Read Goddess: Inside Madonna Online

Authors: Barbara Victor

Tags: #Singer, #Music, #Nonfiction, #Biography & Autobiography, #Madonna, #Retail

Goddess: Inside Madonna

dedication

For Gérard

contents

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Don’t Cry for me, Argentina

PART ONE
Don’t Cry for me Argentina

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

PART TWO
Who’s That Girl?

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

PART THREE
Lucky Star

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

PART FOUR
Material Girl

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

PART FIVE
Blond Ambition

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Photo Section

Epilogue

Index

Author’s Note

Source Notes

Also by Barbara Victor

Copyright

About the Publisher

acknowledgments

O
ne of the more unpleasant aspects of writing
an unauthorized star biography is getting up every morning for more than a year with the realization
that the majority of the people you want and need to talk to will do everything in their power to
avoid you. It is a daunting challenge from the onset, and if the author is fortunate enough to find
a few brave friends, business associates, and colleagues of the subject who are willing to speak on
record, the rewards are great. And, if those friends, associates, and relatives speak out of
admiration and affection, it is possible for the author to write a balanced portrait of the star and
an impartial account of her life. As it concerns
Goddess
, while the bruises on my forehead
remain from butting up against stone walls, I was also fortunate to have talked to many
extraordinary and important people in Madonna’s life. Thanks to Tony and Joan Ciccone for their
warmth and hospitality when I visited them at their vineyard. Thanks as well to Elsie Fortin, who
left no doubt as to her loving feelings toward her most famous granddaughter. Thanks to Patrick
Hernandez and Muriel Van Lieu, who received me at a difficult moment in their lives, immediately
after the untimely death of Jean Van Lieu. Many of the people interviewed for this book, however,
agreed to talk to me on the condition that I change their names or simply quote them without
attribution, which, in these cases, I have done. My gratitude goes to everyone who was courageous
and generous enough to spend time with me, those cited as well as those who asked to remain
anonymous. In either case, their input, knowledge, and generosity are appreciated.

I am also grateful to Carol Dickey for her invaluable help in organizing all the
source and bibliography material; Tom Freeman and Mary Troath for their research on both sides of
the Atlantic; Jacques Blache for sharing his knowledge about the music business; Boris Hoffman for
all his kindness; Chris Dickey for his understanding about certain hostage situations; John Baxter
for his unique humor about films and their stars; Mike Nolan for making Bay City a fun place to
visit; the gang at HarperCollins, most especially Marjorie Braman and Leslie Engel. For my friends
who are my family—Barbara Gordon, Dmitri Nabokov, Charlotte Rampling, Robert Nathan, Jean Noel
Tassez, Thierry Billand, Heather Keller, Patrick Wajsman, Howard Schreiber, Brigitte Jessen, John
Michel, and Danièle Mazengarbe—you all know how much I appreciate and value you. Also, thanks to
Roberto Cerea and Franck de Paolo for all their understanding. My deep gratitude goes to Dov
Zaidman.

It is great having an editor who is smart
and
funny. I’ve been very lucky
to have been able to work with Diane Reverand, my editor and my friend, who always “gets it”
regardless of how inarticulate the words may sound. Thank you, Diane, for making everything seem so
easy and for being so available and supportive. Thanks as well to Tom Wallace, who brought me back
in so many ways. And, finally, to Gérard, who was solid throughout this project and who has finally
admitted that he didn’t lose a wife as much as he gained an office during all my long absences
across the Atlantic.

It’s hard letting go but it’s even better moving on. . . .

DON’T CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA

Despite all the adverse reaction to her presence in Buenos Aires, Madonna felt comfortable. On one occasion, a journalist from a local newspaper was allowed to watch one of her tango lessons. After it was over, the reporter approached her.

“Do you get the impression that this is a macho society?” the journalist asked.

Like a true ambassador of good will, Madonna answered without hesitating. “Women of Argentina are treated well because Eva Peron was the champion of women’s rights, and that’s something I can relate to.”

“Eva Peron is often called a whore and an opportunist,” the journalist challenged the star.

“Either she was called a saint or a prostitute,” Madonna replied, “which is what I am called by everyone, because of my name and because I’m in touch with my own sexuality. It’s the obvious way to put a woman down, to call her a whore and imply that she has no morals and no integrity and no talent. And God knows, I can relate to that, too.”

Days later, when asked his impressions of Madonna, the journalist thought for a moment before saying, “She is fascinating because she is so self-involved. Everything is ‘me’ or ‘I’ or whatever she can ‘relate to’ based on her own life. In mind and soul, she embodies Eva Peron!”

part one
Don’t Cry for Me Argentina
chapter one

O
n October 13, 1995, Madonna landed at Heathrow Airport aboard a late-night Concorde under an assumed name. She was in London to begin working on the most crucial phase of production for the film
Evita
, a role that would prove to be her greatest screen success and one which she had coveted for more than ten years.

Dressed in black with dark glasses covering her face, she walked hurriedly toward passport control. No advance publicity had signaled her arrival at Heathrow, and therefore no screaming public or photographers’ flashing lights greeted her. Only one lonely fan with a throwaway Kodak camera waited politely at the baggage-claim area. Madonna allowed him to snap several shots before she continued briskly on her way.

Alan Parker, the director of
Evita
and most famous for his movie
Fame
, had summoned Madonna and her two leading men, Antonio Banderas, who was to play Che, and Jonathan Pryce, the British stage actor who would portray Juan Perón, to London to record the score for the film. The idea was that the three principal members of the cast would spend approximately four months recording different versions of the thirty-one songs, ranging from loud and dramatic to smaller and more restrained, before a single reel of film was shot. When they were finished, Parker would choose the rendition he liked best, and the one he would visualize when he was actually filming the corresponding scenes. It was an enormous challenge for Madonna since
Evita
, more than mere musical theater, was operatic in sound and style. She knew it would be the first time she would sing without benefit of extravagant sets, costumes, and seductive dance steps that detracted from the thin quality of her voice. In 1995, instead of embarking on a tour to promote her album
Bedtime Stories
, she studied voice with Joan Leder, one of the best coaches in the industry, for six months before production actually began. The end result was that Madonna not only mastered the complicated musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, but also developed an upper register that she never knew she possessed. In fact, during the six months that she trained with Leder, Madonna wrote two songs, “One More Chance” and “You’ll See,” for her
Something to Remember
album. She was now utilizing techniques that she had learned during her voice lessons. While Alan Parker had complete confidence in his star, Andrew Lloyd Webber wondered if she would be willing to forget her star status and work to improve her voice. In her defense, Alan Parker said, “She was determined to sing it as Andrew had scored it. I was sure that she was going to knock people’s socks off. In the end, I was right because she was quite incredible.”

Curiously, Joan Leder found Madonna to be “surprisingly shy.” “I work clients back-to-back,” Leder explained, “and Madonna always felt that Patti LuPone, who had done the role on Broadway, or Roberta Flack, another one of my clients, always had their ear to the door.”

Training her voice was not the only challenge Madonna faced when she arrived in London to record. Parker also expected her to grasp the emotions that went along with each song and conjure them up at will. On more than one occasion in the West End recording studios, she would dim the lights and burn candles to create an “ethereal” atmosphere in order to feel “Evita’s pain, frustration, or joy.” In the end, she exceeded even her own expectations, although she considered the whole experience “humbling.” It was no secret that from the very beginning, either Patti LuPone or Elaine Paige had been Webber and Rice’s first choice to portray Eva Perón.

If Madonna succeeded in mastering the part, Alan Parker also achieved as difficult an accomplishment when, on December 24, 1995, he finally closed the deal to bring
Evita
to the screen. Optioned by such international directors as Ken Russell, Franco Zeffirelli, Herb Ross, Richard Attenborough, Alan Pakula, Hector Babenco, Francis Ford Coppola, and Oliver Stone,
Evita
had lingered in development hell for more than fifteen years. Despite their different styles and visions of how they would film
Evita
, they had all considered Madonna the obvious choice to play the second-rate Argentine actress who had risen from obscurity and poverty to become an international political icon. They had not been able to convince the studios and producers to accept Madonna’s demands concerning salary as well as her suggestions that the composer and lyricist write additional songs for her. Another problem they shared was their inability to secure permission from the Argentine government to film the movie on location in Buenos Aires. From the beginning of every negotiation, it had always been a question of money. The government of Argentina expected to be paid by the movie studio for their cooperation in blocking off streets and allowing unlimited access to the various buildings and monuments throughout the city. In each case, the demands of the government were considered unreasonable by the producers and studios.

Alan Parker had the most recognizable directorial style when it came to musicals, partly because of his experience with
Fame
and partly because he had begun his career making television commercials set to music. By the time he was at the helm, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice considered Madonna to be a bad box-office risk. With the exception of her first screen venture in 1985 in
Desperately Seeking Susan
, she had had a string of bad films to her credit, including
Shanghai Surprise, Who’s That Girl
, and probably the most embarrassing of all with a cringe factor off the charts,
Body of Evidence
. Typical of Madonna, who always wants the man who rejects her or that deal that eludes her, when she heard that the role was slipping out of her grasp, she became even more determined to play the former first lady of Argentina. In a desperate attempt to secure the role, she wrote Parker a letter and sent it along with her video “Take a Bow,” which she claimed had been inspired by Eva Perón and the “way she dressed.” The video, made in 1995, was filmed in sepia and filled with scenes of Latin iconography; a finger pierced by a needle, a drop of blood falling into a drink. Madonna is in the stands watching a bullfight. Wearing a 1940s outfit with a veil covering her face, she compares the process of dressing herself to the toreador being fitted into his tight brocade jacket and satin pants to appear in the ring. The clip cuts from Madonna in the stands to Madonna in bed, wearing only sexy underwear, and writhing in what appears to be a masturbatory frenzy.

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