Madonna is on "Holiday" with her whole family!
One year after opening a hospital in Malawi, the pop icon, 59, returned to the African nation to visit with all six of her children: 21-year-old Lourdes Leon (with ex Carlos Leon), 17-year-old Rocco Ritchie (with ex Guy Ritchie), Mercy James and David Banda, both 12, and 5½-year-old twins Estere and Stella.
On Monday, Madonna posted an Instagram photo with her kids in front of a mural in the lobby of the Mercy James Centre for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in Blantyre, Malawi.
"Tree of Life…..🌴 Mercy James Pediatric Hospital! 🏥 One Year Later! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 #everythingislove #malawi," the "Living for Love" singer captioned the family photo, alongside emoji characters of a tree, hospital, handclaps, heart and Malawian flag.
On July 11, 2017, Madonna's charity — Raising Malawi — opened the Mercy James Centre, the first children's hospital in the country.
At the time, the star invited PEOPLE to Africa for the launch of the hospital, where all of her kids (except Lourdes, who had a school commitment) participated in the festivities: Rocco painted a mural in the recovery ward; David danced with a performing troupe from the nearby Jacaranda Foundation, a school for orphans; and Mercy, the building's namesake, recited a speech.
Since her first visit to Malawi 12 years ago, Madonna has had a long history with the country. She adopted David from the capital city of Lilongwe in 2008; a year later, she finalized the adoption of Mercy, whom she met in Blantyre; and in February 2017, she adopted Estere and Stella, who grew up in the same orphanage as David, Home of Hope.
"I love when my kids are in Africa," Madonna said in a September 2017 PEOPLE cover story. "Their selfless behavior, compared to the normal complaining in the privileged world we live in, is great to see."
Madonna launched her charity efforts in the country in 2006. Per its mission statement, "Raising Malawi supports orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through health, education and community support."
In addition to opening Malawi's first children's hospital, the organization has helped build 10 schools; and earlier this year, Madonna announced plans to build four new schools.
Ahead of Madonna's 60th birthday, British newspaper The Guardian has launched a new series, with various interesting takes on her fame and influence.
"People forget the role Madonna played in opening up gay culture to the mainstream. She wasn't gay herself, but from the beginning she talked about how gay people were part of her life: her gay mentor, her dance teacher, Christopher Flynn; the artists and photographers she hung around with like Keith Haring and Herb Ritts; the gay dancers she paraded around so proudly in the film In Bed With Madonna. You cannot imagine what it was like to witness her doing that when you were being mercilessly bullied about your sexuality at school, as I was. This was when George Michael, Freddie Mercury and the Pet Shop Boys didn't dare to come out."
"It was clear from early on that she had absorbed an important lesson from Marilyn: Madonna would not be trapped by her own image. She would seize control through change, moving too rapidly through the styles she played with – whether in music, fashion, dance – to be fixed by them. But amid all the changes in style, she remained consistent about one thing: even when she courted controversy, she always did so in the name of liberation, particularly sexual liberation and women's right to control their own destinies."
"In truth, popular culture still reeks of Madonna's influence for a good reason: she's earned it. Far from being a shallow shape-shifter, she always knew her way around a pop classic (her oeuvre is full of them), and developed a flair for choosing talented collaborators to keep her music fresh. Moreover, back when she could have played it safe, Madonna called herself an artist and acted like one, tirelessly reinventing herself."
"Whatever is the established, easy‑to-consume current thing, Madonna always seems to push past that. I think anyone who has struggled with having their voice heard can relate to what Madonna stands for and feel empowered by her story and her music. She is not buying into people's bullshit.
I think what I've learned from her is that you can work hard and still be a good person. Anyone who fights so long and so hard deserves to be an important figure in music."
"She was really ahead of the game. She was taking elements of what was cool at that time – punk rock, new wave, dance music, hip-hop and Latino music all clashing in this great non-hierarchical playground of New York."
"She was really able to tap into the sound of what was genuine and the culture at the time, where it was free from any gender or sexual persuasion distinctions. There was no concern about any inequality or [the boundaries of] gender or race – that's how we felt, it was totally revolutionary."
"She’s taken on so many different personas and artistic scenes and she’s able to still capture audiences. She’s taken all of these different genres of music and dived headlong into whatever she decided, whatever album it is, or whatever creative era she’s in, or [she’s] decided to go in a completely different direction. The only through-line is herself."
"Every single night, the blast-off energy from the crowd was crazy – they were so loud we could hardly hear the music. We had done so much training at this point – the rehearsal process was truly like boot camp – and it was great to finally be in the sweat of it all. When I heard her singing to an audience for the first time: it was like: “Oh shit, she’s fucking performing now.” And it was a lot of fun working with an artist who had started in dance and who could do all these intricate moves with you."
Madonna has fought her whole life against society's bid to define her by gender, sexuality, age, and culture. At age 60 she continues to lay out the parameters of her own existence as Suzanne Harrington describes.
SHE'S had the best physique, the best moves, the best live shows, the best outfits, the best boyfriends — they get hotter as she gets older — the biggest success and the most attitude, yet the world remains set on auto-vilify. What's our problem with Madonna?
Madonna Louise Ciccone turns 60 this August. We have known her since 1984, when she first appeared on our TV screens, and have been criticising her ever since. Not for her music — any artist who has been around that long will have produced losers as well as bangers — but for her refusal to be what we demand our female artists to be. Pliant, malleable, a bit insecure — and as they age, sexless, before becoming politely invisible. You couldn't really call Madonna any of these things.
Post-Weinstein, in this era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, Madonna's long term stance, her refusal to go quietly, chimes perfectly with the dominant ideology of the day. The problem — for her critics, at least, the Piers Morgans of the world, the Camille Paglias — is that this has always been her stance, decades too early for the rest of us.
And so we rubbished her for it — or at least, we tried, but she proved stronger than the same thing that crushed so many of her contemporaries: the fame backlash. Only in the past couple of years, has she started to speak about it with any degree of vehemence.
"I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer," she told an awards audience in December 2016 when named woman of the year by Billboard. "Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse...
"If you're a girl, you have to play the game. You're allowed to be pretty and cute and sexy. But don't act too smart. Don't have an opinion that's out of line with the status quo. You are allowed to be objectified by men and dress like a slut, but don't own your sluttiness. And do not, I repeat do not, share your own sexual fantasies with the world. Be what men want you to be, but more importantly, be what women feel comfortable with you being around other men. And finally, do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticised and vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio."
As a female performer in their prime, their sexuality must be passive, incorporating vulnerability and a need to please; Madonna has only ever pleased herself. Nor does a female performer get to decide when their prime is over; women are only hot as long as we allow them to be, while men can remain hot forever. Female success is permitted within female success parameters (smile and be grateful, don't demand too much); female sexuality is permitted within female sexuality parameters (don't frighten the horses by straying beyond their fantasy of you, rather than embodying your own); female ageing is allowed within female ageing parameters (put your sexuality away now, and take up charity work).
So Michelle Pfeiffer, who turns 60 this year, is 'still' hot, but not as hot as Sharon Stone, whose 60th is also this year, on the arbitrary sliding scale of she's-still-got-it. Kate Bush is 60 two weeks before Madonna, but Bush is all about the music, rather than culture, sexuality and marketing, and has therefore been allowed to age more or less in peace; similarly, rocker Joan Jett is hits 60 and continues touring, but she's not a global icon so doesn't come under the same scrutiny.
As a gay woman, Ellen DeGeneres, another forthcoming 60th , doesn't fall under the male gaze, while Alec Baldwin, Ice T, Gary Numan, Simon LeBon and Kevin Bacon — who all turn 60 this year — are allowed to remain ageless. Rugged. Distinguished. Craggy. Handsome. Those kinds of words.
Madonna has been variously written about as a bitch ("I'm tough and I'm ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.") and a diva and a slut. The male equivalent of these words would be ambitious, powerful, potent. Speaking about her long term inspiration — David Bowie, the master of transformative reinvention — she acknowledged how "He embodied male and female spirit and that suited me just fine.
He made me think there were no rules. But I was wrong. There are no rules – if you're a boy. There are rules if you're a girl."
Yet she has outlived not just her contemporaries Prince and Michael Jackson, who would both have turned 60 this year, but also Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston. She has never been an addict, except to success and being in charge.
Speaking in 2016 to Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay in Harper's Bazaar, she talked about how she has "had the shit kicked out of me for my entire career, and a large part of that is because I'm female and also because I refuse to live a conventional life. I've created a very unconventional family. I have lovers who are three decades younger than me. This makes people very uncomfortable. I feel like everything I do makes people feel really uncomfortable."
As well as releasing 13 studio albums, she has embodied the persona of boytoy, material girl, dominatrix, yogini, American cowgirl, English lady, disco queen, M-dolla, MDNA, children's author, terrible actress, devout Kabbalist, spokesperson for Malawian children, and single parent of six.
Madonna may not be relevant to Millennials — they have relaxed polyamory and Lady Gaga — but for Gen Xers, who grew up alongside her, she remains a symbol of liberation since the days of bra straps and belly buttons on Top Of The Pops. Culturally, she has been part of the shove forward towards women owning their own sexuality.
She broke new ground, harnessing and marketing herself, trademarking her own name back in 1979 when still unknown and living a precariously bohemian existance in New York: "I learned in life there is no real safety except for self-belief."
Even her die-hard fan demographic — gay men and menopausal women, 10.9 million of whom follow her on Instagram – may not wish to see her turn into a Las Vegas parody of her former self, but it seems unlikely she would opt for this. "I'm traveling the world right now and listening to lots of different music," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2017.
"It's time for me to take a different approach and really get back down to the beauty and simplicity of music and lyrics and intimacy."
You can't imagine the most successful female performance artist of all time ever touring with a greatest hits nostalgia format. At least, not yet.
1958 Born August 16, Bay City, Michigan.
1964 Mother dies when she is six
1977 Moves to New York City to be a dancer
1984 First appearance on Top Of The Pops
1984 First number one hit, Like A Virgin
1985 Appears in only good movie she has ever been in, Desperately Seeking Susan. Marries Sean Penn.
1989 Like A Prayer infuriates Vatican. Divorces Sean Penn
1991 Her tour documentary In Bed With Madonna breaks Box office records in takings of $29m
1992 Releases book of erotic photography Sex and album Erotica
1996 Wins awards for her part in Evita movie. Gives birth to daughter Lourdes
1998 Releases Ray of Light album
2000 Gives birth to son Rocco with Guy Ritchie
2005 Releases 10th album, Confessions on the Dance Floor
2006 Adopts first of four children from Malawi, David Banda
2009 Adopts Mercy James from Malawi
2012 Superbowl performance seen by 114m people. Releases MDNA album
2014 Guinness Book of Records says she has sold 300m records
2017 Adopts twin girls, Esther and Stella, from Malawi
2018 Turns 60
Madonna is the voice of God in Ariana Grande's new music video.
Grande today dropped the video for "God is a woman", the second single off her upcoming album Sweetener.
The video, which stars a nude Grande, features a surprise audio cameo from Madonna – as the voice of God.
As Grande mimes along, Madonna proclaims: "I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my sisters.
"You will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!"
Pop culture fans will recognise the quote as a gender-flipped version of a fictionalised Bible verse read by Samuel L Jackson's character in Quentin Tarantino's cinema classic Pulp Fiction.
Pulp Fiction, incidentally, was one of the biggest films produced by the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, who released it via Miramax Films.
Given the video features a number of men who have wronged women, some have interpreted the gender-flipped line as a rather pointed barb.
The singer is then depicted literally shattering a glass ceiling.
Watch the scene at 2:24.
It's hard to imagine Madonna's namesake debut album — which came out 35 years ago, on July 27, 1983 — without "Holiday," the classic party anthem that became her first mainstream hit and has given people all over the world cause to celebrate on the dance floor. But the song almost didn't happen: It was a last-minute substitute for another track on her first LP.
"Madonna's album was finished," says "Holiday" producer and New York DJ legend John "Jellybean" Benitez, who was dating Madonna at the time and had been hired to do some remixes for her. There was just one problem: Madonna found out that a song she had recorded called "Ain't No Big Deal" had already gone to disco act Barracuda, so the track was no longer an option. "She wasn't so thrilled about that," says Benitez.
Benitez, who had remixed "tons of records" but had never produced one from scratch, was given a one-week deadline by Madonna's label, Warner Bros., in February 1983. "They said, 'If you could have this song done by next Friday, you can make the album.' I started on Monday and finished on Friday, and we delivered it."
And deliver it did: After "Everybody" and "Burning Up" failed to make the Billboard Hot 100, "Holiday" became Madonna's first single to hit that chart, reaching No. 16. The track also became her first No. 1 dance song (as a double-A-side single, with "Lucky Star").
While "Holiday" jump-started one of the biggest careers in pop history, the tune was written by ex-spouses Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens-Crowder for their own group, Pure Energy. "I started out playing that chord progression as a ballad," recalls Stevens-Crowder of the song's keyboard inception. "But as I kept playing it over and over for a couple of days, I sped it up. And then Curtis came up with that bass line."
"The whole song just kind of poured out of me," says Hudson, who came up with the musical arrangement while writing the uplifting lyrics in response to all of the bad news he was watching on TV. "I was like, 'Man, what's going on? We need a holiday or something.' The melody just came to me. I wrote the lyrics in, like, 30 minutes. That's why I always think of it as a gift from God."
But Pure Energy's label, Prism Records, passed on "Holiday" for them. So Benitez, who knew Pure Energy from their performances at the Fun House club where he was resident DJ, offered to shop the song around. "I originally played it for Mary Wilson from the Supremes," says Benitez. "She liked it, but she wasn't in love with it." Then after also pitching the song to the R&B singer Phyllis Hyman and the disco group the Ritchie Family, Benitez found "Holiday" a home with Madonna.
"We were a little nervous at first," says Hudson about the then-unknown Material Girl recording "Holiday." "We were thinking of black artists, so it kind of put a whole different spin on it. But once we met Madonna, I knew she was gonna go somewhere. I just didn't know to what level."
Hudson played guitar on the final recording of "Holiday," cut at Sigma Sound Studios in New York. Madonna herself also got in on the instrumental action, playing the cowbell that kicks in early in the song. "It was just sort of like, 'You got to play something,' and it worked," says Benitez, who also added a piano solo by Fred Zarr toward the end of the six-minute track.
Stevens-Crowder — who, as Pure Energy's lead singer, had done the main vocals on the demo — thought that Madonna made the song her own: "She captured the soul I put into it, but she added her own flavor. She didn't try to copy it. Madonna did Madonna."
Because of Madonna's soulful delivery on "Holiday" and the fact that the song was getting played on black radio, there were those who didn't realize that the singer was actually white. "Back then, people thought she was black," says Benitez. "They didn't know."
Benitez went on to produce Madonna's 1985 smash "Crazy for You," while Hudson also co-wrote "Spotlight," off Madge's 1987 remix album "You Can Dance." It's the legacy of "Holiday," though, that truly endures.
"I've run into so many people who 'Holiday' has had some kind of impact on," says Hudson. "It defies race, age and all of that stuff."
Of the song's iconic status, Benitez says, "It's amazing to see. Madonna still performs it on her tours, sometimes as an encore. It always gets an amazing reaction. It's a song that they remember."
And it's a song whose message is more relevant than ever, 35 years later. Pointing to "the political climate and crazy things that are going on in this world," Stevens-Crowder says, "We need a holiday today in 2018."
They've already snogged, and he's written a song about her, so it's about time they got in the studio together.
It's been claimed that as both are currently in town – Drake's been in London thanks to his surprise Wireless appearance, and Madonna's here recording her new album – and so it looks like they might be able to make something work.
A source told the Daily Star newspaper: 'Drake and Madonna are set to make some music together. 'Madonna is in London putting the finishing touches to her new album and Drake promised to work with her on something.'
Well this will be a treat.
In 2015, the pair caused a stir when they shared a kiss on stage at Coachella.
That same year, Drake wrote a song called Madonna, which featured on his mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late.
She loved it, thankfully, and now three years later is ready to lay down a track with him.
She said at the time: 'I love your new song about me! It's my favourite! I'm still waiting for you to pick me up.'
Madonna was spotted loving Wireless this weekend as she cheekily had a strut across the stage while Migos played. The 59-year-old pop legend couldn't help herself as the trio Migos performed track Stir Fry. The pop queen is currently rumoured to headline next year's Glastonbury Festival. Perhaps Migos will be hanging out on her stage that time around.
Madonna's half-billion-plus net worth has once again earned her a spot on our list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, which appears in the latest issue of FORBES. She ranks No. 26, behind moguls such as Oprah Winfrey and Tory Burch.
Real Name: Madonna Louise Ciccone
Residence: New York, N.Y.
Estimated Net Worth: $590 million
Source: Music, Touring, Endorsements
Summary: It's been two years since the end of her last tour and three since her last album, Rebel Heart, but the Material Girl can afford to take a break. America's wealthiest female musician has such assets as a triple-wide Manhattan town house and a stake in the music streaming service Tidal.
MADONNA and Guy Ritchie came from two very different worlds, but they were both on top of their game in their respective fields when they met in 1999.
Less than a decade, and two children later they were living a toxic life. Below is an extract from a new biography Madonna: An Intimate Biography of an Icon at Sixty, detailing just why their marriage unravelled.
MAYBE it was inevitable that Madonna's marriage to Guy Ritchie wouldn't last. However, its failure most certainly wasn't for lack of trying on both their parts. Some in their lives felt that, by early 2008, they were such different people than they'd been when they wed that there was simply no way they could stay together.
This isn't exactly true. In many ways they hadn't changed at all — and maybe that was the problem. Madonna was still as invested in her career as ever, determined to do her best work at all times, interested in every small detail, and often at the expense of her private life with Guy and the children.
Meanwhile, Guy was just as adamant that he was tired of the pace his wife had been keeping since their marriage began, and he wanted nothing more than for her to take a break, not only for his sake but for the sake of their children.
Madonna had always known how seriously her split focus could affect her marriage. For the last seven years, it had been a difficult tightrope walk for her as she pursued her passion while, at the same time, tried to give her all not only to Guy, but also to Lourdes, now 11; Rocco, 7, and, of course, David 2.
"I was with them one night in London when they were having a very heated argument about the raising of their children and how to square it with Madonna's career concerns. Guy became so flustered, he accidentally poured his coffee into the creamer, instead of the other way around," recalled one of their friends. "That's how upset he was!"
For how many more years could they continue to engage in the same disagreements? Add to it Guy's exasperation about his own career and desire to continue to do his own best work, and it was a recipe for marital disaster.
"If you were to really look back on his relationship with Madonna, it's been one scene of emasculation after another," said a friend of Guy's back in 2008. "For instance, he is constantly thought of in the media as 'Mr Madonna', which upsets him no end. He knows he's been viewed as a purse holder for a long time."
It was also true that the press was crueller than ever to Guy during coverage of the adoption of David Banda. The process, at least as described by the media, certainly didn't sound like an equal decision for the Ritchies.
In fact, Madonna was the one who'd found the baby in Malawi, she was the one who felt an immediate connection to him, and she was the one who then convinced Guy they should adopt him. Guy didn't fight it, of course.
However, it also wasn't his idea, and the media knew it. Suddenly, they had three children and it looked as if he had nothing to say about it.
Before he met Madonna, Guy was an open, accessible person.
What had become frustrating to him in recent years was his inability to be specific about the problems in his life, even to his closest friends and relatives. Because he felt he was living under a shroud of secrecy, he had little to talk about.
After all, one can only talk about sports and politics for so long before the conversation turns to a personal life. However, he was afraid to say anything to anyone about his problems, about Madonna, about any of it.
To live like that, afraid that whatever he said could end up in one of the tabloids and cause a huge row with the missus became, as one source put it, "not the kind of life Guy wanted to live".
Madonna had her own problems. In early March 2008, she and a few friends had lunch at a small cafe in New York. As she picked at her salad, it was clear from her demeanour that the last couple of months had not been easy for her, either.
She looked pale, her face drawn with anxiety. "You know me," she told the two friends with whom she was dining, "and you know that I don't like failure. People are thinking my marriage is over? Well, I can tell you that it's not. There's always been stress between me and Guy. That's nothing new."
It was true, of course. They'd always had their issues. However, they'd also always been able to work through them. Not lately, though.
On Tuesday night, March 18, 2008, Madonna and Guy made their first public appearance in quite some time when they dined at the upscale Italian restaurant, Harry's, in Mayfair. Seldom had a famous married couple seemed more uncomfortable to be with one another.
Madonna, her blond hair parted in the middle and then pulled into a short ponytail, seemed sad and lost in her own thoughts. Guy looked prickly and annoyed by the attention they received from paparazzi.
"How are things going?" one of the lensmen asked. Guy didn't respond, and he usually did at least try to chat with photographers. For her part, Madonna forced a weak smile. Then, as they were getting into their car, she let something slip that was perhaps telling. "It's been like this all week," she was heard telling Guy. "I just hope tomorrow is a better day."
If, with their night on the town, the Ritchies were hoping to send a message that all was well between them in order to refute persistent rumours, it didn't work. In fact, it might have been better if they had just stayed home because their awkward appearance only served to convince people that there really was trouble on the home front.
One reason for the scrutiny of the Ritchies' marriage at this time was because Guy had become noticeably absent from major public events in his wife's life. For instance, he hadn't been present when Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York earlier on March 10.
The Hall of Fame's 23rd annual induction ceremony was held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and telecast live on VH1 Classic. Madonna — in her first year of eligibility — was named alongside John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures and The Dave Clark Five. She was introduced by Justin Timberlake, who had just collaborated with her on the song 4 Minutes from her upcoming album, Hard Candy.
Justin recalled that while they were working on the song, he came into the studio not feeling well. Madonna suggested a B-12 shot. He thought she was going to call a doctor. Instead, she pulled from her designer purse a Ziploc bag of B-12 syringes.
"Drop 'em," she said, before she gave Justin a shot. Then, she added, "Nice top shelf," referring to his bum. "It was one of the greatest days of my life," he joked. "That is what Madonna will always be to us. The shot in the ass when we really need it."
During her acceptance speech Madonna, who agreed with Justin that she is a "control freak" corrected him. "I said, 'Pull your pants down,'" she asserted. She then gave a thoughtful (if also a tad long) oration during which she acknowledged not only many of her chief supporters, such as her dance teacher from 35 years earlier, Christopher Flynn, but critics of her life, too: "The ones that said I was talentless, that I was chubby, that I couldn't sing, that I was a one-hit-wonder. They pushed me to be better, and I am grateful for their resistance."
For Guy to have missed such an important moment in Madonna's life definitely suggested a growing discord between them. Then, to make matters even more troubling, Madonna had acknowledged just about everyone in her life — including people she hadn't seen or talked to in decades — yet, she didn't even mention her husband.
Prior to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Guy had also missed Madonna's Oscar party in Beverly Hills in February. And before that, he was a no-show at the celebrity-studded gala she hosted in New York at the United Nations for her Malawi charity.
He didn't make the premiere of the opening of her movie Filth & Wisdom, either.
Besides Guy's noticeable absence at important events, statements made by his own father at this time also served to advance the story that the Ritchies were headed for divorce. "Madonna and Guy are not spending any time together," John Ritchie said in late February 2008. "Madonna is busy in America with the children, and Guy wants to stay in the UK. They won't be spending Easter together, either."
Madonna was used to controlling most things, but she couldn't control everything that came out of the mouths of friends and relatives, could she? The best she could do was hope that the public believed her publicist Liz Rosenberg when she issued statements — as she did in early 2008, when she announced that the Ritchies were "joyfully back together".
There was a new rub in the Ritchie's relationship, though, one that had become a major source of irritation for Madonna: Guy had started suggesting to her she "act her age". He wasn't fond of some of the concepts she'd been coming up with of late in terms of her sexy image and felt she was just "too old" for certain style choices.
Also, when she would talk to him about particular song lyrics with which she was toying, he was not at all supportive. He told her that the suggestive ideas for which she'd long been famous had become old and tired. To her ears, though, it sounded as if he was saying the same about her.
In other words, Guy wanted his wife to age "gracefully". Did he not have a clue as to who he'd married? His ideas about where she should be headed in her career as she turned 50 were nothing at all like what she had in mind. In her view, Guy had become provincial and out of touch. She still felt young, a pop star at heart.
"I think when you get married you have to be willing to make a lot of compromises and that's fair enough," Madonna reflected, when later talking about her marriage.
"I think that's the way it goes in relationships. However, you know, I did find myself sometimes in a state of conflict. There were many times when I wanted to express myself as an artist in ways that I don't think my ex-husband felt comfortable with.
"There were times when I felt incarcerated. I wasn't really allowed to be myself. It doesn't mean that marriage is a bad thing. But if you're an artist you've got to find someone who accepts who you are and [who] is comfortable with that."
Guy would disagree. "Who's in charge at your home?" an interviewer once asked him.
"I've got to tell you," he answered, "we're just like any other married couple."
"So she's in charge?"
Guy's wit and sense of humour aside, despite any problems they were having, the Ritchies also had to be careful to not allow rumours to get out of hand. David's adoption would not be formalised until the end of April 2008. Until then, they had no choice but to play nice.
They certainly wouldn't do anything to jeopardise the adoption by making it appear that their home in which David was about to be temporarily placed wasn't a happy one.
Over the weekend, Madonna stopped by the Michael Jackson: On The Wall exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The singer then took to social media to share photos of herself enjoying the gallery, doing some shopping at the gift shop and showing love to the late pop sensation.
The exhibit will be open until October 21; tickets are available here.
Check out Madonna's tweets below.
Madonna has teamed up with Steven Klein for a shortfilm, titled APOLOGIZE, which was posted on her social media today. In the video Madonna brings a message of female empowerment, citing a text by Rupi Kaur, an Indian born Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer.
"I want to apologize to all the women I have called beautiful
before I've called them intelligent or brave
I am sorry I made it sound as though
something as simple as what you're born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on I will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because I don't think you're beautiful
but because I need you to know
you are more than that"
J. Randy Taraborrelli originally released his book "Madonna: An Intimate Biography" in 2001. He is now releasing an updated version. For the British tabloid Daily Mail, he has released an excerpt which discusses Madonna's toy boy relationships in recent years.
Since he first met Madonna 35 years ago, Hollywood writer J. Randy Taraborrelli has always had the inside track on her turbulent private life. Now, as the defiant Queen of Pop is about to turn 60, he has updated his best-selling biography — with the full story of her late-life penchant for toy-boys
By March 2008, Madonna and Guy Ritchie's seven-year marriage was under strain. She felt he was becoming dull and set in his ways; he thought she, at almost 50, should dress less raunchily and start acting her age.
In particular, the film director felt her continued insistence on doing gruelling and lengthy world tours meant that she couldn't devote enough time or attention to their children — her 11-year-old daughter Lourdes, from a previous relationship, and their sons Rocco, then seven, and Malawian-born David, two, whom they'd adopted as a baby.
They were living in Wiltshire where Ritchie, ten years her junior, wanted a more settled life in the country for the family.
But the tensions between them didn't improve and in December 2008 the couple divorced, with Madonna citing irreconcilable differences.
After the break-up, Madonna came to a decision. She no longer wanted a strong and equal partner in her life; instead she wanted fun at the end of a stressful day, good sex and a few laughs — in short, a companion who'd make few demands of her. And he'd have to be young and hot.
So what if she was 50? She was fully aware that her status as a pop icon made it easy to pull gorgeous twentysomethings, that she could offer them money, travel, celebrity and a sumptuous lifestyle.
And if a young stud found that an attractive package, then she certainly wasn't going to discourage him.
In late 2008, not long after her divorce was announced, Madonna found the ideal candidate. He was 21 — easily young enough to be her son — intelligent, extremely handsome and had an engaging personality.
She'd met Jesus Luz when he was hired as a model for a magazine photo-shoot. In career terms, he was struggling, but everything changed as soon as he was known to be her lover.
He dumped his agent — the one who'd sent him to the Madonna photo-shoot — and signed with Ford Models.
Within a year, he'd modelled for Dolce & Gabbana in Milan, shown off the winter collection of Pepe Jeans and even attracted the attention of the staid New York Times, who suddenly found Jesus worthy of an in-depth feature.
And by the end of 2009, he was asking for £30,000 a night to work as a guest DJ in nightclubs. Such is the power of Madonna's stupendous fame.
Yet she didn't mind at all.
Jesus was a nice kid, she figured, so why shouldn't he cash in while he could?
Her friends, however, had misgivings. Some were convinced that she was in the midst of a severe mid-life crisis — and to an extent, they were right.
'She tried to act like turning 50 was not a big deal for her,' said a member of her family, 'but it was. I know for sure that it was.'
Judging by Madonna's appearance, you'd never have known that she minded.
Her body was slim and toned, the result of yoga workouts and a strict macrobiotic diet.
Her skin glowed. Thanks to Botox, not a line could be detected on her face.
But despite radiating youthfulness, she was finding it hard to accept her advancing years. Jesus was a welcome confidence-booster; he made her feel young and attractive again.
Sometimes, she felt comfortable enough to joke about the relationship. When asked how young was 'too young' for a mate, she quipped: 'As long as they're old enough to dress themselves, they're good enough.
'Younger people are more adventurous. Have you met many guys my age? They're usually grumpy and fat and balding.'
She said that sex with Jesus was 'the best I've ever had — and that's saying a lot'.
He intrigued Madonna on other levels, too. She loved the fact that nothing ever seemed to get him down, that he brimmed with optimism and hope for the future.
'It never even occurs to him that at any moment his whole life could just go to s*** and for no good reason,'
Madonna told one confidante. 'I remember being like that, before this business turned me into the jaded shrew I am today.'
Crucially, Jesus was also supportive; they spent hours talking about... her. Her new album, her new tour, her plans for new movies, her many goals and aspirations. The flipside, however, was that Jesus was perfectly happy to be dominated by Madonna.
He did what he was told; never once did he challenge her.
When I met him myself in 2009, he sounded more like a fan than a lover.
'Can you imagine what it's like just talking to her about her career, about what she has seen and experienced?' he told me.
'Every day, it's like an honour for me, as I think it would be for any person.'
Madonna soaked up this puppy-dog devotion, but privately suspected Jesus was a passing fancy. The truth is that deep down, she still desperately missed her ex-husband.
Nor could she shake the nagging feeling, she told her intimates, that maybe she'd made a mistake in divorcing British film-maker Guy Ritchie.
Of course, they'd had their problems.
However, it was only after Madonna had replaced him with a downy youth that Madonna realised something important: that she had underestimated the satisfaction of having a lover who was her true psychological and emotional equal.
Jesus was oblivious to her doubts. But one night at the Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea, New York, Madonna tried to warn one of his friends, a model called Anne Wilder, that the relationship had a time limit.
As Anne described it, it was a typical nightclub scene — loud music, people dancing, drinking and having a good time.
Madonna was sitting in Jesus's lap, her head resting against his chest as they whispered to one another.
When he went to the toilet, he left Madonna alone in their booth with Anne. 'Jesus is so sexy, isn't he?' the model shouted at Madonna, trying to be heard over the din.
'Yeah, he sure is,' Madonna shouted back.
Then, after a pause, the singer asked: 'Is he a friend of yours?' Anne nodded. 'Have you f***ed him?' Madonna asked her. Taken aback, Anne said no. Madonna then sidled up to her on the banquette and whispered in her ear: 'Well, you should watch out for him because I think he's falling for me.'
'I was confused,' Anne Wilder recalls, 'thinking I hadn't heard her right. Finally, Madonna leaned in to her again and said: "He's a good boy, but he's in way over his head with me.
'You're young and beautiful and just his type, I would think.
'Make sure he still has your number. He's going to need it in a few months."
'I was a little surprised, and I guess I showed it — because then Madonna said in an oddly affected British accent: "Oh my dear, how tragic can it be to say you've had Madonna's leftovers? Don't act so appalled! Millions of women wish they could be so lucky. Or," she added, "who knows? Maybe a three-way?"'
At that moment, Jesus returned. 'Come on stud, let's dance,' said Madonna as she took him by the hand and led him to the dance floor.
On her way there, Madonna looked over her shoulder, naughtily licked her lips and gave Anne a pronounced wink.
Although she already had three children — Lourdes, Rocco, and David, Madonna itched to expand her family.
And she wasn't about to let the minor detail of her divorce put paid to that ambition. By the time she turned 51 in August 2009, she was well on her way to adopting three-year-old Chifundo 'Mercy' James, from the same Malawian village where David had been born.
While the adoption was churning through the courts of Malawi, she prepared for Mercy's arrival by buying a massive townhouse in Manhattan.
It would represent a new beginning for her, post-Guy, she felt. Meanwhile, she had a new worry: her children were becoming attached to her new lover, just as her own interest in him was starting to wane.
'Jesus helps the children with their schoolwork, they watch movies together, talk on the phone quite often when he's not around,' confirmed one source at the time.
'He and Lourdes share the same taste in music — and not Madonna's music, either. They both love Lady Gaga. Jesus loves to get down on the floor and play with David, wrestling around, tumbling and laughing. I do think the kids would be sad if Madonna broke up with him.'
Madonna, for her part, was uncomfortably aware that the more her children grew to love him, the harder it would be to let him go. Indeed, her lover had begun to feel he was invaluable. Knowing that he had Madonna's ear, her employees were coming straight to him with any problems.
Moreover, when she was having a tough day, Jesus was the only one who could calm her nerves.
He could also make her laugh at the sheer absurdity of whatever was going on in her crazy life.
After all, he knew her better than anyone else — or so he thought.
For instance, he knew that if she was being bitchy, it was because she was sleep-deprived. If she was distracted, it was because she was worried about her kids.
As for Madonna, she came to expect Jesus to be there for her at all times, to listen to her complaints and help solve anything that went wrong.
At any time of the day or night, she could also bask in the admiration that shone from his blue-green eyes.
Towards the end of 2010, however, she was growing restless again.
It had by then been two years since she'd split with Guy, and she was gradually recovering from the trauma.
Jesus had been a pleasant diversion, but they were running out of common ground. Once, for instance, she'd been annoyed by something a reporter had said about the age difference between them. Disgruntled, she told Jesus: 'My God, it's not like I'm Joan Collins!'
To which Jesus responded, 'Um... who's Joan Collins?'
Lately, too, the couple had started bickering over nothing. 'I have this bad habit,' Madonna confided to a friend, 'of being judgmental and critical when I'm losing interest in a guy. That's sort of my thing, being a real bitch.
'I'm self-aware enough to know it. I'm just not self-aware enough to stop it.'
Then one day, the scales seemed to fall from her eyes.
Her lover, she realised, was the best and most trustworthy assistant she'd ever had.
The problem was he'd gone from boyfriend to functionary.
From that point on, she began to view him as weak, as not having a life of his own.
Not wanting to drag things out, she was quite cold when she told him the relationship was over.
Jesus took the break-up badly.
He was just as worried about how Madonna would cope without him, he told friends, as he was hurt by her decision to finish with him. How was she going to manage? And what had he done wrong, he wailed? He'd been available to her 24 hours a day.
Of course, that was exactly what he'd done wrong. Madonna has always preferred strong men like Guy Ritchie, even if she can't live with them.
'When it was over,' said Anne Wilder, 'Jesus told me he had to look in the mirror and try to remember who he'd been before she was in his life.
'He was so used to being Madonna's guy, he didn't even know who he was any more.'
With Jesus officially banished, it didn't take long before Madonna found her next toy-boy — a 23-year-old French dancer called Brahim Zaibat. He was 29 years her junior.
A devout Muslim, he'd been hired to dance at the launch of a Madonna fashion collection at Macy's department store in New York.
Although his English wasn't fluent, and Madonna couldn't speak French, their sexual chemistry soon swept such trifles aside.
Initially, their affair was 'problem-free', as Lance Dixon, one of Brahim's friends put it.
'He got along great with her kids,' he said. 'And because he was a pop-culture junkie, he and Madonna had plenty to talk about.
'He told me she wished he was more well-rounded when it came to current news and to politics. It's in those areas that I think he felt a little intimidated by her.' The relationship nearly ended prematurely, however, for an entirely different reason.
At the end of 2011, Madonna's latest film, W.E. — about King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson — opened to a stream of negative reviews, and Madonna was deeply upset by this.
Brahim was surprised that she, of all people, had such a thin skin. And although he tried to comfort her, she shut him out and they separated.
Wisely, Brahim didn't push her to see him.
'She needs to process stuff in her own way,' he told his friend Lance.
'I think that the best thing I can do is stay out of her way.
'She can get dark, moody. My gut tells me she'll be back when she's ready. If not, I'm good. I still have a life. She's not my life.
'She hates needy people. She hates weakness in people, too, because she hates it in herself whenever it rears its head, which is like pretty much never.
'Show her that you're needy or weak, and it's all over for you.'
Brahim, says his friend, had worked out that Jesus had made a fatal mistake by becoming too involved, too invested in helping Madonna through tough spots.
Well, he was going to be smarter. Of course, he was right: after freezing him out for a few weeks, Madonna came back to him. Unlike Jesus, Brahim never had any intention of becoming her whipping boy or assistant, and he categorically refused to help anyone gain access to her.
Instead, he focused on his dancing — dedicating himself completely to his performance every night — and, not surprisingly, he also focused on having fun.
On tour he liked hanging out with the other dancers and was always keen to visit sights that Madonna had been to a dozen or more times in the past. Later, often much later, he'd find his way to their hotel suite.
One evening, though, Madonna rose in the middle of the night and stormed through the hallways of their hotel, banging on people's doors, and demanding to know: 'Is Brahim in there? Where the f*** is he? Is he in there? Goddammit, where is he?' She was unravelling. Not only was she, as usual, micro-managing every aspect of her tour, but the legacy of a riding accident was causing her recurring pain.
Brahim, who celebrated his 26th birthday during the tour, could barely comprehend the stress that his 54-year-old girlfriend was under from one day to the next.
She was also loath to complain about it to him, reluctant to appear old in his eyes.
By the time the tour wound to an end in December 2012, she was no longer in any mood to have sex.
Somehow, Madonna's relationship with him limped on through most of 2013.
Their break-up, when it came, was explosive and acrimonious, although details are scarce. All that's known is that it is best never to mention Brahim to Madonna — unless you want something thrown at you.
Barely a month after finishing with Brahim, she hooked up with Timor Steffens, a 26-year-old Dutch choreographer and dancer — eight months later, she ordered him to pack his bags and leave.
In 2016, she started seeing Aboubakar Soumahoro, a 25-year-old model. Unlike Jesus and Brahim, he remained on the margins of her life — which was exactly where she wanted him.
Last year, Madonna adopted another two more children from Malawi — four-year-old orphan twins Estere and Stella.
'Six kids, no husband, single mom — I never thought that would be me,' she said, 'but pretty much everything that's ever happened to me in this life is something I never imagined.'
On August 16, she turns 60. It won't make much difference to her: she'll continue to mount her elaborate shows, pump out new songs and face the world with defiance.
Privately, however, Madonna admits that it would be nice to have a boyfriend 'who might be old enough to remember the TV show Friends'.
Adapted from MADONNA: AN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY OF AN ICON AT 60 by Randy J. Taraborrelli, published by Sidgwick & Jackson on July 12 at £18.99 © Randy J. Taraborrelli 2018. To order a copy for £14.24 (offer valid to July 17, 2018), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15.
Yesterday Madonna attended the set of Migos at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, Harringay, UK. She was spotted, dressed in Gucci, on the side of the stage, from where she posted an Instagram video of the gig. During the performance of the song Stir Fry, she even walked across the stage as if to make her presence known.
On her Instagram video Madonna hinted she used the gig as a break during her studio time: "Snuck out of the studio for a lil drip".
Last month, Migos filmed a video at Madonna's Miami house. Madonna made jokes about it online, pretending not to know anything about it.
Madonna has shared a behind-the-scenes picture from her June photoshoot with photographer Mert Alas for Vogue Italy. The shoot was done on June 20th and 21st in Lisbon. It's not been announced yet in which edition the shoot will appear.
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