Madonna 50: PT 2

Madonna 50.

Like when Jackie O turned 60 but only better.

This is turning out to be a bit of a novella-

The 90s happened and I was out-er than out. As gay as my friend Muffin’s coined term: the gayest gay that ever gayed

Still in Montreal, I was IN Vogue. 1990 was the summer of Blonde Ambition, my return to University (after taking some time off to become a hair stylist) and the Sex Garage protest against the Surte de Quebec. The Police. At a private party, a bunch of outcast gay men, dykes and drag queens and their admirers danced and gogoed on speakers to some of the most amazing music such as Vogue. The party raided, the Surte de Quebec began to beat all that left the party- peacefully- expressing: “hoste! les tapettes!” [loosly translated: “fucking faggots!”] The next day, an entire group met at a club to decide what the hell to do. We were not going to stand for it. United, we stopped traffic in the middle of a busy intersection in Montreal- outside of the police station- and sat, arms locked. Cops moved in and beat us out of the intersection as we exclaimed: “Shame!” Many were arrested and beaten even more once inside holding cells. One guy had a stick smashed into his testicles, injuring him quite badly.

The year ensued. We were mad but we were partying and dancing our anger into a new era. It was Montreal’s Stonewall. Segregated gay men, lesbians and queens were slowly coming together. All the while, Madonna was a staple. In November, The Immaculate Collection was released. All of the songs- especially the new ones- were new anthems. Madonna was intensely and unapologetically openly aiming her top market: the gay community. Rescue Me and Justify My Love were quick to become staples. They all related to the events that took place and were taking shape. 

The summer of 91 took me to Europe where I travelled and continuously listened to Deee-Lite and the multitude of versions of Justify. It was a good year.

Having finished enough of university, I thought it hight time to get out. NYC was on my mind for years. It was all that I wanted. The summer of 1992 took me back “home” to PEI where I worked as a waiter. A League Of Their Own came out and so did This Used To Be My Playground. Having left Montreal to work as a waiter in PEI, my thoughts whirled in the lyrics. That summer, I read an unofficial bio on Madonna and read how she landed in NYC with $35 in her pocket and made it. I left for NYC in the fall of 92 with $300 in my pocket, knew no one and became the bohomo, couch surfing until I finally landed jobs bartending, gogo dancing and the like. 

That same fall, Erotica came out. Clinton was running for President. I was in a whirl in NYC. By myself. And frequenting clubs. I hung out with gogo dancers that I worked with but I didn’t make great friends. I didn’t want to. I wanted to discover me. I had boyfriends out of convenience. Everything truly was just about Jake. I had one job that brought me to Connecticut for months on end where all I listened to was Erotica, Fever, Deeper & Deeper (which featured Udo Kier who I lived with for a month) and Bad Girl over and over. Life in Connecticut was– interesting. I needed the escape in the music until I finally got back to the city. Where I finally got a job as a bartender. I could finally focus on performing and becoming a STAR. Oy.

However, working in clubs and partying got the best of me. I remained in Hair and started learning and doing makeup with the group that I was performing with. I became increasingly depressed even though I LOVED the city I had always desired. I had succumbed to the many poisonous fruits that New York is famous for producing. I had friends that were dying of AIDS and breast cancer; and friends that succumbed to an untimely death due to increased drug usage. Many rockers and trannies and freaks.

Bedtime Stories came out and I tried desperately to love my life- my dream- by listening to the many songs She had to offer. Human Nature was a favorite “fuck off” song. I was dating a guy in LA and I was back and forth between the two cities. Secret was a theme. In the interim, Bedtime Story, written by Bjork (who frequented the performance group I was with), reminds me of my F to M illusion friend, Trash. S/he was my BFF for the most part of my time in NYC. We were invincible as we skipped happily from club scene to club scene, gaining notoriety as we hung with club kids Richie Rich and the notorious Michael Alig. My LA boyfriend (now a friend only) moved to NY and, while we just became friends, he died within a year of moving there. Inside of Me and Love Tried To Welcome Me resonated in my mind as did In This Life, the live version from The Girlie Show the year previous, as my thoughts were with him and my friend Wendy Wild who was still battling her last battle with breast cancer. 

I had enough with New York. Or, more specifically, New York had enough with me and spat me back to Canada- to “the island” where I dried out, cried out and kept deep inside me with Something To Remember in my hands. You’ll See and One More Chance seemed to fit my life at that moment. I needed to gain strength and passion again. I was fighting. My cousin Lesley told me once that You’ll See reminded her of me and the fight that I was fighting. Even though she didn’t know what the fight was. That meant the world to me. Those two songs were, again, my themes. I Want You was a song that represented an abusive relationship that I had no business in being in to begin with. I wasn’t ready. I was fragile. But The Universe delivers to you what you need to be dealt. Not that I should have been abused- it just helped me with regaining my strength and I fought back. For the first time in years. I fought for me.

Clawing my way back, I performed in my final musical. Evita was in theatres and it was great. However, none of the songs from that were ever any of my favorites. But it reminds me of getting my strength back.

Ray of Light was released in 1998. I was now living in Vancouver. I needed something light. Drowned World was my solace. She changed her mind and so did I. I was focused and driven to work in film as a hair and makeup artist and Vangroovy, at the time, was the place to do it. Nothing Really Matters and Shanti were mantras. I was dating again but still wearing my heart on my sleeve. I fell for a guy that didn’t want anything to do with LOVE. To Have and Not To Hold was my theme (this video was the best fan art i could find. there is no official video). 

Then I met Glamma. Ray of Light was my light. Glamma CONTINUES to be my light. I think of him whenever I hear it.

Doing the occasional independent film, I was comfortable working as an instructor. I didn’t know what I truly wanted. Music came out and Don’t Tell Me and What It Feels Like for a Girl were powerful driving songs. Driving is all one did in Vangroovy to get from one set to the next to the teaching gig.

We were happy in our new relationship and loving our comfort with both of us teaching and frequenting LA for work related things. We loved LA. I remembered it to be that fabulous when I was going there five+ years previous. 

The record, Music, rocked. But we weren’t rocking in Vangroovy. There was no where else to go. We capped.

Stay tuned for Part III for Madge’s official 50th. 

Madonna 50: PT 1

Madonna 50: PT 3


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