Like a Children’s Author, for the Very First Time
Dana Spera says she has no interest in children’s books. But yesterday at noon she was outside the Barnes & Noble store on 48th Street and Fifth Avenue, begging to be let in for a glimpse her favorite author.”I can’t breathe!” she shouted. “I just can’t! I want to meet her!”
The author’s name “Madonna” was written across Ms. Spera’s headband, her earrings, a ring, and a bracelet. It was also tattooed onto her leg, with a dreamy image of the pop star’s face and her birthdate: August 16, 1958.
Ms. Spera, 27, had shown up along with several hundred other fans, hoping to watch Madonna hand out signed copies of her new children’s book, “The English Roses,” which was released last week to a juggernaut of publicity in more than 100 countries and in 30 languages.
But only 250 people were chosen by lottery to receive signed copies at yesterday’s event, and Ms. Spera was left standing out in the intermittent rain with hundreds of other disappointed fans and curious onlookers.
Most of the lottery winners, who were allowed to wait inside, appeared to be in their 30’s and 40’s “closer to Madonna’s current maternal incarnation than her earlier, wilder phases” and many had children with them.
Few of them seemed troubled by the difference between her first book, “Sex,” which included photographs of Madonna wearing only black leather gloves and a bunny tail, and the new effort to refashion herself as a children’s author.
“I was a huge Madonna fan back in the 80’s,” said Kristine Woodward, 37, who came with her 5-year-old daughter, Julia. Now, she said, she and her daughter “bop to the same music together.”
Like most of those in the line, Ms. Woodward had not read the book. “I hear it’s a beautiful piece of artistry,” she said dreamily.
A few passers-by were more skeptical.
“We shouldn’t judge her by her insane past,” said Denise Fuhrer. “Maybe she has a normal streak. But I wouldn’t let any granddaughter of mine read that book.”
A few of the fans lining the block had read the story, which describes four young English girls and their jealousy of another, more beautiful girl named Binah who lives down the block.
But most people seemed far more interested in Madonna than in her book. Michael Zorek had brought his 18-month-old son, Jeremy, to add another photograph of the baby with a celebrity. He already has dozens, including Puff Daddy, Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the stars of “Law and Order.”
“I figure this will be better than the normal pictures of the baby on the rug or the baby with Grandma,” Mr. Zorek said.
Inside the bookstore, scores of young women pretended to browse books while waiting for the star to make her appearance. Finally, about 4 o’clock, loud shouts went up as Madonna appeared on a second-floor gallery at the back of the store.
But Madonna, dressed in a brown skirt and tan sweater vest, soon disappeared to the back of the store, sequestered with the lottery winners by security guards and a velvet rope line. Reporters were not allowed in. After the signing was over, a stream of deliriously happy fans began to emerge with their signed books.
“She read the first two pages of the book, and asked the girls what characters they identified with,” said Michelle Rose, who had come with her two young daughters. “It was such a great experience, because she keeps reinventing herself, and now I can identify with her as a working mom.”
Standing nearby, Irene Vornik, a visitor from St. Petersburg, Russia, watched the crowd with a mix of wonder and horror.
“It’s so stupid!” she said. “But it’s interesting.”
Source: Robert F. Worth, New York Times