Today in Madonna History: July 28, 1990

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On July 28 1990, Hanky Panky hit its peak position of number-ten on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

The rarely seen official video for Hanky Panky was recorded at the May 27th 1990 concert in Toronto, Canada. Rather than use live audio from the tour, Warner opted to overdub the live performance with the album version. The video was broadcast for a few weeks and then withdrawn from rotation in most countries. Although no official reason was given, it is assumed that due to the low-budget nature of the video, it was only ever intended to serve as an initial promotional push for the song, with its subsequent withdrawal from rotation being part of the plan.

Today in Madonna History: July 21, 1990

On July 21 1990, Madonna performed the second of three sold-out Blond Ambition Tour concerts at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Madonna performed to 225,000 adoring fans between July 20, 21 and 22. The opening act for each show was Technotronic.

Today in Madonna History: June 1, 1990

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On June 1 1990, Madonna performed her “Blond Ambition Tour” at The Palace Of Auburn Hills, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  During the show, Madonna invited her father (Silvio Anthony Ciccone) onstage to sing him “Happy Birthday”.

Today in Madonna History: May 29, 1990

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On May 29 1990, Toronto police threatened to arrest Madonna on the grounds of lewd and obscene behavior for the Like A Virgin masturbation sequence in her Blond Ambition concert.  The show went on unaltered, and no charges were made after the tour manager gave the police an ultimatum: “Cancel the show, and you’ll have to tell 30,000 people why.”

Madonna performed 3 sold-out concerts at the SkyDome, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Today in Madonna History: May 27, 1990

On May 27 1990, Madonna played the first of three shows at the Toronto Skydome during her Blond Ambition Tour. The shows were Madonna’s only Canadian dates for the tour.

I was fortunate enough to have attended this show when I was twelve years old. Not only was it my first Madonna live experience, it was my first live concert experience. The morning tickets went on sale my mom was working out-of-town so she let me skip sixth-grade for the morning and I headed downtown to Sunrise Records…I managed to score two 100-level tickets directly facing the stage. I don’t think the word “excited” would sufficiently describe how elated I was to be going to see Madonna. The next two months felt like the longest two months of my life, but I couldn’t have been happier. I watched the Ciao Italia! concert on VHS daily during the lead-up, hoping that the new tour would be equally good. Needless to say it far exceeded my expectations – and my mom’s as well! We had the best time dancing and singing and just being utterly blown away by the spectacle. I couldn’t have asked for a better first concert experience, or for a better memory. Much love to the two M’s for making it possible! – Justin

Today in Madonna History: May 17, 1991

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On May 17 1991, Roger Ebert gave Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary a 3 1/2 star rating and a thumbs up review.

Here’s what Ebert had to say:

Although the movie seems happiest when it is retailing potential scandal, its heart is not in sex but in business, and the central value in the film is the work ethic. Madonna schedules herself for a punishing international tour of mostly one-night stands and then delivers with a clockwork determination, explaining to a family member in Detroit that she can’t go out to party because she has to conserve her strength.

Night after night the exhausting show goes on, taking on aspects of a crusade for the cast members. Ironically – given Madonna’s onstage use of sacrilege as a prop – every show is preceded by a prayer session, everyone holding hands while Madonna asks God’s help and recites a daily list of problems. And when her dancers have personal problems, they come to her as a counselor and mother figure.

She seems to like it that way, and halfway through the film I was even wondering if she deliberately chose insecure dancers with dependent personalities because she enjoyed playing mother to them.

Madonna has kept her act fresh by adopting a long series of public star personas, yet, backstage, people don’t relate to her as a star, but as the boss. Her charisma comes not through glitter but through power, and there is never any doubt about exactly who is in charge.

We get the feeling that if show biz ever loses its appeal for her, she could be successful in business or even politics: She’s a hard-headed organizer, a taskmaster, disciplined and clear-headed.

The movie follows the Blond Ambition tour from its soggy beginnings in Japan’s rainy season through a series of appearances across the world. There’s the Los Angeles concerts with all of the celebrities backstage (Kevin Costner tells her the concert was “neat,” and once he leaves she sticks a finger down her throat).

Detroit, her hometown, where she assures her father that she can indeed get him tickets. Toronto, where the police threaten to arrest her for public masturbation (“What do they mean, masturbation?” “When you grab your crotch”). Then she tours Italy and Spain, inviting guys she has crushes on to parties, only to discover they’re married or gay.

At one point in the film, talking about how lonely it is at the top, she’s asked if she ever knew true love, and she answers sadly, “Sean. Sean.” But she never says another word about her former husband, Sean Penn. In the opening scenes she is glimpsed briefly with boyfriend Warren Beatty, but then he disappears, unmentioned, after making what sounded to me like fairly sensible observations (he complains that, for Madonna, if it doesn’t happen on camera it hardly happens at all).

The organizing subject of the whole film is work. We learn a lot about how hard Madonna works, about her methods for working with her dancers and her backstage support team, about how brutally hard it is to do a world concert tour. Unlike most rock documentaries, the real heart of this film is backstage, and the onstage musical segments, while effectively produced, seem obligatory – they’re not the reason she wanted to make this film.

Why is work so important to her? Maybe there’s a hint in the many scenes where she takes a motherly interest in the personal lives of her dancers, and even joins them between the sheets for innocent, bored, adolescent sex games. Madonna, who has had such success portraying a series of sexual roles and personalities, seems asexual on a personal level. A voyeur rather than a participant. Control and power are more interesting to her than intimacy. When she manipulates the minds of a stadium full of fans, that’s exciting. It’s not the same, working with one person at a time.

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.

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