Today in Madonna History: April 20, 1992

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On April 20 1992, Madonna signed a deal with Time Warner to set up her own multimedia entertainment company called Maverick.

The 7-year arrangement (with an option to extend to 11 years) allowed Madonna to run Maverick with her then long-time manager, Freddy DeMann, and have its headquarters based in Los Angeles.

Madonna was advanced as much as $60 million for the deal that included music publishing, television, film, merchandising and book-publishing.

David Geffen said this of the deal:

“Madonna’s deal is certainly extraordinary, but I think she’s a great talent with a great will, and if she wants to do something she’ll do it. She works very hard, takes big risks and stays at the cutting edge of what’s happening.”

Charles Koppelman, the chief operating officer of EMI Records North America, had this to day:

“If anyone is going to get a deal of this magnitude, she is the kind of artist to give it to, she’s the exception: someone who taps into artists and musical genres before the rest of the world does. In other deals where artists get their own labels, such perks are usually window dressing to satisfy their egos. Madonna’s different. I would bet on her to make something more of it.”

The first two projects released under Maverick included Madonna’s own Erotica album and her coffee table SEX book, in October of 1992.

Today in Madonna History: April 15, 1992

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On April 15 1992, Madonna appeared on the cover of Smash Hits magazine.

Here’s a snippet of the featured interview:

Smash Hits: So what have you been up to lately?

Madonna: I’ve just finished working on the movie A League Of Their Own, which I’m very excited about. I’ve also been working on material for my next record but that probably won’t be released for a couple of months.

Smash Hits: Are you planning any amazing tours and perhaps finally popping down to Australia along the way?

Madonna: Yes, absolutely. But right now I want to concentrate more on film. I’ve always wanted to become an actress – so I want to concentrate on film, the theatre and also dance.

Sorry for the crappy scan — if you have a better scan of this magazine cover, please let us know, thanks! – Jay

Today in Madonna History: February 25, 1992

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On February 25 1992, the Pioneer LaserDisc-only release Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live won Best Music Video–Long Form at the 34th annual Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York.

Although Madonna had received four Grammy nominations in previous years (Best Female Pop Vocal in 1986 & 1987; Best Original Song From A Motion Picture in 1988; Best Music Video–Short Form in 1991 for Oh Father), Madonna: Blond Ambition Tour Live represented her very first Grammy Award win. Ironically, the lack of a VHS edition or of any subsequent DVD/Blu-Ray reissue of the title meant that only those in possession a pricey LaserDisc player were afforded the opportunity to purchase and enjoy the award-winning release.

Madonna would receive three more Grammy nominations for Best Music Video–Long Form in the years that followed; she was nominated in 1995 and 2007 for The Girlie Show–Live Down Under and I’m Going To Tell You A Secret, respectively, before finally winning the award a second time for The Confessions Tour in 2008.

Today in Madonna History: December 6, 1992

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On December 6 1992, Madonna bought a 1920’s mansion on Mulholland Drive overlooking Hollywood for $5 million. The nine-story, 8,000 square foot home with nine bedrooms and six baths was previously owned and used as a gambling den by Bugsy Siegel, the original owner of the Flamingo Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas.

Soon after buying the mansion, called Castillo del Lago, Madonna had it painted with pink and yellow stripes, making it both hated by neighbours and easy to locate by both fans and stalkers. Christopher Ciccone, Madonna’s brother and former interior designer, says the stripes were inspired by a church in Portofino.

The home gave Madonna a 300-degree view of Los Angeles and the ocean. Designed by John De Lario, it was completed in 1926.

Today in Madonna History: November 7, 1992

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On November 7 1992, Madonna’s Erotica hit #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart in the USA.

Arion Berger of Rolling Stone magazine gave Erotica 4 out of 5 stars and said:

It took Madonna ten years, but she finally made the record everyone has accused her of making all along. Chilly, deliberate, relentlessly posturing. Erotica is a post-AIDS album about romance — it doesn’t so much evoke sex as provide a fetishistic abstraction of it. She may have intended to rattle America with hot talk about oral gratification and role switching, but sensuality is the last thing on the album’s mind. Moving claustrophobically within the schematic confines of dominance and submission, Erotica plays out its fantasies with astringent aloofness, unhumid and uninviting. The production choices suggest not a celebration of the physical but a critique of commercial representations of sex — whether Paul Verhoeven’s, Bruce Weber’s or Madonna’s — that by definition should not be mistaken for the real thing. It succeeds in a way the innocent post-punk diva of Madonna and the thoughtful songwriter of Like a Prayer could not have imagined. Its cold, remote sound systematically undoes every one of the singer’s intimate promises.

Clinical enough on its own terms when compared with the lushness and romanticism of Madonna’s past grooves, Erotica is stunningly reined in; even when it achieves disco greatness, it’s never heady. Madonna, along with coproducers Andre Betts and Shep Pettibone, tamps down every opportunity to let loose — moments ripe for a crescendo, a soaring instrumental break, a chance for the listener to dance along, are over the instant they are heard. Erotica is Madonna’s show (the music leaves no room for audience participation), and her production teases and then denies with the grim control of a dominatrix.

Against maraca beats and a shimmying horn riff, Erotica introduces Madonna as “Mistress Dita,” whose husky invocations of “do as I say” promise a smorgasbord of sexual experimentation, like the one portrayed in the video for Justify My Love. But the sensibility of Erotica is miles removed from the warm come-ons of Justify, which got its heat from privacy and romance — the singer’s exhortations to “tell me your dreams.” The Madonna of Erotica is in no way interested in your dreams; she’s after compliance, and not merely physical compliance either. The song demands the passivity of a listener, not a sexual partner. It’s insistently self-absorbed — Vogue with a dirty mouth, where all the real action’s on the dance floor.

Look (or listen) but don’t touch sexuality isn’t the only peep-show aspect of this album; Erotica strives for anonymity the way True Blue strove for intimacy. With the exception of the riveting Bad Girl, in which the singer teases out shades of ambiguity in the mind of a girl who’d rather mess herself up than end a relationship she’s too neurotic to handle, the characters remain faceless. It’s as if Madonna recognizes the discomfort we feel when sensing the human character of a woman whose function is purely sexual. A sex symbol herself, she coolly removes the threat of her own personality.

Pure disco moments like the whirligig Deeper and Deeper don’t need emotional resonance to make them race. But the record sustains its icy tone throughout the yearning ballads (Rain, Waiting) and confessional moods (Secret Garden). Relieved of Madonna’s celebrity baggage, they’re abstract nearly to the point of nonexistence — ideas of love songs posing as the real thing. Even when Madonna draws from her own life, she’s all reaction, no feeling: The snippy Thief of Hearts takes swipes at a man stealer but not out of love or loyalty toward the purloined boyfriend, who isn’t even mentioned.

By depersonalizing herself to a mocking extreme, the Madonna of Erotica is sexy in only the most objectified terms, just as the album is only in the most literal sense what it claims to be. Like erotica, Erotica is a tool rather than an experience. Its stridency at once refutes and justifies what her detractors have always said: Every persona is a fake, the self-actualized amazon of Express Yourself no less than the breathless baby doll of Material Girl. Erotica continually subverts this posing to expose its function as pop playacting. The narrator of Bye Bye Baby ostensibly dumps the creep who’s been mistreating her, but Madonna’s infantile vocal and flat delivery are anything but assertive — she could be a drag queen toying with a pop hit of the past. Erotica is everything Madonna has been denounced for being — meticulous, calculated, domineering and artificial. It accepts those charges and answers with a brilliant record to prove them.