Today in Madonna History: July 28, 1997

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On July 28 1997, Madonna offered a personal glimpse of the glamour, the luxury and the loss of her great friend Gianni Versace in an essay published in Time magazine.

I slept in Gianni Versace’s bed. Of course, he wasn’t in it at the time, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was soaking up some of his aura. I believe that when we sleep, our soul leaves our body to be rejuvenated. Powerful and profound things happen to us in our bed at night, and energy accumulates and hovers above it. There was a lot of nervous energy around Gianni’s bed, and I must say I never slept very well in it. I kept wanting to leap out of the bed and do things: write poetry, smell the gardenias and jasmine that surrounded the house, gaze out my window at the magnificent lake and press my face onto the cool marble of any number of naked-men statues that filled his bedrooms. I didn’t know who they were. They could have been important Greek gods or just your standard Roman hunks, but they were lovely to look at and very distracting. There were ancient books to comb through. Old-master paintings to study and local architecture to marvel at. I was in heaven, but more important, I was envious of a person who had the courage to live life so luxuriously. I’m too practical for that.

I had been invited to stay in Gianni’s villa in Lake Como after shooting my second Versace campaign in Milan. I was thrilled to spend the Fourth of July in such a beautiful setting. I arrived with boyfriend and entourage in tow. As a special favor, I had asked Gianni if I could bring my friend Marjorie Gross, who was dying of cancer. She came along, and we all had to keep pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming. Every evening at sunset we were served fresh Bellinis, which we sipped under the giant magnolia tree at the edge of the lake. The cook prepared delicious meals, the Sri Lankan servants waited on us with white gloves, and my dog Chiquita was taken for long walks by gorgeous Italian bodyguards with walkie-talkies. The captain of a large speedboat was always on standby to take us for our daily swim in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Dirty clothes never stayed on the floor for more than a few seconds, and beautiful Versace gowns kept arriving. A new batch every day. I even wore one to dinner. I had this fantasy that I was in an Antonioni film and the shoot was going to go on indefinitely. I felt like a spoiled princess. “The Versaces really know how to live!” We kept repeating this over and over like a mantra.

Gianni phoned regularly to make sure that everything was O.K. and that we were all taken care of. I thought about asking if my dog could have a manicure, but I decided against it. Even Gianni must draw the line somewhere. In retrospect I think he would have said yes, and a pet groomer would have been delivered in a matter of minutes. The only person as generous as Gianni is his little sister Donatella, who embraces the beautiful things in life with the same fervor.

But let me be very clear. The Versaces work as hard as they play. Obviously we were enjoying the fruits of Gianni’s labor. Evidence of his work ethic was all over the house. There were sketches lying around everywhere. Art books were marked or open to pages that were obviously going to show up somewhere in his new designs, and millions of magazines were piled on tables, full of articles or advertisements showing his glamorous and sexy clothes. Page after page bursting with color and eroticism. This was a man with a mission. A force to be reckoned with. I was on vacation in his house. He was working.

Eventually my fantasy came to an end, and we all headed back to our lives that seemed dull in comparison. Gianni was probably designing his next collection, editing one of his books or building a new villa. Probably all three.

The last time I saw him was in the spring in Miami. Donatella had invited me over for a pre-Easter dinner. I went to Casa Casuarina with a few friends and found Gianni in great spirits. He was mesmerized by the blue nail polish on my daughter’s toenails. After dinner his niece Allegra sat at our feet and played with Lourdes while he talked about la dolce vita. He had kicked cancer, he was proud of his latest collection, and life was good. That’s when I launched into my speech about yoga and how good it would be for his mind, body and soul. He seemed open, and I gave him my yoga teacher’s number. I could totally imagine this extravagant Calabrian with a twinkle in his eye in the lotus position. The great yogis believe there is no end to life. I’m inclined to agree. Even though Gianni’s life on this earth has ended, his spirit is everywhere, and his soul lives forever.

I’m going to miss you, Gianni. We’re all going to miss you. But I’ve got a pocketful of memories in my Versace jeans, and they’re not going anywhere.

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Today in Madonna History: July 27, 1992

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On July 27 1992, Madonna was featured on the cover of People magazine and in a feature article about the previous 50 years of teen idols.

Here’s a snippet of what People had to say about Madonna in 1992:

Not Just a Mirror of the Times, Madonna Is a Hall of Mirrors: Temptress, CEO, Atomic Blonde, Fatal Attraction—She Struts a Multitude of Selves Across the Stage – From Brando to Axl, the boys have always had somebody to act out their fantasies of rebellion and stand in for their forbidden selves. Then, in 1984, the girls got Madonna. So what if she had a Betty Boop voice and a smidgen of fat around her navel? She also had lyrics that would have made a black-and-white cartoon blush scarlet. “Unlike the others, I’ll do anything,” she sang in the video Burning Up: “I’m not the same/ I have no shame.” No wonder the nuns at her Michigan grade school used to tape her smart mouth shut. Top it off with clothes that seemed hijacked entirely from Frederick’s of Hollywood. Madonna was the material girl all right, and the material she paraded was spandex, Lycra and nylon net.   For millions of teenagers, Madonna was the girl of their disobedient dreams. She had power; they had none. She was free, while they still needed Mom’s permission to stay out past 10. Madonna could afford to call herself a boy toy. This was one puppet who pulled her own strings. Her ambition had muscles; her will had the glint of chrome. Susan Seidelman, who directed Madonna in her first hit film, Desperately Seeking Susan, understood her appeal: “Funkiness mixed with amazing confidence—that’s a real powerful combination, especially for teenage girls.”   For some big boys too. Did Sean Penn give her trouble? She dumped him like a smart cookie shaking off a crumb. Warren Realty was the permanent playboy? A few months with Madonna and he went running for the quieter life of wedded bliss—with another woman. “I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want,” Madonna once said. “If that makes me a bitch, OK.”

Today in Madonna History: July 24, 2015

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On July 24 2015, Hold Tight was released as a promotional single for the Rebel Heart album in Italy.

Hold Tight was written by Madonna, Thomas Wesley Pentz, Maureen McDonald, Toby Gad, Uzoechi Emenike and Philip Meckseper and produced by Madonna with backing vocals by MNEK.

 

Lyrics:

A million miles later
We walked through the valley of the darkest night
We made it through the fire
We’re scarred and we’re bruised but our hearts will guide us

Together
I know our love’s gonna last forever
We’re gonna be alright
Tonight

We’ll live with no limits
We’ll dance in the middle of the freezing rain
With you and I in it
Survive the eye of the hurricane

Together
We’re gonna make this better
We’re gonna be alright tonight

Hold tight
As long as you’re by my side
Hold tight
Everything’s gonna be alright

Only love, only love tonight
Lights off, we’re burning so bright
Hold tight
Everything’s gonna be alright

Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna

A million miles later
We walked through the valley of the darkest night
We made it through the fire
We’re scarred and we’re bruised but our hearts will guide us

Together
I know our love’s gonna last forever
We’re gonna be alright
Tonight

Hold tight
As long as you’re by my side
Hold tight
Everything’s gonna be alright

Only love, only love tonight
Lights off, we’re burning so bright
Hold tight
Everything’s gonna be alright

Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna

I don’t wanna breathe
Air that you’re not breathing
I don’t wanna hear
If your heart’s not beating
If you hurt then I
Wanna be the one that’s bleeding
Wanna be the one that’s bleeding

Hold tight
Everything’s gonna be alright
Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna

Only love, only love tonight
Lights off, we’re burning so bright
Everything’s gonna
Everything’s gonna

Today in Madonna History: July 20, 2015

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On July 20 2015, Madonna announced that Diplo would be the opening act for the launch of her Rebel Heart Tour on September 9 and 10th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec:

“To have Diplo open for me is my dream come true. Montreal is about to TURN UP!!!! We Go Hard or We Go Home!”

With Madonna, Diplo produced and co-wrote the songs Living For Love, Bitch I’m Madonna, Unapologetic Bitch, Veni Vidi Vici and co-wrote Graffiti Heart (from the Super Deluxe Album).

Today in Madonna History: July 19, 2004

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On July 19 2004, Jane Stevenson published this review of Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour in the Toronto Sun:

After an 11 – year absence, Madonna returned to Toronto last night with the first of three sold-out shows at the Air Canada Centre.

The 45-year-old pop icon notably didn’t bring her 2001 Drowned Tour to T.O., disappointing fans, but she seemed to have been forgiven last night judging from the roaring reception.

“Ah, it’s good to be back in Toronto,” she said towards the end of her hour-and-50-minute set. “It’s been so long. Just because I have two children doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun.”

Believe it or not, Madonna last performed in this city in 1993 with her sexy Girlie Show Tour at SkyDome. (She mistakenly remembered her last visit as the infamous 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour saying: “The last time we were here, the police almost arrested us. I’m a good girl.”)

But back in 1993, she was a vastly different artist, single and childless, and without her new – found faith in Kabbalah, the study of a kind of Jewish mysticism that has found her choosing the Hebrew name of Esther for herself.

Not to give anyone the wrong idea.

Last night’s show — which began 45 minutes later than scheduled and found 17,000 anxious fans chanting “Madonna! Madonna!” – – was still a hi-tech, flashy and fun affair but overall more tame, and slightly preachy with plenty of Bush-bashing, anti-war messages and Hebrew references.

Like the L.A. tour launch on May 24, a select group of fans were guided into tiny pits on either side of the stage before the concert began for a first – class view of Madge, although five giant moving video screens enabled the masses farther away to get a good look at The Material Girl.

Kicking off the night with a slick, stylized video and recorded spoken – word monologue called The Beast Within, the concert really began when Madonna made her big entrance laying down on a platform that came out of the stage floor to the opening strains of her 1990 uber-hit Vogue.

She was quickly joined by nine dancers, all dressed in French period costumes, with her seven-piece band divided into two camps in the shadows on either side of the stage.

The biggest production number, however, came during the title track from her 2003 release, American Life, which saw a gleaming silver catwalk descend from above for a fashion show featuring Madonna’s dancers dressed as everything from a rabbi, a priest, a nun, an Arab, etc.

By this point, Madge — who began the night in a sparkly champagne – coloured corset top, short black shorts and knee – high black boots – – had changed into army fatigues and a black beret with the rest of her dancers brandishing rifles for army – themed choreography.

The background video, meanwhile, was sober images of victims of war ending with a Bush and Saddam Hussein look – a-likes sharing a cigar. (Similar video of children in war – torn countries was shown during her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine.)

Because this is called the Re-Invention Tour, many of Madonna’s songs were reworked, some better than others.

Often she appeared as a solitary figure on stage playing the electric or acoustic guitar on such songs as Burning Up and Material Girl or the new tune, Nothing Fails, respectively.

The weakest link in the entire show was the circus – themed third portion where, for some unknown reason, Madonna dragged out the awful Dick Tracy song Hanky Panky, and turned the normally robust dance song Deeper And Deeper into a cabaret ballad.

Thankfully,that segment was saved by a wonderfully inventive tango version of her James Bond theme song, Die Another Day, before she was placed in an electric chair for the Evita number, Lament.

Other crowd – pleasers proved to be a mix of old and new songs like Frozen, Express Yourself, Don’t Tell Me, Like A Prayer and Music.

Although Into The Groove, which featured bagpipes, drums and Madonna and her dancers in kilts, and the show – ending Holiday, complete with red – and – white confetti and another stroll down the catwalk, have to be singled out for special mention.

Madonna wraps up the North American leg on her Re-Invention Tour on Aug. 2 in Miami before heading over to Europe.

Otherwise, she plays two more shows at the ACC, tonight and Wednesday. The Toronto shows initially sold-out in a record-setting 80 minutes but more seats were released once the Re-Invention production was finalized.

Rumoured among those to be in attendance last night were Madonna’s two children — seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, a.k.a. Lola, and three-year-old son Rocco — and hubby Guy Ritchie.