madonna 50: PT 1

It’s amazing.

I have been waiting to use this for what seems like forever.

Madonna 50.

Like when Jackie O turned 60 but only better.

Both icons in their own right, Madonna has far surpassed the late and former First Lady of the White House. 

Google Jackie 60 and all you will find is an homage to an era of nightclubbing in the 90s (of which I was part). Google Madonna 50 and all you will find is news of the Diva accomplishing a half century. And she has accomplished lots. This year, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rightfully so.

But, mostly, what I think of when I see Madonna 50 in print are reflections of who I was and where I was when I hear each of her songs or records. She has been an influence on me since I was 13. Of course. As a young, budding homosexual in a small town, she was the catalyst in making me realize that I could turn dreams into reality. Or, at the very least, give it the ol’ college try while being really gay doing it. 

This post is less about Madge and more about my reflections in life as I’ve lived it with her music and moves as markers.

Here is the beginning of the 50 top moments of who and where I was according to a song and/ or album.

Madonna (debut July 27, 1983)- Ah. The summer of ’83. T’was both good and bad. Having just left my first year of hell and torment in junior high, I delved into Madonna the record as it was solace. My brother had just returned from his first coaching gig away from “the Island” with a boyfriend and a great 45. Borderline was the first song that I knew. It was the summer of Cyndi Lauper, Culture Club and now, this. Man. I was hooked. First convinced that this Madonna chick was a black girl, I was shocked to realize that she was a little white chick. Borderline was worn out in our house that August. As was the whole album. It was the first thing that I ever bought with my own money (from babysitting gigs, of course). Holiday, Lucky Star, Burning Up, Physical Attraction and Everybody quickly became my anthems. All I wanted was to KNOW “No Intienda” at Danceteria. I needed The Pyramid Club. All information of which I found only through magazines, interviews and Dick Clark. [It’s amazing how resourceful we were without the internet.] I wanted to know and feel and experience all that She was experiencing. I found rubber bracelets. I found Blondissima and I found my Mom’s sewing machine to redo almost every piece of clothing that I owned and destroyed. On purpose. I confounded my Grandmother by wearing every rosary I could find in every relative’s house. It was my quest to BE the MANdonna. I just ended up looking like the queen that I already was inside. 😉

Like A Virgin (released Nov. 12 1984)- As far as I was concerned, Madonna had matured. And so had I. With songs like Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, I was sure that she had gone through it. Like I had in my mind. With both Billy Idol and George Michael. Oh- the fantasies. Over and Over was epiphanic for me. “I’m not afraid to say I hear a different beat Oh! and I’ll go out in the street Yeah! And I will shout it again from the highest Mountain!” I had finished eighth grade- the worst year of my life- i was entering the ninth and I was determined to be better at it. I failed miserably. Over and Over and Love helped me get through it. All the hiding in closets so I wouldn’t have to go to school. All of the hiding under old tables in the basement so I wouldn’t have to feel the torment, both emotionally and physically. No. I hid. And I listened to those songs on my Walkman. Over and Over.

At the same time, Madge was gaining notoriety. She was doing soundtrack songs (Crazy 4 U) but she had B-sides- like Gambler, that never truly made it- that I loved.

And she was making movies. Desperately. Seeking. Susan. Wow. This was everything that I had hoped for and more. With no real media besides Dick Clark and a few moments of videos a week starting in 1984 (we didn’t have MTV in Canada). When I heard Into The Groove (FILMED in Danceteria, no less!) and I finally saw this film, I knew what path my life would eventually take me. NYC beckoned, even if not immediately. I knew I would be there one day. I would be living the life.

Alas, I still had high school to contend with. Which was up and down. Mostly up. I discovered a lot of myself as I was FINALLY living in the city. What I THOUGHT was the city. It was larger than the place I knew so I loved it. I discovered so much more than what Madonna had to offer at the time so I took a much needed meloncholic and EMOtional break with the 4AD label (Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil; what Madge was producing was not even near what I needed. Save for a few songs. The mid-80s, Sean Penn stage was not too much of anything for ol’ Mama. There was one song that spoke to me in that time. Live To Tell. It still speaks to me. There is a daunting undertone that says so much in that song which represented- and continues to represent- a lot of who I was and am. It is an all-time favorite.

Years passed ( it was only three) until Madge finally came out with Like A Prayer. I had finished my 1st year of university and Mama was still there for me when I needed her. 

I had moved to Montreal and I met a whole new group of peeps. One in particular reminds me of this time. My first Fag Hag. She remains and I visit her when I can. When I do, it is always a welcome reunion. She was the closest thing to me that made me really realize the Fag in myself and know that that Fag was amazing. This was also the time of my first long-term boyfriend. Vasco. He was hot, 17 years older than me and- oh yea- really fucking hot. He rode a Kawasaki 750. Purple. That was hot. Songs from this era- and beyond Like A Prayer: Express Yourself,(breaking up with Vasco) Promise To Try, (my Grandmother’s death), Oh Father and Keep it Together (my gay brother and gay sister). 

Thanks for the 80s, Mama Madge.

Madonna 50: PT 2