A week before the Billboard Awards, Madonna had an interview with Vanessa Grigoriadis for the New York Times. She also had a photoshoot with JR for the article.
Madonna talked about various topics.
The Rebel Heart album leak…
There are no words to describe how devastated I was.
It took me a while to recover, and put such a bad taste in my mouth I wasn’t really interested in making music. I felt raped.
Living in the 16,000-square-foot Moorish revival mansion in Lisbon…
Let’s not get carried away. I wasn’t in any castle.
It’s quite medieval and feels like a place where time stopped in a way, and it feels very closed. There’s a cool vibe there, but where I was living with my kids, I felt very cut off from a lot.
It was FIFA and my kids’ school and that’s it. I’m fighting with the plumber. I really wanted to make friends.
American photographer Cindy Sherman…
I felt she was doing some kind of parallel kind of work to what I was doing. I could relate to her. Becoming other people but still herself with a sense of irony, making social commentary.
Her “I want to rule the world” statement…
First of all, I wanted to make a living. I was tired of being broke. But second of all, all I wanted was a song to get played on the radio. That’s all I was praying for. One song.
Her early years in New York…
When I was living on the Lower East Side and I didn’t see many concerts, I knew about Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and the Talking Heads and David Bowie, but there was no pressure for me to be anything specifically, to sound a certain way, to look a certain way. That’s an important thing, because it allowed me to develop as an artist and to be pure, without any influences. What I try to do now is to remember that girl.
How she feels about her old hits…
If I’m in a car or I go into a restaurant, I’m out somewhere, and one of my songs starts playing, I just go, ‘Ugh.’ Probably because I’ve had to hear it five billion times already, and I want to escape that.
Harvey crossed lines and boundaries and was incredibly sexually flirtatious and forward with me when we were working together; he was married at the time, and I certainly wasn’t interested. I was aware that he did the same with a lot of other women that I knew in the business. And we were all, ‘Harvey gets to do that because he’s got so much power and he’s so successful and his movies do so well and everybody wants to work with him, so you have to put up with it.’ So that was it. So when it happened, I was really like, ‘Finally.’ I wasn’t cheering from the rafters because I’m never going to cheer for someone’s demise. I don’t think that’s good karma anyway. But it was good that somebody who had been abusing his power for so many years was called out and held accountable.
I did a Versace campaign with Steven Meisel at his house in Palm Beach.
[He kept calling me.]
He kept going: ‘Hey, is everything O.K.? Finding yourself comfortable? Are the beds comfortable? Is everything good? Are you happy?’
They’re overcompensating for how insecure they feel — a man who is secure with himself, a human who is secure with themselves, doesn’t have to go around bullying people all the time.
[Alpha Women are] the same. It’s good to be strong, but again, it’s always about, where’s that strength coming from? What are your intentions? What is the context that you’re using your strength in? Are you abusing your power? Women can also abuse their power. And if that’s also backed up by a lack of intelligence, emotional or intellectual, a lack of life experience, a lack of compassion, then it’s really a bad mixture.
I found myself as a wife, in both of my marriages, being as I think everybody is: You try to please another person, and sometimes you find you are not being who you really are.
That’s the struggle, I suppose, of being in a marriage or a relationship, especially as a woman. We often think we have to play down our accomplishments or make ourselves smaller, so we don’t make other people feel intimidated or less than.
If somebody said, ‘O.K., you’ve got to give one thing up,’ I would say, ‘O.K., I’ll stop working.’ But they like that I work. They love to come visit me and watch me work. My older children, my son, he’s a painter, and my daughter’s a dancer and choreographer — I can see how my work has influenced them, though they probably wouldn’t like to say so. I like it. It makes me proud.
I couldn’t survive if I couldn’t be creative as an artist, but in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking, O.K., what is my son doing right now? What is my daughter doing right now? I haven’t spoken to David yet. I’ve got to be there for them. When is her show? I’ve got to make sure I don’t have things planned. My head is in a whirl.
It’s not that I engage with it, but it ends up going in front of your eyes, and then when it goes in front of your eyes, it’s inside your head. It comes up in your feed, and then you get pulled into it whether you like it or not. So it’s a challenge to rise above it, to not be affected by it, to not get frustrated, to not compare, to not feel judged, to not be hurt. You know, it’s a test. Yeah. I preferred life before phone.
You can’t win. An ass shot will get you more followers, but it will also get you more detractors and criticism. You’re in that funny place.
I think you think about growing old too much. I think you think about age too much. I think you should just stop thinking about it. Stop thinking, just live your life and don’t be influenced by society trying to make you feel some type of way about your age or what it is you’re supposed to be doing.
We are a marginalized group, women. And just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you stop fighting against it or defying it or refusing to be pigeonholed or put in a box or labeled or told you can and can’t do things.
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