Read Madonna Online

Authors: Andrew Morton

Madonna

To Lynne, Ali and Lyds

Table of Contents

Title Page
Photograph Acknowledgments
Chapter One
-
All-American Girl
Chapter Two
-
The American Dream
Chapter Three
-
‘This Used to Be My Playground’
Chapter Four
-
Destined to Be a Dancer
Chapter Five
-
The ‘Lost’ First Songs
Chapter Six
-
Madonna, Max′s, Midnight
Chapter Seven
-
DeMann and De Woman
Chapter Eight
-
‘I’m a Sexy Woman, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!’
Chapter Nine
-
Desperately Seeking Hollywood
Chapter Ten
-
Nice Ice Baby, Don’t Go
Chapter Eleven
-
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Chapter Twelve
-
Me, Myself and I
Chapter Thirteen
-
Lady Madonna
Acknowledgments
Madonna: Discography, videos, film and theater, tours
Index
Copyright Page

Photograph Acknowledgments

More than half the photographs in this book have been provided by people who know or have known Madonna over the years; the majority of these are published in this book exclusively and for the first time. The author and publishers are deeply indebted to all the people, listed below, who so kindly provided these rare photographs, as also to Zooid Pictures Limited, and to the individual agencies who supplied images; they too are listed below.

 

See here
, Arlett Vereecke/MOV/London Features International;
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, Splash News and Picture Agency;
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, L. Alaniz;
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and
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, photography by Peter Kentes;
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(upper and lower
), L. Alaniz;
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,
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(upper and lower
), and
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, © Mark D.;
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See here
,
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and
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(
upper and lower
), photography by Dan Gilroy;
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(upper and lower),
photography by Curtis Zale;
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and
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, L. Alaniz;
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(upper and lower),
photography by Gary Burke;
See here
(upper and lower),
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(upper and lower),
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(upper and lower),
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and
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, courtesy of Camille M. Barbone, from her private collection;
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(
upper and lower
),
©
Stephen Torton, courtesy PictureShow Gallery, Berlin;
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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and
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, courtesy of Camille M. Barbone, from her private collection;
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, Rex Features;
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, Big Pictures;
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(
upper),
John Bellissimo/Corbis UK Ltd;
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(
lower),
Corbis UK Ltd;
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(upper),
P. Ramey/Corbis Sygma;
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(
lower
)
,
London Features International;
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(
upper),
Ken Friedman/Retna Pictures;
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(lower
), Rex Features;
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(
upper),
SIPA/Rex Features;
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(
lower),
Nick Elgar/London Features International;
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(upper),
Corbis/Sygma;
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(
lower
), Corbis/Sygma;
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(
upper
)
,
R. Galella/Corbis Sygma;
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(
lower),
Charles Sykes/Rex Features;
See here
(
upper
)
,
Rex Features;
See here
(
lower
), Splash News and Picture Agency;
See here
(
upper
), SIPA/Rex Features;
See here
(
lower
), Faroux/SIPA/Rex Features;
See here
, Rex Features;
See here
, Rex Features;
See here
(upper),
London Features International;
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(
lower
), Richard Young/Rex Features;
See here
, SIPA/Rex Features;
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(
upper
), Marion Curtis/Rex Features;
See here
(
lower
), SIPA/Rex Features;
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(
upper
), ACT/Rex Features;
See here
(
lower
), Rex Features.

Chapter One

All-American Girl

A
RRIVING AT JFK AIRPORT, a glance at the snaking line for taxis – longer than for the average Disney ride but without the thrill at the end – banishes any lingering hesitation about accepting an offer that would normally be refused. After a seven-hour flight from London, 40 dollars seems like a very good deal for a ride into Manhattan in the back of a white stretch limo, albeit unlicensed. The motley group of fellow travelers, from Canada, France and New York, think so too. ‘Help yourself to drinks,’ offers the moonlighting chauffeur magnanimously.

Soon there’s a party going on – the roof open, the sparkling, flashing neon interior lights twinkling brighter than the early-evening stars. In the setting sun the striking skyline glitters, alight with promise, dripping with possibilities. A couple of decades before, on such a journey, on such an evening, in such a limo, an aspiring young singer called Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone had reclined, like a punk mistress of the universe. She had told her friend Erika Belle: ‘One day I’m going to own this town.’ The former cheerleader from the American Midwest had not always been so certain.

Our limo glides past Lincoln Center, where the lonely teenager once sat by the fountain and wept, despairing that she would ever make it in the Big Apple. We drive by the imposing West 64th Street apartment building where she now lives, testament to her success, past the restaurant that makes a special Caesar salad just for her, and by Central Park where she met the father of her first child. After this impromptu whistlestop tour of Madonna’s life, the limousine driver kicks us out at Columbus Circle. From the top of a brown brick apartment building a red neon sign, advertising a TV show, blazes one word into the night sky: ‘BIOGRAPHY.’

A biographer is a personality detective, a literary gumshoe searching for clues, testing alibis and gathering evidence that will help illuminate a character who has made an impression on our world. Initial house-to-house – or rather bar-to-bar – inquiries in New York reveal a perplexing picture of Madonna. In preliminary questioning, few witnesses mention her singing or acting career. Under duress, artist Brent Wolf confesses he dreamed of her every night for five years. Then he blurts out, ‘But my friend Rob was worse than me.’ A mature student from Arizona, who really should know better, testifies that when she has to make a tough decision, she asks herself, ‘What would Madonna do?’ Even though it’s a common occurrence – in India Knight’s novel,
My Life on a Plate,
a girl who accidentally gets pregnant asks the same question – it merely serves to accentuate the riddle of Madonna. Typically, cultural forensics are no help; all those college lecturers endlessly debating her impact on racial and gender relations in post-modern society, are still, after twenty years, desperately seeking Madonna.

One thing is certain. We are not dealing with one of your average one-hit wonders of the pop world here. Our girl’s got a staggering record of success: more number-one singles than The Beatles and Elvis Presley, sixteen films, fourteen albums and five sell-out concert tours, more than 100 million records sold to date. Not to mention enough gold and platinum records to cover entire walls and a fortune in Grammy awards and other baubles. She even has a Golden Globe for her performance in the musical
Evita
stashed away in one of her homes – New York, London or Los Angeles.

The fact that she is the most wanted woman in the world means that there is a high price on her head. Big-time ‘fences’ like Sotheby’s and Christie’s this year auctioned off her cultural castoffs – her signature sold for $200 while a Jean-Paul Gaultier bra from her Blonde Ambition Tour went for over $20,000. Then there are the bounty hunters: there were offers of $350,000 for the first picture of her daughter Lourdes, while one enterprising chap hid in the rafters of Dornoch Cathedral in Scotland in an attempt to film the christening of her son Rocco last year.

A look through her file shows clearly that since childhood Madonna dreamed single-mindedly of becoming a celebrity. ‘I’ve been provoking people since I was a little girl. I’m very interested in being alluring,’ she once confessed. As with so many showbiz divas, it started with the small stuff: a show of exhibitionism at family gatherings, hogging the spotlight at school concerts, always being the center of attention at college dance performances. By the time she moved to New York, she was on the slippery slope, rapidly moving from recreational self-absorption to flirting with the hard stuff, avidly sniffing success. Pretty soon she had pawned her dance career for a hit of fame, never really coming down from the high of seeing her first single go to number one in the charts. From then on she was hooked, utterly addicted to fame, mainlining on mass adulation, graduating from one-hit wonder to singing and acting sensation, celebrity superstar and, finally, universal icon.

Of course, as always in these cases, there were victims. In the global village, she outraged neighborhood elders by going round half-dressed and encouraging other girls to do the same, scandalized the closed minds within the Catholic Church with her open sexuality, and was always provoking the stuffier contributors to the parish magazine. As a serial controversialist, she had, however, many supporters in the community, especially among blacks, gays and young women. For all the years she has spent stirring up trouble and scandal, it remains difficult to draw an accurate portrait of the real Madonna. A consummate mistress of disguise, she has always cleverly hidden behind an assortment of masks, cloaking herself in the mystery of her mythology. ‘If she were a painting, she would be an abstract by Picasso,’ says one former lover, the rap star Vanilla Ice. ‘She has so many faces.’

When people got really affronted at her behavior, as when she published the controversial
Sex
book, she always had an explanation. She claimed she was being criticized because she was a woman, or that what she had done was meant to be ironic, or that no one quite got it. If one of the escapades she was involved in went wrong – one of her films failing, for example – she always blamed someone else, usually the director. For two decades she’s been causing mischief and mayhem and getting away with it. Equally, she has not done badly out of her years of cultural agitation. The girl who once sprayed graffiti on the walls of the Establishment now owns one of the biggest houses in the neighborhood. Yet, even though she seems to have undergone a metamorphosis from iconoclast to institution, Madonna likes to think she is still a rebel at heart. And maybe she still is.

 

A glance around her New York apartment yields a few signposts in the quest to pinpoint her personality. As she sits curled up on her elegant sofa, Madonna cuts an unlikely figure as the individual at the center of the longest cultural manhunt in history. At 5 foot 4½ inches tall – the half-inch is important to her – she is of average height, with striking, indeed mesmerizing hazel eyes, an insolent set to her mouth, a slight gap between her two front teeth and fine alabaster skin. Her much photographed face ranges in expression from sexy to intelligent, bored to amused – and every permutation in between – in a moment. Even though she may be casually dressed in $20 sweatpants from the discount chain Kmart, and a pair of cheap flip-flops, she holds herself in a way that suggests command and control, that she is a woman used to being in charge of herself and others.

A conversation merely reinforces that feeling. Madonna goes straight to the point, discarding the irrelevant and unfocused. ‘OK, Bert, what have you got? Are we doing good?’ she used to say to her former business manager Bert Padell, mocking his Brooklyn inflections. With no time for, nor interest in, small talk, she would get directly down to business, nibbling on a ricecake as she fired a thousand questions at him. It is much the same in other encounters – pleasant, matter-of-fact, to the point. ‘There’s an intensity about her,’ recalls former lover Dan Gilroy, the man who first introduced her to music. ‘She asks a question to get a reaction, not just for a chat.’

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