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The Rolling Stone Interview: Madonna

Page 5 of 5

Maybe you noticed this already, but a number of songs on the new album have sort of antimale themes.

[Surprised] Well, gee, I never thought of that. This album definitely does have a very strong feminine point of view. Hmmm. I've had some painful experiences with men in my life, just as I've had some incredible experiences. Maybe I'm representing more of the former than the latter. I certainly don't hate men. No, no, no! Couldn't live without them!

Are you a good women's friend?

Yes. I used to think I had more men friends than women friends, but over the last few years – especially since I got married – I've nurtured a lot more female relationships. My mother's death was the catalyst in this, because I didn't have any strong female role models as I was growing up I was the oldest girl and kind of took care of everyone. So I thought I really didn't need women. I didn't really look for it and had no Your Letterman appearance with your friend Sandra Bernhard was history-making television. I understand it was your ideas that you two dress identically that night.

To dress alike? Definitely. Whenever we would meet up for dinner or whatever, we were constantly showing up in the same or very similar clothes. So then, when we decided that I'd go on the show with her, I just thought we should follow through with that. In retrospect, it was all a little mysterious to me why that was so interesting to everyone. We were just having fun, which is what I always do with Sandra. She's a gas. I felt totally comfortable out there.

You stirred some controversy that night by suggesting you two hung out at a New York lesbian club called the Cubby Hole.

Well, yes, we threw that out there to confuse people. It was definitely an inside joke for people in New York. I mean, I've never been to the Cubby Hole. I just think it's hysterical.

At the moment, you're a brunette. How different does brown feel from blond?

I can't dwell on it too long because I have to dye my hair blond again for Dick Tracy. Being blond is definitely a different state of mind. I can't really put my finger on it, but the artifice of being blond has some incredible sort of sexual connotation. Men really respond to it. I love blond hair, but it really does something different to you. I feel more grounded when I have dark hair, and I feel more ethereal when I have light hair. It's unexplainable. I also feel more Italian when my hair is dark.

Speaking of your look, you were recently named to Mr. Blackwell's annual worstdressed list. Is there any list on which you'd like to name him?

I'd put him on the list of men I'm least affected by. [She grins mischievously.] I think I always make the worst-dressed list. It's just silly. But it is kind of nice having something you can count on.

If you could change anything about the way you look, what would it be?

I always wanted to be taller. I have the little-person complex. People who are smaller are always trying to be bigger, I guess.

You seem mighty big.

Well, that's good, because I've been working on being big for so long [laughs].

What of life can you see from behind tinted glass?

It looks even more inviting. If I'm in a hotel and I know there are paparazzi downstairs, I find myself looking out the window wistfully. Last summer, during the play, I would look out my window in the theater and see tons of people outside waiting for me every night. And I would find myself enviously watching some anonymous woman just carrying a shopping bag, walking down the street, just slowly window-shopping and taking her time, with nobody bothering her. I envied her.

What becomes a legend most?

[Puzzled] You mean like the fur you're wearing? Is that a question? I don't know. I think that's one of the great mysteries.

Do you make your own bed?

Yes, I do. The maid comes three days a week, so on the days she doesn't come, I make my bed. I've even been known to wash my own clothes.

Well, that ought to be worthy of legendary behavior. Confess your worst fault.

Impatience. I just can't stand waiting. I always want everything right away. Nothing came as fast as I wanted it.

Over the years, you've jokingly called yourself a bitch. Do you think you're a bitch?

Oh, I can be. Deep down inside, I'm a really nice girl. But, certainly, I can be a bitch. I'm a perfectionist, and I'm under lots of pressure. Sometimes you have to be a bitch to get things done.

You mean in light of the Bush administration, you haven't become a kinder and gentler Madonna?

No! [She laughs devilishly.] The world isn't ready for that!

This story is from the March 23rd, 1989 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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