Today in Madonna History: July 30, 2015

13479511_10154864041854989_543085531_n

On July 30 2015, Billboard announced that Madonna’s single Bitch I’m Madonna would hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart for the issue dated August 15 2015. It would become Madonna’s 46th #1 on the club chart and her third consecutive chart-topper from the Rebel Heart album.

Rebel Heart was Madonna’s second consecutive album to have all of its North American singles reach #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Aside from Rebel Heart and MDNA, her other studio albums that achieved this feat are Music, American Life (excluding promo-only chart makers Nobody Knows Me and Mother And Father which peaked at #4 and #9 respectively) and Confessions On A Dance Floor.

bitch i'm madonna 5

Today in Madonna History: July 28, 1997

versace-madonna

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.

versace-madonna-2

Today in Madonna History: July 27, 1992

19920727-750-0

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 26, 2012

olympia 550 Olympia 4 550

On July 26 2012, Madonna performed at the historic Olympia music hall in Paris, France.

The one-off mini show – performed during her MDNA Tour but not part of the tour proper – featured a selection of performances from the standard set list, plus two additional songs: a Beautiful Killer/Die Another Day mash-up (with choreography adapted from the tour performance of Revolver) and a cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime…moi non plus. A live webcast of the show streamed on YouTube.

The show was not without controversy, although the exact nature of the controversy depends on who you believe. According to some, a small group of hecklers in attendance decided to cause a commotion after the show had ended, booing and throwing bottles on the stage. Others suggested there may have been political motivations behind the heckling due to Madonna’s opposition to the platform of National Front party leader Marine Le Pen. Much of the local media claimed that some fans were upset over the short length of the show (45 minutes), as it had not been explicitly promoted as a mini concert, despite the fact that it was likely the lengthiest of any club show Madonna had performed at the time.

Madonna responded to the kerfuffle with the following statement:

Playing the Olympia was a magical moment for me and it was a real treat to do this special show for my fans and be so close to them. Unfortunately at the end of the show – after I left the stage – a few thugs who were not my fans rushed the stage and started throwing plastic bottles pretending to be angry fans. The press reports have focused on this and not the joyous aspect of the evening. But nothing can take away or ruin this very special evening for me and my fans. When I looked out in the audience, everyone I saw had a smile on their face. I look forward to having this wonderful experience again.”

Set list:

  • Turn Up The Radio
  • Open Your Heart
  • Masterpiece
  • Justify My Love (interlude)
  • Vogue
  • Candy Shop
  • Human Nature
  • Beautiful Killer (featuring elements from Die Another Day)
  • Je t’aime…moi non plus

Today in Madonna History: July 25, 1998

madonna_drowned_world_substitute_for_love-uk single 550

On July 25 1998, the music video for Drowned World/Substitute For Love premiered in Europe. The video was directed by Walter Stern and was filmed on June 26 & 27 1998 at London’s famous Claridge’s Hotel and Piccadilly Circus.

The video caused some controversy when the British press reported that it would feature scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on mopeds, concluding that it was a reference to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the previous year. Liz Rosenberg responded by denying that the scenes were intended to draw comparison to Diana’s death and insisting that the video was about Madonna’s own relationship with fame.

Sadly the video was not serviced to video channels in North America, and with online steaming and downloadable videos not yet prevalent at the time, most fans outside of Europe were only able to enjoy the video for the first time when it appeared on the 93:99 video collection over a year later.