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: August 20, 2008

On August 20 2008, Live Nation released this press release for Madonna’s 2008 Sticky & Sweet World Tour:

Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour Kicks Off This Saturday In Cardiff

Madonna, currently putting the finishing touches to her fabulous new Sticky & Sweet show in Cardiff, is readying herself and the 250 travelling personnel for the opening night this Saturday at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Hot on the diamante shaped heels of her phenomenally successful Hard Candy disc, Sticky & Sweet promises two pulsating hours of non-stop hits in a show that features 16 dancers, a 12 piece band, more than 8 costume changes for the lady herself and £l million of Swarovski crystals. The audience is taken on a rock driven dancetastic journey that’s broken into four sections:

Pimp – A mashed up homage to 1920’s deco and modern day gangsta pimp. Madonna makes a grand entrance dressed by Givenchy.

Old School – Madonna tips her hat to her early 80’s downtown New York City dance roots with flashes of Keith Haring and the dance culture vibe of the time including the birth of rap.

Gypsy – A VIP trip to La Isla Bonita infused by the spirit of Romanian folk music and dance. A tour de force.

Rave – Far eastern influences emerge all sparkly and sporty.

Sticky & Sweet kicks off this Saturday August 23rd at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. The tour hits London’s Wembley Stadium September 11th. The Sticky & Sweet Tour is produced by Live Nation Global Touring.

Today in Madonna History: May 3, 2010

On May 3 2010, Madonna was featured on the cover of Interview magazine, with photos by Mert Atlas and Marcus Piggott.

Here’s a snippet of the interview between Gus Van Sant and Madonna featured in Interview:

MADONNA: Did you like working with my ex-husband? [laughs]

VAN SANT: I did. Sean [Penn] was amazing.

MADONNA: He is amazing.

VAN SANT: I haven’t really caught up with Sean since he’s been going to Haiti. I mean, it’s incredible, what he’s been doing.

MADONNA: Yup. He’s got a fire under his ass, that’s for sure. A bee in his bonnet.

VAN SANT: When I called him to see whether he would play the role in Milk, he took half a second to say yes. I guess he knew the elements were there.

MADONNA: I could see why he would be attracted to the role and be able to say yes in two seconds. Watching Milk was such a trip down memory lane for me.

VAN SANT: Yeah? Did you go to the Castro a lot?

MADONNA: I did when I was younger. But you know, what the movie triggered for me was all my early days in New York and the scene that I came up in-you know, with Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. It was just so alive with art and politics and this wonderful spirit. So many of those people are dead now. I think that’s one of the reasons I cried. In fact, the character that Richard E. Grant plays in the film I directed, Filth and Wisdom [2008], is this blind professor who was based on my ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn. Growing up in Michigan, I didn’t really know what a gay man was. He was the first man-the first human being-who made me feel good about myself and special. He was the first person who told me that I was beautiful or that I had something to offer the world, and he encouraged me to believe in my dreams, to go to New York. He was such an important person in my life. He died of AIDS, but he went blind toward the end of his life. He was such a lover of art, classical music, literature, opera. You know, I grew up in the Midwest, and it was really because of him that I was exposed to so many of those things. He brought me to my first gay club-it was this club in Detroit. I always felt like I was a freak when I was growing up and that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t fit in anywhere. But when he took me to that club, he brought me to a place where I finally felt at home. So that character in Filth and Wisdom was dedicated to him and inspired by him. I don’t know why I’m bringing all this up, but I guess it’s just coming from that world in Michigan and the trajectory of my life: after going to New York and being a dancer when the whole AIDS epidemic started and nobody knew what it was. And then suddenly, all these beautiful men around me, people who I loved so dearly, were dying-just one after the next. It was just such a crazy time. And watching the world freak out-the gay community was so ostracized. But it was also when I was beginning my career. . . . I don’t know. Your movie really struck a chord for me and made me remember all that. It’s a time I don’t think many people have captured on film. It’s a time that people don’t talk about much. And even though there was so much death, for me, New York was so alive.

VAN SANT: It’s amazing that you had a person like that in your life who was such an influence.

MADONNA: Thank god! Otherwise, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten out of Michigan. I think it was Christopher and my Russian history teacher, Marilyn Fellows. The two of them, I think they were a conspiracy that god sent to me. The conspiracy of angels that gave me the confidence and helped me turn my lemons into lemonade, if you know what I’m saying. Because when you grow up in a really conservative place and you don’t fit in, it’s kind of hard. . . . You can go one way or the other.

 

Today in Madonna History: December 13, 1984

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On December 13 1984, Madonna performed Like A Virgin on BBC1-TV’s Top Of The Pops in London, England.

Madonna wore her signature Boy Toy belt, a Keith Haring jacket and a vibrant pink wig. She wore the same pink wig during a performance on Like A Virgin on Solid Gold.

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Today in Madonna History: June 19, 2013

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On June 19 2013, Debi Mazar talked to The Cut about how she first met Madonna:

I was in Danceteria, working the elevator. She came into my elevator, and a great song was spinning and she goes, ‘Hey, you wanna dance? And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ And I parked the elevator, and we had a great dance together and then later on we danced some more. She wasn’t, like, a big star yet. She was just a girl from Detroit who had a real raw sexuality. From there on we became pals and started dancing and hanging out. I was doing makeup then, and so I did her makeup for years. She was like, ‘I’m gonna be a star one day,’ and I was like, ‘Great!’ We also did videos together. The first one was a song called ‘Everybody,’ and we filmed at the Paradise Garage, and Keith Haring was there. That was the beginning. I was always trying to pluck her eyebrows — they’re caterpillars. At this moment in time I probably wouldn’t pluck them, but it was the eighties, so, you know. Anyway, we remained girlfriends and we still are.

Today in Madonna History: May 16, 1984

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On May 16 1984, Madonna performed Dress You Up at Keith Haring’s birthday party held at the Paradise Garage in New York.

Here’s a short clip from the performance:

 

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