Liz Rosenberg’s article about Madonna
She has been Madonna’s friend and spokeperson for more than twenty years. The official Voice of the Idol that deals with the bad press, the joys the glory and the scandals.
Well known for her character and her discretion, Liz Rosenberg delivers some details of her intimate relation with Madonna. For the very first time.
As Madonna’s agent and friend, I am front row for everything that corcernes her. I often act as a plug between the “Material Girl” and the press, ready to be pushed against a wall of glass while she goes up the marche du festival in Cannes, followed by a flock of paparazzi. That was fiftheen years ago, at the screening of In Bed With madonna.
Madonna never reads the critics and I think that’s an excellent idea. On the other hand, I can’t do the same. First of all it’s my job, and it is also a way to test if after all those years we are still in tune with the press. Some remain skeptical. But which artist, other than The Beatles and Elvis, has been able to put in so many hits in a row and build up the musical score of our lives?
I remember like if it was yesterday. In the very middle of summer, a bowl of fire was walking around in my office, dressed up with fabulous accessories. I didn’t forget anything: the hairstyle (“they are at their best if I don’t wash them for eight days”), the black rubber bangles and the torn pantyhose (“What’s the problem, everybody wears those in downtown), the crucifix she was wearing “Jesus is sexy”), the attitude (“Nobody has to tell me what to wear”, shouted a still unknown Madonna on her first photo session with the famous Francesco Scavullo). “I adore her style, let her wear whatever she wants” he told his stylists – who wanted her covered of diamonds.
I can look back at myself, later, making her have a seat in my office to show her the Playboy issue that brought back her nude pictures she made for some art students when she arrived in New York. We were worried about the consequences on her carreer that was just starting. “Well, first of all, I have nothing to be apologize for, she said flipping through the magazine, and I would make fun of it if I only didn’t find myself so unattractive.” Being recently asked about how she deals with nudity, Madonna simply laughed: “In the most cases, it was pure exhibitionism. Who is not showing himself naked nowadays?”.
A few years ago, I accompanied Madonna when she visited a Hospital. She opened a door and in the room a very sick children told her from his bed: “You know, I don’t like you” – he said. Madonna answered: “You know, sometimes I don’t like myself either. But what matters, is that I love you.” I left them both alone for a few moments. Later on, meeting the boy’s mom, she told me: “It’s the first time that my son smiles in three weeks”. “Liz, don’t ever tell anybody about this or I’ll kill you”, Madonna made me promise.
What makes Madonna so happy these days? Oh, probably my daughter’s voice when she reads a poem in French to me” Is there something left she dreams about? “A lot of thing. No more wars, first of all. And what if all the world would go and see Michael moore’s movie? And if my children would take care of their own dirty plates?”
There’s no doubt that her good mood shows on stage of her “Re-invention Tour”. “Since everybdoy was having a look back at my career, I decided to revisit it myself with new musical and visual twist. I had some thought about that with Caresse Henry, my manager and my best friend. Then Jamie King – the show director – came up with a model of the stage as what he was thinking about it. I wanted to introduce in the show elements of Kaballah, my felings about war in general, and about George Bush in particular. I wanted to open my audience’s mind and entertain them at the same time. I wanted this show to be an assault to the senses. I wanted to perform in Israel, before Jews and Palestinians. Unfortunately, Caresse didn’t allow me to do this. Security reasons. One of my goals is that each person in the audience could go back home knowing that he can help changing the world,” Madonna said after her third mug of coffee that morning.
What’s the most important lesson in life? I asked Madonna before one of her concerts. “This is what my Kabballah teacher taught me: every time you are in doubt, act as God. How would he act? With love and altruism. I try to do both. This is what I would like to teach the world.” Amen.
Article by Liz Rosenberg, originally published in French on Vogue Paris, August 2004. Translated into English by Madonna Tribe Team