Carlton Wilborn lived life on center stage as Madonna's lead dancer on her Blond Ambition and The Girlie Show tours. He was the energetic and daring dancer in her documentary film, Truth or Dare. But Wilborn wasn't being upfront with a couple of secrets he was hiding back then. Not only was he HIV-positive, but he was suppressing the impact of being molested by his karate instructor for five years, from the age of 8 to 13.
It all came crashing down on him in 2001 when his work out of the limelight on a cruise ship didn't generate the gratification he had loved since being the principal dancer in Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance Company. His solution was to put his secrets into "Front & Center: How I Learned To Live There." He's planning a poetry-based recording with music based on the book, but he's on the promotion circuit now. He'll sign copies of the book Wednesday at Peppertree Books in Palm Springs. He talked about it and his life in a recent Desert Sun interview:
DESERT POST WEEKLY: Did you continue with karate after your molestation or did your instructor's actions drive you away from it?
CARLTON WILBORN: No, I did not continue with karate after that - not because of any conscious decision, it sort of just fell away from me. But I do feel that the karate experience - especially seeing that I had reached the brown belt level - awakened the athlete in me so I could be confident for my dance career, which was just around the corner.
DPW: What attracted you to dance and how did your father react to your pursuit of it?
CW: Honestly, what got me dancing was my mom and my old grammar school teacher, Carolyn Currie, rushing to find a school that I could transfer to (in) mid-season. It ended up being the Whitney Young Magnet High School through the dance department. It seems that it was my destiny. Yay! In regards to my father, he was fairly neutral about it, at least until he started seeing me in newspapers. Then he'd run off to work bragging about me.
DPW: Was that period in which you were dancing with Madonna an especially happy time for you? Were you able to repress the molestation? If so, how were you able to do that?
CW: My Madonna years were fairly happy times, but because I was also hiding my HIV diagnoses, I was always nervous that I might be found out, and that it would all be taken away from me. My efforts to repress the molestation started years before the Madonna stuff came around. But, yeah sure, the screaming my name, the cameras and the private jets, they can all be a Band-Aid for a while.
DPW: You seem so spiritual now. Did an epiphany lead you there?
CW: No, there was no exact moment of epiphany. It honestly seems to be something that I've been continually growing into, ever since being a kid. My grandmother, my mom and even my dad were all spiritual in their own ways. I can definitely see that today.
eep in contact with Madonna? If so, do you find that you've grown in similar spiritual directions? How do you feel about her today?
CW: It's been a few years since she and I have spoken. But, I will always have nice thoughts about her. She gave me the chance of a lifetime. Plus, Madonna honestly got me started on my real structured spiritual path. She paid for my first entire season of Kabbalah classes.
Madonna recently told the International Herald Tribune that she has a new project in mind - and it's all about her. "I'm thinking about doing a 25-year retrospective — multimedia, with video and photographs of me by Mario Testino, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel," she told the paper.
Madonna appears naked again in a new painting by Scots artist Peter Howson... but this time with a special guest. The star's husband Guy Ritchie features in the picture, Howson's third with the singer. It is going on show at the Gatehouse Gallery in Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow.
Organizers of the July 7 Live Earth shows are just about to start announcing who's playing on which of the seven continents. These are the climate change awareness concerts being produced in conjunction with former Vice President Al Gore stemming from his film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
God only knows that the trash generated by seven megaconcerts should be a sight to behold, but I suppose there's some plan for all that. I am told the Rolling Stones will be headlining the U.K. show at Wembley Stadium, along with Madonna (she's British, you know).
Other acts for Wembley should include the Red Hot Chili Peppers (they'll do London, not Philadelphia), as well as Metallica, James Blunt and Block Party.
Madonna was nominated in two different categories at this year's International Dance Music Awards. The one and only Queen of the Dance Floor won the Best Dance Video award for Jump and was named Best Dance Artist Solo. To discover all of the nominees and winners, visit the official IDMA website.
Fansite Madonnadownload posted some pictures from March 19th where she's seen entering a recording studio, probably for her new album.
A Popdirt article is talking about how the next album will be Madonna's most expensive ever with top producers Pharrel, Timbaland & Swizz Beatz. They also point out that Madonna's trying to get back to the US market even though 75% of her recent record sales were international.
The rumours of the Re-Invention Tour are back: it seems Warner is approving of the release with asking sites to take down recordings of a tour. After the success of her latest CD/DVD package, it would make sense if Warner wanted to make money of the 2004 tour. Two supposed DVD-audio tracks have leaked (Vogue & Nothing Fails) and they indeed sound too good to be amateur recordings. We'll keep our visitors informed!
The sober blazers, cute kimono dresses and trendy sun glasses 'made by Madonna' yesterday were the ultimate thing to have for fashionable women. H&M called the first salesday of Madonna's fashion line not a sales storm, but still a success.
They didn't run crazy, yesterday at the H&M stores. Fashion lovers didn't attack each other to obtain a Madonna clothing piece for a few dozen euros. On the [shopping street] Meir in Antwerp, only thirty clients were waiting yesterday morning for the doors to open. "We didn't expect a storm", says spokesperson Marianne Nerinckx.
"Each store, big and small, offers the M by Madonna collection. The previous designer collection was only available in the big cities. Since the colllection is now more spread, which means the sales also goes more gradually."
Still the Swedish fashion chain is more than satisfied about the first day. "The stock constantly needs to be added. It is a very classic, feminin collection, keeping open many options. The back&white kimono dress with pumps or on top of a jeans immediately gives a different view. The classic approach with simple colours attracks a larger audience. Furthermore, Madonna is a big name: she is known as the ultimate style icon. Many people come and have a look out of curiosity."
"This morning I even recognised some customers who come to the designers collection every year because they know it's worthwhile. This collection has a longer life; we still have enough stock. Customers can still come to the stores at least until monday." Halina Leaniuk (38) was a satisfied customer: There are many practical things which you can always wear. The lace and the leather are very comfortable to wear and the price is more than reasonable."
Charlotte Vissers (28) from Brasschaat was also early when the previous designer lines of Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney went on sale. "It's a great opportunity to get those designs into your own collection."
Madonna has offered to help fashion designer pal Stella McCartney make a record, if she ever decides to follow in her former Beatle father's footsteps.
McCartney helped the pop Queen with her new range of clothes for high street store H+M - and Madonna wants to return the favour.
She says, "I asked her for fashion advice and I told her, if she ever wanted to do a record, I'd gladly help out."
Pop superstar Madonna is urging Al Gore to change his mind and run for US President next year (08), insisting she'd lend him her support. Gore, who lost out to George W. Bush in 2000, has stated he has no plans to campaign for the White House in 2008.
But Madonna was so impressed with his Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, she thinks he should run. She says, "I would publicly support him if he joins the race."
A new clothing line designed by Madonna for Swedish cheap-chic retailer H&M sold out in minutes in Stockholm, but the launch of the collection failed to spark mad rushes in other European cities.
The "M by Madonna" garments disappeared off the racks in a flash in Stockholm, where hundreds of shoppers had lined up outside H&M stores to be the first to get their hands on the collection, consisting of about 30 items of clothing and 10 accessories, launched around the world on Thursday.
But in the rest of Europe, there were no stampede scenes as seen in recent years when designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Viktor&Rolf launched lines bearing their name for H&M.
In Paris, about 80 people lined up patiently outside the chain's store on Boulevard Haussmann before the opening. Once the doors opened the shoppers perused calmly through the racks.
In Madrid, home of H&M's Spanish rival Zara, the store was no busier than usual and the section selling Madonna's items was practically empty.
The same was true in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
In Stockholm as in Berlin, there were no chaotic scenes but the collection appeared to be a huge success and H&M said it was pleased by shoppers' positive reactions.
"The clothes were bought very quickly," company spokesman Jenni Tapper-Hoel told AFP, adding that stores across Sweden already needed to restock by midday.
At the large Hamngatan store in central Stockholm, the clothes flew off the racks in minutes.
"The collection is magnificent. Fantastic. Very trendy. It's very Madonna," Rosy Doad, a 23-year-old makeup artist who was among the first inside the store, told AFP.
"The line is very sophisticated, a kind of business casual, for a very powerful woman, like Madonna. It's very feminine and a little extravagant," 19-year-old musician Alex Eisenstein said.
At H and M's flagship store in London's Oxford Street, a quarter of the ground floor was dedicated to the singer's collection.
The shop was busy, with a mostly younger, female crowd checking out the black, white and cream-toned items.
"I'm a huge Madonna fan," said TJ Pursell, 40, an estate agent from southwest London.
"I wanted to come and see what it was like. I think she's great, I think her fashion's fantastic and I wanted to see if her collection was the same," she told AFP.
The "M by Madonna" line reflects the pop star's image: feminine, classical and sexy. Kimono dresses, skintight pants, pencil skirts, tight-fitting blouses, as well as accessories including wide belts, purses and high-heeled shoes.
The star chose neutral tones of black, white and cream, and luxury materials silk, fine wool and cashmere.
Cropped pants sold for 398 kronor (43 euros, 57 dollars), a dress for 498 kronor (55 euros, 72 dollars) and a blouse for 598 kronor (64 euros, 86 dollars).
Hennes & Mauritz has frequently called on celebrities to help sell its clothes in the past.
In 2004, legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel was the first to put his name to a collection for the Swedish chain. He was followed by British hipster Stella McCartney in 2005, while Dutch duo Viktor&Rolf were hired for an autumn-winter collection last year.
A sneak preview of Madonna's collection was unveiled in Hong Kong on March 10, when a selection of items went on sale at the opening of the H&M's first store in China.
Founded in 1947, H&M has 1,345 stores in 24 countries.
Madonna on Thursday joined the parade of celebrities with their own fashion lines, but the material girl who used to shock audiences with her outrageous outfits kept to a mainstream tune.
Madonna's much-anticipated clothing line, "M by Madonna," went on sale at the low-priced Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB's stores around the world on Thursday.
Excited shoppers in New York, where Madonna began her career, queued up about 30 minutes before the H&M store on Manhattan's ritzy Fifth Avenue opened, in order to be among the first to see the diva's collection.
Within two hours some items, including belts and small purses, had sold out, said one sales associate.
Another hot seller was a white, double-breasted trench coat, which Madonna, who co-designed the line for the Swedish company, wears in the campaign's advertisements.
"That white, silky coat is gorgeous, I think my daughter, who is 19, would love it," said Mary Taylor, a public relations executive, who was among the curious.
But many shoppers were not as enthusiastic about the range of styles, expecting a clothing line designed by the singer, actress and author to be more adventurous.
Madonna, who has been a taste-maker for more than two decades, has shocked audiences throughout her career with daring styles that have included lacy bras and crucifixes and a Jean-Paul Gaultier-designed cone bustier.
"I was expecting the clothes to be a little more fashion-forward I have to say, because she is such an icon and I heard it was based on her own closet," said Daniela Maron, a fashion publicist combing the Fifth Ave. store's racks for a cream-colored sequined mini dress donned by a mannequin.
That dress, one of the standout pieces in the mostly solid, monochromatic collection, sold out early, according to a sales associate.
"A lot of people came in, but as for buying, it's been half-and-half," said Juan Tinch, an H&M sales associate. "There have been a lot of purchases but also a lot of returns."
Hennes & Mauritz, among the first retailers to bring trendy fashions to main street wallets, has had home-runs with its exclusive, limited lines by heavy-hitters Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld and cult label Viktor & Rolf.
The Viktor & Rolf and McCartney launches were "totally chaotic," Tinch said. "This has been a little more calm and collected."
Lisa Sandberg, a U.S. spokeswoman for Hennes & Mauritz, whose chairman, Stefan Persson, is the 17th-richest person in the world, said the difference was because the collection is in all H&M stores with womenswear, instead of just a few.
"What this means is that although it's a one-off collection, more H&M customers will have the opportunity to find M by Madonna in their local H&M store and should also be able to purchase a piece without being the first shopper on line," Sandberg said in an e-mail.
But for Sara Axelsson, a New York-based lawyer who went to see Madonna's line, the collection was not unique enough to justify a purchase.
"The Stella McCartney line was much more different than the usual H&M stuff," Axelsson said.
Other clothing lines designed by fashionable celebrities, who are not themselves designers, include Sarah Jessica Parker's line at Steve & Barry's and model Kate Moss's line with the U.K. retailer Topshop.
"Obviously (celebrities) help enormously, whether it be if they're fronting a product or have worn it, but of course it takes away from the cachet level," said Maron, the publicist, about the trend of low-priced retailers selling collections designed by icons.
"But I'm definitely buying something, even if I never wear it," Maron said. "Just to have it. Anything for Madonna."
How High was meant to be a video interlude and an intro for the rock/acoustic segment that dealt with the "fame" topic. Madonna had 3 directors in mind, including Dago Gonzalez & Jamie King.
The concept seemed to have a part with Madonna getting ready for a show, being on a runway interspersed with images of tragic events and gossip headlines, like the death of Princess Diana (which remind us of Drowned World).
Probably due to lack of time, the video was unfortunately scrapped and a remix of Sorry was used with re-editing its original video.
Top producer Timbaland was on The View on March 19th and he was asked if the rumours about Madonna working with him were true or not. His answer was: "I don't know. We have secret code for that. We can't talk about it."
Material girl, indeed. A line of clothing co-designed by pop queen Madonna went on sale around the world Thursday in branches of Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz.
Pieces in the M by Madonna collection, co-designed by H&M design chief Margareta van den Bosch, include a leather trench coat, sequined shift dresses, cream-colored calf-length pants and matching cropped jackets.
In Britain, the items are priced between $16 and $295.
"I am a Madonna fan but the reason I am buying the clothes is that they are very nice and feminine and the prices are very reasonable," said Magda Grabowik, 32, as she lined up to pay for a coat, jacket and dresses at H&M's Oxford Street store.
Madonna said working on the fashion line had been "an exciting and new creative challenge."
"I'm happy with the results and look forward to wearing M by Madonna along with the rest of the world," the 48-year-old singer said in a statement.
H&M said the collection reflected Madonna's "timeless, unique and always glamorous style."
Stockholm-based H&M has more than 1,300 stores in 24 countries.
~ Several countries are also holding contests to win a coat signed by Madonna herself.
Madonna, petite in a white jersey 1940s dress of her own design, has a confession, but it is not about the range of black, white and neutral clothes that she has designed for the Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M.
Madonna's secret is that she has been working for two years on the archive of her performance and personal clothes, which are stashed away in California and are currently being classified.
"I'm thinking of doing a 25-year retrospective — multimedia, with video and photographs of me by Mario Testino, Herb Ritts, Steven Klein and Steven Meisel," said Madonna, who also wants to "celebrate all the designers" like Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix who have created exceptional pieces for her.
Madonna, 48, was launching her "M by Madonna" line in the cool-but- cozy Artesian bar, designed by Tom Collins, at London's Langham hotel. The H&M collection goes on sale Thursday and is already worn by the pop diva herself, on vast billboards across town.
As fashion spectaculars go, this was a discreet affair, with the sophomore designer knotting the belt of a trench coat and tweaking its collar as she unveiled this first line of ready-to-wear pieces — following the track suit she created for H&M last year.
"I didn't want to do a gigantic line of clothes and I wanted to keep the color palette simple," said Madonna of the black, white and neutral range. "I did the track suit because that is what I want to work out. These are clothes I want to wear and wish to keep on.
I have a group of girls who work for me I call 'Semtex girls' (read 'explosive') who are hard-working but who like to have fun. There is nothing in this collection about the stage, theater and drama."
Price is the key to the 26-piece line of slim dresses, cropped jackets and pants, with a bunch of accessories (including a wide patent leather corset belt). Madonna's little white jersey dress, with a girlish raised waist and softly puffed sleeves (inspired from a find in her closet), sells for $59.90.
A leather jacket is top-of-the-range at $198, but you can buy a "very Madonna" belted blazer for $69.90 and for $10 more, a denim zippered top. Jeans, at $59, are way below premium prices.
Accessories do not include Madonna's favorite French beret, but there is a turban hat, as well as bold hide-behind sunglasses and handbags. The corset belt, in mock crocodile, sells for $34.90. The "M" collection will be in all H&M stores in 28 countries carrying women's clothes.
Looking at the lineup of nice but unremarkable clothes (which, of course, look much more fab in the ad campaign, when it is Madonna's well-honed body filling out a curvy white shirt and pencil skirt), it is hard to imagine why such an icon of pop culture wants to reach out to her adoring public with clothes as well as music.
The singer, who says "it wasn't new for me to be on the floor with pins," says that she was involved in the design, had fittings done on herself and believes that "it is not a job to take lightly."
Margareta van den Bosch, H&M's head of design, said that Madonna "showed me part of her wardrobe" as the basis of the taste and style, and that the star was very much involved in the project.
Madonna said that she was inspired from her closet by "a certain kind of pencil skirt," "bits of details" and vintage clothes that she has collected since she appeared in the 1985 movie "Desperately Seeking Susan."
"I wanted it to be unique and simple at the same time," said Madonna, while admitting that it was tougher than she had expected, after years of involvement in her stage wardrobe, to "design clothes anyone can wear."
"My day job includes fashion — but I am not sure I'd want to design clothes," she says. "I have a new-found respect for designers."
Check the Amazon page of The English Roses - Too Good To Be True for a short video of Madonna's visit to Malawi in the fall of 2006. Cute!
After the recent rumours of top producers Timbaland & Pharrel Williams, another hip hop record producer, Swizz Beatz talked about working with Madonna.
He gave an interview to NYC radio station Hot97, saying that he's working on several new projects, including Madonna's next album. It seems she's indeed looking for a hip hop flavour for her next record...
~ Swizz Beatz is responsible for Beyonce's recent hit 'Ring The Alarm'. Read about him here.
Madonna is moving her family from London to New York to be closer to her ailing dad as he fights cancer. The Queen Of Pop, who now lives almost permanently in the UK, has already been Stateside to see Tony Ciccone twice this year.
Her fears for his deteriorating health have forced her to uproot the family from London and plan for them to spend much more time in the US.
Her film director hubby Guy Ritchie has been busy working in LA and she is now trying to find a new family home in New York.A source said: "Madonna, Guy and the kids are definitely moving to New York this year.
"The deal is to spend as much time there as in London - if not more. "Guy hasn't been as keen on the idea but Madonna is insisting they are moving." Madonna's dad has been receiving treatment for colon cancer in Leelanau County Hospital, Michigan, which is relatively close to New York.
Recent reports suggested he was making good progress - but Madge fears he is putting on a brave face to benefit family and friends.
My source told me: "Madonna's dad is going through the mill and she wants to be there for him and to help his spirits by letting him see more of his grandchildren.
"Guy is working more and more in LA on his new TV show, a film project and a documentary.
"The move will be a big upheaval but Madonna needs to be near her dad and the support network of her closest friends." Madge is also cracking on with a new album, with the work split between Los Angeles and London.
She decided it would make sense to be based on the East Coast in The Big Apple, splitting the distance between her US commitments.
But she will not be selling her current New York apartment, London house or her Wiltshire estate any time soon.
She has decided the NY pad isn't big enough for the whole family since the adoption of one-year-old Malawi tot David Banda.
I can reveal Madge has narrowed the search for a new house down to two properties.
One is a flat and the other an impressive townhouse - what they do have in common is an asking price of more than £20m.
And she has made it clear the new place is HER buy and will be in HER name - without any mention of Guy.
There's no doubt who wears the trousers in that marriage.
This was no everyday clothing launch: There was thumping music, muscled male dancers and a great wall of paparazzi planted on the pavement outside the Langham Hotel. The event was the unveiling of M by Madonna for Hennes & Mauritz.
On Tuesday night, the pop star, clad in a white Forties-style jersey dress of her own design, laid out the theory behind her new collection for the Swedish fast-fashion retailer.
"I wanted something casual but naughty, sensible but sexy. That's me. That's how I am. I wanted the collection to be for a working girl," said Madonna in a not-so-quiet corner of the Artesian Bar at the hotel, near Oxford Circus.
"This is a combination of outfits I would love to wear. Bits and pieces have been inspired by the outfits in my own wardrobe, and also by what I love, like kimonos or my favorite Seventies vintage dress with the butterfly sleeves. I bought it in New York 10 years ago, and have worn it down to threads."
The collection, Madonna's second for H&M after her tracksuits launched last spring, features pieces in viscose jersey, silk rayon, cotton poplin, leather and Lycra.
The new M by Madonna line launches worldwide on March 22 and will be sold in 26 countries. An H&M spokeswoman said M by Madonna differs from the brand's other celebrity collaborations, with Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor & Rolf and Stella McCartney, in that it will be sold in every H&M store that carries women's wear, rather than in the flagships alone.
As reported in December, Steven Klein shot the campaign, which features Madonna modeling the clothes. The ads look eerily similar to the campaign with Madonna that Klein shot for Versace.
The one-off, capsule collection is filled with classics: Kimono-style dresses; tailored jackets and knee-length hipster shorts; pencil skirts paired with cummerbunds; belted trenchcoats; little leather jackets, and white cotton shirts. There's also a full accessories line, with sexy, lace-up boots, skinnyleather belts, evening clutch bags and sunglasses.
Madonna said her inspirations come from everywhere. "I go out a lot, I read and go to the movies, and I always try to see and interpret what's around me. I'm a curious person."
Clothing prices range from 14.90 euros, or $20, for a bodysuit to 249 euros, or $330, for a leather trench, while accessories range from 9.90 euros, or $13, for an M-print scarf to 99 euros, or $130, for a leather bag. All figures have been converted at current exchange.
Margareta van den Bosch, H&M's head of design, said Madonna was ever-present during the creative process. "She was involved in even the smallest details of every design. She has an impressive feel for fashion and trends," she said.
Guests, including McCartney, Matthew Williamson, Solange Azagury-Partridge, Freddie Windsor, Ella Windsor and Arki Busson, gathered at the Artesian Bar, which has just been redesigned by Madonna's pal David Collins, who was also a guest.
"I told her that scarf print looked a little Pucci to me," said a cheeky Williamson, referring to the bright, patterned scarves in the collection. "I also told her, 'Now you know how hard I f***ing work! You only have to do it once. I have to do this four times a year!' Seriously, though, the collection is just great, it's very her and it's gonna fly."
Azagury-Partridge, who designed a capsule collection of jewelry for H&M in fall 2005, said of the new collection, "I like it, it's quite 'me' actually. I especially like the pencil skirts and the big belts. I'm definitely going to be getting some."
Halfway through the evening, Madonna's male dancers hit the floor to perform for guests, although some friends had already slipped away toattend the joint birthday party for Elton John and Sam Taylor-Wood in east London.
During the evening, in between greeting guests and cheering on her dancers, Madonna talked about how she put the collection together.
"I think my biggest challenge was to make clothes that looked chic, sophisticated and expensive, but that weren't expensive. Going into this, I made a promise that I wouldn't design anything that I wouldn't wear myself," she said, adding that her white dress "flatters just about every figure I've seen it on."
She also admitted that her "at-home" uniform is an H&M tracksuit, and that she asks husband Guy Ritchie for advice on dressing. "I value his opinion very much. Before going out I always ask him what he thinks. If he doesn't like it, I don't wear it. But that doesn't happen very often," she said.
She also said she hates shopping. "People come to me with collections and show them to me. That's not because I'm famous, and it's not because I can't walk into stores without being disturbed. I just hate shopping. I did it even before I was famous," she said.
As for her future as a fashion designer, that's still up in the air. Madonna may be famous for her stamina on stage, on a yoga mat, and in the public eye. But fashion design might just have pushed her over the edge.
"I must say, I really enjoyed doing this collection. But, honestly, I don't know how long I could sustain this for," she said.
The major deal for Live to Tell: My Life as Madonna's Nanny, by Melissa Dumas, has been canceled by Crown, Publishers Marketplace reported yesterday.
The company said "it will not be publishing the memoir to be authored by Madonna's former nanny, Melissa Dumas. The rights to the book have been released to the author, who is represented by [Sharlene Martin of] Martin Literary Management."
"I deeply regret that Crown Publishing decided not to move forward in publishing Melissa Dumas' book," Martin told The Book Standard. "I had a wonderful experience with them with a previous nanny tome, You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again, and had hoped to repeat that experience."
According to Britain's The Mirror, "Madonna, predictably enough, has risen from the lotus position to turn the full force of her legal team against rogue nanny Melissa Dumas in an attempt to silence her."
~ We're glad to hear that certain people won't have their way to cash in with Madonna's name...
Robbie Williams' new single "She's Madonna" from the album Rudebox unfortunately fails to become a big hit in the UK, where he's been enjoying a big success for many years.
The catchy song, which is a story about Guy Ritchie ending his relationship with Tania Strecker in favour of Madonna, told in lyrics interspersed by various Madonna references, enters the charts at #16, which is a far cry from a #1 hit, which has been predicted by critics at the release of the album.
On a slow news week, we look at the recent Definitive 200 Albums, compiled by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately the list - based on popularity & sales, but not critical acclaim or votes by fans - features Madonna only once, with her sophomore 1984 smash Like A Virgin at a dismal #164.
We're not putting down other albums (some of them are of course deserve to be there, some don't), but the accuracy of the list is doubted without the inclusion of critical & commercial successes Like A Prayer or Ray Of Light. Anyway, here's what the list says about Madonna. The review is quite positive, and in the good side, the whole promotion gave a sales boost for the album in the US:
Madonna's second album was her breakthrough, thanks principally to two gimmicky hits: the sinuous Like A Virgin, with its taboo-busting metaphor for that fresh, clean new-love feeling, and the cutesy, Betty-Boopsy Material Girl. Most of the rest of the album, although similarly frothy, is superior to those warhorses, notably the irresistible LP tracks Over And Over, and Pretender--which adds a bit of gossamer delicacy to the mandatory bounciness.
Dress You Up is a Madonna classic, an insubstantial dance-pop delight bedecked in synthesized bells and replete to the beat with kinky suggestions. And there's a sign of greater depth to come in her cover of Rose Royce's elegiac ballad Love Don't Live Here Anymore, a heartfelt vocal supported by a subtle, gorgeous arrangement helmed by producer Nile Rodgers and his two key Chic instrumental compatriots, Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson.
Hennes & Mauritz AB, Europe's second-largest clothing retailer, said the premiere of a product range designed by Madonna helped lure hundreds of customers to its Hong Kong store, which opened its doors for the first time today.
"Hong Kong is a good fashion city," Chairman Stefan Persson said in an interview at the opening today. "The interest is enormous. There's good potential in the Asian market."
The first 20 customers through the door of H&M's four-floor, 3,500-square-meter store located in Hong Kong's prime central district received a trench coat signed by pop star Madonna, with the next 500 getting a pair of sunglasses from her M collection.
The shop paves the way for H&M's expansion into the world's most populous continent, with stores to follow in Shanghai and Tokyo. The Stockholm-based company will be taking on larger rival Inditex SA, the owner of the Zara chain, and Hong Kong- based outfitters including Esprit Holdings in Asia, where rising incomes and personal wealth are making the market more attractive.
"It's the first step of moving into the bigger mainland China market," Theresa Lo, a Hong Kong-based analyst at BOC International Holdings Ltd., said in telephone interview before the opening. "They're serious operators, so when they go into China they'll be looking at big cities. Aside from Europe, H&M is under-established in the rest of the world."
H&M buys more than 60 percent of its clothes in Asia and sells them at about double the price. The company has had a sourcing office in Hong Kong for 30 years, making its introduction into the Chinese city smooth, Nils Vinge, director of investor relations, said earlier in an interview.
"We are expanding stores at between 10 percent and 15 percent worldwide a year," Vinge said. "When entering a new market, the trick is finding the right balance between `adapt' and `adopt' in regards to local sensibilities."
The retailer has no plans to create a distribution or logistics center in China, responsible for 30 percent of its clothing purchases, Vinge said.
The Madonna-designed collection, heavily promoted in Hong Kong through saturation advertising and newspapers and public transport, is the latest tactic to win back market share from Inditex, which last year surpassed H&M as Europe's largest apparel retailer.
More than 500 people lined up outside the Hong Kong store, vying to grab a piece of the M Collection. The first in line, Wilkie Chu, said he's a huge Madonna fan.
"I want to get the signed jacket so badly," said Chu, 35, who started the queue at 10 a.m. yesterday. "I'm going to buy everything shown on the posters"
H&M has also offered collections designed by Viktor & Rolf, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney to revive revenue, and earlier this month hired Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue to model its range of beachwear.
The company plans to add three more stores in Hong Kong this fall and aims to open two stores in Shanghai, with the first due to open April 12.
"We see a vast potential in China for expansion and we are well prepared for it," said Lex Keijser, country manager of greater China, in a statement.
It plans to enter Japan next year after opening stores in Slovakia, Greece and Qatar in 2007.
"I love H&M," said Christabelle Bishman, 15, who visited the New York store last summer. "We'll buy anything that looks fashionable." Bishman was queuing outside the Hong Kong store with her sister Angelina and friend Joanna Fu.
Madonna is set to join the cast of hit plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck after confessing she's a big fan of the show. Creator Ryan Murphy reveals he's currently writing a part for the pop superstar.
Murphy would like Madonna to play opposite pal and A League Of Their Own co-star Rosie O'Donnell, who has become a regular on the show after hitting the headlines for a sex scene she filmed with Nip/Tuck star Julian McMahon last season.
Murphy says, "I'm going to write something for Madonna, who is a fan of the show and I would love for her to do something with Rosie."
Madonna isn't be the only big name being considered for upcoming episodes - Nicole Kidman has already signed on for a cameo and McMahon explains his Premontion co-star Sandra Bullock is also interested in a role.
He adds, "Sandy said she wanted to come on last year and she didn't. She wants to come on the last episode and she wants to get her whole body done, or something."
Keith Caulfield has answered yet another Madonna question in his Ask Billboard column, regarding her new collaborators and sales info of recent releases:
Once again, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your column. I look forward to it every week.
I have a Madonna question for you (one of your millions I am sure)! I heard a rumor that she is in the studio with Timbaland working on her new album. Is this true? Are there any details about a release date?
Thanks so much!
Well, there is no official word that Madonna has actually set foot in a studio with Timbaland. When our intrepid R&B Editor Gail Mitchell quizzed Timbaland for our recent cover story, he said that he was supposed to call up Madonna that very night to discuss a possible collaboration. Will anything ever come of this? Who knows.
What we do know is that in a telephone interview with former Billboard editor Larry Flick on his Sirius satellite show a few weeks ago, Madonna joked about how she was going to run downstairs and "tell Pharrell" something Flick said.
Flick didn't follow up and ask her about the new album or Pharrell, but it's fair to assume that Pharrell was probably really there with her working on music.
So far, her last studio album, Confessions On A Dance Floor, has sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S.
EW.com has seen a proposal for a book revealing intimate details about Madonna's children, husband, and the controversial Malawi adoption
A woman claiming to be a former nanny for Madonna is currently shopping a tell-all memoir detailing the inner workings of the Madonna-Guy Ritchie household. EW.com has seen the 80-page proposal, which is being circulated among major publishing houses.
The document proposes a book that will reveal intimate information gleaned from Melissa Dumas' service as Madonna's nanny. Sample chapters and chapter summaries provide a laundry list of alleged details pertaining to Madonna's marriage to Ritchie, their children's behavior, the family's participation in Kabbalah, and the motivation behind Madonna's decision to adopt a boy from Malawi.
The pitch also contains personal photos of Madonna's family, as well as photos of the alleged nanny playing with Madonna's kids.
The proposal includes a copy of an unsigned nondisclosure agreement that the author claims Madonna issued to her only after she had already resigned as her nanny.
Sharlene Martin, the literary agent listed in the proposal, would not confirm nor deny an affiliation with the proposal or the listed author.
She also would not confirm or deny that the proposal has been bought by a publisher. Neither Dumas nor a representative for Madonna responded immediately to efforts to contact them for comment.
Fashion store H&M has started the online promotion for the new line "M by Madonna". Check out the new H&M website, which is completely restyled with the Madonna pictures taken by Steven Klein. They also premiered the new H&M commercial, featuring ànd directed by Madonna herself.
It features Madonna as a dominant fashion guru - similar to Meryl Streep's character in 'The Devil Wears Prada' - discussing with her designers how to drastically restyle a young girl. The superb ad exists in a 44 seconds version and a long direcors cut of 1'30.
In the next few days, all the H&M stores in the world will be completely Madonnanized. The stores in Hong Kong were the first to premiere the new look. The new clothing line itself will be in stores as of March 22nd.
Badly Drawn Boy star Damon Gough is so keen to work with Madonna he has already written a song for her.
Gough referred to the Hung Up singer on his 2002 hit You Were Right, and despite having worked with Hollywood star Jack Nicholson and French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, the 37-year-old is still desperate to record with the pop superstar.
He says, "I'd like to work on collaborations with some other artists like Madonna. She would be my first choice. I do have one song in particular I think would be perfect for her. (It's) one that didn't get released so it didn't have an official finished title. But the working name was In Two Minds."
From Material Girl to clothing queen, now you too can dress like Madonna without busting your bank account! Jennifer Uglialoro, H&M's fashion spokesperson, revealed how you can look like a rock star for under $200.
Thanks to H&M's new line, M by Madonna, you can dress in a wide array of immaculate yet affordable clothes and accessories inspired by Madonna herself.
"It's a collection of her personal favorites, so it's really unique, timeless and glamorous," Jennifer dished.
Madge's first famous look for less: the infamous cat suit! "This is very Madonna, it's the one piece in the collection that really screams her," Jennifer displayed, which retails for just $34.90.
Meanwhile, the Madonna-inspired denim suit is always in vogue and can be worn day or night! "The jacket is $79.90; it's an update from a regular denim jacket," Jennifer said. "We have the skinny black pant with zippers on the bottom."
If you want something a little more classic, there's also the proverbial little black dress. "It's timeless, it's sexy and it's only $59.90," Jennifer showed us.
For those of you who want to splurge, the Madonna-inspired leather trench coat sells for a cool $298. "It's the hottest thing this season; it's fitted at the waist and it's really feminine and fun," Jennifer said.
It seems as if the long arm of the law has finally caught up with Madonna - possibly for offences including impersonation of a 1920s flapper.
But believe or not, she is actually out celebrating a religious festival.
The distinctly camp cop who has her under arrest is none other than her husband Guy Ritchie, and the couple are in fancy dress while attending an event run by the mystical Jewish sect Kabbalah at its centre in Los Angeles.
Madonna, a leading supporter of Kabbalah, was the star guest at the festival of Purim, which celebrates the foiling of an ancient plot to kill Jews in Persia.
While the 48-year-old singer had her hair bobbed, wore a feather boa and carried a cigarette holder, 38-year-old Ritchie appeared as a 1970s Village People-style police officer complete with sunglasses and big moustache.
Madonna, nicknamed Madge by her husband, recently donated £1.5 million to set up a Kabbalah centre in Malawi, the country from where she adopted baby David Banda last year.
Ritchie is reported to have become increasingly critical of her devotion to the sect, which has been criticised for promising happiness to wealthy donors.
On the United World Chart, it has sold 89,000 copies this week, with total sales of 517,000 copies so far, which is a huge success for a live album!
Madonna has no interest in British fashion.
The singer, whose fashion line M by Madonna hits H+M stores next month, admits she pays no attention to what everyday women are wearing.
Madonna told Britain's Elle magazine: "I don't pay much attention to British women's style. I just run around in my tracksuit with my sunglasses on."
The 48-year-old also revealed she hates shopping for new outfits and prefers clothes to be brought to her.
Madonna moaned: "I have never liked shopping. I don't like going into a store and going through racks. So I'm happy to have girls to do it for me.
"What's wrong with me? I don't like to shop and I don't like to shop!"
Pop superstar Madonna has a secret museum housing all her favourite stage and screen outfits.
The Material Girl has kept hold of thousands of costumes which she keeps hidden away at an undisclosed location in California.
She reveals, "I have an archive museum in a warehouse which houses all the costumes I've worn on stage and in videos - one-of-a-kind pieces made for me and special pieces I've always loved."
Madonna ranks at #2 on the annual Billboard Magazine Moneymakers list:
01. The Rolling Stones: $234.065 million
02. Madonna: $175.144 million
03. Bon Jovi: $103.247 million
04. Tim McGraw: $102.633 million
05. U2: $94.508 million
06. Rascall Flatts: $87.103 million
07. Faith Hill: $83.061 million
08. Kenny Chesney: $75.887 million
09. Celine Dion: $69.951 million
10. Cirque Du Soleil's 'Delirium': $69.907 million
11. Barbra Streisand: $67.217 million
12. Nickelback: $60.128 million
13. Billy Joel: $58.835 million
14. Aerosmith: $53.98 million
15. Elton John: $49.383 million
16. Dave Matthews Band: $48.417 million
17. Johnny Cash: $47.933 million
18. Dixie Chicks: $46.921 million
19. Red Hot Chili Peppers: $46.034 million
20. Andrea Bocelli: $42.078 million
Madonna delivered her 10th studio album, the Grammy Award-winning Confessions On a Dance Floor, in late 2005. The disc debuted in the pole position of The Billboard 200 and went on to spend 30 weeks on the chart in 2006.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, Confessions has sold 1.6 million units. In May 2006, Madonna kicked off the Confessions Tour, which was the second top-grossing trek of 2006 - and the top-grossing tour ever by a female artist. The trek grossed slightly less than $195 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.
Shortly after the tour commenced, Madonna became the worldwide spokesmodel for global retailer H&M. Her own women's clothing line, M by Madonna, debuts March 22 in all H&M stores that carry women's clothing.
My relationship to Madonna's Erotica has been an ever-evolving one. Being just 13 years old at the time of its release, I was too young to relate to most of the music's sexual politics. But I played the album incessantly, maybe because I recognized something innately human beneath its icy surface, and, even if I couldn't articulate it, there was an honest rage behind Madonna's rebellious public persona - Erotica and its accompanying Sex book seemed to be a part of the most audacious public temper tantrum I'd ever seen.
At the very least, I knew a good flamenco guitar solo when I heard one. It wasn't until years later, as an adult, that I started to grasp the socio-sexual commentary implicit in the album's songs, and then only recently that I started to discover some of the more subversive, fringe ideas emerging in my own private life. The emotional states that lie beneath certain aspects of sexuality are universal - even if handcuffs and harnesses are not.
Deeply flawed, hugely under-appreciated, and pounded into submission by the hype and controversy surrounding Sex, Erotica is the album Kurt Loder likened to an iceberg. Madonna, under the guise of her then-muse, '30s actress Dita Parlo, presides over the proceedings with whip in hand and tongue planted firmly in cheek.
If Madonna's image seemed aggressive up until this point, her music was warm, inviting, and accessible (it was pop by definition - hell, she defined pop music in the '80s), which made her next-generation version of feminism a lot easier to swallow - or, to some, tolerable - in the era of AIDS and Reagan. By 1992, Madonna was an icon - untouchable, literally and figuratively - and Erotica was the first time the artist's music took on a decidedly combative, even threatening, tone, and most people didn't want to hear it.
Of all Madonna's musical output, Erotica most resembled her acting: stiff, aloof, and seemingly contrived. Ironically, this came at a time when her films (Dick Tracy, Truth Or Dare, A League Of Their Own) were actually making money for the first time since Desperately Seeking Susan.
Madonna's characters in films like Body of Evidence and Dangerous Game, both released on the steel-toed dominatrix heels of Erotica, were far cries from the defiant but likeable Susan, and though Erotica was a full-on dance album, Madonna seemed more interested in getting off than getting into the groove. Emphasis should be placed on seemed since few of the songs on the album are actually about sex.
The ballads are all direct results of sex (the promiscuity hymn Bad Girl, the AIDS dirge In This Life, and some might even view Rain as an extended cum metaphor, though I don't subscribe to that knee-jerk interpretation), but most of the album is about romance and the loss of it.
That is, especially the loss of it. "This is not a love song," Madonna insists at the start of Bye Bye Baby, but that's wishful thinking: one particularly vengeful line from the song, "I'd like to hurt you," takes on new meaning following the title track's "I only hurt the ones I love."
The filter on her voice gives the effect of an answering machine message, the bleep that censors her final barb ("You fucked it up") doubling as the machine's end-of-message beep. A few tracks later, Waiting, a veritable sequel to the steely, in-your-face spoken-word of Justify My Love, addresses rejection and unrequited love in a more brutally honest fashion: "Don't go breaking my heart like you said you would," she sings despondently yet sincerely. Here's a woman who entered into a relationship after the man she loves told her he wouldn't be able to love her back. And yet she still took the risk, which is exactly what Erotica is about.
Forget the whips and chains of the brilliant, otherworldly ode to S&M that is Erotica - Waiting is the ultimate masochism, one that is entered into with full knowledge of what the emotional consequences will be. The very first lyric, "Well, I know from experience that if you have to ask for something more than once or twice, it wasn't yours in the first place," which she utters with the same amount of interest a star of her stature might apply to buying a new pair of shoes, also happens to be one of the best opening lines to a pop song since "I guess I should have known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn't last."
Speaking of little red corvettes, Madonna waxes erotic on the perks and pleasures of oral sex on Where Life Begins, the album's most overtly sexual track but also the only one to reference safe sex: "I'm glad you brought your raincoat/I think it's beginning to rain."
Both Where Life Begins and Waiting draw heavily from Motown and were produced by Andre Betts, who cut his teeth as associate producer of Justify My Love. But Erotica's chief producer was Shep Pettibone, who remixed Madonna's singles for half a decade before graduating to legit collaborator with the seminal dance hit Vogue in 1990.
Deeper And Deeper, with its juxtaposition of swirling disco synths, of-the-moment Chicago house beats, and the aforementioned flamenco guitar (insisted upon by Madonna, according to Pettibone, who objected), is both a product of its time and a timeless Madge classic. (The track even borrows a lyric from Vogue, as if she'd come anywhere close to running out of ideas by 1992.)
Madonna's rarely acknowledged harmonies glide atop the frosty beats, thunder-claps of percussion, and skyward drone of the sonorous Rain, and, of course, there's the inventive and sleek Words. Madonna could have more successfully achieved the gritty, raw sound she wanted had she completely handed the reigns over to Betts; time hasn't been kind to Pettibone's often-suffocating productions, while Betts's jazzy piano parts and hip-hop beats still sound fresh.
Regardless of the producer, however, the album is sonically seamless, and almost every song is about a minute too long - an orgy that seemingly never ends, or maybe just the product of CD technology. And then there's Did You Do It?, which, aside from the supremely over-the-top but ridiculously fun Thief Of Hearts, is the pockmark on Madonna's otherwise flawless, 35-year-old posterior. It's the houseguest who stayed the night and who looks much less desirable in the light of day.
She could burn her sheets and sanitize the bedroom, she could write it out of her memory, issuing a "clean" version of the whole story without a parental advisory sticker (and she did, because Madonna wanting to get her pussy eaten isn't as offensive as a rapper talking about actually having done it). But the stink remains anyway. "Did you do it?" She knows she did, but she really just wants to get wifed and have a baby, feminism be damned.
Which brings us to, perhaps, Erotica's most personal, revealing moment, the unexpected jazz-house closer Secret Garden, another Betts production. Most critics and fans are split between two camps: those who think Like A Prayer is Madonna's greatest album and those who believe Ray Of Light is. (I happen to belong to the former.) And then there are those who claim Erotica is her best effort. Had Betts produced more tracks like Secret Garden, it may very well have been.
Way ahead of its time, the track sets Madonna's yen for a child to shuffling drum n' bass, atmospheric synths, and a distant saxophone beckoning like an alley cat. Ever the control freak, and with motherhood still a few years away, she tries to dismiss her ticking biological desire: "I just wish I knew the color of my hair." It's unexpectedly the album's sexiest song.
Erotica's irrefutable unsexiness probably says more about the sex=death mentality of the early '90s than any other musical statement of its time. This is not Madonna at her creative zenith. This is Madonna at her most important, at her most relevant. Pettibone's beats might be time-stamped with the sound of a genre that ruled a decade of one-hitters before being replaced by commercialized hip-hop, and Madonna's voice might sound nasal and remote, but no one else in the mainstream at that time dared to talk about sex, love, and death with such frankness and fearlessness, and, intentional or not (probably not), the fact that she sounds like she has a cold only adds to the claustrophobic stuffiness of the record.
The drums of In This Life tick away like Stephen Hawking's Doomsday Clock, which, coupled with tension-building keyboard intervals inspired by Gershwin's blues lullaby "Prelude No. 2," creates a sense of dis-ease rarely found in a pop ballad.
Whatever words one chooses to label the album with - cold, artificial, self-absorbed, anonymous - Madonna embraces those qualities and makes it part of the message. "Why's it so hard to love one another?" she asks on the reggae-hued Why's It So Hard?, knowing the answer lies within the dark fact that a society that won't even allow two people to love each other freely can't possibly be expected to love and care for perfect strangers unconditionally.
Sexually liberated, for sure, but Madonna is a liberal in every other sense of the word too, and you didn't have to hear her shout, "Vote for Clinton!" as she was being whisked past MTV News's cameras to know that.
It could be argued that Madonna lost her rebel relevance right around the time Reagan's regime ended - the waning of her popularity certainly coincided with the arrival of Bill Clinton's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. But looking back from the vantage point of an administration far more sinister than Reagan's, it's clear that Madonna, her messages, and her music are more relevant now than ever. [4 out of 5 stars]
On March 22, the first capsule collection of clothes composed by the iconic trendsetter hits the shelves at H&M outposts around the world - including 10 New York area stores.
In an exclusive first peek at the highly anticipated "M by Madonna" line, we fell for key pieces including a range of slick belted trench coats ($99.90-$298), a vampy black jersey evening dress ($59.90) and the super-skinny black pants ($59.90) that are one of Madonna's signature looks.
And that, says H&M's design chief Margareta van den Bosch, isn't a coincidence.
The Material Girl and van den Bosch spent days combing through the superstar's well-appointed closets, selecting the strongest staples to use as inspiration for the 30-piece collection.
"Madonna has a remarkable feel for fashion and trends," says van den Bosch. "She was involved in even the smallest details of the design."
Prices range from $12.90 for a turban to $298 for a leather coat. Other hot picks - which are bound to create the kind of frenzy H&M witnessed last November when Viktor & Rolf's capsule collection turned into a stiletto-riot as shoppers clamored for limited-edition goodies - include a slimming pencil skirt ($49.90), sexy satin shirts ($49.90), movie-star shades ($34.90), a satin bomber jacket ($59.90) and a super assortment of dresses ($34.90-$59.90).
M by Madonna is the latest of several recent collaborations for H&M. Karl Lagerfeld created an exclusive collection for the stores in 2004 and Stella McCartney followed suit a year later. But Madonna's the first celeb - with no designing experience - to infiltrate the superstore's shelves.
That, predicts Ashley Baker, a style editor at Glamour magazine, shouldn't be a problem.
The collection will be "a slam-dunk business venture for Madonna and the clothing company," Baker explains. "For Madonna, it expands her portfolio of things that she can do successfully. And for H&M, it's a way to get customers into their store that maybe have never been to their store before.
They have a presence in the United States certainly, but right now they're really concentrated on the coasts. This Madonna collaboration, I think much more so than Viktor & Rolf, is going to interest people in the fly-over states."
Madonna's a kind of fashion everywoman, after all, alternating costly couture with street-worthy sweats. "When she shows up at events, she's wearing expensive designer clothes," says Baker. "But when you see her on the street, you'll see her often in an Adidas track suit and a pair of sneakers. I think she's trying to take that street sensibility and bring it to a mass audience."
M by Madonna goes on sale Thursday, March 22. Doors open at 10 a.m. but be warned, the long lines will start forming as early as the night before.
Madonna wants her daughter Lourdes to wear her wedding dress when she gets married.
The singer is keeping her ivory Stella McCartney designer gown for her 10-year-old daughter's special day, after Lourdes begged her mother to let her wear it.
Madonna confessed to Elle magazine: "The only thing Lourdes has requested to have when she grows up is my wedding dress, to wear for her own wedding."
While Madonna and Lourdes agree on wedding attire, they don't always agree on fashion.
The 48-year-old pop superstar, famed for her outrageous stage outfits, admits she disapproves of her daughter's clothes choices.
Madonna said: "My daughter is going through the phase of wearing jeans so tight she can't bend her knees in them. I have a go at her and say, 'Can't you wear something else? And can you please wear a belt because I don't want to see your butt crack when you bend over'."↑ Back to top of page