Filmed in Venice, Italy, the video marked Madonna’s second collaboration with director Mary Lambert. Lambert later recalled of the shoot:
“For Like a Virgin I said ‘Lets do it in Venice!’ The idea of Madonna singing in a gondola was the most outrageous thing I could think of. And Madonna dug it, because she has the whole thing with the Catholic Church and her Italian heritage. It turned into a huge party.”
On August 28 2003, Madonna performed Hollywood with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera as the opening number for the 20th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY and upstaged everyone at the ceremony when she shares a passionate open-mouth kiss with them. Missy Elliott also joined the ladies on stage – post-kiss.
Madonna commented on the uproar surrounding the infamous kiss during an appearance on Oprah several weeks later. “I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about it,” she said. “Hasn’t anyone seen two girls kiss before? It was a friendly kiss – it really was. If Britney looks as though she is kissing me in an aggressive way it was a surprise to me.” She added, “I’m a showgirl. After 20 years in the business, we learn to roll with the punches. If someone’s coming at you with lips slightly parted, you kiss them.”
On July 26 2003, Hollywood hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Maxi-Single Sales chart (renamed Hot Dance Sales), where it would spend an incredible seven weeks.
After an initial five-week run at the top, the single began its descent only to return to #1 for an additional two weeks following Madonna’s performance of Hollywood/Like A Virgin at the MTV Video Music Awards, which incorporated Stuart Price’s remix of Hollywood (released under one of his many pseudonyms, Jacques Lu Cont) and spurred renewed interest in the maxi-single.
On June 1 1990, Madonna was controversially featured grabbing her crotch and breast on the cover of Interview magazine.
Madonna was interviewed by Glenn O’Brien at the Disney Studios, where she was rehearsing the Blond Ambition Tour. Here’s a snippet from the interview:
Glenn: Let’s talk about your show.
Madonna: Let’s not. Today was a horrible day. That was the worst rehearsal.
Glenn: Well, I liked it, but I haven’t seen it when you thought it was good. I loved the number where you’re lying on the piano singing a torch song.
Madonna: You saw only one segment of the show. I’ve created five different worlds, and the set is all based on hydraulics. One is going down and another is coming up. The world changes completely. I think of it more as a musical than as a rock concert. There is a straightforward Metropolis section, like my Express Yourself video – that set with all the gears and machinery; it’s very hard and metallic. That’s the heavy-duty dance music. Then the set changes and it’s like a church. We call it the temple ruins. It’s all these columns, trays of votive candles, a cross. I do Like a Virgin on a bed, but we changed the arrangement, so it sounds Indian. Then I’m being punished for masturbation on this bed, which is, as you know, what happens. Then we do the more serious, religious-type material – Like a Prayer, Papa Don’t Preach… Then it changes to what you saw, this Art Deco ’50s-musical set. That’s when we do three songs from Dick Tracy, and then after that we do what I call the camp section. Then it gets really serious again and we go into our Clockwork Orange cabaret set.
On March 3 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer single was released.
Patrick Leonard had this to say about Like A Prayer:
“I think there was a point when we realized that it was the title track, and the lead track, and it was going to be a powerhouse. It became obvious that there was something unique about it. And that somehow we made this thing work: with its stopping and starting, and a minimalistic rhythmic thing, and the verses, and these bombastic choruses, and this giant choir comes in. This is ambitious, you know?”
On November 22 1984, Madonna graced the cover of her very first Rolling Stone magazine with issue 435. Playing with the success of Like A Virgin, the headline read: Madonna Goes All The Way. Madonna went on to achieve the most covers of any female between 1984 and 2009.