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Editors' Personal Madonna Moments

Editors' Personal Madonna Moments


In light of Madonna gracing our March cover and her spectacular Super Bowl performance, the editors at The Advocate decided to share our personal stories with the star, either encountering her from afar or up close and personal. We all seemed to have a "Madonna moment" if you will, where she was either six degrees removed or one. Share your personal Madge moments in the comments.

Winston Gieseke, managing editor: In 1988 after seeing Madonna in Speed-the-Plow, I wrote her the sort of gushing fan letter you'd expect from a 17-year-old and mailed it to the house in Malibu where she lived with Sean (address courtesy of a star map I'd bought on a trip to Los Angeles). I enclosed a self-addressed stamped enveloped and asked her to please return it with an autograph. I never heard from her. By 1990 I myself was living in L.A., and out of the blue I received a much-forwarded envelope from Italy. Inside was a letter from a fellow fan who told me that two years earlier he had journeyed to the U.S. and made his way out to Malibu in the hopes of catching a glimpse of our favorite star in the flesh. But all he was able to see was her gate and some trash cans, which he proceeded to dig through. It was here that he came across my fan letter, which I had completely forgotten about. Now 19 and much more practical, I sat down and composed another letter to Madonna, this one more bitchy than gushing ("The last time I wrote you a letter, you threw it in the trash. I'm enclosing another self-addressed stamped envelope and I expect a response!") and dropped it in the mail to her new house in the Hollywood Hills. A week and one day later I received a postcard. It said "For Winston, love Madonna." It's been in a frame on my wall ever since. And the Italian? He became a dear friend, one I'm still close with nearly 22 years later. And whenever people ask how I know him, I say we met through Madonna's trash can.

Matthew Breen, editor-in-chief: Like Madonna, I too was like a virgin at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Neither she nor I had ever been to the giant festival near Palm Springs, but in 2006 we both added that notch to our belts. But she may have also killed general admission for me, once and for all.

Madonna arrived by police escort about 30 minutes behind schedule. "It's fucking hot in here!" she shouted into the tent as she emerged from a giant disco ball wearing a blue-violet jumpsuit and dark glasses. "This is my first festival. Now who's going to share the drugs with me? Don't be selfish. Share the love!" Madonna danced, writhed, and crawled to four tracks from Confessions on a Dance Floor ("Hung Up," "Get Together," "I Love New York," and "Let It Will Be"), "Ray of Light," and her very first single, "Everybody." The set was a short one, under 30 minutes, and ended abruptly.

But afterward, when the crush of humanity stomped back over the polo grounds to the main stages, I felt like a wounded wildebeest in the middle of a water buffalo migration --and we'd been way way waaaay in the back where I never thought my friends and I would be so set upon by the hot, bedraggled hordes. I've never felt so claustrophobic in my life. Chain link fences were torn down, people were falling, screaming. It's amazing that no one was trampled to death.

Sometimes people are called, hyperbolically, "a force of nature." Madonna herself isn't, but the effect she had on the crowd turned us into a veritable flash flood. From thenceforth I decided I'm sticking to assigned seating at concerts. If there's cocktail service involved, that's gravy.

Diane Anderson-Minshall, executive editor: In my high school, girls were divided between those who followed Madonna and those who followed Cyndi Lauper -- it was really a division between the popular girls who liked Madonna and the freaks who liked Lauper. I remember being really torn at the time because I wanted to dress slutty like Madonna but I was clearly a freak like Cyndi and I believed Lauper to be the more talented performer and I was sure she was queer at the time (and Madonna, well, at that time she was dating Jellybean Benitez so that kind is the antithesis of lesbian). But then we had a talent show and this very beautiful blond girl performed "Like a Virgin" and I was hooked. I bought a cassette of Madonna's first two albums and later I married that girl. When we divorced, we split the cassettes. I still have mine somewhere.

Neal Broverman, senior editor: I was so excited to attend my first Madonna concert back in September 2001. Then, 9/11 happened and the world changed. The Drowned World stop in Los Angeles, scheduled for a day or two after the terrorist attacks, was pushed back a few days but the show did go on. I was in a limousine with two friends and an ex of mine. It was a heated environment, everyone was anxious over what happened on the East Coast and the limo was filled with romantic tension exacerbated by free booze.

By the time we got to Staples Center, we were all hammered. I remember hearing "Holiday," and sort of recall "Frozen" and "Don't Tell Me," but that's about it. Madonna briefly mentioned the terrorist attacks and she seemed uneasy. On the ride back in the limo, a meltdown of a fight occurred between my friends, my ex, and me. It was an uncomfortable, though unforgettable night. Seven years later, I was in another limo, heading with two of the same friends (no ex) to Madonna's Sticky and Sweet tour at Dodger Stadium. We were hours late because protesters had blocked many of L.A.'s major streets following the passage of Prop. 8, which happened the day or two prior. The city was at a standstill -- before getting in the limo at my apartment, I got off an idling commuter bus and walked home. When we arrived on Sunset Blvd. in the limo, the traffic was unmoving. The driver drove in the middle turn lane, bypassing all the cars waiting to turn into Stadium Way. While the cars who did the same thing were turned back around by a traffic cop, our limo driver yelled, "Jump out now!" We did and walked up towards the stadium. We got into our seats and the show started three minutes later. The stadium was beautiful, she was wonderful, and it was a major win compared to 2001. Madonna even consoled us for the stinging defeat of Prop. 8.

Michelle Garcia, associate editor: My mom scored a free copy of the Evita soundtrack, and knowing that I was at the time a 10-year-old nerd and that I liked Madonna, she handed it to me (I'm still a nerd, just now 27). I listened to that soundtrack from top to bottom every day for months. I would even pretend to be Eva Peron, and sing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from my gated bedroom window in our second-floor Queens, N.Y. apartment. Ugh, I'm such a nerd -- who does that?!

Trudy Ring, copy editor: Madonna has not exactly been as successful in the movies as in music, but her first big film holds a special place in my heart. I loved her fearless, kickass, troublemaking title character in Desperately Seeking Susan, and the fact that she and newly liberated suburban housewife Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) outwitted everyone. Good going, stranger!

Tracy Gilchrist, SheWired editor-in-chief: A kitty, licking milk from a bowl like a feline, chains and shackles, those unbelievably cut deltoids, a monocle, gender-bending, crotch grabbing and beefcake men in suits as cogs in the machine ala Metropolis...

"Express Yourself" was endlessly fascinating and titillating for me, a lesbian coming out and of age in the late 1980's. Back when MTV still played music videos I taped the video -- that's right, on VHS -- and played it over and over until the tape got those trademark worn-out ripples. Madonna's brazen sexuality resonated for me in a way that previously only Annie Lennox had been able to do -- both women mining the liminal space of feminine and masculine energy.

Joshua Hinkle, editorial intern: While I've never been a big Madonna fan, my partner is a platinum member of her online fan club. Our first few dates consisted of Madonna tour madness. I have now seen every documentary or tour DVD the Madge ever release. Thanks Scott!

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