Today in Madonna History: March 20, 1992

On March 20 1992, Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog went into wide release in North America.

Madonna appears briefly in scenes with John Malkovich and Mia Farrow, playing the role of a tightrope artist named Marie. Her scenes were filmed in November of 1990.

The black & white film received minimal attention upon its release.

Today in Madonna History: December 28, 1992

meisel-sex-people-magazine-1992

On December 28 1992, Madonna was named one of the 25 Most Intriguing People In The World For 1992 by People magazine.

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

The Movies! The Album! The Naughty Pictures! Once Again Madonna Was Everywhere, Shouting, “Look at Me—Every Inch of Me!”

Intriguing: suggests an air of mystery. Madonna: does everything in public but floss her teeth.

Intriguing: wrapped in enigma. Madonna: not wrapped in anything.

Intriguing: means doesn’t appear on-camera in romantic encounters with Evian water bottles. Madonna: does.

OK—so what’s so intriguing about somebody who lets you know that her lovers require a five-cent deposit?

For one thing, she made ya look. Consider Sex, the photo book in which she had her picture taken doing everything but blushing. Besides proving that a naked Madonna could arch backward over a pinball machine without mussing her hair, it also pushed the envelope out to the size of a circus tent. And when the crowds came pouring in, there she was at center ring, cracking her whip.

It only served her purposes that Sex earned sniffy reviews like “The Empress Has No Clothes” and that it was banned in places such as Japan and Ireland. Coming on the heels of her summer film hit, A League of Their Own, the fuss over her book helped to launch her new album, Erotica, and primed the movie audience for her next assault on their sensibilities, Body of Evidence. Her success at getting the world to subsidize her sexual preoccupations—to say nothing of her mammoth self-absorption—is what makes her worth the $60 million deal she cut this year with Time Warner (the parent company of PEOPLE). Madonna is not the first star to find the bucks in buck nakedness. But no one before her has capitalized so well on human willingness to have our fears and desires repackaged and sold back to us.

Yet this most public of women still strains to be a mystery. This year she went through more faces than Lon Chaney—one minute in Baby Jane pigtails, a cupcake from hell; the next in sour milkmaid gear, Heidi with a mean streak. Her changing gallery of faces is one reason that she’s a sex symbol who inspires a lot of heavy breathing from intellectuals. One landmark of the 1992 publishing list—The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Sub-cultural Identities and Cultural Theory. You didn’t get this sort of thing for Petula Clark.

But does she really throw such a mysterious light on our culture? More likely it’s just the glinting gears of a giant publicity machine. Yet the sheer magnitude of her achievement in that regard is, well, intriguing. And the grinding of those gears is surely too loud to be ignored. “I’m a revolutionary,” she once sighed. “And yes. it’s a burden.”

Sometimes it’s a burden for her, we sigh in return, and sometimes for us.

Madonna was a busy woman in 1992! What did you enjoy most? A League Of Their Own? This Used To Be My Playground? Erotica? Sex? Body Of Evidence? 

Today in Madonna History: November 26, 1992

On November 26 1992, Rolling Stone magazine published their review of Madonna’s Erotica album, written by Arion Berger:

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 co-producers 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 My Love, 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.

 

 

Today in Madonna History: November 24, 1992

1992-steven-meisel-deeper-deeper-video-3-600 1992-steven-meisel-deeper-deeper-video-600-x-315 1992-steven-meisel-deeper-deeper-video-600

On November 24 1992, the music video for Deeper And Deeper premiered on MTV.

The clip was directed by Bobby Woods, who was an Executive Producer at Madonna’s companies Boy Toy Inc. and the film division of Maverick. The Warhol-inspired trip down memory lane featured many familiar faces from Madonna’s life, including Seymour Stein, Debi Mazar & Guy Oseary.

deeper-and-deeper-notes

Woods recalled the video and shared Madonna’s handwritten concept notes for the shoot in an interview with fansite Madonna New Era:

Madonna wanted to do an Andy Warhol/Edie Sedgwick styled video. She believed, and I think this is accurate, that there was a similar feel to the times of America in the Roaring ’20’s and the Disco ’70’s. A wildness. The video was made very quickly. Deeper and Deeper is a great song, one of her best dance records for sure, thanks to Shep Pettibone. The dance sequences in the video are 100% spontaneous. We loaded a dance floor with people, put her record on, and the dancing began. I have danced with Madonna many times. So I can understand why those people wanted to dance with her as well. It’s a thrill. She also brought along Udo Kier and Holly Woodlawn who were part of the original Warhol crowd. Her pal Sofia Coppola (who I adore) came along, too, as well as Debi Mazar and Ingrid Casares… For me, working with her was a lot of fun. First off, she’s extremely smart. Secondly, it’s all her doing. Thirdly, nobody is more professional. And most importantly, she has the great ability to bring together very talented people, and make them want to do their very best for her. This is true of all the stylists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, photographers, everybody. Many of them do the best work of their careers during their time with her. It’s a great and rare talent. It is my belief that this spirit carries over to the fans, who are also lifted up by this talent.”

Today in Madonna History: November 21, 1992

ireland-sex-1 ireland-sex-2

On November 21 1992, Madonna’s SEX book was banned in Ireland (a month after it went on sale). The Censorship Board decided that any future shipments of the book should not be sold. Booksellers and fans voiced their opposition, but an appeal of the decision never occurred. Additional copies of the book were never made available, making the ban a silly waste of time.

ireland-sex-end

Today in Madonna History: November 7, 1992

Erotica_Ad

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.

Today in Madonna History: November 3, 1992

On November 3 1992, Madonna’s Sex book was banned in New Delhi, India, with police officials announcing that they would confiscate any copies of the book entering the country.

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