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Madonna talks Feminism, Skin Care, and faking a good night's sleep

As I'm running on a solid five hours of sleep, Madonna calls to talk about her new MDNA Skin Finishing Cream ($250), a thermal-water-infused moisturizer that's supposed to fake a full night of peaceful slumber. So, how many hours does Madonna usually take to rest up? "Six," the icon said. "If I'm lucky, and it's a Sunday sleep-in day, eight. And that's just a marvelous privilege."

It's hard to imagine Madonna sleeps at all, considering how hard the woman works. Between being, you know, Madonna and all, earlier this Fall she also launched MDNA Skin, her passion-project skincare line. The Finishing Cream is her latest drop, and given its major hype, it just might become her most popular.

What's so special about this cream? For one, it contains M.T.PARCA Thermal Water extracted from Montecatini, Italy. This province in Tuscany has won fame for the healing properties of its water. "People go to these spas to heal everything from arthritis to skin ailments," Madonna said. "The water rises to the surface of the volcanic eruption, and then that's skimmed off of the top. That's purified, and those waters have a specific molecular structure that not only heals the skin but also purifies, tightens, hydrates, and illuminates."

According to Madonna, eczema, acne, scars, and rosacea can all be healed or reversed with M.T.PARCA Thermal Water. I ask her if it can go on other parts of your body, like how she previously told us that her Magnetic Clay Mask should be applied to your butt because "it has an audience."

"Well, that was a joke," she said, laughing. "But, absolutely. It has a microcurrent quality, so it's stimulating your muscles. You can use it anywhere."

I ask her about my problem area — dark under-eyes — and it turns out that Madonna and I have exactly one thing in common (and thus, my life is complete). "I tend to wake up with really puffy eyes, so if it's early in the morning, the first thing I have to do is put ice on my eyes and do things to make the swelling go down," she said. For that same reason, she always pops her Eye Mask ($50) in the fridge before using.

Then the Material Girl herself tells me that, in fact, there are some skincare results money can't buy. "The thing that makes you feel the most beautiful is when you're happy with yourself, and you're confident, and you've done something good," she said. She referenced when she gave an emotional speech on being a woman in the music industry at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, or the time she built a pediatric care wing at a hospital in Malawi. "Those are empowering moments that make me feel beautiful inside and out."

Madonna On "Live With Kelly And Ryan" Dec 8th!

On Friday, December 8, 2017, Madonna will sit down with one of our favorite fan girls Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest for an exclusive interview on ABC's « Live with Kelly and Ryan ». The Queen of Pop will discuss her career, philanthropic activities, as well as her current projects, including her brand new MDNA Skin care line, which was recently launched in the U.S.

The last time Madonna « officially » met with Ripa was back on January 11, 2007 on « Live », but the two of them made the headlines twice over the past years, Ripa attending Madonna’s 2012 Sticky & Sweet Tour and 2015 « Rebel Heart Tour », the Material Girl handing her microphone for Ripa to sing along from the front row!

Will Kelly and Ryan get the MDNA Skin Chrome Clay mask treatment from Madonna herself? Find out by watching the show next Friday and get ready for more fun! 

For more information about « Live », please visit www.KellyandRyan.com.

Drag Race star Milk is the new face of Madonna's MDNA skincare line

Madonna's new commercial for her MDNA skincare line appears to feature the iconic singer revisiting some of her most groundbreaking looks: the Blonde Ambition cone bra and the "Hung Up" and "Living For Love" music videos, specifically. But at the end of the clip, the model is revealed to be none other than Drag Race alum and soon-to-be All Stars contestant Milk.

“Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to embody many personas―to express myself but remain myself,” Madonna muses as the video begins, before calling out for a “revolution of being who you are.”

The MDNA skincare line includes face washes, mists, serums, masks, and rejuvenators ranging from $50 to $600.

Milk shared the exciting news of his casting over Instagram, writing: "From having my makeup done by Aaron Henrikson, to my hair, to secretly getting to try on the original Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra (it didn't fit haha), shooting the MDNA SKIN campaign video was surreal. To be a part of this, for someone who has always epitomized the ideals of being different and unique, was a dream come true."

Take a look at the glorious new campaign, below:

Madonna laat zich van een hele andere kant zien

Madonna heeft zich in een video op haar Instagram van een hele andere kant laten zien. Haar volgers zijn laaiend enthousiast: 'Alleen nog maar dit soort onbewerkte nummers op je volgende album', is een veelgehoorde kreet.

'Mijn favoriete nummer spelen wanneer verder iedereen aan het slapen is. Een slaapliedje, liefde', schrijft de wereldster bij de video. Beoordeel zelf!

De wereldster kwam vorige week in het nieuws omdat zij te zien was in een reguliere vlucht richting Portugal, waar haar zoon voetbalt. En alsof dat nog niet bijzonder genoeg was; de zangeres vloog geen Business maar Economy class. Ze is zo lekker gewoon gebleven.

From the Record Crate: Madonna – “Erotica” (1992)

Anyone who claims that Madonna’s appeal has only ever been erotic is kidding themselves – she’s so much more interesting than that. Yet from the very start, erotica was certainly a primary element of her appeal. Her voice had a tinge of sexual urgency without ever tipping over into blatantly adult-content. And because anticipation is so much more exciting than release, Madonna’s refusal (mostly) to belt out her pop songs at the top of her lungs, keeping them tightly wrapped in understatement, suggested future pleasures in the bedroom without fully succumbing to them. Just like a virgin touched for the very first time.

But the religion/sex mashup “Like a Prayer” saw a decided turn towards a more provocative exploitation of her sexual starlet image. And hot (very hot) on its heels came “Justify My Love”, in which Madonna limited her vocals even further to the point where she was practically just talking in-tune, making her sound all the more sultry.

Erotica follows on in the manner of the sexual frankness of “Like a Prayer” and the vocal lack of fussiness of “Justify My Love”. The album’s a series of dance tunes, each one on average longer than 5 minutes, that combine to create an aura of erotic indulgence delayed gratification. Somewhat cold and distant, building from the bottom up with its plethora of drum machines and chilly synths, the tunes take a while to sink in; yet Madonna is always there to promise the pleasure will come later. She still wants to take you there, but slowly this time, and you’re damned right at her own pace.

I don’t think she ever sounded as in control as on this album – with the exception, perhaps, of Music. She takes enjoyment from the male objects of her desire, she toys with them, she’s sometimes hurt by them. She realises there’s something a little scary about going “Deeper and Deeper” – in love, if not in sex – but you can rarely hear that tentativeness in her voice. After all, sexual power can never be absolutely complete, because a relationship relies on two people, and that other person can always fuck it up. Yet Madonna sounds as autonomous, as in control of her pleasures, as it’s possible to be, on a smart album that acknowledges the complexities of sexual relationships between flawed members of the ever-so-flawed species we call the human race.

Humanity emerges from the synth soundscapes in the form of an all-pervading soft funk that leans heavily on Doug Wimbish’s bass, particularly on “Waiting”, which could almost be a De La Soul track. I don’t use that comparison lightly; on many occasions Erotica verges on hip-hop, and producer Andre Betts even manages to sneak in a rap on “Did You Do It?” As usually is the case with good artists, the use of hip-hop production techniques contributes an exciting creative aura in which almost anything can happen (it’s the reason why hip-hop is easily the best genre of music in the world today). Madonna’s often spoken-word technique fits in with that aura, as does the unexpected cover of “Fever” (the best since Elvis), and the sampling of LL Cool J on “Bye Bye Baby”. ‘Forget the rules’ she says on that last song, and boy does she manage to live by that mantra throughout the rest of the album.

Reviews were pretty mixed when Erotica first came out, and it still tends to get forgotten amidst discussions about the Queen of Pop, which inevitably focus on Like a Prayer and her numerous hit singles. Truth is that I don’t like it quite as much as a few of her other albums, including the seminal Like a Prayer of course, but also the glorious mess of I’m Breathless (an album that contains the line ‘Hanky panky/Nothing like a good spanky’ and a song called “I’m Going Bananas”), Music, and the slowly unspooling Ray of Light.

Yet Erotica is probably her most coherent statement of intent. It’s an incredibly brave flip of the bird, so much as to say ‘I don’t care what you think’, to everyone who thought her career simply boiled down to the one word of its title.

Another view: My night with Madonna (and Sean Hughes)

Back in the late 1990s I used to run into Sean Hughes all the time at parties. He was a Perrier Award-winning stand-up comedian and team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks who would go to the opening of an envelope, so long as it included a free drink. I was the Showbusiness Correspondent of the Evening Standard so I was often there too.

Sean usually had a fag in one hand and a drink in the other. He was often drunk, which seems to be what did for him in the end, the poor sod. Only 51 too, when he died this week, an event he foresaw in a rather wonderful poem:

"I want to be cremated

I know how boring funerals can be I want people to gather meet new people have a laugh, a dance, meet a loved one. I want people to have free drink all night.

I want people to patch together, half truths. I want people to contradict each other I want them to say 'I didn’t know him but cheers' I want my parents there, adding more pain to their life. I want The Guardian to mis-sprint three lines about me or to be mentioned on the news Just before the 'parrot who loves Brookside' story.

I want to have my ashes scattered in a bar, on the floor, mingle with sawdust, a bar where beautiful trendy people

Will trample over me … again"

At that time, in the late 1990s, he rubbed shoulders with, but never seemed to be part of, the Britpop A-list who dominated the tabloids’ showbiz pages - Liam and Noel, Damon and Jarvis, Baddiel and Skinner, Meg (Matthews) and Fran (Cutler), Kate (Moss) and Sadie (Frost), Patsy (Kensit) and Davinia (Taylor). Sean was never quite on the A-list. He had the same level of fame, and he was seen at the same parties, but the paps weren’t as interested in Sean, perhaps because he didn’t have a celebrity girlfriend for them to snap. Consequently, he was occasionally reduced to talking to me.

Such was the case when we both found ourselves in a room at the ICA waiting to meet Madonna one night in November 1999.

Madonna had expressed an interest in seeing the band Sneaker Pimps and, unbeknown to most of the audience (but not me and Sean, who were in on it), had sequestered the upstairs area of the music venue so that she could watch them without having to mingle with the plebs - me and Sean, and all the paying punters. The first most people knew of that was when we were all herded out of the bar and into the downstairs auditorium before the gig began.

We then waited, muttering darkly, while security men blocked the exits for Madonna and her then-boyfriend Guy Ritchie, riding high with his film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to ascend the stairs to the balcony and take their seats in the front row. It was like the Royal Box at Wimbledon: all that was missing was a regal wave from Her Madgesty to signal to the band that she was ready for her command performance to begin.

At the end, by prior arrangement, Madge and Guy and their entourage were whisked away behind a battalion of security men. The audience were shooed out to the bar, while Sean and I were escorted up some stairs to a private room. Inside was a selection of free drinks, a few members of ICA staff, and Madonna. Sean and I helped ourselves to free drinks. “You again!” he said in a friendly fashion, waving his drink in my direction. “You’re always at these things. I see you all the time, you’re at everything. Don’t you think there’s more to life than this? Going to these parties. Hanging about with these people.” He waved his drink around erratically, to emphasise his existential point. “Why are you always here?"

“Because it's my job," I said. "I have to be here, so I can write about it afterwards. That’s why I’m here.” I paused, wondering whether to turn the question around. Then I did. “What about you?” I inquired. “Why are you always here?" Sean looked momentarily perplexed. "Well,” he said, pondering his presence for perhaps the first time. “I always get invited. And there's always free drinks."

We both stood around, drinking our drinks and wondering what the protocol was for meeting Madonna. She was a few feet away from us, talking to important-looking people in suits and evening dresses who looked as if they had been granted an audience with the queen. The system seemed to involve waiting until someone summoned you to be in her presence. 

Eventually I thought to myself: “What the hell, there’s only about a dozen of us here, and I’m a journalist, so I’ll just go and have a chat with her myself.” I’d barely taken a step or two towards here when I was intercepted by a minion who materialised out of nowhere and asked me what I was doing. 

I explained that I wished to speak briefly to Madonna and was informed that I would require permission to interview Madonna “from Liz” – her publicist in New York. I explained that I wouldn’t call this an interview; more of an informal chat. “You’ll need to get her quotes cleared by Liz first,” said the minion. I was confused so I repeated that back as a question. I’d have to get Madonna’s own quotes cleared by her publicist in New York? “Yes,” said the minion. “Before she can talk to you.” But I haven’t got any quotes until I talk to her, have I, I said, suddenly having the feeling I was talking to a small child. So I can’t get them cleared by Liz. Because I don’t know what they are yet. “Well she can’t say anything without Liz clearing it,” said the minion with a certain finality.

So I stood there, looking at Madonna, who was about ten feet away, thinking about the irony that, she was probably the most powerful person in showbusiness at that time yet she was apparently unable to make polite small talk to a journalist for a minute or two in a private room without having her own comments approved by her own publicist 2,500 miles away. 

I attempted a compromise. “I only wanted to ask her a couple of questions,” I said to the minion, who asked what questions they were. “I just wanted to ask her what she thought of the gig,” I replied, “that sort of thing, really.” The minion, by now very keen to end my pestering, agreed to go and put them to Madonna, explaining that this was highly irregular and breaking protocol. They had a quick consultation, during which Madonna looked over at me, frowned a little, and turned away to say something discreetly. 

The minion returned, announcing gravely: “I have a quote for you from Madonna.” “What is it?”, I asked excitedly, pulling a notebook from my pocket and producing a pen. “She says she enjoyed the concert,” said the minion. “Is that it?” I asked. “Yes,” said the minion. “You can use that. You’re very lucky. She doesn’t normally give interviews so that’s an exclusive.” I looked at the minion carefully and then wrote down the quote in shorthand in my notebook. “Thank you,” I said. “You’ve been very helpful.”

Sean was luckier than me. I could only watch enviously as he was led over to Madonna, drink in hand, and observe him shaking her hand. Moments later he returned, grinning that big goofy grin from ear to ear, to tell me about the experience. He was like an excited schoolboy, albeit one who has been to the pub for a few hours and can barely stand upright. “That was f***ing great,” he said. "Oh! What did you say to her?" I asked, getting out my pen and notebook again in anticipation of a bit more Madonna for my story.

"I said 'Hi' to her," he gushed delightedly. "And what did she say?" I asked. "She said 'Hi' back."Anything else?" I asked. "Not really," he said. "Someone took me away so she could talk to someone else." Oh, I replied, making a sympathetic sad face, that must have been a bit disappointing. "Are you kidding?" he asked. "It was f***ing great. She wouldn't even talk to you but I can go home and tell all my friends I met Madonna."

Madonna's 'Erotica' turns 25: an oral history of the most controversial '90s pop album

Twenty-five years ago, Madonna changed. Sure, Madonna was always changing, but with the release of Erotica on Oct. 20, 1992, she fully shed her ebullient '80s pop skin, donned a leather cat mask, and kicked open a rusty back alley door that previous chart-toppers only dared to scratch at.

You didn't need to pick up a copy of her celebrity nude-filled coffee table book, Sex, to realize it. You didn't even need to see Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone, whip in hand, mugging for the camera in the video for the title track. All you needed to do was press play on the album and let the impossibly thick, libidinous bass line of "Erotica" start vibrating throughout your body. Forty seconds in, the sampled horns of Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie" flare up, but instead of sounding reassuring and familiar, they seem disembodied and eerie. Then, Madonna's latest alter ego addresses you, low and firm: "My name is Dita / I'll be your mistress tonight."

If her earlier work was an invitation to celebrate sexuality without shame, Erotica was a challenge from Dita Parlo – Madonna's unashamed, unflinching dominatrix persona – to witness and perhaps even indulge in society's sexual taboos. Madonna may have addressed the male gaze before, but on Erotica, she wasn't just staring back – she was making the world her sub.

Erotica occupies a watershed place in the pop pantheon, setting the blueprint for singers to get raw while eschewing exploitation for decades to come. For its 25th anniversary, Billboard spoke to the players involved in Madonna's most creatively daring release. Here's what producer-writer Andre Betts, backup singer Donna De Lory, producer-writer Shep Pettibone, co-writer Tony Shimkin and Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish recall of the writing and recording of Erotica, the insane release party for the LP and book, and the collective societal pearl-clutching that followed.

The seeds of Erotica trace back to 1990's The Immaculate Collection, which included two new songs: "Rescue Me" from Shep Pettibone and his assistant Tony Shimkin, and "Justify My Love" from Andre Betts and Lenny Kravitz. The gospel-house of the former hit No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the hip-hop-inflected latter – which scandalized the world with its leather-clad, ambisexual music video -- reached No. 1. For Erotica, Madonna reteamed with Pettibone and Shimkin for 10 tracks, and Betts for four.

Tony Shimkin: After doing The Immaculate Collection and "Rescue Me," she let us know she was working on a new album and wanted us to be involved in the writing. Seeing I was a musician and writer and Shep [Pettibone] was more of a DJ and remixer, we collaborated on the writing of the tracks for the Erotica album. We went up to meet with her in Chicago, post-"Vogue," when she was filming A League of Their Own. So we met with her and started to get to work on some music, and sent it to her as we were working our way through it. She would come into New York and have a book full of lyrics and melody ideas and we started working together in Shep's home studio. I believe the first time she was in New York for an extended period, we were working on "Deeper and Deeper" and "Erotica" and "Bye Bye Baby." She's very driven. There's was never a period of feeling it out -- it was diving in headfirst.

Doug Wimbish: I remember Madonna when she used to go to the Roxy before she got really put on. I'd see her at the Roxy when Afrika Bambaataa was down there or [Grandmaster] Flash, and she was down there jamming out. And not just being a spectator, but being engaged in the scene. Madonna's association with the dance music and the gay scene and the hip-hop scene merging in the downtown clubs in New York City, and her coming from Michigan, she got it.... And she knew Dre had something special. A song like "Where Life Begins" is right up his alley. She had a relationship with Dre for his rawness and realness. You gotta be around someone in this business who tells you, "No, I'm not digging that, that's why." And also keep the window open to listen. I think that's what Dre did.

Andre Betts: "Where Life Begins" was the first song we wrote on Erotica. I started working on the track and she started writing lyrics. She called me a few weeks before and asked me over the phone, "I'll be in New York in two weeks, do you want to work?" I'm like, "Yeah of course." She's like, "Find a studio, I don't want to work in a popular studio, I want to be low-key." [The studio I picked] was a hole in the wall for real. She came in, started writing, she's like, "What do you think about this direction and these lyrics?" I was like, "That sounds like something I'd write." Our session got interrupted because a big rat ran across the floor. I'm the only one that got the feet up so at first I didn't think she saw it, and she goes, "Dre, stop being a bitch, it's just a rat." [Laughs] She said, "I'm from Detroit, I'm not worried about a rat."

Shimkin: She really holds fast to a general rule, which is that she's in charge of lyrics and melody, and you're in charge of music. While she has her say in the music end, it's more about the arrangement and how it works with her vocal. She'll still be open to ideas you have about a vocal. One is her dominion, the other is yours, and they don't meet that often, but it's not unheard of to be able to comment either way.

Donna De Lory: She would completely just hear it in her head. Especially when we're doing vocals. Sometimes [backup singer] Niki [Haris] and I would be like, "How 'bout this? How 'bout that?" And she was like, "Nope, this is how it's going to be." And it ended up being great. She was open to other ideas, but I really respected that.

Wimbish: [My first day in the studio], she rolls up and she's got a box with these Playboy magazines from like the '60s. She comes in, Dre sees her and she's chilling, Dre's like, "Yo what's up Mo how you doing?" They start having a conversation. Dre says, "What do you got here in this box." Before she can say anything Dre takes one of the magazines and opens to the center section, is like, "Damn these old babes had some titties back then!" Dre's real straight up and down with her. She's Madonna, she's got that alpha female vibe -- and no disrespect. I'm like "yo, let me see that." She's like, "No, no, I don't want you to see anything 'til you play some bass." Our relationship was broken in based on Dre, that moment and Playboy magazines. Dre's looking at the centerfold, Madonna's doing her Madonna thing, saying, "no, no," and I'm like, "I'm not doing anything until I see some titties and ass."

Shimkin: I was 21, 22 years old at the time. While I'd worked on a lot of major artists' records and spoken to some of them, it can be intimidating at first. When we worked on "Vogue" I didn't speak to her that much, but when we started working in [Shep's] house [on Erotica] and you're there every day, you realize somebody is just who they are. One time, she was asking me if I was done on the computer. She asked me a few minutes later and I was like "not yet," and I started getting more nervous. The next time she asked me, I lost it and I thought it was the end of my career, I said, "I'm not done yet, make some fucking popcorn and I'll let you know when I'm ready." And she was like, "Ah-k." I think she appreciated someone not being a sycophant and kissing her ass, and just being real. It became much easier as time went on. I think she enjoys having people around her who allow themselves to be themselves. She's really no different than what she puts out there to the public in a movie like Truth or Dare. There's not a persona and she doesn't hide who she is.

The first single and title track, "Erotica," set the tone for her album and the Sexbook (a Middle Eastern-flavored version entitled "Erotic" was included on a CD with copies of Sex). But unlike many of the other tracks on Erotica, "Erotica" underwent numerous radical changes during the album sessions.

Shep Pettibone: "Erotica" was four different songs throughout the process. She loved the groove. She would sing it one way, background vocals harmonies and all, then decide to erase everything and start over again. Every version was very good. Shame she made me erase stuff.

Shimkin: The original version of "Erotica" wasn't as slinky and sexy and grimy and dirty sounding until we were in the mixing process of the record, [which was] more toward the final stages. It was experimentation. When we realized it was going to be the first single and started working on the remix, it took on a different, darker vibe. That's when the character emerged, this Dita, when she ad-libbed the speaking parts. Then the character became something that took over.

Pettibone: At one point this was a finely tuned album. She scrapped that and wanted it dirty, murky and not polished.

De Lory: She was more grown up; she was more mature. She had her statements to make and you were there supporting her.

If "Erotica" was a bold sonic departure for Madonna, the second single, "Deeper and Deeper," found her in more familiar disco and house territory – it even featured a lyrical shout-out to her No. 1 hit "Vogue," which  "Deeper and Deeper" producers Pettibone and Shimkin also worked on.

Shimkin: The music [for "Deeper and Deeper"] was fairly complete when we handed it to her, with the exception of the middle break bridge section, which took on this Spanish flamenco feel. It had the disco-y feel, the chorus and the melody was all intact, but when we were in the studio transferring the demo elements and adding new elements and getting ready for the mix, I was sitting on the couch in the control room with a guitar and started futzing around with the guitar line in the flamenco guitar section. And she was like, "Yeah, let's do that." Then Shep came up with the idea, "If we're going to go for it, let's go for it – let's add castanets and really take it there." It was an odd thing -- it's not what you normally think of doing in a disco song or club song. But it was a creative process and a lot of fun. [Ed. note: Originally, "Deeper and Deeper" was Shimkin's only credited co-write on the album; he's since been officially credited as co-writer on six other tracks.]

De Lory: All the records with her, you'd show up at the session and you just couldn't wait to hear what she was doing now. By then I'd gotten to know the fans really well, and I thought "the fans are going to love this," especially when we did "Deeper and Deeper." Niki and I loved those songs because we wanted to belt it out. We had so much fun. I remember the brilliance of her vocal arrangements, how she'd wait 'til the end to bring something new in, and you don't want it to fade out, but it is fading.

Shimkin: We were in the process of adding background vocals [to "Deeper and Deeper"]. Most of the vocals came from a Shure SM57 and a quarter inch tape from the demo session, but we did recut some of the vocals. And Shep, while recording, was singing the "Vogue" line over "Deeper and Deeper." She heard it and emulated it, and it just made it. It's happenstance when the melody and key of an original song meld with another one. I think Shep may have suggested [keeping the "Vogue" reference] as a joke and she did it, and we decided to keep it.

Pettibone: Yes [that's what happened].

For as dark as Erotica is, there's actually quite a bit of humor on it, from the cheeky "Vogue" shout-out to the ridiculously boastful "Did You Do It," a rap freestyle set to the music of another album track, "Waiting." It wasn't originally intended for the commercial LP, but it's the reason there are two different official versions of the album.

Betts: What happened with "Did You Do It" was, we used to snap on each other and make jokes. Madonna and I used to talk a lot of shit to each other – a lot. The guys used to always ask me, "the way you guys talk to each other, I know you guys are doing something." They would ask me, "did you do it? Did you have sex with her?" I'm like, "helllllll no." And they're like, "you're lying, you're lying." One day she had to go somewhere, and I'm almost finished with this record, I'm mixing "Waiting." While she was gone, I was just like, "what are we gonna do now?" Everybody's laughing because it's the song "Waiting" and we're waiting for her. And I said, "give me a mic, I'm going to freestyle something." And as a joke, I told them, "guys I need you to sing this part, yell, 'did you do it,' and I'll do the rest." So when she came back she was expecting to hear "Waiting," but I didn't know she was going to come back with the guys from the [Sex] book. So she comes back with four guys in suits, and the song is cued up, ready to play. So I told my engineer, "play," and he goes "uh, no man, this is not the time." And Madonna goes, "stop being a bitch, play the freaking song." He wouldn't do it, so I hit play and sat back down. I'm thinking, "man I don't know how this is going to go down, but it doesn't matter, I'm already paid and this is the last week." So this is going to be one of the worst jokes of all. When I hit play, man, she leaned over behind me and she literally had tears in her eyes and goes, "You are fucking crazy." Not long after that I was with Doug [Wimbish] in Massachusetts working on Living Colour's Stainalbum, she calls me and says, "Dre, I'm using that song on the album." I said "what? Hell no, I'm not a rapper, I didn't even write those lyrics, I just freestyled them," and she's like "I don't care, I think it's brilliant, I love it." Freddy DeMann [her manager] gets on and says, "What if we gave you 75/25?" And I said, "Shit, put that on the record. I don't care what I sound like now." [Laughs] That's really what happened.

Wimbish: Dre helped pave the road to making her explicit.

Betts: Then she called me back to blame my ass: "You know you're the reason I have to have an explicit sticker on my album." I was like, "okay, how you gonna blame me? You decided to put it on." I was like, "You guys want to go through all the trouble for this song to put two different records out?" Because Kmart wouldn't sell records with explicit stickers on them -- they wouldn't even put them in the store.

Erotica wasn't all libido and leather, though. The reflective, regretful "Bad Girl" is one of her most affecting lyrics, and "In This Life" is Madge at her most existential. Meanwhile, songs like "Bye Bye Baby" and "Why's It So Hard" find her experimenting with filtered vocals and reggae, respectively, and on her cover of Peggy Lee's "Fever," she marries chilly club music to a torch song of yesteryear. Taken together, the album shows Madonna's growing willingness to expand her horizons in terms of subject matter and studio techniques. 

Shimkin: "Why's It So Hard" is really funny, because it was midpoint writing the record, and we were all a little burnt out. Everybody went on vacation, and Shep happened to go to Jamaica and I happened to go scuba diving in the Cayman Islands, and both places are heavily reggae-based culture. That's what we came back having listened to, so we decided out of nowhere to do a reggae track. And then my vocals appeared on it. Going to see the Girlie Show live and see my vocals lip synced and coming over the loudspeakers at Madison Square Garden was surreal for me.

De Lory: The song "In This Life" was very serious. It was just nice to go into the studio and share our own voices on that, which we could all relate to with what was going on, losing friends to AIDS.

Shimkin: "In This Life" had a really deep personal attachment to her, and [it has an] uncluttered nature to allow her vulnerability to come through. Obviously ["Bad Girl" was] a highly personal lyric. There's a raw element and simplicity that lends itself to a vulnerable vocal and lyric that she puts through. You really hear the emotion in her voice.

Pettibone: [I] never thought about [whether "Bad Girl" was autobiographical]. It was just a good song that I'm sure many people can relate to.

Shimkin: "Bye Bye Baby" was committed to tape with the filtered vocal – it wasn't an afterthought, it was how she heard herself when doing the song. We went to tape with that effect, there was no removing that. Sometimes you apply treatments like that in the mix, but that was committed to tape. There were no restrictions. Everything was tried that was wanted to be tried.

De Lory: When I heard "Bye Bye Baby" and that vocal effect, it had a lot of attitude. There's a bit of girl power in there and that attitude to be able to say that to a guy. You can hear how ahead of its time it was.

Shimkin: We had a song called "Goodbye to Innocence" but that turned into a cover of Peggy Lee's "Fever"; it was something that evolved with the project. There was a song called "Shame" and "You Are the One" [from the sessions that didn't make the album]. I think "You Are the One" fell into what "Thief of Hearts" was feel-wise, and "Shame" probably could have made the record, but it had a happier vibe, it was a little more playful, so I see why it didn't. But they're sitting there in the vaults somewhere. Maybe one day the Basement Tapes will be dug up. Some of it can be found online. People, I think, went into Library of Congress, played demo tapes and somehow copied them. Madonna has such a rabid fan base, they're so interested in knowing everything she does.

De Lory: Niki and I recently did a cover of "Rain," we both love that song and love singing it live [the two still record and perform together]. When I listen to those records I'm so proud of her for being so innovative and being fearless, and to be part of that was incredible. To be on a recording that will be around for as long as forever will be for us humans, I'm so proud. Niki and I were really taken care of, we were paid well and respected and had a great time with Tony and Shep, and I think that comes across on the records.

While Madonna's turn toward transgression wasn't apparent to everyone during the sessions, her collaborators eventually realized the through-line that connected Erotica, her Sex book and the erotic thriller Body of Evidence. At the very least, they were certainly aware of the controversy that engulfed the album upon its release.

Wimbish: She knew how to deliver with shock and awe. The industry had a flow, she got it, and I'm not brownnosing her.

Shimkin: I'm 99.9 percent certain she had this [overarching theme] envisioned ahead of time. It wasn't as obvious to us before when we were doing songs like "Rain" and "Bye Bye Baby" and "Why's It So Hard," but as it slowly came together, it became more obvious as we saw things alongside it. The Sex book, that was being worked on, and she was shooting the [Body of Evdience] movie with Willem Dafoe.

Pettibone: She kept the book very secret from me. It probably would have been a bigger album without all the controversy. But, after 25 years it still sounds good. Better than her newer albums actually. Whatever the matter, I'm still proud of it.

Wimbish: There's all this controversy going on. Here's the deal. From "Borderline" going on, she's a teenage pop idol. And now all the sudden them titties is out. Middle America and everybody else giving their daughters that $10 to buy that record are like, "hey, wait a minute…" Having a record come out with explicit can take sales away from a label. It's all bullshit. People start freaking out and people are starting to cockblock. It's a business we're in. Anybody sees a possibility to shut stuff down, and it starts in the industry itself. But you wouldn't have some of the lanes that are there now without her putting that record out. Fact.

For the book/album release party, Madonna doubled down on the BDSM imagery and threw an infamous party at Industria Superstudio that (to paraphrase Morrissey) would have made Caligula blush.

Betts: Walking in, just showing up out front, is Hulk Hogan standing there trying to get in. He eventually got in. I walk up with my dreads and about three four people, they look at me walk in, I look back at Hulk Hogan like "shit…he could probably whoop my ass." I'm thinking this will be regular party, whatever. The first thing I saw was a naked person suspended in the air on chains, and I say to myself, "oh shit, this will be one hell of a party."

Wimbish: That record launch party she had, oh my God, that was one of the best record release parties ever. By the time I got there it was way past full effect. She had folks behind glass, strippers, and she was like, "this is the way it's supposed to be done." This is no kissing and cuddling – I want to scare you. All y'all know what you're really doing behind closed doors, so let's get it on.

Betts: When I saw the sushi come by with two tits on the tray and the sushi surrounding the tits, I was like, "oh man." Then I saw this big tub of popcorn but the popcorn was moving because this naked woman was underneath the popcorn. I was like, "this is getting crazy now." My friend goes "what's all those doors over there?" So he looks in the first one and goes "oh shit Dre come here," and there's a girl playing with herself. And I go "wow, okay." So then he moves to the second one, there's a couple in there having sex. And he goes to the third one, and it's two guys. And he freaked the freak out, he's like, "oh shit! I've never seen that before." And there was two doors left and he goes "hell no, I don't know what I might see in those doors." The whole point of the party is you didn't know what you're going to see.

Wimbish: The record was one thing, but that party, in my opinion, changed the game.

Betts: She herself didn't do anything crazy that night. She was like, "I've had enough, I want to chill."

Erotica netted four top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including two top 10s ("Erotica" went to No. 3; "Deeper and Deeper" rose to No. 7), and hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It's sold 1.9 million copies to date, according to Nielsen. Even so, the album received mixed reviews, especially compared to the raves she got for Like A Prayer three years earlier. But Erotica has quietly grown in stature over the past quarter century, with critics and artists frequently citing it as a pivotal release in pop and one of her finest efforts. Perhaps the best postscript for Erotica comes from Madonna herself in this 1992 interview with MTV's Steve Blame: "A lot of the things I deal with in my music and the book are, in particular, with the repression that's going on in America right now.…There's a lot of really narrow-minded people. If I can change the way 1/100th of them thinks, then I've accomplished something."

Kortingscode Mega Platen & CD Beurs november 2017

Op zaterdag 11 en zondag 12 november  aanstaande vindt de jaarverzamelbeurs weer plaats in de jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht. Onderdeel van deze internationale beurs is de Mega Platen & CD Beurs. 

MadonnaNed biedt, met dank aan Record Planet, haar bezoekers een kortingscode aan. Met deze kortingscode kun je voor €11,50 een entreekaartje kopen. De kortingscode is: MPC2.

Meer informatie lees je op http://www.recordplanet.nl/presale.html. Of wil je direct een kaartje met de kortingscode kopen? Klik dan hier!

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