Today in Madonna History: August 9, 2012

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On August 9 2012, Madonna spoke out for gay rights at an MDNA concert in St Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s home town, where  a law was adopted to curb homosexual “propaganda.”

Performing in black lingerie with the words “No Fear” scrawled on her bare back, Madonna urged the audience – most wearing pink wrist bands distributed at the door – to “show your love and appreciation to the gay community”.

“We want to fight for the right to be free,” she said.

Today in Madonna History: July 18, 2004

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On July 18 2004, Madonna played the first of three sold-out dates at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre during her Re-Invention Tour. Playing to a combined total of over 52,000 fans, the shows were the only Canadian stop on the tour and marked her first concerts in Canada in eleven years.

At the second show Madonna proclaimed to those in attendance that they were the best audience of the tour thus far, while the final Toronto date saw Madonna in an uncharacteristically playful mood. Interrupting the show’s normally swift progression between Papa Don’t Preach and Crazy For You, she joked about the infamous 1990 threats of arrest and whipped the audience into a cheering frenzy with her self-described “unprofessional” behaviour.

Today in Madonna History: July 16, 1985

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On July 16 1985, the Penthouse magazine issue of nude Madonna photos was released.

Today in Madonna History: July 5, 1987

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On July 5 1987,  Madonna was interviewed by Jane Pauley on NBC-TV’s Today and caused a controversy when she referred to her hometown of Bay City, Michigan as “a smelly little town” – a comment that enraged the citizens of Bay City.

Today in Madonna History: May 3, 1991

On May 3 1991, Madonna appeared on the cover of The New York Post with the headline, “What A Tramp!” The article focused on Madonna’s Truth Or Dare documentary. In the article, Ray Kerrison called Madonna, “vulgar” and the “degenerate queen of sleaze.”

Jay’s Note: I bet Ray Kerrison had no idea that this particular cover of The New York Post would become one of the most sought after and iconic covers of all-time. You could write just about anything alongside this image from the Justify My Love single cover and it would still be beautiful. 

Today in Madonna History: April 17, 2015

On April 17 2015, Madonna tweeted about her long-lost friends, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring:

Andy and Keith had my back way back when! Miss being surrounded by artists that stuck together and defended one another! ❤#rebelhearts

Madonna spoke at length about Keith — here’s what she had to say about how they met and their journey together:

Keith’s work started in the street, and the first people who were interested in his art were the people who were interested in me. That is, the black and Hispanic community – I’d say people from lower income and background. His art appealed to the same people who liked my music. We were two odd birds in the same environment, and we were drawn to the same world – and inspired by it.

I watched Keith come up from that street base, which is where I came up from, and he managed to take something from what I call Street Art, which was an underground counter culture, and raise it to a Pop culture for mass consumption. And I did that too. The point is, we have an awful lot in common.

Another thing we have in common – and this happened quite early – was the envy and hostility coming from a lot of people who wanted us to stay small. Because we both became very commercial and started making a lot of money, people eliminated us from the realm of being artists. They said, “OK, if you’re going to be a mass-consumption commodity and a lot of people are going to buy your work – or buy into what you are – then you’re no good.” I know people thought that about Keith, and they obviously felt that about me too.

So Keith and I are sort of two sides of the same coin. And we were very supportive of each other in those early days. I remember Keith coming to watch my first shows. That was down at the Fun House, where “Jellybean,” with whom I was involved, was the disc jockey. I’d sing and dance and I’d choreograph these scenarios – and we had taped music and it was great, because this was a Hispanic club-and the atmosphere was just charged!

I don’t know what drew us to these exotic clubs – like the Fun House or Paradise Garage. Obviously, it was the sexuality and the animal-like magnetism of those people getting up and dancing with such abandon! They were all so beautiful! I’ve always been drawn to Hispanic culture – and so has Keith. It’s another thing we have in common.

So these were the people who bought my records in the first place – and they’re a great audience to perform for. Keith keyed into that too. He’d give these great parties, and I’d go to them and I’d give parties and he’d come to them. And we had such fun!

Another thing we have in common… we have the same taste in men! I remember a funny story about people saying that I stole one of Keith’s friends. What happened was that I had a New Year’s Eve party, and Keith arrived with this incredibly gorgeous guy. I remember Keith saying, “He’s yours, Madonna. He’s your New Year’s Eve present!” I said, “Oh, thank you!” And there was this really stunning guy – a great dancer – completely happy and a great positive spirit. And so he became my friend, too.

Anyway, I’ve always responded to Keith’s art. From the very beginning, there was lot of innocence and a joy that was coupled with a brutal awareness of the world. But it was all presented in a child-like way. The fact is, there’s a lot of irony in Keith’s work, just as there’s a lot of irony in my work. And that’s what attracts me to his stuff. I mean, you have these bold colors and those childlike figures and a lot of babies, but if you really look at those works closely, they’re really very powerful and really scary. And so often, his art deals with sexuality – and it’s a way to point up people’s sexual prejudices, their sexual phobias. In that way, Keith’s art is also very political.

What stays with me is that very early on, when Keith and I were just beginning to soar, our contemporaries and peers showed all this hostility. Well, the revenge was that, yes, there’s this small, elite group of artists who think we’re selling out. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is digging us! Of course, it’s what they want too! It’s so transparent! They’re just filled with jealousy and envy. And it certainly didn’t stop us, because Keith didn’t want to do his work just for the people of New York City – he wanted to do it for everybody, everywhere. I mean, an artist wants world recognition! He wants to make an impression on the world. He doesn’t just want a small, sophisticated, elitist group of people appreciating his work. The point of it all is that everybody is out there reaching for the stars, but only some of us get there!

When I think of Keith, I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel alone in my endeavors. I don’t feel alone in my celebration of what I’ve achieved. I don’t feel alone in the odds I’ve been up against. I feel so akin to Keith in so many ways! I really can’t compare myself to many people… and I don’t feel that many people can relate to where I’ve come from and to where I’ve landed. So when I think of Keith and his life and what he’s achieved… well, I feel that I’m not alone.

Today in Madonna History: March 24, 2012

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On March 24th 2012, The New York Post’s Page Six reported that Madonna’s video for Girl Gone Wild had been deemed too wild for general viewing on YouTube. It would be restricted to registered users over the age of eighteen in its uncensored form:

“Madonna’s steamy new video for Girl Gone Wild has been banned from open view on YouTube for being too raunchy, with scenes including nudity and a close-up of a man’s PVC-clad crotch. YouTube chiefs have restricted the video for those 18 years or above, and sources tell us they’ve told the superstar’s management that if they want it to be available for viewing by all, they must edit out shots of bare bottoms, a man rubbing his crotch and an implied masturbation scene where a man gyrates before a mirror. Madonna’s team was working yesterday on an edited version of the video for YouTube because, for the first time, it’s based its marketing strategy for her new album, MDNA, on social media, including a live Facebook interview with Jimmy Fallon today. A source told us, ‘YouTube has decided the video is too raunchy and should only be viewed by those 18 or over, and actually, the video is hard to find on the site. YouTube has sent Madonna’s team a list of shots that should be cut to make it appropriate for everyone.’ Fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott directed Girl Gone Wild, using much of the singer’s trademark erotic imagery, including topless men dancing in black tights (mantyhose) and platform heels. YouTube also took exception to an S&M-inspired scene of a silhouette in chains. The video was deemed ‘inappropriate for some users’ by YouTube, and viewers must verify they’re 18 or older and log in to watch it. Madonna’s rep, Liz Rosenberg, told us, ‘Some things never change. This is a throwback to [1990] when MTV refused to show Justify My Love.'”

A re-edited version of the Girl Gone Wild video was provided to YouTube several days later and was approved for general viewing.

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