March 27, 2012

What I Know from the Short Time I Spent w/ Madonna

First of all, get over the fact that I absolutely love Madonna as an icon and ass-kicker and that I respect her so very much as a female and as a business person who has been on top for 30 years almost.  I didn't like "Confessions on a Dance floor" when every one was fawning all over it, k?!  Kapish?  Allow me to digress from the album for a minute longer -- it has been so shocking to me to see how polarizing she still is today.  The Madonna I met and was able to spend some time with  -- and the Madonna that has surfaced since her divorce -- is very different than the Madonna people think they knew when she first came on the scene.

My experience and interaction with her was eye-opening on several fronts: when Madonna walks into a room or down a hallway in an arena, there isn't a person that she walks by -- regardless of fan or foe -- who isn't stopped dead in their tracks by her aura, charisma or more accurately this almost unexplainable superstar-explosion that catapults from her soul -- making Katy Perry's "Fireworks"from her  video look like someone trying to light a match in a hurricane.

I watched every thing and everyone in our path as we walked together from the stage (that year she opened the GRAMMY Awards as a dancing, purple leotard wearing holograph with the Gorillaz then a very live version of her disco'd the heck out of a rousing rendition of "Hung Up") to her dressing room (that's where "the picture" was taken) so she could change to do the Ellen Degeneres Show in the Convention Center (where she would announce her Confessions tour) then back to her dressing room (to change into her black, sassy Dolce and Gabbana mini dress and have the rows of Sworofsky Crystals that were used as eye liner checked and any missing ones reapplied) to Staples Center to do almost 3 hours of media interviews. People were paralyzed by the force; celebrities looking at other celebrities saying, "Oh my God, is that her?" Staples Center food service people practically throwing down their over sized trays wherever they could so they could witness what they realized they surely would never see again.  Then there were the people who screamed "Esther" (her Kabala name) or "Maaaadge!" or "OMG, Madonna I LOVE YOU SO MUCH" (and some of these people who were almost crying at the sight or who needed to be restrained by those close to them as their first instinct was to grab on to her leg and only hope to be dragged by the tiny giant for however long they could hold on -- were artists known around the globe!!

Madonna took it all in stride but remained very focused as I briefed her on all that she was going to be doing.  We talked about both being from Michigan and whether or not the other said "Pop" or "Soda" or "Diet Coke regardless if ordering a Sprite or a Diet Coke."  When we were standing back stage of where Ellen was taping her show that was going to air the next day and she was about to introduce her surprise guest, "Vogue" was playing through the loud speakers. I looked at Madonna and whisper/yelled, "catchy little tune" and immediately she quipped, "One hit wonder at best."

She walked on the stage and the entire audience became one giant "Crazy-Person-on-The-Price-Is-Right-Who-Just-Was-Told-to-Come-on-Down Hysterical" mess.  She talked with Ellen for several minutes, announced her Confessions tour and then had a private moment with Ellen off camera during which Ellen said, "This probably is the coolest moment in my life."

She and I huddled again to go over the next item on our agenda (being presented the Artist of the Century Award from MTV) and as she and I are talking all of a sudden someone was ramming wooden Q-Tips up each of Madonna's nostrils, spinning them, and pulling them out in what couldn't have been more than 3 seconds.  Madonna didn't flinch or miss a beat as she was asking me questions -- i stood there trying to seem completely unfazed by whatever the hell just happened and acted as if that always happened whenever I was going over someone's itinerary with them. The Eagle was on the move again, and it dawned on me that to be the most photographed woman in the world (only Princess Diana comes close), and to arguably be one of the most famous global brands in history --  a brand that you personally have created, nurtured, protected, polished, dusted off, treasured, hated, loved -- you better have someone there checking for bats in the cave!  From the Sworofsky Crystals to the Bats in the Cave, it hit me on a real level that this woman is conscious of every detail of every thing and every moment.  She's aware, observant, and a sponge when it comes to understanding whatever it is she is inspired to study.

It was at this moment that I realized, Madonna isn't a bitch like so many people think she is...she doesn't have time for people who can't keep up nor does she have tolerance for people who don't want to know or believe anything more than they already know or believe.  Plain and simple.

By the end of the night, we all were exhausted and Madonna was energized and talking about her tour which made her almost giddy -- she loves that the most - being able to talk about things that are important to her...and we should be thankful that someone so intelligent and curious is the one doing it on such a global scale.  When people say Madonna is irrelevant, I say (and so does she I bet) "you're stupid."  In light of Whitney Houston's sad death, and looking at Britney's shaved head, and Mariah's in-hospital treatment for "exhaustion" and Michael Jackson's substance abuse which killed him as well, it would be appropriate enough to say since Madonna, who has never had a melt-down, never had a substance abuse problem, never had a domestic 911 call played on TMZ, and always moved forward on the path she knew she needed and wanted to take --is still around and making music after 30 years -- yeah, she's relevant.  But when you're talking the most top 10 singles than any artist or group in history (38 of which she has the most #2 singles of any artist or group in history), the most #1 Billboard Dance hits (41 w/ Janet Jackson a long long 2nd with only 19), she's sold 300 million albums worldwide and today's debut of MDNA will be her 8th #1 album (2nd only to Barbra Streisand).  Madonna, the only thing you deserve to be called is "The Queen of Pop."

When I was saying goodbye to her publicist and manager after a very long evening I reached my hand out to shake Madonna's.  She shook my hand, used her left hand to almost jump up (she's a tiny little thing who is so stunning and softer in person -- her eyes are mesmerizing) and kissed me on the right cheek.  I was almost as stunned as the wooden Q-tip incident.  Then she looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Thank you for everything. You're very good at your job."  I practically bolted after that because i thought I was going to lose it.  It was the greatest compliment of my life and it still chokes me up (I know I am such a freak).  For those haters, educate yourselves -- you don't have to like her but you should understand her.  For those fans, play MDNA loud and proud.  The Queen is not "back."  The Queen is Here Again.