Today in Madonna History: January 19, 1991

On January 19 1991, Billboard magazine reported on the controversy surrounding Madonna’s use of prose from the Book of Revelations in a remix featured on the maxi-single of Justify My Love, titled The Beast Within. The remix was created by Madonna & Lenny Kravitz during the recording session for Justify My Love.

While The Beast Within would later be featured prominently in 1993’s Girlie Show tour and as the opening sequence of 2004’s Re-Invention tour, in both cases the biblical verse that had sparked the controversy was excluded.

The article also mentions the song’s use of Public Enemy’s Security Of The First World as the basis of Justify My Love‘s rhythm track, with Public Enemy’s co-producer revealing an intent to sue Madonna & Kravitz over its use. Madonna had only received credit for “additional lyrics” on the song, while Kravitz was originally credited as composer and producer.

Today in Madonna History: January 15, 1993

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On January 15 1993, Body of Evidence was released across North America. The erotic thriller was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by Uli Edel.  The film starred Madonna and Willem Dafoe, with Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Julianne Moore and Jürgen Prochnow in supporting roles.

The theatrical release for the film received the rare NC-17 rating (“No Children Under 17 Admitted”).

Sex was a game to her. She got off on the control. She always used to tell me it had to be her way.

When was the last time you watched Body of Evidence? Thoughts?

Today in Madonna History: December 17, 1990

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On December 17 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love video was the subject of a feature by Steve Dougherty, in People magazine: Madonna Exposes, MTV Opposes: Is her new, naughty video art or just a Boy Toy marketing ploy? 

How does Justify My Love differ from other skin-with-a-beat videos? Let us count the ways. Here’s Madonna, in black bra, stockings and stiletto heels, putting the moves on her real-life boyfriend, model Tony Ward. Moments later she’s lip-synching with Parisian model Amanda Cazalet, 25, who is dressed like a Nazi hooker with suspenders that barely cover her nipples. Now Madonna, Cazalet and Ward are offering free instruction in a certain Kama Sutra technique while two very androgynous gents pat each other more affectionately than football players after a big play. All of which has left fans hot, censors bothered and fearless news programmers lined up to air the forbidden footage. The video single will be on sale before holiday shopping malls close; could it have been teed up better?

Today in Madonna History: December 7, 1990

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On December 7 1990, Madonna’s Justify My Love was released as the first-ever video single, priced at $9.98.

The music video was considered too sexually explicit for MTV and was banned from the network. Madonna responded to the banning: “Why is it that people are willing to go and watch a movie about someone getting blown to bits for no reason at all, and nobody wants to see two girls kissing and two men snuggling?”

On December 3, 1990, ABC’s Nightline played the video in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about the video’s sexual content and censorship. When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV, she appeared impatient and answered, “Yeah, so? Lucky me.” She also expressed during the interview that she did not understand why the video was banned, while videos containing violence and degradation to women continued to receive regular airplay. The video was then released on VHS, and became a bestselling “video single” of all time.

Do you still have your VHS copy of Justify My Love?

Today in Madonna History: November 9, 1990

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On November 9 1990, Madonna began filming the Justify My Love video at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris, France, directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) segment in September 2013, Madonna told her fans that she considers Justify My Love to be her favourite Madonna music video.

Is Justify My Love the steamiest music video that you’ve ever seen?

Today in Madonna History: October 21, 1992

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On October 21 1992, Madonna’s Sex book was released by Warner Books, Maverick and Callaway Books.

The 128-page coffee table book of erotica and sexual fantasies was written by Madonna, with photographs taken by Steven Meisel and film frames shot by Fabien Baron.  The book was edited by Glenn O’Brien.

The spiral-bound, metal-covered book was wrapped in a silver mylar bag and included a copy of the Erotic CD single (an exclusive version of the Erotica song).  The package also included an 8-page comic book and it was priced at $49.95 US.

How old were you when you first bought or read through Madonna’s Sex book?

Today in Madonna History: October 15, 1992

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On October 15 1992, Madonna threw a Sex book pre-release party at New York City’s Industria Super Studio, and signed all the invitations under her alter ego “Dita”.

During the party, Madonna showed up dressed as Little Bo Peep and carried with her a stuffed toy lamb. 

Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg showed concern at first worrying “what the parents of America’s impressionable teens will soon be thinking” but later said that it “all depends on your idea of lovemaking, which in Madonna’s case, should give new meaning to the word erotic.”

Both Walden Books and Barnes & Noble prepared corporate statements that their store managers could share with customers who were offended by Sex. Both statements defended the right of bookstores to provide “diversity and choice” to customers and say censorship is not the role of bookstores.

Bookstore owner David Epstein stated that “The feeling of most people who have ordered the book is that Madonna is something special, that this is cutting-edge art, they’re not the kind of people who are buying it because it’s smut and dirty pictures. People are interested in it as art.”

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