This interview originally appeared in two parts. The first part was published in Issue #606 of Rolling Stone on June 13th, 1991. The second part of the interview was published in Issue #607 on June 27, 1991. In the first part, Madonna and Carrie Fisher sat around talking about their shrink, the day they both got married and blow jobs. In the second of the two parts, they delve deeper into the meaning of death, ecstasy and spankings.
Madonna and I had met many times over the years, but we had never actually had a conversation. It took this interview to bring us together – she as icon, I as inquisitor of icon (after all, I have already distinguished myself as friend of icon, relative of icon and ex-wife of icon). I had never done an interview before, and I don't know that I will again. For me, this has all the makings of a waterloo.
The first of the two sessions for this interview took place in the restaurant of the four seasons hotel in Los Angeles. Madonna wore gold lamé; I probably wore black. The last sessions took place in the offices of her manager, Freddy DeMann. Madonna wore a negligee; I probably wore black. I was late for that first meeting because a friend who had AIDS and who was staying with me had suddenly developed a fever. I called Madonna to say I was on my way. "You're late," she informed me. I explained about my friend. "Well, OK, that's a good excuse," she said. By the time of our final meeting the following week, my friend had died. He had had been extremely courageous, fighting an unbelievable battle. I relate this because it factored somehow into our meetings, making them even more bizarre and certainly changing the tone of our conversation from time to time. Madonna has no equal at getting attention. She often seems to behave like someone who has been under severe restraint and can now say and do whatever she likes without fear of reprisal. She delights in being challenged, in telling more than she had planned, in going further that she had intended. And judging from her new film Truth or Dare, there is no "too far" for Madonna. She has quality that I've always enjoyed in some people, mainly public ones: she will answer any question because she is genuinely interested in her own reply. A conversation or an interview, then, can become an opportunity for self-discovery, or just discovery. It's a hearty mix of self-consciousness and self-confidence. It's a type of courage, a free fall into the perplexing public now.
I had heard a rumor that Norman Mailer was the first choice to do this interview but that it didn't work out. I'm sure he would have cost more than I. No doubt that Norman on Madonna would have been a historic piece. But this time around, history was not in the budget. Unfortunately or not, I was. So a lot of money was saved, and history was not made. Or made, at least, of cruder material. Discount history, at those low, low, no-mailer prices.
We have a lot in common. We go to the same shrink.
Yeah, everything I do is measured by what I think her reaction will be.
The choice is to be either her worst patient or her best patient, but to be distinct somehow.
I'm so worried about impressing her – not impressing her but being good - that when I know I'm fucking up-
She becomes the superego mommy conscience.
Absolutely. And so far she's disapproved of everything I’ve done since I've started seeing her. That's why I haven't gone lately.
We've also been married and divorced.
How many years were you and Paul [Simon] married?
We did a six-year stint on "not married," and then suddenly it was "Let's fix this relationship," or "We might as well be married." Then we were married for two years, and it was very on again, off again, as it was for the whole relationship over 13 years.
So nothing changed after you and Paul got married?
It got worse because it was supposed get better. Now I was supposed to be a better wife.
But you weren't.
We also got married on August 16th.
The day Elvis died.
Is that why you got married on the 16th?
No. I don't remember why. Why did you? Because Elvis died? No, I know it was because that's also your birthday, and his [Sean Penn's] is the next day. Do you still speak to him?
I have been speaking to him recently. You know how it is. First it's like anything bad you can say comes out.
I never heard you slam him.
No, I never slammed him publicly. But I went through a hostile period. My heart was really broken. You can be a bitch until your heart's broken, and when your heart’s broken, you're a superbitch about everything except that. You guard that closely. So, no, I never really slandered him. And then we went through a period where I never would have known I was even married to the guy. It was like that part of my life did not exist. Four years. The first year was good – sort of.
But you weren't together that long before you got married.
Seven months. It was really a romantic thing. We were madly in love with each other, and we decided quite soon after we started seeing each other that we were going to get married – and then we got married. He didn't get a tattoo on his arm.
You weren't like Cher and Josh [Donen]?
Or Winona or Johnny? Actually, Sean did get a tattoo but not until after we were married. It's my nickname on his toe. So none of his girlfriends can see it unless they're really inspecting him.
Which I should think they would.
Yes, at this point. It's Daisy.
Your nickname is Daisy?
It was when I was with him. No one calls me Daisy now. Now it's Dita, from Dita Parlo, an actress from the Thirties. She did a lot of silent movies.
And who gave you that one.
Actually, I gave it to myself, but everyone thought it was very fitting, so it just stuck. You know how you have to pick names when you stay in hotels. After Daisy there was Lulu.
Why were you named Daisy? For Daisy Buchanan, Daisy Miller?
Daisy Miller. There are a lot of good Daisys.
Yeah. And then there was Lulu because I was worshiping Louise Brooks. My name was Lulu Smith.
Why did you worship Louise Brooks?
Because she was hyperactive, she didn’t mince words, and she was a rebel – at least from what I've read. I thought she was a fab girl.
Who else do you like who doesn't mince words?
Bette Davis. Oh, everybody I like is dead. The next name, while I was on tour for six months, was Kit Moresby from [the book] The Sheltering Skyline. She's fairly high-strung but not exactly my personality.
She was a lesbian and insane. Kit was based on the writer Jane Bowles.
So they say. Anyways, I loved the book, but after I saw the movie, I didn't want to be Kit Moresby anymore, because it was so disappointing. I didn't want people to think that I was Debra Winger.
So we're staying with Dita until further notice.
Until I find somebody else to be enamored of.
Someone from the past who's dead. Dorothy Parker?
She's good, but I don't like the name Dorothy.
Dotty. She wore those little puffy dresses and was apparently a really mean drunk.
Well, you know what we have to say about mean drunks.
What? Oh, that's your ex.
Yeah, it's a really big secret. Nobody knows.
OK, so back to things we have in common. Let me ask you something: Did you fuck Warren?
I'm one of the few. I could have.
OK, but we both made a movie with him, so we both could have fucked him.
At the time, I was 17 and making Shampoo. He offered to relieve me of the huge burden of my virginity. Four times. That was the big offer. I decided against it. I decided for reality over anecdote.
Next, we're both fag hags.
I prefer "fag moll."
Next, we both have a hostility toward men, which rears its ugly head often on our work.
I guess so.
I'm not saying it's bad. I think it's good to work it out. Which leads me to the next common thing – our work tends to be confessional and semi-autobiographical.
But yours hasn't been so autobiographical until lately. Truth or Dare is wildly so.
I finally decided that it was OK. That's the most interesting thing to talk about. I couldn't go on pretending that everything was peachy keen.
They always say, "Write about the truest thing you know."
Exactly. And another thing in common, last but not least – mother complex.
And probably father complex.
For different reasons.
Well, you didn't have a mother. How old were you when she died?
And did you have a stepmother?
Yeah, my father remarried three years later. So that's a lot we have in common. And – we both have the same shrink.
And also a lot of your humor is not dissimilar to something that I do. It is shock over wit. I've read interviews in which you say things like, "Look how big his dick is!"
It's a kind of vulgarity.
It's funny to me that you do it, because sometimes it seems like you have the attention of the world and sometimes you behave as though you don't. It's like you haven't caught up with the reality. It would be a very abstract reality to get behind.
It's not something I sit around and think about. It's rather unconscious. I just sort of naturally say things to shock, not necessarily to offend. It's like pulling the tablecloth off the table to disarm everybody.
You enjoy being controversial. That used to mean talking about things that were never talked about. Now, it seems controversy is just a diluted form of pornography or obscenity. I'm not suggesting that you do pornography, but you do obscenity.
You want to be more specific about that?
You express yourself in crass language. Like the women in your documentary that you say finger fucked you when you were schoolmates.
But that's really what happened!
Well, she denied it in the film. But I wanted to ask about that. Who is that girl?
She was a girl that I grew up with when I was little. She lives in North Carolina now; she moved there with her family. She recently had a baby and named it after me. I have spoken to her and written to her since then. To me, a lot of obscene things happen to people in their lives. I just didn't happen to cut it out of my movie.
I don't think it's obscene, actually, it's personal. The language you use to talk about it can be obscene.
Yeah, but I ended up making a personal movie. To me it was like, "Where do I draw the line?" Should I cut this out? If I cut out that, then why aren't I cutting out this?
And you have total say over what you can cut and what you can't?
In the end, Alek [Keshishian], the director, has final cut, but we never disagree on anything.
And he was there for how long?
He was there through the whole rehearsal period, which was a couple of months. He didn’t start filming until we got on the road. In total, he was with us for about seven months.
So you were constantly being observed anyways, so the experience was probably just heightened.
Yeah, I didn't really know Alek that well. I was a bit wary of him in the beginning, and I didn't set out to make such a personal movie. I wanted to document the show because I thought it was really theatrical and I wanted it to be a film. But before we even got on the road, I started developing a relationship with my dancers. I was so fascinated with them that I thought: "No, I don't want to make a movie about us, about our life." I thought they were amusing and inspiring.
Why inspiring? Because they worked hard?
They were hard workers, extremely talented, and I didn't think they were jaded. They hadn't been on tour with other people and hadn't traveled. They hadn't been associated with – I hate to say the word – "celebrity." Everything was completely new to them.
You could trade on their innocence a little bit.
Absolutely. And I could show them things and be a mother to them. Take care of them. Assuage my guilt for having so much money by taking them shopping at Chanel and buying them everything their hearts desired.
That handles your guilt?
It makes me feel better for a while.
I've always felt that the nice thing about having a lot of work is that you feel required and essential to the process. Does your work use you up well enough?
Yeah, I think it does. It has to, because I ultimately end up making my own work. I don't sit around waiting for other people to give it to me. I've had to do this to ensure myself constant employment. I honestly don't think I could just announce to Hollywood, "OK, now I want to be an actress," and then wait for people to give me movies. I also couldn't be just a recording artist who puts out a record once a year. I have to keep finding things for myself to do.
Like producing films? What do you do? Do you option books, or have writers come in and pitched ideas?
It's almost never ideas people pitch. One film I want to do is the Frida Kahlo story, which I got interested in because I love her paintings. I started collecting her artwork, and all of a sudden everybody loved Frida.
She's one of the dead people you admire.
Absolutely. I'd never call myself Frida, though. Now I hear that there are a million people who are all doing Frida projects, but I don't give a shit.
Wasn't she supposed to be an unattractive woman?
I don’t think so.
Actually, I have a pin of her that looks likes you.
In self-portrait she kind of over-exaggerated her facial hair. Her eyebrows didn't actually meet together, but she painted them to meet together. And she had dark hair on her upper lip because she was Latin American. And she overemphasized that in her paintings, which made her masculine and hard looking. In later years, she had health problems. She started taking some kind of medication like steroids and her facial hair got really thick. She had almost a beard; she had to shave practically.
How do you shave practically?
You know what I mean. And I'm just starting to develop Martha Graham's life story.
So you're doing a lot of women.
I couldn't do any men.
As a producer you could.
That's true, but I’m not interested in doing things that I'm not in. Although by the time one of these things comes along, maybe I'll be too old for it, and then I'll just direct it.
You want to direct?
Definitely. After I made this documentary and having gone through the step by step process of making movies, definitely.
I'd like to do it eventually too. At my height, I'd like to boss a group of men around. How tall are you?
I'm five one and a half, and it's incredibly important to me. Except that I stoop, which is attractive. I have one of those dowager's humps; it's from reading when I was a kid. For some reason, I don't bring the book up, I bring my head down, like it's a feed bag. So I read like a horse.
Short people try harder.
I'm compensating for it. What are you compensating for? Didn't you think you were attractive?
When I was little, absolutely not.
So when did you?
When did I think I was attractive? When I started hearing it from my ballet teacher at about 16.
But by then you had solidified the impression that you were not attractive.
I thought I was a dog from hell.
You certainly carry yourself as though –
I'm a dog from hell?
No, quite the opposite. I remember when we were at Ron Silver's Seder together and I had the impression that you were in a documentary, waving. You looked like you were moving through warm, thick liquid. It was very slow and –
Maybe it’s because I was drunk.
You were drunk? You get drunk in a very, very graceful way, then.
I was so out of my element there.
Who wasn't? Excuse me!
Ron was out of his mind.
Screaming at his mother.
I'm not even Jewish. It was very strange. So if I was moving like I was going through warm liquid, it's because I felt like I was.
That was just my impression. I usually watch people and decide that they're just a lot more comfortable with how they're coming off than I am.
Did I look like I was comfortable?
You always look like you're comfortable. My impression of you is, arm's length. I've always felt that you were abrupt toward me, not impolite but close to it. You're not an ingratiating personality.
It's actually gotten better over time, but you've always been like [blasé]: "Hi, Carrie."
I know. I think you probably intimated me.
If so, then it seemed like you were working at intimidating me or removing me from the scene.
I do that all the people to people that I'm afraid of.
In your documentary, you come across more girl-like, whereas I've always experienced you as, I don't know, a commando. I never understood why you felt the need to attack when you've certainly won the battle, if not the war, in your mind.
Well, that's all part of how I’m going to conquer the world: conquer my loneliness.
But the impression I got from the movie was more girlish.
Yeah, because those are people who I really trusted and I spent a lot of time with, so it was very easy for me to be that way.
I saw you with them when I went backstage after I saw your show with Penny Marshall. We stood where the short people stand – sort of in the corner.
That's the funny thing about you in my life, Carrie. I see you in a lot of places, and you know a lot of people that I know, but for some reason I always feel like whenever I see you, I see you unexpectedly. In other words, no one ever tells me that you're coming or they're bringing you. So I feel like if I knew, then I would be ready.
I like the idea of preparing for me, like getting cookbooks or something.
Exactly. But I always see you and go, "Oh!" You seem to always kind of be –
You're on the periphery, but you have a very commanding personality. Maybe I see some of myself in you and I can't deal with that.
I offend you greatly. My line is that too many village idiots spoil the village. So if you're in the room, it's your village, man, and you be the idiot. I would certainly take a back seat to your drive. You're what I would call a focus puller. You would have been a star in any incarnation.
You mean whatever I chose to do?
But you could not have chosen to do anything but what you do, could you? Did you ever want to do anything else?
Like John Lennon once told Paul [Simon] that he wanted to be a hairdresser. Yeah, right.
Well, I wanted to be a nun. I saw nuns as superstars.
How could you have wanted to be a nun, given your attitude? Sister Mary Blowjob?
Sister Mary Fellatio. When I was growing up I went to a Catholic school, and the nuns, to me, were these superhuman, beautiful, fantastic people. To me, that was as close as I was going to get to celebrities. I thought they were really elegant. They wore these long gowns, they seemed to glide on the floor, everyone said that they were married to Jesus. I thought they were superhuman and fabulous.
So you grew up believing in God.
I still believe in God.
Do you go to church?
I don't like to have to visit God in a specific area. I like him to be everywhere.
Here with us now.
Part of my air.
Well, I like the idea. My doubt is heavier.
You probably weren't raised with a devoutly religious parent. It sort of rubs off on you.
So your father is devoutly religious?
Does he go to church still?
So your big thing is probably rebelling against the church. I'm going to figure you out yet.
Rebelling against the church and rebelling against the laws decreed by my father, which were dictated through the church, I suppose.
Do you believe in the afterlife?
Oh, I believe in everything. That's what Catholicism teaches you.
So you go to confession? I'd love to be there.
I don't now, but I did.
You don't even go to your shrink.
But mind you, when I did go to confession, I never told the priest what I thought I’d really done wrong. I'd make up other, small crimes. I thought, look, if I think I've done something wrong, I have a private line to God, and I'll just tell him in my bedroom.
Do you still think you have a private line to God? "Hello, God, it’s Madonna." No, not even Madonna, just say, "God, it's me."
He knows my voice by now. I suppose I still pray.
Well, you do before your shows, as we see in your film. I was impressed. My brother is a born-again Christian, and though we fought over it, I always sort of envied his ability to suspend doubt.
It's not that my doubt have been suspended, it's just that if something's really horrible and I say enough prayers, it will get better.
I believe in God in strong air turbulence.
God seems to be there whenever things are really horrible. I do try to remind myself – I know this sounds corny – to be thankful for things when they're good, to be conscious of God.
Even during your masturbation reenactments onstage?
Well, I don't practice Catholicism now. The Catholic Church completely frowns on sex.
Sex is OK for procreation.
But only for procreation and not for enjoyment.
Men have to have an orgasm in order to procreate, while we certainly don't.
Right, that's another thing – Catholicism is extremely sexist.
That we don't have to have an orgasm in order to procreate.
Yeah, it sort of takes the pressure off of us.
Who told you about sex, your father?
Who did tell me? My stepmother told me, and I remember I was horrified. I was 10 and had just started my period. It was like, "OK, we better tell her." I remember my stepmother was in the kitchen, and I was washing dishes. Every time she said the word penis, I'd turn the water on really hard so it would drown out what she said. I thought what she was telling me was horrifying, absolutely horrifying. And I hated the word. I just hated the whole thing.
You certainly had a lot of brothers, so you must have seen theirs.
I did, and I thought they were disgusting.
I saw my stepfather's – which was alarming – from the back.
I never saw my father naked, and I really thought about that.
So, what did your stepmother tell you?
I don't remember the exact words, but just that a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina.
You didn't mind the word "vagina" as much?
No, because I have one, so I can relate to it. I can barely relate to a dick now; I couldn't at all then.
Would you like to have one, every now and again?
Yeah, I’d like to know what it feels like to go in and out of somebody.
It's enough having my breasts as an appendage. When you jump up and down, or dance, or run, or whatever, they're there. I can't imagine having a third thing hanging off my body. How dreadful!
I think I'd like to wake up with an erection, even if it was just not to not like it.
Yeah, I'd like to know what those things are like. I'd really like to pee standing up.
The way to do that is to go to Africa. When you really have to go, you go in the bush. All you think is that a snake is going to come and bite something – hopefully your ass.
That's what makes women vulnerable, that extra hole.
But men are vulnerable because their genitals are hanging outside and could be lopped off. Ours have been lopped off.
Yeah, but we have a big orifice that insects can crawl inside of.
Have you had that experience?
No, thank God. But I think I probably had that fear when I was little. Whenever I was out in the woods, I'd sit on my hands to make sure that no bugs could permeate my underpants and go up inside my crotch.
They'd have to be pretty small bugs, I guess, depending on what kind of underwear you wore. If you were Catholic, you probably weren't wearing lace at that point. You didn't get into really elaborate underwear until recently, I imagine.
Not until I had money, really.
How long have you had money? Eight years? I can figure it out because you were becoming famous when I was in the drug clinic. The videos used to be on. The drug addicts only wanted to watch Star Trek, MTV or The Twilight Zone. You were part of my recovery, dancing and writhing on the floor.
In my lace underwear.
Speaking of that, how is your personal life now? You're not with that guy anymore.
I'm in a state of limbo. I find myself singing "Mister Sandman" every night before I go to bed.
So, do you want me to set you up with some people?
Is there something particular that you're looking for at this juncture?
Intelligence would be good.
As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people sure don't.
I'll take a slightly overweight guy if he's smart.
You can work him out.
Yeah, I'll put him through a training regime. But what can you do to somebody's brain? The die is cast.
You don't want to put him through Boyfriend University?
Oh, God, I'm so tired of that. I'm waiting for the perfect man.
That's going to be tough. I always thought that I wanted to form an alliance rather than have a relationship – find someone who you fancy as your counterpart. But a counterpart you go to war with, a complement you live with. So this is my new theory.
I've found counterparts, and I've worked with them.
That almost killed me.
I have not found a complement.
I would have thought your last boyfriend [model Tony Ward] was a complement.
He was a complement, but I insist that whoever complements me has his own identity. Meanwhile, let's skip right to the thing men really enjoy.
Let's get to the real servicing thing. The quickest way to a man's heart is not through his stomach, it's through blow jobs.
I don’t like blow jobs.
What do you like?
For how long?
A day and a half [laughs].
So why don't you go out with women? I have the answer from my end.
Because after they give head, I want them to stick it inside of me.
My answer is, because there's no payoff.
Although, I guess a woman could strap on a dildo.
Not really. There's no way to look at somebody who has strapped on a dildo and still think that they're a human. Their dignity levels are frighteningly low.
I've never had one inside of me, but for a joke I asked a friend of mine to put one on. I just couldn't stop laughing, so I didn't see how anyone could look at them with a straight face.
That's what you can do at your level of power: Insist that someone strap on a dildo.
She was happy to do it.
I bet! Good anecdote, bad reality. Mike Nichols once said that in relationships there should be a flower and a gardener, and that was the problem with you and Sean: Two flowers, no gardener to nurture. Who's going to mind the relationship?
That's exactly it. Who's taking care of things? "We both need a wife," is what Sean was always saying. We're supposed to be the good wife.
Breadwinner and bread maker. When you win as much bread as you do, your bread-baking skills are going to go down and it's going to be harder to have a relationship. You have to figure out different compromises. Most men don't want to compromise.
I have to figure out what I can do good for a guy that will take care of the fact that I'm not going to be doing the cooking.
What can you do well? I'm desperate to hear this stuff. You are very attractive.
That's not doing something good.
Well, for guys it is.
I would never be a financial burden to anyone [laughs]. I think I have a terrific sense of humor.
You can joke about the things that they're not getting.
Exactly. I'm a good kisser. I know that.
How do you know?
Because everyone says so. They don't tell me I give good head, believe me, because I don't give it.
They just tell me I'm a savage bitch. Who wants to choke? That's the bottom line. I contend that that's part of the whole humiliation thing of men with women. Women cannot choke a guy.
Some would argue.
Yeah, but still, it doesn't go down into their throat and move their epiglottis around.
So you're a good kisser, you have a good sense of humor, and you're not a financial burden. I think we have to find some more stuff.
OK. I can carry my own suitcases.
Are you supportive or nurturing?
I can be [laughs]. I'm tempted to say it's not my nature, but on the other hand I know that I am nurturing.
Do you remember to ask how their day was?
I do, but only because –
You've been tortured about not doing it.
Exactly. I'm getting better at that. Inevitably, what they did bores me.
But you know how I've heard boredom described? Unenthusiastic hostility.
Do you want to have children?
As soon as I find Mr. Right. No, a soon as I just finish one more project!
But I don't think there is Mr. Right.
OK, there isn't Mr. Right.
I think we have to modify that idea.
Especially when you're such a piece of work. You'll forgive me, but most men – I was told this by a shrink – will not want to take on a person in your position. He didn't speak specifically of you but of people with large careers.
I'm sure of that. That's why so many young guys go after me. For me it's either older guys or younger guys. Old guys have already achieved success. They know who they are and generally they have money, one would hope, so they're not about to be that competitive with you. They're in a certain place; they're in the twilight. And then there are the really younger ones, and nothing is expected of them yet.
And there's also that horrible thing when you go on dates after you're thirty: Everyone's already experienced a bad relationship, so you're living in the blowout of that horror. You have to put up with the ghosts that both of you carry around. A younger guy doesn't have as many ghosts, so you can scribble on their clean slate. You can be their first bad experience.
And I usually am.
You can initiate them into the world of dysfunctional relationships.
I can walk away and say, "Well, that'll really make a man out of him."
That's right, they've had their Madonna experience. That's what wrecked me for dating guys after I turned 20. I didn't want to give anyone the opportunity to say that they had fucked Princess Leia.
Laid Princess Leia.
I think you should put an ad in some very, very high-level newspaper.
Like what, the Wall Street Journal?
So how are you going to meet guys, go to bars?
The bummer about being a celebrity is that guys already know so much about you, which you either have to undo or redo.
You can always say, "You can't believe anything you've read."
"I'm really very sweet, and I only showed how to give a blow job in that movie because I was stressed out. That's not really how I do it, this is how I do it."
I guess it is strange. It's kind of hard to date when you’re a celebrity because you can't walk unknown into a place and present yourself to somebody. It's like everybody knows you already. Or here's a good barometer: If you can watch my documentary and not be completely repulsed – not repulsed, but shocked – by me. That weeds them out.
That's what I think you like to do. You like to test your parameters by exceeding them.
That's it, absolutely. You got it.
I was going to ask if you were going to keep topping yourself in each of your videos. Could we expect one of your male dancers to pull a tampon out of with his teeth? But I don't want to give you any ideas.
I don't like blood, so you won't see that.
It could be during the off period, during ovulation.
I haven't thought of that one. I don't think I would, though, because I don't think any of my dancers want to go anywhere near my pussy.
They like to go near your breasts, though.
But that's just a leftover thing with their moms.
You've been photographed kissing women. Do they kiss the same as men?
Sometimes better. I've kissed girls that are horrible kissers. I've only kissed women, though.
Well, you've done the finger fucking thing.
But that's it.
Let me put it this way: I've certainly had had fantasies of fucking women, but I am not a lesbian.
"True Confessions: The Rolling Stone Interview with Madonna, (Part Two)"
You never took drugs?
You seem like you're too in control. I like to regain control.
After you've lost it? No, I never like to relinquish it. I went through a real short period where I very begrudgingly tried a few drugs.
I didn't really enjoy it. I enjoyed ecstasy.
There's a nickname for ecstasy: St. Joseph baby acid.
What I like about it was that it took my edge off. I'm a naturally suspicious person, and all of a sudden I didn't see everyone as my enemy. I was really nice to people.
So next time I want you to be really nice to me, I'll put some ecstasy in your water.
It was enjoyable a couple of times. But I would feel violently ill after I did it. I'd be bedridden for days, so it wasn't worth it. Good anecdote, bad reality.
It sounds like it's a good anecdote, bad subsequent reality – which I always used to feel was worth it.
I never really enjoyed coke because it made me more of a nervous wreck than I am.
So, if you are a nervous wreck, why wouldn't you have gotten into painkillers?
They weren't available. I didn't know anybody who did them. I was trying drugs before I had money, and the people I knew were only into ups. Everybody was into coke and crystal meth – stuff that made you chew on the side of your mouth after you took it. If I needed anything, I needed something to calm me down – and nobody seemed to have that.
Then you're lucky. Also you're not addictive, just compulsive.
I'm definitely compulsive, but I'm compulsive about being in control.
I'm addictive-compulsive, and I would have been a drug addict no matter what. The great philosophy of painkillers is that they make you feel better. Well, if you don't feel bad already, that's great; but if you do, that's better still.
My treatment for feeling bad was not to make myself feel better but to flagellate myself in other ways.
That's Catholic. What's your mother complex?
That I don't have one, so I'm always looking for someone to fill up my hole – no pun intended.
So, then, you're looking for someone to be your mother?
Yeah. She's gone, so I've turned my need on to the world and said, "OK, I don't have a mother to love me, I'm going to make the world love me."
Now that you've gotten the attention and you've gotten a certain amount of respect –
But it's not enough.
No. Well, when is enough? David Mamet has a Pulitzer Prize and still doesn't feel like a real writer. I mean, I don't know anybody at any level who goes, "Ahhh!"
That's good to know. I wonder if there are people walking around who are happy with what they've accomplished? I don't know anyone who's happy.
Not anybody in this business –
Which is full of unhappy people –
And children of alcoholics. You don't have that problem.
There's alcoholism in my family. My father wasn't an alcoholic, but his parents were. And some of the people in my mother's family are alcoholics.
You're lucky you're aware of that because it makes it a lot easier to handle.
Absolutely. I guess some people would say that my father's behavior was alcoholic behavior.
It would have to be if he's a child of one. Children of alcoholics don't manifest the alcoholism, but they do the behavior. Does your father give you advice?
Never? I bet he did. You're rebelling against somebody.
My father didn't give me advice, he just gave orders.
Well, that's advice.
"Do this or else."
What's the "or else"?
I was always grounded or had to do chores or was forced to stay at home for the summer.
My father never hit me. My stepmother slapped me a lot, and she gave me a bloody nose once. I was thrilled about it because my nose bled all over an outfit that she made me for Easter. I really hated it, and I didn't want to wear it to church.
How old were you?
About 12. We had a very large family and my stepmother was trying to make ends meet, so often she would go to Kmart and buy big bolts of fabric that were on sale. She would sew the exact same McCall's dress pattern for me and my three sisters. I detested that – looking like my sisters. I wanted to be my own person.
You've succeeded in that.
I know, I know. Anyway, she made us these horrible lime green dresses.
It must have looked nice with blood on it.
What happened was that we got into the car to go to church and I was disgusted that I had to wear this lime green dress with white stripes on it. I had on white ankle socks and white shoes. I thought I looked hideous. I got into the front seat of the station wagon next to my stepmother. The car was completely filled up with all my brothers and sisters. I mumbled something about this horrible ugly dress I was wearing, and my stepmother just went BAM! I always got nosebleeds when I was little and my nose bled very easily. Even though I was in agony, I couldn't have been more thrilled. Not only did I not have to wear the dress, but I didn't have to go to church. My nose wouldn't stop bleeding, so everyone left and I got to stay home.
So you were supposed to be a good little girl. Were you supposed to be a virgin when you got married?
Yes. And my stepmother told me I wasn't allowed to wear tampons until I got married. Can you imagine? That's why my friend Moira had to teach me how to wear a tampon. I'm telling you, I put it in sideways and was walking around paralyzed one day. It pinched a nerve or something.
And you were rebelling by putting it in at all.
Yes, but I wanted to go swimming. It was during the summer, and who can go swimming with a Kotex on?
Probably Mormons or something. No, you just don't go swimming – just like you don't fuck when you're Catholic if you don't want to get pregnant. There are all these stupid rules.
My favorite Polish joke is the one where the Polish people have fifty dollars and they go to New York. They're sent out to find something to do. One of them goes out and comes back later with a carton of Tampax. They go, "What is this?" He says: "Look! You can go swimming, you can go horseback riding, you can go sky diving."
When did you lose your virginity?
When I was 14.
So you got into rebelling.
Did they know?
Nooo. Oh, no.
And when did they find out that you had?
They'll find out through this article.
I've never really talked about sex with my father. My parents were virgins when they got married. My mother was very religious, too. I think my father realized I was having sex once I married Sean [Penn]. Before then I don't think he did. I never brought any guys around because my parents lived in Michigan and I lived in New York at the time.
When did you move away from home?
When I was 17. But I never brought anybody home. Oh, once I brought Jellybean [Benitez] home, but we had to sleep in separate bedrooms.
Did you sneak?
No, because my father's bedroom was in between.
In Truth or Dare when your father came to your show, was that the first time he had seen you simulate masturbation and be so explicit about everything?
I don't know if he's seen all the other things I've done. I'm sure when the nude pictures in Playboy and the album Like a Virgin came out he went through a period of extreme shock.
Did he ever say anything?
That's nice – I guess.
I'm not sure. I haven't decided. When I go home, my father absolutely does not acknowledge that I'm famous, or a star, or a celebrity, or that I've made it in any way. He doesn't talk about it so I can fit in and not feel the scorn of my brothers and sisters. I'm not sure that I like that.
That must be complicated if you go out to dinner.
I never go out to dinner when I go home.
So you don't want to make him confront your celebrity.
No, I would like it if he talked about it, actually, but he never does. Maybe I want him to recognize it so that finally I'll have his approval.
To not have his disapproval–
Is better than nothing.
But it would be nice to have a conversation with him about what you do. You would probably have to assume that – given your upbringing – he would object to it.
My father's not incredibly confrontational about things like that.
He gave you loud advice. He gave you orders.
My father has had a lot of tragedies in his life. I have some very crazy brothers who really keep my father busy
So you're a success story, despite the fact that some of what you do flies in the face of his religion.
At least you're not in rehab.
I'm not in rehab, and he's not still supporting me.
Is he still supporting them?
Well, if they could spend a couple of months out of rehab they could get jobs.
How many of them are doing that?
There are two of them that sort of go in and out. They have problems. One's just an older version of the other.
And one of them was in Truth or Dare.
Do you get along with him?
Yeah, I do.
Has he seen the movie?
No, he hasn't. I know he's looking forward to it because he really wants to be a star in his own right.
A star at what?
Anything. He's a real con artist. He's got this great deep voice, so for a while he was a disc jockey for black radio stations. He thinks he's a black person, I think. He's hysterically funny.
It's that gallows humor. You better be funny if you're going to be a big problem.
Oh, he is funny. That boy can make you laugh. I'd like to see him have a stable life.
Do you get along with your brother Christopher?
I get along with him fabulously, famously.
And he works.
Many of my brothers and sisters work. It's just that Christopher really understands what happens to me in my life from day to day.
He's the only family member who has that experience.
[My friend Julian died of AIDS on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. in Sherman Oaks Hospital, in Los Angeles. He had been staying with me for a month. Madonna and I resumed this interview on Tuesday evening. I described some of the particulars of his death to her off the record. I tend to joke about things that are awkward or painful for me. So if some of what follows seems offhand or flippant in any way, I apologize.
Being with someone while they die is a very intense and inspiring process. It hardly seems like something to cover in a Madonna interview. After all, we were there to shed some light on a glaringly illuminated individual and to talk about her new film. Death is intimate. Real. Big Real. This interview worked out to be a kind of truth or death for me. But as they say, the truth will out, or "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I found myself humming 'Vogue.'"]
I heard your friend died, and I can't believe you'd even want to do an interview today. I don't want the gory details, but what happened? Was it sudden?
Yeah. He went to the emergency room Friday morning, and he died Saturday. I got the 'Vanity Fair' with the story about you when I was at the hospital, so he saw your pictures. He wanted me to hold them up. He liked them very much.
Oh, that breaks my heart. How old was he?
Thirty-one. I'd never seen anything like that.
It's a very cruel, gruesome death.
He was a real shtarker about it. "This is so silly" and "My slippers are under the bed" were, I believe, his last complete phrases. He was delirious at the end.
It's confusing to talk about other people dying.
But when you see somebody doing it, they're very busy doing it-so it's not as bad as you think. He was Catholic.
I didn't have such a pleasant experience. It was the ugliest, most horrible thing I've ever seen. I was in the room with my best friend when he died. I was absolutely, positively horrified. He didn't have the same sense of humor your friend had. I wish he would have. It was very "Why me?" He felt persecuted to the end.
Everybody has their own idea about death. Do you have any death thoughts that you'd like to share with the group?
Death thoughts. That's funny because I was thinking about dying the other day. You get so preoccupied with thinking about being eternally youthful, but every once in a while a death thought comes upon you.
That's what is so scary about being a woman in this business. Not only can you not age gracefully, you can't age at all.
Yeah. The death thought came while I was sitting on my toilet peeing – that's where I have my most contemplative moments. I like sitting on the toilet, period – number one or number two. I was thinking about dying. I'm obsessed with it because my mother died of breast cancer when she was thirty.
So you check all that regularly.
Yes, I go to the mammogram vault on a regular basis. It's the most horrifying thing in the world. You go in and you feel like you're getting your death sentence. First of all it's painful because they smash your breasts into this thing. Then you put a robe on and go into this room where everybody scatters because of the radiation. You're lying alone on this table and the radiation is coming in and you're thinking, "Well, they're giving me cancer while they're looking for cancer." You just feel really creepy. My mother was a radiation technologist – I always thought maybe they didn't make her wear lead aprons. Anyway, I turned thirty and didn't die, so I felt really good about that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don't think I'll be dead.
But in terms of your career, won't you have to stop being as sexual at a certain point before it becomes weird?
That's the law. Not at 42.
Sexy in what way? Marlene Dietrich is still sexy.
My father slept with her.
Really? I wish I had slept with her.
Yeah, she's gorgeous. She had a very masculine thing about her, but I think she maintained a sexual allure. You just do it in a different way. I'm absolutely not afraid of whether I'll find work or not in ten years. What is going to be tougher for me, I'm sure, is just the emotional idea of being older.
Marilyn Monroe died at 36, before she had to deal with all that.
I think it would have been pretty tough on her.
There aren't that many women who were sex objects who have survived. There are a couple of them, but when you see them interviewed, they don't look very good.
Why do you think that is? Is it just a state of mind?
I think when you're valued for something that you didn't have much business in acquiring – like your looks – you're more out of control. As your looks diminish with age, you feel your value is diminishing and you get afraid.
But do you think that I'm valued for my looks?
Because I have never considered myself a conventionally pretty person. I look at girls and go, "They're perfect." I have to work at it.
But your beauty is part of your impact – like Marilyn and Jayne Mansfield. And there's one whose name I can't remember–
Mamie Van Doren?
That's the one. She's alive.
But they didn't cultivate anything else.
And you are creatively involved in your career. It's not simply your looks, although they help. You do get very involved in keeping yourself attractive. But you're not as self-destructive as Marilyn. She was very male identified; she went from one male to the next and was constantly disappointed.
I know that feeling.
It's interesting that you identify with Marilyn, because she's somebody who didn't survive the fire.
I identify with her to a certain extent, but then I have to draw the line. I mean, I don't look at her and go, "Ooh, her life is just like mine." No way.
That's why I think it's better to focus on a part of your image that you have more control over – which would be your songwriting or producing – and get involved in a way that you don't have to be young and beautiful forever.
You won't hear me disagreeing with you on that.
What about your whole spanking thing? I don't get that.
It's a joke. I despise being spanked. I absolutely detest it. It's play. I say I want to be spanked, but it's like "Try it and I'll knock your fucking head off." It's a joke!
But I saw you on Arsenio and you said–
I was just playing with Arsenio.
This is a very important piece of news.
I certainly punish myself in lots of ways but not by having people hit me. I hate it. And if someone tries to spank me, like before sex or something –
But if kids hear some of that stuff and think it's cute, it could be misinterpreted.
I suppose so.
You could be a little bit clearer about that, to my mind.
I thought it would be obvious – because of my image as a person who wants to be domineering and take charge – that there was no way I would actually want somebody to spank me.
I didn't get it or that stiff on the "Express Yourself" video with you in a dog collar.
But it's all the same thing. These are traditional roles that women play, and here I am doing them, but that's not really what I'm doing.
I thought perhaps you felt that you had so much control that you had some berserk fantasy about having some of it removed.
I didn't mean it that way. I think it was just my sick little sense of humor, or not-so-little sense of humor. The spanking thing started because I believed that my character in Dick Tracy liked to get smacked around and that's why she hung around with people like Al Pacino's character. Warren [Beatty] asked me to write some songs, and one of them – the hanky-panky song – was about that. I say in the song, "Nothing like a good spanky," and in the middle I say, "Ooh, my bottom hurts just thinking about it." When it came out, everybody started asking, "Do you like to get spanked?" and I said: "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
And on Nightline you talked about putting a dog collar on yourself and all. I thought, "Well, why would somebody in her position choose to put a collar on herself?" So I thought maybe it was a way to punish yourself for all the rewards you had gotten.
It is, I'm sure. I can't entirely explain it. It's just an image I thought was powerful, and I chose to use it in my video. It showed an extreme. First you see me chained to a bed, then you see me on top of a stairway with these working men below, and I'm wearing a suit and grabbing my crotch. Extreme images of women: One is in charge, in control, dominating; the other is chained to a bed, taking care of the procreation responsibilities.
You're more known through your videos and songs, so perhaps your sense of humor isn't as obvious to people.
It will be soon, though.
If you do a lot of press and people understand that you're kidding –
Then the real me will be revealed.
I don't think there's any such thing.
No, I'm being sarcastic.
What would be a good way for someone to woo you?
If I knew, I'd call them right away and tell them.
No, I think you should leave that to me. I think it would be better if I told them and they approached you. It would be bad if you just thought they were following your instructions.
I like letters.
So, you'd like to go out with a writer.
Oh, God, I would love to.
I'm telling you, I can set you up with one! He has tattoos and a brain.
That's worth at least a hard-on.
And what else?
I like it if I haven't seen somebody in a while and he remembers my favorite thing to eat or my favorite flower.
You like someone to be considerate.
Yeah. A considerate good writer.
Good-looking is not essential? It seems to have been a factor. The last one was a model.
Yeah, but you haven't seen everybody I've gone out with.
How do you know? Do you think I'm too busy to follow you around and know all about your life?
I suppose looks are important, but I've certainly found myself attracted to men who aren't conventionally attractive. Painters are good, too. There are two things that I can't do and wish that I could – write and paint.
But you do write.
I know, but to sit down and write a novel is mind-boggling to me. I just can't imagine sitting down and applying yourself to that much paper. How do you sit still for so long? My attention span isn't that long.
I read you write songs in 15 minutes.
Yeah, but pop songs are really easy to write. Michael Jackson's been working on his album for something like three years. I can't imagine doing that! I'd go insane.
Has anyone written a song about you?
Pat Leonard, this guy that I write music with, wrote a song about me called "Queen of Misery."
Are you like that? Do you get depressed?
I have been. I write all my sad songs with Pat.
What are your sad songs?
You want me to name all of them?
No, just a smattering.
"Live to Tell," "Oh Father," "Promise to Try."
Do you play any instrument?
No. When I was really little I played piano and then decided I didn't want to. Then in New York, after I decided that dancing was a big waste of time as a career, I asked this guy to teach me to play the guitar. I started writing immediately. For a couple years I practiced the guitar two hours a day and the drums four hours a day. But as I got more involved in the things you have to do to make records and videos and go on tour, I just stopped playing. On my first album, I wrote almost every song myself. Then I guess I got lazy.
I would hardly characterize you as lazy. What's the song you're proudest of?
That's like saying which child do I like best in my large family. There are different things that are great about each one. There are certainly plenty that I don't really give a shit about. I don't like listening to my music. I listen to all those weird tapes you get at Bodhi Tree [a New Age bookstore in Los Angeles]. Chimes. My masseuse has one amazing tape that just keeps playing Pachelbel's Canon over and over.
Do you write when you're upset?
Yeah, a lot. Words just come spewing forth. I've written my best things when I'm upset, but then who hasn't? What's the point of sitting down and notating your happiness?
No, generally you don't have that kind of concentration. And it's not that interesting unless it's psychotic. When it's a manic high you can have a skewed sensibility. Someone told me it's called dysphoria – elation with a limit. You become aware of the limit, and you're notating it before it ends.
I've never done that, I don't think. No, I have written songs in that state.
Yeah, in a super-hyper-positive state of mind that I knew was not going to last.
Do you like gifts? What's the best gift you're ever gotten?
Letters. And I've gotten some really beautiful jewelry from Warren. He has excellent taste in jewelry: necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, pins, beautiful brooches – antique stuff. It's rare that a guy will give you really good jewelry. I was shocked, pleasantly. Most people just go out and use their own bad taste.
Do you get gifts for men?
Oh, yeah. My gift giving comes in the first few weeks of dating.
That's when you give head.
They're not getting head from me, they're getting gifts from Maxfield.
I want to go back to your perfect date. This is your version of an ad. What's the ideal? We know about letters and a good memory.
Gotta smell good.
Their own body smell or do you like a particular after-shave?
I'm not crazy about colognes. Some people just smell good, and it doesn't have anything to do with something they put on. Smell good and be clean, those are really important things. Another essential thing about a guy is that he's got to be able to pay his own rent. Not the rent on my house, just his own rent.
What's a good date – movies, dinner?
Both. Dinner is really good.
What kind of restaurant?
Where they have good margaritas.
So a Mexican restaurant.
No, I hate Mexican food. But Muse [in L.A.] has great margaritas. The lighting is really good there; you can't see the zits that I always have.
I don't see them.
I'm dying to meet someone who knows more than me. I keep meeting guys who know less.
It's not going to be easy to find somebody who knows more than you and is more powerful. In every situation you have to compromise. What are you willing to compromise?
OK, he doesn't have to have a good memory.
So you'd rather go for smarter.
Smarter over sweeter. When you have a conversation and then a week later you say, "You said you were going to do this," and the other person says, "I never said that" – that drives me crazy.
Do you get to say everything that you want to say when you get in those arguments?
Yes, because I always go: "Shut up! Just shut up! Let me say what I have to say!" And they shut up.
I let mine build up, and then I come out with this hairball of observation.
And it's so forceful that whoever is standing in the room has to shut up. I save up lines. I save up what I consider to be really incredible things to say to somebody to really wound them.
And does it?
Do you imagine getting married again like you got married before?
No, Carrie, no, no. You don't make those kind of mistakes twice.
So, next time you'll just do it off to one side, like a salad?
Yeah, it'll be a side-dish kind of thing.
Just do it and get it over with, and it'll be like something that just happened. "Oh, by the way – I got married."
No, I don't want to do it like that. I wouldn't want to treat it like coleslaw or anything. I guess I'd just like to think of it as spa cuisine versus a full 12-course meal.
Would you have to be with someone who you couldn't ask for a prenuptial agreement?
No, I'd have to be with somebody who I could ask for one. They'd have to be not insulted if I asked for one – bottom line.
So you just have to have someone who is really confident.
Confident, smells good, smart.
Is that the order?
No. Smart, confident, smells good, sense of humor, likes to write letters, likes antique jewelry. The three toppers are smart, smells good, confident.
Sense of humor – can't take that out.
Carrie, do you have anything really important left to ask me?
No, I think we've covered it. We talked about your movie.
I explained the spanking issue.
That was very good for me.
We discussed growing old, having children, getting married and what I'm going to do with my life.
And breast cancer and skin.
What else is there?
We just have to get that information for the blind date. Muse, margaritas, letters. I think we're done.
'Star Wars' star Carrie Fisher talks about getting older and fearing dying. Watch here.