Photographer Richard Corman has just announced the release of an exclusive photographic book devoted to the photoshoot he created with Madonna back in 1983, a few months before the release of her first studio album.
"As a young photographer in 1983, I had the opportunity to capture a series of images with Madonna as she was on the verge of releasing her debut album," said Richard Corman. "The rebellious energy of the East Village was the backdrop to showcase Madonna's style, spontaneity and pioneering attitude. She consistently conveyed an attitude of fearlessness and fierce determination."
If you are in the U.S, you can pre-order the book from Amazon.com or straight from the publisher's website: www.damianieditore.com
In conjunction with the U.S. book launch, Milk Gallery in New York City is hosting a special exhibition featuring images from Madonna NYC83. The exhibition is free and open to the public from November 15 - December 15. For information, visit www.themilkgallery.com.
Hard Candy Fitness, the global luxury fitness brand in partnership with Madonna and New Evolution Ventures (NeV), today announced the October 31st opening of Hard Candy Fitness Toronto located at 382 Yonge Street. The exquisite 42,000 sq. ft. facility is the brand's first club in North America and the largest of all current Hard Candy Fitness gyms whose current locations include Rome, Sydney, Santiago, Mexico City, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Berlin.
"We are very excited about the opening of Toronto's new Hard Candy Fitness," said Leonard Schlemm, chairman and co-owner, of Hard Candy Fitness Toronto. "The club is in one of the city's most beautiful condominium towers in arguably the most vibrant neighborhood in Toronto."
This full-scale club will exude the brand's signature modern style with high-end amenities, extensive cardio, functional strength and personal training spaces, state-of-the-art equipment, saunas, steam rooms, custom juice bar and an all-around rooftop terrace. Hard Candy Fitness Toronto members will benefit from unique group fitness programming with studios for everything from cycling and Pilates to yoga and cardio-dance - including Hard Candy Fitness' signature Addicted to Sweat workouts. Madonna and her long-time personal trainer, Nicole Winhoffer were directly involved in the selection of each Addicted to Sweat instructors at the Toronto location.
The club will be located on the top retail floor of the newly-constructed, 78-story Aura building at College Park. Built by the Canderel Real Estate Development Corporation, the building will be the tallest condominium in Canada with stunning views of the cityscape with an adjacent three acre park. The Toronto team, led by its President and CEO Annick-Isabelle Marcoux is made up of some of the top fitness experts and trainers in Canada.
Exclusive promotional membership packages are now available. For details, or to enroll, visit www.hardcandyfitnesstoronto.com , email email@example.com , or call 416-979-1645.
Hard Candy Fitness is expected to announce the opening of several other locations this year as it continues its expansion into destination cities around the world. Madonna recently attended the official opening of Hard Candy Fitness in Berlin and taught an "Addicted To Sweat" class.
Madonna has rid herself of her massive Beverly Hills estate ... the one she bought during her marriage to Guy Ritchie ... and she pocketed a cool $8 MILLION in the process, TMZ has learned.
Madge had only listed the property back in January for $22.5 mil ... and just 10 months later, real estate guru Kurt Rappaport closed the deal for $20 mil. Not bad considering she bought the place in 2003 for $12 mil.
Real estate sources tell us ... the lucky guy who scooped up the pad is a Wall St. big shot.
The mystery buyer is clearly a fan of privacy ... 'cause the 17,000 square foot property is incredibly secluded -- with a 500 foot tree-lined driveway ... and massive trees covering the perimeter of the estate.
The home is insane -- with 15 bathrooms, 9 bedrooms, a 2-story dining room, pool, movie theater tennis court and a gym -- 'cause as we all know, Madge LOOOVES to pump iron.
So, where's Madonna gonna live now? We're told Madge is on the hunt for a smaller place in L.A. But don't worry about her ... she's still got massive properties in London and New York.
Here's an outtake from the photoshoot for Harper's Bazaar, and a shit behind the scenes with photographer Terry Richardson.
Madonna posted some pictures of the work-out session at the opening of the Hard Candy Fitness Center in Berlin on October 17th.
A small group of lucky club members were allowed to join the session, that was led by Madonna and her personal trainer Nicole Winhoffer.
Two months ago, we reported a mysterious billboard in Japan, which hinted at a new project in 2014.
The website mdna-0212.com that was mentioned on the billboard, is now available and forwards to www.mdnaskin.jp. It shows a black & white picture of Madonna, seemingly taken from the Justify My Love interlude video, with the text "MDNA Skin" and "2014.02.12 to be unveiled in Japan".
It's still unclear what the project is about, but at least we know it's for the Japanese market and that it will be launched on February 12th, 2014. Most probably, it will be a new product with the name MDNA Skin that will be launched in Japan. Whether it's another perfume, skincare, clothing (lingerie?) or other, we'll have to wait for more information.
"I actually played that song to Madonna when I wrote it and said, 'Oh, you can have this.' She gave it back to me."
In an interview with The Guardian, M.I.A. revealed that she initially offered her Matangi track "Sexodus" to her Super Bowl and Give Me All Your Luvin' collaborator Madonna . "I actually played that song to Madonna when I wrote it and said, 'Oh, you can have this,'" she said of the Weeknd -featuring track. "She gave it back to me."
She apparently asked Madonna what she thought about the song's sentiment: When you have it all, what should you do with it? "So I was like, what d'you do? And she said, 'You spend it!' And I said, 'No, I don't think that's the right answer.'"
Did that change her opinion of Madonna? "No, because Madonna is true to Madonna," she replied. "She always said she was a material girl."
The pop Queen made the strange move to avoid being spotted rather than for any kinky dress up games, the rapper has revealed.
Madonna disguised herself as an OAP [Old Age Pensioner] during dates with Vanilla Ice, the rapper has revealed.
The pop Queen made the strange move to avoid being spotted rather than for any kinky dress up games, the Sunday People reported.
Rapper Ice, 45, recalled his bizarre adventures with the singer during their hey day of dating in 1991.
Ice, talking while promoting a new reality show Vanilla Ice Goes Amish, said: “She was a sweetheart,
“We had great times. You take away the fame and everything and you got two people who just basically had a normal relationship. And I wish I could tell you more about it and throw some fireworks in there or something but it was kinda cool.
“Like, we would go to movies. We had disguises. I had a moustache and a hat with hair coming down and she would go as an old lady.
“And we would walk in and the bodyguards would like 20 feet behind. y'know, kinda lookin' just like we're nobody. And just walk in and go and see our movie and just have a good, normal... we'd do dinner that way and nobody would ever recognize us.
“It was the greatest.”
She is known for her gruelling work-out regimes and passion for fitness - even admitting to celebrating promotions with a trip to the gym.
Which is why Madonna was the perfect advertisement for a new fitness club which she opened in Berlin, Germany, on Thursday.
The 55-year-old opened the centre called Hard Candy, alongside her personal trainer Nicole Winhoffer, as it was inspired by Madonna's Addicted to Sweat workouts.
Appearing at the Truman Plaza, a former US army site in September 2013, the Vogue singer arrived in an all-leather ensemble, including skintight leather trousers and a black leather biker jacket.
She even wore a silver brooch embellished with the word 'hard,' if people did not need any more reminding of the Material Girl's physical and mental strength.
Madonna teamed the leather look with a pair of black round-toe stiletto heels and a pair of silver chain drop earrings attached to a black cube.
She left her golden locks parted to one side, whilst curling it into glamourous waves especially for the event.
The mum-of-two also wore lashings of black mascara to accentuate her eyes and teamed it with red lipstick and pink cheek blush.
The new Berlin club are offering a selection of programmes, incorporating dance elements choreographed by Nicole Winhoffer, as well as high-intensity exercise moves.
Madonna and personal trainer Nicole Winhoffer, have pioneered workouts that they believe are fun and entertaining.
The Berlin venue is just one on the fitness centres which Madonna plans to open for her trainer, who has already opened Hard Candy Fitness in places such as Moscow, Mexico City and Santiago.
When taking control of Madonna's fitness regimes, Nicole told Shape magazine: '[Madonna's] previous trainer was recruiting professional dancers for the dance cardio portion of her fitness training. I was brought on board to assist her on her last tour.
'When the tour ended, I immersed myself in understanding anatomy, physiology, and the latest fitness trends while continuing my dance training. I continued to train Madonna and now I'm her primary trainer.'
Yesterday Madonna attended the grand opening of the Hard Candy Fitness Center in Berlin. She was joined by her manager Guy Oseary and her personal trainer Nicole Winhoffer.
Here are the first press pictures.
In the past days, Madonna has been posting videos with street interviews of the fans who watched the secretprojectrevolution.
She also announced that a new projection will soon follow in Brazil.
secretprojectrevolution New York
secretprojectrevolution San Francisco
On October 11, Madonna.com announced the debut of the controversial Art For Freedom initiative (The Secret Project) in Palestine; the premiere will take place in Jericho at the Spanish Gardens.
After a very incisive CNN interview with Anderson Cooper where he prodded Madonna to reveal the real motivation behind her Art For Freedom project (not to mention the controversial black & white movie that comes along for the ride as the promo for this unprecedented effort), it is still not clear whether Madonna's efforts in this realm are being noticed. Despite the bizarre Harper's Bazaar article that diverted the attention away from this timely effort, the project deserves a huge applause.
For three decades, Madonna's outspoken candor allowed her to get exactly what she strived for: Attention. The monetary success behind her richly rewarded career is analogous to successful advertising campaigns: Attention that leads to product sales. Yet for Madonna, it doesn't end there and she has taken many socially conscious steps to approach her giant fame in a unique way; perhaps an approach that would have saved the lives (and the likes) of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston if they had followed a similar path and focused more on their global influence rather than drowning in their solipsistic worlds fueled by unctuous fans.
What is very different in Madonna's approach is that she has maintained a sober, realistic look at the world around her -- a bit tough when you are arguably the most famous woman on earth. Her access to resources and her unequivocal world tours ( the most successful female tour artist to date ) grant her the right and the platform to speak on behalf of anybody (and any cause) she chooses to support. She is conscious of who she is and what her achievements really mean. This simple fact puts her in a different category than her younger competitors, along with some of her contemporaries who have bitterly faded away after declaring Madonna's 'inevitable demise' 25 years ago.
With reality shows peaking and bursting out of the rating boxes, with karaoke shows reaching out to the nameless cues to make them 'idols' and with the digital monetization system that prompts YouTube to write a check for 8 Million USD to the creators of Gangnam Style, no one in the age of Facebook can accuse anyone for trying to seek some form of fame or notoriety.
Madonna achieved her 'advocacy rights' without hiding behind an anonymous mask; her performances showed a woman who was in touch with her (decidedly salacious) sexuality, quite often risking artistic failure in front of billions. Some of these efforts were rightfully panned, but after 28 Grammy nominations and 7 wins , the critics are having to find other ways to dismantle her. Her new project must not be one of them.
What is mostly unknown about Madonna is her tireless work ethic as a 'performing athlete'. As we witness this fact especially through her tour documentaries, Madonna's olympian discipline can perhaps be compared with (the now happily retired) Tina Turner's physical stamina. Yes, it's physical. The tours are their Olympics and how they maintain their bodies is a testament to how far the human body can sustain strength and vitality on stage. (As the world witnessed the physical demise of Jackson while he was preparing for one of these tours, it was obvious that one can't remain a physical mess in this dangerously hot pursuit for long.)
Madonna's efforts can be superficially dismissed as useless attempts to 'defy' aging, but they're not: Madonna (55), along with Tina Turner (73), showed women across the globe what their true potential could be if they don't subscribe to conventional -- and mostly misogynistic -- notions of what it means to be a free, successful and -- here comes the crescendo -- a beautifully aging woman. Through their unique talents, they re-defined beauty and combined it with physical strength, motherhood and social consciousness.
Madonna's support for the Russian band Pussy Riot, her unyielding advocacy for gay rights (even when it was not 'cool' to do so), her AIDS prevention charities, her adoption of two African boys that put a virtually unknown destitute country (Malawi) on the consciousness map, her open-minded view on the legal aspects of freedom of speech and her yet-to-be-matched stage presence makes her -- and this project -- globally significant.
Speaking of freedom of speech, Madonna was fighting for it at the front lines 25 years ago when her lyrics and videos were censored; by the same company that brings us Miley Cyrus with a 'twerking' smirk. Many people may not know that even in 2013, despots like Vladimir Putin (who sued her for 1 Million USD for criticizing him in Russia, put tens of her fans in jail for their advocation of LGBT rights after an impassioned speech at her Russian concert and incarcerated members of the band Pussy Riot for having the courage to rightfully speak against his dictatorial caprice) target Madonna on a regular basis.
The artists and journalists held captive in the ominous prisons of Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and elsewhere may have a better sense of what Madonna is talking about when she utters the word "consciousness" in this courageously curated project of hers; these projects help raise awareness and activate world's conscience. Creative freedom of speech advocates are welcome to unite at www.artforfreedom.com.
Does Madonna write her own songs? Yes, and no. She doesn't write the music, that's for sure. And now that Ms. Ciccone has been put up for induction in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, I thought it might be interesting to settle the question after all.
Last night I chatted with Patrick Leonard, the great composer of pop hits and sometimes even a ghost writer and ‘enabler' for rock stars who need help getting their work onto paper. Leonard is a trained musician who can play anything at the drop of a hat. On the phone, from Amsterdam, where he's working with Leonard Cohen, Patrick played Like a Prayer for me in different sections. He wrote the music for that hit, as he did for many of Madonna's big hits during her top of the chart heyday.
Patrick Leonard wrote the music for, among others: Like a Prayer, Cherish, True Blue, Live to Tell, La Isla Bonita, Frozen, Hanky Panky, Sky Fits Heaven, Nothing Really Matters, I'll Remember, and Something to Remember. He was a producer on Open Your Heart.
Madonna wrote the lyrics, Leonard says, with him, and helped create the melodies. He considers her a friend and mentor. “She put me on the map,” he says, “I'm grateful.”
“I'm one of those people behind the curtain.” Leonard says. “If she [Madonna] hadn't sung those songs, no one would have heard them. She's made it possible for me to do what I'm doing now.”
Their process was simple. He wrote the music, and brought it to Madonna. She would help supply lyrics and offer changes in the music to suit her. “She'd refine it,” he says. “You give her a track, she sings the melody. She's very very talented.” Of their collaboration, he says, “One doesn't exist without the other. She always showed up and she was always completely involved. I miss her, actually.”
They haven't written together since 1997. Would he like to do it again? “Absolutely,” Leonard says. “She writes a lot with deejays now.”
Leonard is credited on all the songs he wrote with Madonna. They include the largest number of chart hits on which she is credited as co-writer. There are no songs that are credited just to Madonna. And a clutch of them were written solely by others including Holiday, Like a Virgin, Material Girl, and Borderline.
Leonard told me he didn't care if Madonna goes into the Songwriters Hall of Fame without him. He doesn't believe in awards. He doesn't even hang his gold records. “They're all in a closet somewhere,” he said. He just believes in moving forward. This week he comes to New York to work with Roger Waters.
Add Madonna to the long list of moviegoers walking away from 12 Years a Slave in tears.
The megastar was the surprise guest at the film's premiere last night during the New York Film Festival.
"She was wiping away tears after the movie," a fellow festivalgoer says. "She said she loved the movie."
Madge didn't hit the red carpet during the evening's celebrity arrivals. Instead, she took photos with 12 Years director Steve McQueen backstage before slipping into the theater right as the movie began.
Madonna, John Mellencamp and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant are among the nominees for the 2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame.
They are joined by a number of top acts, including Ray Davies, Sade, Cyndi Lauper and Linda Perry.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame gave The Associated Press a list of nominees in advance of the official announcement, set for Thursday. The gala will be held June 12 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
Also nominated are Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, Vince Gill, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, Donovan, Cat Stevens and Harry Wayne Casey.
Nonperforming songwriter nominees include "Midnight Train to Georgia" writer Jim Weatherly, Motown songwriter William "Mickey" Stevenson and country music songwriters Bobby Braddock and Bill Anderson.
Mark James, the writer behind "Always on My Mind" — covered by Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson — is also nominated alongside Don Robertson, Graham Gouldman and Tony Macaulay. Writing duos Hugo & Luigi, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham will also compete.
Eligible voters can select two nominees from the list of songwriter-performers and three nonperforming songwriters. Voting ends Dec. 16.
Madonna will host the official grand opening of her first Hard Candy Fitness location in Berlin on Thursday, October 17th, 2013. The club, located at Clayallee 171-177, will be the first of several Hard Candy Fitness locations in the city developed in partnership with fitness entrepreneurs Dr. Jurgen Jopp and Ralf Jopp.
The club boasts a 25-meter pool, steam room, sauna, cafe, and three large terraces providing plenty of space to exercise and outdoor relaxation. The facility spans almost 2,500 square meters, allowing members to enjoy stunning views of the man-made lake specially created for the new Funf Morgen Urban Village. Members also have access to the most revolutionary strength equipment and free weights, along with dedicated spaces for personal training, group cycling, yoga, Pilates, and a large group fitness studio with floor to ceiling windows. "We are thrilled to bring this unique and dynamic fitness brand to Germany, and are honored to have Madonna host our official grand opening," stated Dr. Jurgen Jopp.
Madonna is scheduled to teach her signature Addicted to Sweat cardio based dance class in the club with the Hard Candy Fitness Dance Team as part of the festivities. Members of Hard Candy Fitness Berlin will be allowed to audition for this special workout. Members can sign up online at www.hardcandyfitness.de, or at the club. On Thursday, October 17, the selected winners will work with the Hard Candy Fitness Dance Team to learn the Addicted to Sweat training routine. The event will culminate with Madonna leading the class in the workout. "I'm looking forward to getting Berlin 'Addicted to Sweat' and am excited to be attending the grand opening of the first of several Hard Candy Fitness Clubs in Germany," commented Madonna.
For more information about Hard Candy Fitness Berlin and exclusive membership opportunities, visit www.hardcandyfitness.de. For more information about entering for a chance to be part of the auditions, visit the above website or visit the club at Clayallee 171-177, 14195, Berlin.
This Tuesday, October 8th at 4:30PM EST @Madonna will host a 'live art curation' accepting and providing input on artistic submissions for the #ArtForFreedom movement.
@Madonna & Vice created this platform to give people around the world an opportunity to answer the question: "What Does Freedom Mean To You?" @Madonna and Steven Klein ( @Skstudly ) premiered their project #SecretProjectRevolution to the world last week, as the first submission for the #ArtforFreedom platform.
Now, it's your turn.
The Twitter community is invited to submit images, videos, music and poetry by including #ArtForFreedom in their tweet expressing their personal meaning of Freedom and Revolution. Submissions will begin Friday, October 4th to be part of the 'live curation'.
Madonna will be curating the submissions in real-time via her official account Twitter.com/Madonna . Join the revolution!
For more information on Art For Freedom go to www.ArtForFreedom.com
But she never went away. After 30 years of ruling pop, she tells the truth about daring. See Madonna's daring fashion shoot for our November issue.
TRUTH OR DARE?
That is a catchphrase that's often associated with me. I made a documentary film with this title, and it has stuck to me like flypaper ever since. It's a fun game to play if you're in the mood to take risks, and usually I am. However, you have to play with a clever group of people. Otherwise you'll find yourself French-kissing everyone in the room or giving blow jobs to Evian bottles!
People usually choose "truth" when it's their turn because you can tell a lie about yourself and no one will be the wiser, but when you are dared to do something, you have to actually do it. And doing something daring is a rather scary proposition for most people. Yet for some strange reason, it has become my raison d'être.
If I can't be daring in my work or the way I live my life, then I don't really see the point of being on this planet.
That may sound rather extremist, but growing up in a suburb in the Midwest was all I needed to understand that the world was divided into two categories: people who followed the status quo and played it safe, and people who threw convention out the window and danced to the beat of a different drum. I hurled myself into the second category, and soon discovered that being a rebel and not conforming doesn't make you very popular. In fact, it does the opposite. You are viewed as a suspicious character. A troublemaker. Someone dangerous.
When you're 15, this can feel a little uncomfortable. Teenagers want to fit in on one hand and be rebellious on the other. Drinking beer and smoking weed in the parking lot of my high school was not my idea of being rebellious, because that's what everybody did. And I never wanted to do what everybody did. I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms. I mean, why did God give us hair there anyways? Why didn't guys have to shave there? Why was it accepted in Europe but not in America? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory manner, so I pushed the envelope even further. I refused to wear makeup and tied scarves around my head like a Russian peasant. I did the opposite of what all the other girls were doing, and I turned myself into a real man repeller. I dared people to like me and my nonconformity.
That didn't go very well. Most people thought I was strange. I didn't have many friends; I might not have had any friends. But it all turned out good in the end, because when you aren't popular and you don't have a social life, it gives you more time to focus on your future. And for me, that was going to New York to become a REAL artist. To be able to express myself in a city of nonconformists. To revel and shimmy and shake in a world and be surrounded by daring people.
New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time.
The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away. The sizzling-hot sidewalks and the noise of the traffic and the electricity of the people rushing by me on the streets was a shock to my neurotransmitters. I felt like I had plugged into another universe. I felt like a warrior plunging my way through the crowds to survive. Blood pumping through my veins, I was poised for survival. I felt alive.
But I was also scared shitless and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up.
And all the homeless people on the street. This wasn't anything I prepared for in Rochester, Michigan. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal. I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going. Sometimes I would play the victim and cry in my shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall, watching the pigeons shit on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her mustache consoled me. Because she was an artist who didn't care what people thought. I admired her. She was daring. People gave her a hard time. Life gave her a hard time. If she could do it, then so could I.
When you're 25, it's a little bit easier to be daring, especially if you are a pop star, because eccentric behavior is expected from you. By then I was shaving under my arms, but I was also wearing as many crucifixes around my neck as I could carry, and telling people in interviews that I did it because I thought Jesus was sexy. Well, he was sexy to me, but I also said it to be provocative. I have a funny relationship with religion. I'm a big believer in ritualistic behavior as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. But I'm not a big fan of rules. And yet we cannot live in a world without order. But for me, there is a difference between rules and order. Rules people follow without question. Order is what happens when words and actions bring people together, not tear them apart. Yes, I like to provoke; it's in my DNA. But nine times out of 10, there's a reason for it.
At 35, I was divorced and looking for love in all the wrong places. I decided that I needed to be more than a girl with gold teeth and gangster boyfriends. More than a sexual provocateur imploring girls not to go for second-best baby. I began to search for meaning and a real sense of purpose in life. I wanted to be a mother, but I realized that just because I was a freedom fighter didn't mean I was qualified to raise a child. I decided I needed to have a spiritual life. That's when I discovered Kabbalah.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears, and I'm afraid that cliché applied to me as well. That was the next daring period of my life. In the beginning I sat at the back of the classroom. I was usually the only female. Everyone looked very serious. Most of the men wore suits and kippahs. No one noticed me and no one seemed to care, and that suited me just fine. What the teacher was saying blew my mind. Resonated with me. Inspired me. We were talking about God and heaven and hell, but I didn't feel like religious dogma was being shoved down my throat. I was learning about science and quantum physics. I was reading Aramaic. I was studying history. I was introduced to an ancient wisdom that I could apply to my life in a practical way. And for once, questions and debate were encouraged. This was my kind of place.
When the world discovered I was studying Kabbalah, I was accused of joining a cult. I was accused of being brainwashed. Of giving away all my money. I was accused of all sorts of crazy things. If I became a Buddhist—put an altar in my house and started chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo"—no one would have bothered me at all. I mean no disrespect to Buddhists, but Kabbalah really freaked people out. It still does. Now, you would think that studying the mystical interpretation of the Old Testament and trying to understand the secrets of the universe was a harmless thing to do. I wasn't hurting anybody. Just going to class, taking notes in my spiral notebook, contemplating my future. I was actually trying to become a better person.
For some reason, that made people nervous. It made people mad. Was I doing something dangerous? It forced me to ask myself, Is trying to have a relationship with God daring? Maybe it is.
When I was 45, I was married again, with two children and living in England. I consider moving to a foreign country to be a very daring act. It wasn't easy for me. Just because we speak the same language doesn't mean we speak the same language. I didn't understand that there was still a class system. I didn't understand pub culture. I didn't understand that being openly ambitious was frowned upon. Once again I felt alone. But I stuck it out and I found my way, and I grew to love English wit, Georgian architecture, sticky toffee pudding, and the English countryside. There is nothing more beautiful than the English countryside.
Then I decided that I had an embarrassment of riches and that there were too many children in the world without parents or families to love them. I applied to an international adoption agency and went through all the bureaucracy, testing, and waiting that everyone else goes through when they adopt. As fate would have it, in the middle of this process a woman reached out to me from a small country in Africa called Malawi, and told me about the millions of children orphaned by AIDS. Before you could say "Zikomo Kwambiri," I was in the airport in Lilongwe heading to an orphanage in Mchinji, where I met my son David. And that was the beginning of another daring chapter of my life. I didn't know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another shit storm. But it did. I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it. Certainly I had done something illegal!
This was an eye-opening experience. A real low point in my life. I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child's life was not something I thought I would be punished for. Friends tried to cheer me up by telling me to think of it all as labor pains that we all have to go through when we give birth. This was vaguely comforting. In any case, I got through it. I survived.
When I adopted Mercy James, I put my armor on. I tried to be more prepared. I braced myself. This time I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. I fought the supreme court and I won. It took almost another year and many lawyers. I still got the shit kicked out of me, but it didn't hurt as much. And looking back, I do not regret one moment of the fight.
One of the many things I learned from all of this: If you aren't willing to fight for what you believe in, then don't even enter the ring.
Ten years later, here I am, divorced and living in New York. I have been blessed with four amazing children. I try to teach them to think outside the box. To be daring. To choose to do things because they are the right thing to do, not because everybody else is doing them. I have started making films, which is probably the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. I am building schools for girls in Islamic countries and studying the Qur'an. I think it is important to study all the holy books. As my friend Yaman always tells me, a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth. I couldn't agree more. To some people this is a very daring thought.
As life goes on (and thank goodness it has), the idea of being daring has become the norm for me. Of course, this is all about perception because asking questions, challenging people's ideas and belief systems, and defending those who don't have a voice have become a part of my everyday life. In my book, it is normal.
In my book, everyone is doing something daring. Please open this book. I dare you.
Madonna wants you to start a revolution.
The superstar spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday about her new project, Art for Freedom. With it, she is inviting fans to submit original video, music, poetry and photography to fight oppression, intolerance and complacency through art.
Through Art for Freedom, she explains, "We have created this platform to give people around the world an opportunity to answer the question: 'What does freedom mean to you?' "
"I'm encouraging other people, whether they're professionals or not, to use their creativity to express themselves, to get a conversation going, to get the party started, really," Madonna told Cooper.
In September, Madonna revealed what was then only known as #secretprojectrevolution in 10 cities, including Los Angeles and New York City. Those in attendance were treated to a "call to action" film the singer created with photographer Steven Klein, in partnership with VICE Media and BitTorrent.
Cooper caught up with a relaxed Madonna, who joked that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a grueling workout. But the artist was clearly passionate about the subject and even asked her son Rocco to wait a moment while the interview ran long.
Cooper and Madonna had a wide-ranging conversation, touching upon her favorite quote from author James Baldwin ("I don't separate the human spirit from the artistic spirit") to what ever happened to that Boy Scout uniform Madonna wore to the GLAAD awards earlier this year. (Each of her kids claimed an article of clothing, but "I kept the combat boots," Madonna said. "I'll need those for my revolution.")
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Anderson Cooper: I've heard you call this project the most important thing you've done, besides raising your children.
Madonna: Yes. Obviously, I feel a great sense of responsibility being a good parent and raising my children. I don't take that job very lightly. Who they are, what they become and what they contribute to the world is very important to me. No slacking in that area, thank god, but the same goes with this film. I've put in I don't know how many man hours, I've poured my own money into it. Steven Klein has done the same.
We've done it for no financial gain, (and) also not to promote any product in particular. The only reason we're doing this is because we want to shed light on subjects that need to have light shed on (them). I do see that the world that we live in is collapsing to a certain extent, and civilization as we know it is caving in on itself.
I believe that we are at a very low level of consciousness, and we do not know how to treat each other as human beings. We are caught up in our own lives, our own needs, our own ego gratification. I feel a strong sense of responsibility in delivering that message.
Cooper: It seems there is an optimism in what you're doing.
Madonna: Of course. I'm doing it because I believe in the ultimate good of humanity, but a lot of times push has to come to shove. I think you've noticed yourself over the years that, when do people really want to come to the rescue of others?
When there's a catastrophe. When 9/11 happens, or when the floods happen in New Orleans, or when the bombs happened in Boston. What happens? People come together. Suddenly, people say, what can I do to help? What can I do to be of service?
What I'm trying to say is, why do we have to be pushed to the worst-case scenarios to bring out the best in ourselves to be the best version of ourselves that we can be?
Cooper: I went to the opening of "secretprojectrevolution" in New York and you incorporated some words from James Baldwin. I'm not quoting directly, but he said, only the artist can truly see and describe the human condition.
I don't think that's something a lot of people really think about, but that's something clearly you believe in very strongly -- that art can actually make a change in people's lives.
Madonna: I believe that. And I think that it used to make a much bigger change in people's lives in the days when people were not censored. In the days when branding wasn't in charge. Now, in order for people to get their stuff out there, they have to be associated with a brand and once you start associating with a brand, unfortunately, the brand starts to censor you. And then suddenly it's not your pure vision anymore.
Imagine if someone like John Lennon or Bob Marley, Sid Vicious, Picasso, whomever, were doing their work and some corporation, some CEO, some branding entity was saying to you, well you can do that, but you've got to remove this aspect of your work. There would no longer be that purity anymore. We wouldn't have their gift.
We wouldn't learn from what they had to share with us. I'm all for noncensorship and freedom of expression.
Madonna has announced a grants program in coordination with Art For Freedom, the global digital initiative designed to fuel free speech, to address, respond and protest persecution around the world.
Madonna kicked off Art For Freedom on September 24, 2013 by posting Secretprojectrevolution, a 17-minute video she created with Steven Klein. The film - 'a call to action' - originally premiered on Vice and remains downloadable on Bit Torrent. Artists are encouraged to submit their own work on artforfreedom.com in the form of video, music, poetry or photography to express their personal meaning of freedom and revolution.
As part of the Art For Freedom initiative, Madonna has launched a grants program to support individuals and organizations working to advance social justice. Over the course of the next year she will select one artist each month whose creative expression helps fight oppression, intolerance and complacency. Madonna will award $10,000 to a nonprofit organization or project of the winning artist's choice. All projects must be focused on a social justice issue and exemplify the values of Art For Freedom.
Madonna will select the winning submission each month with the help of a guest curator beginning with Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"I want to help give a creative voice to those who have been silenced and denied their human rights. Art for Freedom is a platform that gives artists a chance to define freedom through their art. We have already received many incredible submissions. I am inviting all people to express their thoughts on the subject of freedom whether it's describing specific persecution they have experienced, sharing how their rights have been violated and / or sharing their ideas creatively regarding fighting injustice," commented Madonna.
Art For Freedom, launched in partnership with Vice, received over 1000 submissions in the first 48 hours of its inception. These submissions and the ones that follow will become part of the Art For Freedom platform and will be eligible for the Arts For Freedom grants program. Contributors can join the project by uploading original artwork at artforfreedom.com or tagging original posts #artforfreedom.↑ Back to top of page