I was stoating down High Holborn in search of refreshment earlier this evening and saw a tot who can’t have been more than three years old wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend ‘Seen it, done it, rocked it out’. What were the parents thinking of and what precisely has this child supposed to have seen? Coachella? Kosovo? Your guess is as good as mine.
Of course my all time favourite was a slogan T-shirt reading ‘don’t hate me because I’m beautiful’ as worn by a clod-hopping biffer who wouldn’t see size zero without a gastric band and was clearly no stranger to the tattooist’s ink or Gregg’s the baker. I’ve only ever worn a slogan T-shirt once and it was a rhinestone-encrusted number sent by Dolce & Gabbana to publicise Madonna’s Music album.
Here’s the story. Madonna played a very VIP gig in Camden to publicise the tour and le tout fashion industry had a golden ticket. I did not so I hot footed it to the Derbyshire hills to avoid the humiliation. Long story short, my invitation and said T-shirt arrived on the day I left. I could have wept. For good or ill Madonna’s is the music I grew up with. As long as I was still in synch with her all was well with the world.
One of the best nights of my life was spent in the company of my dearly departed friend Judy Bennett at Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor tour at Wembley Arena. Judy was magic. She was one of London’s top top fashion PRs who inherited the business from her sister Jean. She checked out far too early and I miss her every day. Madonna was filmed that night so I have a record of the phenomenal performance she gave and my wildest Judy Bennett night rounded off with me swigging brandy and she snorting the naughty salt in a suite at Home House.
Madonna and I parted company when she released her MDNA album that was basically a drunk auntie at a 50 Cent gig trying to twerk with the kids. I think it was around that time that Madonna embraced hot pants and fishnet tights. I felt like buying a Perry Como CD and conceding that I was too old for pop music. So glorious tintanabulations when I bought Madonna’s latest opus Rebel Heart and found myself totally connected to every song.
What, you might ask, do I have in my shady past to connect me to songs such as ‘Bitch, Get Off My Pole’ or ‘Party like Illuminati’? Where to begin? Madonna has a legitimate beef with the world that she’s been rocking it out for decades so the critics should give her some very well deserved praise and respect. She was the trailblazer who opened the door for many of the world’s most successful female artists.
Madonna calls to mind one of my idols Bette Midler who famously said ‘I opened the door for trashy singers with big tits and no talent’. Of course Bette has more talent in her sling backs than most ‘artists’ today could even dream of. You’ve got to give an awful lot of respect for women like Madonna or Bette. As Madonna sings, ‘it might sound like an unapologetic bitch but sometimes I’ve got to call it like it is’.
I have always tried to call it like it is. This has not won popularity contests over the years but I stuck to my guns even though there were occasions when I shouldn’t have fired. There is one person of late who if he’d tried to follow my career path any closer would have moved in next door to Bloomsbury Towers and stolen my better half. One should be flattered but in reality mini-me attention is not welcome. Bitch get off my pole indeed!
Madonna’s being inspired by Marilyn Monroe is well documented but I wonder whether the queen of pop ever looks to Bette Milder as a model for growing old with a wink, a smile and a v-sign. The Divine Miss M is on the road again aged seventy with her global Divine Intervention tour. Artists might not like the audience to film but Miss M should be thankful that her fans can’t resist filming and posting on YouTube.
From the footage I have seen Bette Midler is close to her prime with this stadium tour. Can you imagine a seventy year old woman bursting onto the stage wearing a short beaded pink silk chiffon mini dress and heels and working through twenty of her most fabulous hits? The voice is strong even if some of the arrangements go down an octave or two. Seeing Miss M slay Stay With Me from The Rose as a climax to the set is nothing short of miraculous.
I think Miss M points the way forward for Madonna. Madonna doesn’t have the razor sharp sense of humour that Bette owns. But I suspect if Madonna acknowledges the absurd fabulousness of wearing hot pants and fishnet tights well into her fifties – rather than strike a ‘get over it’ pose – she would earn the respect she deserves from her fans old and new.
Madonna has achieved more in her lifetime than most people on the planet. She deserves applause. Marilyn has been on my mind because the BFI is running a season of her films. People tend to forget that Marilyn Monroe’s film career as a star lasted less than a decade. MM still fascinates despite the relatively thin catalogue of her films. Madonna has twenty more years on Marilyn and she’s far from reaching surrender.
Madonna has had a remarkable career and long may it continue. Rebel Heart and its major message ‘living for love’ has put me back in the fan club. More power to your elbow love!