Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos

The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories

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9. "Like a Virgin" (1984)

"By that point Madonna was on the cover of Rolling Stone," Warner Bros. creative director Jeff Ayeroff said in I Want My MTV. "So we went to Venice, like a bunch of fucking whack jobs. I don't know what we spent — $150,000? $175,000? — but it was way more than we'd ever spent on a video." For their second collaboration (after 1984's "Borderline") director Mary Lambert shot the pop star on gondolas in Venetian canals (with Ayeroff telling her to duck when the bridges approached). A man in a lion's mask stalked her like prey, but an actual lion ended up stealing the spotlight.

Mary Lambert, director: This was the first time I worked with a big cat, although I've worked with them since. It wasn't even a trained lion! The local line producer made a deal with a guy from the circus. It was a circus lion! I didn't find this out until Madonna and the cinematographer and I were alone in a fenced off area with the animal and the trainer was standing on the perimeter with a rifle, "Just in case"…. At one point the lion started sniffing Madonna's crotch and I thought she might be a goner.

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