said the most amazing thing – that people were angry with Evita in her day for the same reason they are angry with me today. That we are women with success and power. Then we began discussing reincarnation and he started quoting Oscar Wilde. Something about art imitating life. I was quite stunned, for his macho appearance did not prepare me for his sensitive and perceptive point of view. Don’t judge a federal policeman by his uniform! Tonight I am having a drink with Constancio Vigil, supposedly Menem’s best friend. We shall see!

Buenos Aires [Thursday, February 1, 1996]:
Woke up exhausted from my dreams. I was defending myself. Trying to stay alive. Fighting for… what? I splashed cold water on my face, looked into the mirror, and noticed a red indentation in my forehead. A wound received in my nocturnal battle. Did I unconsciously hurt myself? This must be a result of the conversation I had with Constancio, who tried to explain to me why the president cannot agree to a meeting with me. Yet. Of course, he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, and I must say it was a bit of an insult to discover that the president has had lunch with Claudia Schiffer and entertained the Rolling Stones and he is not free to meet with me. Once again this proves my point that if you have an opinion or stand for something in this world you are considered a threat. Something to be feared. We discussed politics in this country and how, by privatizing industries, Menem is trying to undo the damages that Perón did. I asked why he calls himself a Peronist if in fact his policies are so different. His answer was that he was doing what Perón would do if he were in office now. Good answer. This is why we call them politicians. I spent the rest of the conversation defending myself and the choices I’ve made in my career. I often say I have no regrets, but I suppose in the end I do. If I had known that I would be so universally misunderstood, maybe I wouldn’t have been so rebellious and outspoken. I never thought I’d say these words, but I am so tired of having to explain myself and I am so tired of being told, “You’re so intelligent! Not what I expected at all!” Could an idiot have come this far in life? I wonder if I could ever have been the kind of sweet, submissive, feminine girl that the entire world idealizes. I’m trying to stay positive, but I felt like crying all day. I’m so sick of seeing unflattering paparazzi photos of myself in magazines and newspapers. They find the ugliest ones and blow them up just to torture me. There’s a really good one where it looks like my security guard is grabbing my breast. My hair is completely messed up and I look like I just received shock treatment. Charming. All through my fittings and my rehearsals I felt like the homely girl at the dance whom nobody wanted to dance with. Darius came over to have dinner with me and he was depressed, too. A friend of his was killed in a car accident. We tried to cheer each other up. He calls me Lola Spaghetti and I call him Mr. Basmati. He makes me laugh.

Buenos Aires [Friday, February 2, 1996]:
Dreamt last night that Sharon Stone invited me to her house because she wanted to know me better. I went, with some suspicion, and when I arrived she was taking a bath with a red dress on and all her makeup. Then we heard voices outside and the doorbell rang and Sharon immediately submerged her face under the water to prove to me that she didn’t care if people saw her looking bad. When I opened the door Courtney Love was standing there in a torn dress, waving a gun at me and slurring her words: “I know you guys are in there – I’m going to shoot you both”. Then she bursts out laughing, saying it was only a joke. My dog started barking and woke me up. Thank God. Another reason not to take Xanax to sleep. I’m so tired today. At dance rehearsals I worked with four tango dancers, or milongueros, and they each scared me in a different way. Three were older and funny-looking. One was younger and funny-looking. I thought I was a pretty decent tango dancer until I danced with these guys. The older ones were patient, but the younger one kept trying to show off and he was wearing too much cologne. I love to tango, but I need to practice more, so I’m going dancing with them all on Sunday night. Tonight I have another top-secret meeting with Constancio. I hope he’s going to bring good news about the president. Tomorrow, Antonio Banderas arrives. The press is trying to make a big deal about my competing with his girlfriend, which is ludicrous because everyone knows I would never date a man who wears cowboy boots.

Buenos Aires [Sunday, February 4, 1996]:
What a night! I decided to have a cocktail party and invite the Old Guard, whom I have been courting for the past two weeks, as a thank-you. I wanted Alan Parker to meet them as well, so I invited him and the rest of the creative team working on the movie. Wardrobe, Hair, Makeup, Production Design, etc., etc. I had it in one of the ornate old ballrooms on the first floor and put up one of the paintings I had found in San Telmo on the fireplace mantel, lit candles everywhere, and turned off all lights. Mambo and tango music music played in the background. Very romantic. At one point Vince Paterson, the choreographer, asked me to dance a mambo with him, and the floor cleared and we showed those old Argentineans a thing or two. This made me homesick for Miami. I love to dance to mambo music. PS: The president has agreed to meet with me wednesday evening on an island off the coast. Apparently we can go only by boat or helicopter. It’s all very hush-hush.

Buenos Aires [Monday, February 5, 1996]:
I’m sick to my stomach and I’m having the chills. Is it because I got up at the crack of dawn after two hours of sleep? Is it because I ate an entire box of graham crackers in 10 minutes? Is it because the press conference is tomorrow and I have butterflies in my stomach? Or is it because of the cholera epidemic that slowly making its way into town? Whatever it is, I hope it goes away. I have enough to worry about. Tomorrow I have to face the conservative minority who are violently opposed to the making of this film. They’re going to ask me stupid questions. They are going to be rude, reactionary, and ignorant. They’re going to ask me if I am a Catholic and if I wear underwear and if I’m a lonely person. Yes. Yes. Sometimes.

Buenos Aires [Tuesday, February 6, 1996]:
Thank God that’s over with. A press conference is worth 100 trips to the dentist. My heart was pounding so loudly I was sure the whole room was hearing it. It wasn’t as bad as expected. Only a few cranky questions from a few women who looked like they didn’t have enough love in their lives. Jonathan Pryce, who plays Juan Perón, was very witty. Several very good-looking boys sat in the front row blowing me kisses and mouthing the words “I love you”. This cheered me up immensely. I continue to read negative press from around the world, including the U.S., that somehow still manages to hurt my feelings. I will never get used to the hostility that comes from fear and envy. That basic human desire that most people have to see another person fail. On a good note David Caddick, the music director, whom I adore, has arrived and I’m going out to dinner with him. I’m so excited to see him! Oh yeah, a choir chame to sing to me outside my window. It sounded beautiful.

Buenos Aires [Thursday, February 8, 1996]:
Last night I dreamed of Evita. I was not outside watching her. I was her. I felt her sadness and her restlessness. I felt hungry and unsatisfied and in a hurry. Just as I had earlier in the helicopter, suspended over the earth, on the way to meet President Menem. As I gazed down on all of B.A., my mind started drifting, I tried to imagine how I would react and what I would do if, like Evita, I knew I had cancer and I was dying. I could finally understand the feverish pace at which Evita lived during her last few years. She wanted her life to matter. She didn’t have time for bureaucracies of government. She needed results. The idea of death is not so horrible if one can leave behind a legacy, and Eva did not want to be remembered as a girl from the sticks, or a B actress, or the wife of the president. She wanted to be remembered for her godness. The desire of someone who has lived her life completely misunderstood. President Menem was very charming. I was surprised at how much I liked him. Our helicopter landed on the grounds of a beautiful estate in the middle of the delta in El Tiagre. Hundreds of flamingos scattered out of our way. As I walked toward the president [small, defiant, and tan] a baby deer came up to me and nuzzled my side as if to say, “Don’t be nervous, you are welcome here.” It was like a fairy tale. He was surrounded by very suspicious-looking men and a very pretty and formal older woman who had acted as our translator. We sat down immediately, his eyes going over every inch of me, looking right trough me. A very seductive man. I noticed that he had small feet and dyes his hair black. He told me that I looked just like Evita, whom he had met when he was a very young man. We talked about how fanatical I had become about knowing absolutely everything about her. He did not take his eyes off me. The mosquitos started to devour us, so we went inside. The kind man who owned the house brought our champagne and caviar, which I couldn’t resist, and I decided to play Menem some of the music from the movie so he could understand the mood of what we are trying to accomplish. When I played him the new song [You Must Love Me], which Eva sings to Perón when she finds out she is dying, I could see a tear fall from his eye. I noticed that two men followed Menem everywhere, catering to his very need. They seem to be completely in love with the president. They had very bad hairdos and kept eyeing me suspiciously. I caught Menem looking at my bra strap, which was showing ever so slightly. He contiued doing this throughout the evening with his piercing eyes, and when I caught him staring, his eyes stayed with me. We started to talk about reincarnation and God and psychic phenomena and he said he believed in the power of magic. He said one always has to have faith in the things that cannot be explained. Like God. And I thought of a line from The Alchemist that goes something like “If you want something bad enough the whole earth conspires to help you get it.” And I took a deep breath and said, “Yes, that’s why I believe that you will change your mind and allow us to film on the balcony of the Casa Rosada.” The whole table went quiet and he looked at me for a moment and said, “Anything is possible.” My heart was in my shoe. Then the owner said it was time for dinner, and the president stood up and asked me if I wanted to wash my hands. I thought it was a rather strange question, but I figured he was a hygiene freak or something. Maybe I looked dirty. Maybe he wanted me to leave the room so he could talk about me. I spent a good deal of time snooping around in the bathroom and checking out the décor of the second floor. I must have been up there for at least 15 minutes and when I came downstairs the men were all standing around the table waiting for me to sit down. The president pulled out my chair, and when I sat, everyone else sat. Chivalry is not dead! Dinner was strangely bland, but the conversation was not. We talked about everything from Mao Tse-Tung to mambo. At 11, we all ran out to the helicopter, waiting for us like a giant insect. The president took my face in his hands, kissed me on both cheeks, and wished me good luck. We flew away and I was floating inside of the cabin the whole way home. He had worked his magic on me. I can only hope I did the same.

Buenos Aires [Friday, February 9, 1996]:
There are no words to describe the weariness I feel today. I have not slept well in days, and even when I do, there is no comfort. My dreams are violent and full of betrayal. Like my life, there is no escape. I feel the weight of the responsibility of this film. I cannot talk about Evita and her life without defending myself. I am watched whereever I go. Criticized for being outspoken and ridiculed for staying quiet. Inside my head there is never silence. I feel at any moment that I could break. I want to cry for all the sadness in the world, but mostly my own. Dear God, what have I gotten myself into? What is happening to me?