Today in Madonna History: December 28, 1992

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On December 28 1992, Madonna was named one of the 25 Most Intriguing People In The World For 1992 by People magazine.

Here’s what People had to say about Madonna in 1992:

The Movies! The Album! The Naughty Pictures! Once Again Madonna Was Everywhere, Shouting, “Look at Me—Every Inch of Me!”

Intriguing: suggests an air of mystery. Madonna: does everything in public but floss her teeth.

Intriguing: wrapped in enigma. Madonna: not wrapped in anything.

Intriguing: means doesn’t appear on-camera in romantic encounters with Evian water bottles. Madonna: does.

OK—so what’s so intriguing about somebody who lets you know that her lovers require a five-cent deposit?

For one thing, she made ya look. Consider Sex, the photo book in which she had her picture taken doing everything but blushing. Besides proving that a naked Madonna could arch backward over a pinball machine without mussing her hair, it also pushed the envelope out to the size of a circus tent. And when the crowds came pouring in, there she was at center ring, cracking her whip.

It only served her purposes that Sex earned sniffy reviews like “The Empress Has No Clothes” and that it was banned in places such as Japan and Ireland. Coming on the heels of her summer film hit, A League of Their Own, the fuss over her book helped to launch her new album, Erotica, and primed the movie audience for her next assault on their sensibilities, Body of Evidence. Her success at getting the world to subsidize her sexual preoccupations—to say nothing of her mammoth self-absorption—is what makes her worth the $60 million deal she cut this year with Time Warner (the parent company of PEOPLE). Madonna is not the first star to find the bucks in buck nakedness. But no one before her has capitalized so well on human willingness to have our fears and desires repackaged and sold back to us.

Yet this most public of women still strains to be a mystery. This year she went through more faces than Lon Chaney—one minute in Baby Jane pigtails, a cupcake from hell; the next in sour milkmaid gear, Heidi with a mean streak. Her changing gallery of faces is one reason that she’s a sex symbol who inspires a lot of heavy breathing from intellectuals. One landmark of the 1992 publishing list—The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Sub-cultural Identities and Cultural Theory. You didn’t get this sort of thing for Petula Clark.

But does she really throw such a mysterious light on our culture? More likely it’s just the glinting gears of a giant publicity machine. Yet the sheer magnitude of her achievement in that regard is, well, intriguing. And the grinding of those gears is surely too loud to be ignored. “I’m a revolutionary,” she once sighed. “And yes. it’s a burden.”

Sometimes it’s a burden for her, we sigh in return, and sometimes for us.

Madonna was a busy woman in 1992! What did you enjoy most? A League Of Their Own? This Used To Be My Playground? Erotica? Sex? Body Of Evidence? 

Today in Madonna History: November 21, 1992

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On November 21 1992, Madonna’s SEX book was banned in Ireland (a month after it went on sale). The Censorship Board decided that any future shipments of the book should not be sold. Booksellers and fans voiced their opposition, but an appeal of the decision never occurred. Additional copies of the book were never made available, making the ban a silly waste of time.

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Today in Madonna History: November 1, 1992

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On November 1 1992, Madonna’s Sex book hit #1 on the Washington Post non-fiction bestseller list.

Here’s a snippet of Zoe Heller’s article on the Sex book in The Independent:

It starts out black and white, S & M, down and dirty. In various urban crypts and dungeons, we see Madonna bound up by multi-pierced lesbians (they point knives at her throat and crotch); Madonna biting at a male arsehole; Madonna whipping a large PVC-clad woman. There is Madonna as Weimar-style decadent, cavorting with gay strippers, and as cutie schoolgirl, being raped by skinheads in a school gym. You get the picture.

As Sex proceeds, colour photography is introduced – a washed-out, Fifties sort of pastel – and Madonna emerges from subterranea to expose herself on roadsides and in pizza parlours. Interspersed throughout are scraps of Madonna-think: a tribute to her vagina (‘It smells like a baby to me, fresh and full of life’), a horrifyingly cutesy account of masturbating for the first time (‘honey poured from my 14-year-old gash and I wept’). You get the prose.

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.”

Today in Madonna History: September 29, 1992

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On September 29 1992, Madonna’s Erotica single was released to radio. Originally credited to Madonna & Shep Pettibone, Pettibone’s partner Tony Shimkin was later granted co-writing credit for nearly all of the Pettibone collaborations on the album, including Erotica. The debut release to feature the imprint of Maverick Records, the song was produced by Madonna & Pettibone.

As several leaked demo versions of the song can now attest, the track had gone through numerous incarnations before Madonna settled on lyrics that positioned her in the perspective of Dita – the alter-ego she had created for her Sex book. The song’s original chorus (“You thrill me…”) was reincorporated into the song when Madonna performed it during her 2006 Confessions Tour. Alternate verses were also used to create the track Erotic, which was included with the Sex book – these lyrics were also featured in a William Orbit remix that was included on the Erotica maxi-single.

French art director and photographer Fabien Baron designed the artwork for the single, the album and the Sex book. He also directed the Erotica music video, which included footage he had shot on Super 8mm during the making of the book. Baron recalled his first meeting with Madonna to discuss their potential collaboration in a 2009 interview with Hint Fashion Magazine:

“I met Madonna at her home on Central Park West to talk about working on her Sex book. It was very comfortable but very uncomfortable at the same time, which is a very interesting feeling. She’s very imposing and knows what she wants. She’s very informed and opinionated, which makes her genius. She takes you in and swallows you up — and you don’t mind it –  you actually enjoy it. There’s an unspoken seduction that goes on. I was young…she was young, too – and beautiful. That was an unforgettable era. She put that book out at the best moment. She timed it very well…she knows what she’s doing. And such drive. Some people want to lift stones to see what’s under them. She’ll be on a beach with millions of stones and want to lift every one of them.”

Today in Madonna History: June 8, 1992

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On June 8 1992, Madonna began recording sessions for the Erotica album at Soundworks, in New York.

While the writing and recording of Madonna’s previous albums had typically unfolded rather quickly, Erotica marked a change of pace in the creation of a Madonna record. Songwriting sessions for the set had occurred sporadically throughout the previous year with Shep Pettibone, Tony Shimkin and Andre Betts, in between movie projects and photo shoots for her upcoming coffee table book, Sex.

In contrast to the slick production qualities of the albums that preceded it, Madonna wanted Erotica to feature a darker, more gritty and less polished sound. This led to the decision to carry over many of the original demo vocals recorded during the songwriting process at Shep’s home studio to the final versions, with mainly lyrical additions/changes, musical overdubs, background vocals and final mixing taking place during the sessions at Soundworks.

One notable change that did occur in these final recording sessions was Madonna’s decision to swap her original lyrics for the song Goodbye To Innocence (which had gone through various incarnations in an attempt to keep the track off the cutting room floor) with the lyrics of the torch classic, Fever.  An earlier arrangement of Goodbye To Innocence with lyrics intact was later featured on the pro-choice compilation album, Just Say Roe, while a dub version of the same arrangement was retitled Up Down Suite when it appeared as a b-side on the Rain maxi-single. Another rough demo of the same track (streaming above), which is referred to as the “Straight Pass” mix on its original submission for copyright registration (which indicates that mixing of the track had not been finalized and that it is not mastered), leaked to file sharing services in February, 2008.

The “Straight Pass” mix bears some similarity to another unreleased track that was discarded early in the recording sessions, You Are The One. Aside from the lyrical paradox (with “You are the one” flipped to “I am the one”), both feature samples from Arabic singer Fairuz that would be reworked into the released version of the Erotica album’s title track and lead single.

Today in Madonna History: October 31, 1992

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By October 31 1992, Madonna’s Sex book had sold a record 500,000 copies in the USA.  The controversial coffee table book was released on October 21 1992.

Is yours wrapped or unwrapped?

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