Long before she was the reigning Empress of Dance Pop — or the Super Bowl Queen — Madonna Louise Ciccone was a bundle of blond ambition from the Motor City (via Manhattan). Which was precisely what Flexipop!'s Kris Needs encountered when she visited London for the first time in May 1983——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages
These days I wake up more and more feeling death's breath around the corner as I near the winter of my years. It's so hard being a drunken bum and working for Flexipop! I should have been a ballet dancer.
This was the conclusion I came to after talking to the gorgeously perky Madonna, over here recently to say hello and do some club sets.
"The thing about dancing — what it taught me all those years — is it gives you an amazing sense of discipline in forcing yourself to do things that you know are good for you but you don't really want to do. It's self-preservation. A lot of people in the music industry wreck themselves. I know that my lifestyle is a lot different from a lot of other people because of the training I've had. It can be a real long life if you make it that way."
And a short one if you don't, I suppose [hack, wheeze, etc]. (This advice was obviously inspired by the alcohol-marinated apparition sitting before her who'd just been to a booze-sodden lig hosted by Noel Edmonds to launch this new invention called the CD.)
Not to worry, though. Madonna's first single — the Rusty Egan-remixed 'Everybody' — is real hangover-repellent, made for the legs and those who find it taxes the old brain too much to lurch along and scoop up the latest hot funk item in over-priced import shops. Madonna performs to backing tapes with three handpicked black dancers she found in the New York clubs. She's quite aware of her power to turn legs to jelly but refuses to do it blatantly.
"I think it's really important to exude sexuality on stage, but I don't think I have to entice men. I don't think people have to be aroused sexually by what you wear. I get over that by way of being sexy just by the way I sing and move on stage.
"The way we dress is sort of playful-innocent: Bermuda shorts, ankle socks and shoes, crazy hats. I don't wanna wear something that I'm going to fall out of. I don't feel comfortable like that. But I'm really physical onstage, y'know? I move around a lot."
Madonna wants to take her music out of ghetto-elite typecasting. "I feel I'm trying to get rid of a lot of stereotype. I come out there and I'm white and look like a boy on stage. I refuse to act the way someone expects me to."
Though she said hello to the big, wide world in Detroit, Madonna was magnetised by New York City as soon as she got out of school; played in a few groups, studied ballet and started writing songs. Now she lives in the heart of the junkie cesspit called the Lower East Side.
"I live in a supposedly dangerous area, near 'Needle Park'. They're always selling stuff in the street outside my apartment building. I don't like it but I like living amongst all the squalor. It's good inspiration.
"Detroit is a more desolate, desperate place. At night everyone locks themselves away. There's always elements of danger in New York but people are always out on the street. I don't feel scared there at all."
Another record is set for release soon — a double A-side coupling two self-explanatory titles: 'Burning Up' and 'Physical Attraction.'
Later that day she turned in an energetic performance at the Camden Palace, leaving many in no doubt that this girl was no flash in the pan.
I'm gonna buy me some shorts.
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- Madonna Louise Ciccone