Madonna may be the bitchiest and bossiest woman in pop music or the most beloved. She may be an emotionally insecure manipulator – who (shock! horror!) uses men and throws them away. Or she may be just an old-fashioned girl looking for the traditional twosome: love and marriage.
But one thing she doesn’t do is kiss and tell – that’s left for the biographer.
Two unauthorized biographies published this month both tout supposed fresh new insights into the life and love life of the pop and cultural phenomenon who has reinvented herself with almost every one of her 14 hit albums.
Yet Madonna, 43, mother of two, twice married and the most successful female recording artist of the 20th century, is neither ready nor willing to set the record straight by writing her own autobiography.
“She said she wasn’t interested in doing any kind of biography or anything ever, which is a bit of a stern statement from someone who has been so out there. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me, Norman Mailer, whoever,” said Andrew Morton, the British author of one of the latest offerings “Madonna” (StMartin’s Press).
Morton, whose 1992 biography of Princess Diana exploded the myth of her fairy-tale marriage to Britain’s Prince Charles, said his requests for an interview with the Material Girl were met only with a mailed copy of Kabbalah – “a mystical text of Judaism, which she tends to live by these days.”
“I was disappointed because I felt that we’ve only ever seen the caricature, the cartoon version of Madonna and I really wanted to show that she is a considerable artist and that she is more than anything that has been written about her in the past. I think for her it is an opportunity missed,” Morton told Reuters.
MASTER MISTRESS OF DISGUISE
It’s true. The woman who has been portrayed so often in her 20-year career as a control freak – meticulously overseeing every aspect of her recording career, her concerts, and her multimedia company Maverick Entertainment – has no plans to write her own story of her very controversial life.
“I think she probably feels that she has shown the world enough of herself over the years, and wants to keep the rest private,” said Madonna’s spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg.
“People have been writing articles and unauthorized biographies about Madonna for years. They are rarely accurate or true. She feels most people don’t believe them,” I don’t think she takes them very seriously,” Rosenberg said.
Morton’s book attempts to reveal the complex woman he describes as “the consummate mistress of disguise.”
He portrays Madonna as someone craving love and adds pop superstar Michael Jackson to the eclectic list of men (and women) that Madonna is said to have tried to bed. (“Nothing happened because he (Jackson) was giggling so much,” Morton says of one man Madonna apparently failed to conquer.)
Barbara Victor’s book “Goddess” (HarperCollins), published in the same week as Morton’s, includes the shock claim that Madonna has had 11 abortions in 25 years, and tricked British film director Guy Ritchie into marrying her by deliberately getting pregnant with her second child, Rocco.
Rosenberg dismissed the Morton book as “a lovely work of fiction,” rejected Victor’s claims on the abortion as untrue and her described Victor’s assertion about the Ritchie marriage as “plainly ridiculous.”
DESPERATELY SEEKING MADONNA
J. Randy Taraborrelli’s “Madonna: An Intimate Biography,” published in April, says Madonna dated pop star Prince, but complained he smelled of lavender; wrapped herself in plastic to await lover John F. Kennedy Jr.; and publicly tongue-kissed actress Gwyneth Paltrow at a millennium party.
Taraborrelli quotes Tommy Quinn, a New York studio musician who dated Madonna shortly before she met her first husband, Sean Penn. “I found her to be very guarded,” Quinn said. “Of course she was brash and – oh, man – she could be a royal bitch. But beneath it, if you really got to know her, she was a different kind of person, a very insecure girl.”
Amid the acres of fascinating tittle-tattle devoted to Madonna’s chaotic love life in all three books, Taraborrelli offers a detailed look at Madonna’s artistry and how she writes the songs that have brought her more No. 1 singles than The Beatles or Elvis Presley.
Morton talks of her passion for art, her “quiet” charity work that involves private visits to sick and dying children in New York hospitals every Thanksgiving, and her checkered career as a movie actress.
Morton ended up admiring and respecting Madonna, even though his attempts to dismantle her carefully constructed facade ultimately left him facing a riddle.
“She can command a stage, she can write songs, she commands and controls a huge multimillion pound (dollar) business and you have to respect and admire that,” Morton said.
“She is a mesh of contradictions. She is someone who seems absolutely confident, yet is very insecure. Someone who is desperate for control, but has very often been out of control. Someone who seems to be unemotional but can be quite vulnerable,” he said.
Until the day the pop diva, now apparently more content and serene than ever before, decides to come out with her own version of events, all the so-called intimate biographies seem destined to remain an exercise in desperately seeking Madonna.
As her former lover, rap star Vanilla Ice told Morton: “If she were a painting, she would be an abstract by Picasso. She has so many faces.”