On December 7 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love was released as the first-ever video single, priced at $9.98.
The music video was considered too sexually explicit for MTV and was banned from the network. Madonna responded to the banning: “Why is it that people are willing to go and watch a movie about someone getting blown to bits for no reason at all, and nobody wants to see two girls kissing and two men snuggling?”
On December 3, 1990, ABC’s Nightline played the video in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about the video’s sexual content and censorship. When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV, she appeared impatient and answered, “Yeah, so? Lucky me.” She also expressed during the interview that she did not understand why the video was banned, while videos containing violence and degradation to women continued to receive regular airplay. The video was then released on VHS, and became a bestselling “video single” of all time.
The Justify My Love maxi-single was an especially memorable one, featuring remixes by future songwriting collaborators William Orbit and Andre Betts, a Q-Sound mix, a remix by Madonna & Lenny Kravitz titled The Beast Within which featured Madonna reciting passages from the Book of Revelations, and a new Shep Pettibone remix of Express Yourself.
A second Justify My Love remix by Andre Betts, titled The English Mix, was sadly shelved but eventually surfaced on bootlegs and the internet, in varying degrees of quality.
On December 1 1990, Madonna was named one of the 10 Women Of The Year by Glamour magazine.
The cover photo was taken by Patrick Demarchelier.
Madonna was furious that Glamour removed the gap between her teeth without first asking for her permission.
The gap between Madonna’s front teeth is iconic. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if someone removed your freckles, or changed your eye colour without asking you?
On November 27 1990, the MTV network announced it had banned Madonna’s Justify My Love video due to extremely strong displays of sexuality.
“We respect her work as an artist and think she makes great videos,” said MTV executives in a statement about the clip. “This one is not for us.”
“When I did my Vogue video…I’m wearing a see-through dress and you can clearly see my breasts,” Madonna told ABC’s Nightline in 1990. “MTV told me that they wanted me to take that out, but I said I wouldn’t and they played it anyways. So I thought that once again I was going to be able to bend the rules a little bit.”
On November 6 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love single was released as the first single from The Immaculate Collection, Madonna’s first greatest hits collection.
In the United States, Justify My Love peaked at number one for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It also topped the Billboard Top 40 Tracks and Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts.
On October 2 1990, Madonna attended the opening night of Martha Graham’s 180th ballet Maple Leaf Rag at the City Centre in New York.
Madonna sat with Martha Graham, Kathleen Turner, Eartha Kitt and Calvin Klein.
On October 1 1990, Madonna was named the top-earning female entertainer of 1990 by Forbes magazine with an annual income of $39 million.
Here’s an excerpt from this issue:
By Matthew Schifrin with Peter Newcomb
October 1, 1990
SHE HAS JUST FINISHED a rigorous song and dance routine in Nice, France. Madonna Ciccone, the 32-year-old bleached-blonde pop star, walks across the stage and pretends to rough up her background vocalists. Clad in an ivory-colored bustier and trousers from a business suit, Madonna then looks out at the crowd of 35,000 fans, grabs her crotch, raises her fist and yells, “I’m the boss around here.” The crowd roars.
This routine was repeated at almost every Madonna performance this summer, but it’s more than play-acting. She is the boss. She is the president and sole owner of a multi-million-dollar corporate organization that in peak season has hundreds of employees and operates through nearly half a dozen entities, including Boy Toy Inc., Siren Films and Slutco.
Congratulations, Madonna. The critics may attack you, but you are one heck of a moneymaker. The nation’s top-earning female entertainer for 1990, Madonna brought in an estimated $39 million in pretax earnings. She has staying power, too. While performers like Whitney Houston and Cyndi Lauper rise fast and fade fast, Madonna has stayed near the top for all five years FORBES has compiled its list of America’s highest-earning entertainers. Since 1986 Madonna has earned at least $125 million.