Incarcerated no more
Madonna has revealed she felt “incarcerated” during her marriage and tackled different topics as well as her infamous tumble at the Brit Awards.
Harking back to her days as pop’s great provocateur, she tells me: “I say things that people don’t say – that’s why I take so much heat. I’m not coming from a place of anger. I’m speaking my mind and pushing the envelope.”
However, the topic of Madonna’s failed seven-and-a half-year marriage to Sherlock Holmes’ director Ritchie, 46, has always been strictly off limits; until now.
When I suggest it feels like she only rediscovered her voice after her divorce, she nods and carefully thinks about how to respond.
After a lengthy pause, she says: “I think when you get married you have to be willing to make a lot of compromises and that’s fair enough. I think that’s the way it goes in relationships.
However, you know, I did find myself sometimes in a state of conflict. There were many times when I wanted to express myself as an artist in ways that I don’t think my ex-husband felt comfortable with.
There were times when I felt incarcerated. I wasn’t really allowed to be myself. It doesn’t mean that marriage is a bad thing. But if you’re an artist you’ve got to find someone who accepts who you are and are comfortable with that.”
It’s clear Madonna now views herself as a solo mum to her four children Lourdes, 18, who was fathered by actor Carlos Leon, plus Rocco, 14—Guy’s biological son—and David, nine, and Mercy, five, who the singer adopted when she was married to the director.
She says: “I’m the mom and the dad. I’m the husband and the wife. But we do have lots of father figures. I have an unconventional family. I’ve always had an unconventional family. It is what it is. Would I ever consider getting married again? Maybe. Never say never. I don’t have any limitations for myself in terms of relationships.”
Madonna’s serious boyfriends since Guy – Brahim Zaibat and Timor Steffens – have both been in their twenties. But she stresses it’s not all about their six-pack and buff bods.
“They have to be nice and everything,” she giggles. And she makes it clear she’s not particularly enjoying being on her own. “I’m single. But I’d like to have a man around the house – that would be nice. My
children like that and enjoy that.”
But Madonna is seething over the way her age gap relationships have been commented on, something she believes is rooted in ageism against women of her age.
She explains: “It’s OK if Mick Jagger dates a 25-year-old girl but if I date a 25-year-old man I’m, you know… It’s ridiculous. It’s so unfair. I mean, I don’t get it.”
As she comes close to entering her sixth decade, Madonna has a new cause.
She says: “I haven’t felt it strongly until now. But I do think that people have a hard idea of getting their head around that a woman in her fifties could have fun, be adventurous, be silly and be sexual. They’re all the things that I was in my twenties and thirties and forties. I don’t know why I should stop now. Is there a manual for living?”
One thing Madonna is very clear about is that her children remain at the heart of her plans.
Rocco, David and Mercy still spend most of their time with her, even when she’s on the road like during her recent visit to London. She explains: “All my kids apart from eldest daughter were with me. They travel everywhere with me. I don’t like to be away from my children.”
She also continues to be heavily involved in Malawi, the poverty stricken African nation from where her two youngest were adopted.
Does she have a yearning to add to her brood by adopting again?
“Oh my God, yes. If I could I would. That’s my extended family there. I do take care of a lot of kids there. There are so many wonderful children that I’ve watched grow over the years that make sure are going to school. If I could, they’d all be living on East 81st Street with
me – one big happy family. My children would love it too. But I can take care of them long distance. I have people who work for me who go around checking up on them all the time.”
Madonna is clearly in a very different headspace to when I last interviewed her three years ago.
As is always the case, she wants to meet at night. It’s nearly 10pm when I join her in a specially prepared lounge, full of her favorite scented candles, at the headquarters of her record company ‘Interscope’ in Midtown Manhattan, just a stone’s throw from Central Park.
Wearing a gothic dress and her famous fingerless gloves, the most striking feature up close is the custom-made grills on her teeth. She’s been relaxed until I tell her I have to ask about her spectacular fall at the Brit Awards.
She bristles and shoots back: “No you don’t!” But she does have a bone to pick with designer Giorgio Armani, who designed the cape that resulted in the infamous tumble.
She is more than a little dumbfounded by his decision to brand her a “very difficult” afterwards, given they’ve worked together for years.
She says: “I don’t know why he said that. I was surprised. I thought we had a good relationship. When I read it, I was like: ‘Oh really?’”
He made me a lovely outfit. I was very appreciative of it. After the performance, he sent me flowers. He thanked me and said he hoped I was OK and applauded me for getting back up on the stage.”
After this exchange, she moves back into playful mode. Why not accept a lifetime achievement award at the Brits?
“I’ve got lots of life left to live. Offer it to me in 100 years and I might reconsider,” she hoots. Would she rather spend a night with Kanye West or Queen Elizabeth, the unlikely pair she put together in lyrics for her new song Illumanti?
“I’ve already spent a night with Kanye – many nights in the studio. So I think it’s time that I get together with Queen Elizabeth.”
Madonna still knows how to create controversy, most recently in December when she posed topless for the first time in years. But she insists: “There was really no thinking at all. I just unbuttoned my sweater. It just happened.”
As for her tips for staying so pert, she advises: “It pays to wear a bra
at all the time. That’s my secret – tie them up.”
Madonna sings of high heels, perfume, fishnets, leather belts, thigh highs and silk scarfs on one of her raunchy new songs. So was that based on personal experience?
“Yes,” she answers matter of factly. No wonder she found ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ so boring.
She explains: “I think everyone read it under the impression that they would be reading the most sexually-intriguing writing and it was actually quite tame. There was a little spanking but I was actually a little disappointed about how little went on in the red room of pain. Just a red bottom, really.
Despite being sexually liberal, Madonna draws the line at recording her intimate moments.
She says: “I’ve never filmed myself. I’ve done a lot of provocative things in my career. The ultimate act of intimacy is just to be with one person in a room without any electronics involved.”
Madonna believes celebrities now use raunchy recordings to boost themselves professionally.
She says: “It’s become a big part of people promoting themselves and getting their careers started. At the beginning I think it was mistakes and then people realized how much publicity they could get out of it so it was sort of like: ‘I’ll make a provocative tape and then it will accidentally get leaked.’”
As a result, I’m intrigued to know what she makes of Kim Kardashian, the wife of her good friend Kanye West, who became famous after her encounter with the above.
She says: “I’ve never watched the TV show. I don’t know the things that have made her famous so I don’t have an opinion to tell you the truth. I know Kim. I’ve met her. I’ve had a few conversations with her.
She’s a very sweet girl.”
Is it right that she’s become the most famous woman in the world without any discernible talent?
Madonna says: “Without being an artist? Does it surprise me? I think that’s the sign of the times that we live in.”
Madonna isn’t excited about the UK election, but reveals she is a personal fan of Prime Minister David Cameron.
She says: “I have to plead ignorance to a certain extent. I have not been following politics in England that closely. That said, I did have dinner with him once and his wife years ago when I was married. They came over to our house. Guy was keen on meeting him. I liked him.”
Madonna married in Scotland and says of the country’s decision to remain part of the UK: “That was surprising.”
But Madonna is concerned about the state of international affairs, the subject of her new album’s closer Wash All Over Me.
She says: “There is a part of me that looks at what’s happening to the world –craziness, lack of tolerance, shootings, and the environment— and it’s very confusing. We’re living in a scary time. It feels like the downfall of civilization.”