Photos Herb Ritts took of Madonna and Rosanna Arquette during a publicity shoot for their hit film Desperately Seeking Susan were initially deemed too "lesbian," according to veteran publicist Reid Rosefelt on My Life as a Blog.
Rosefelt, who was working as a publicist on the 1985 mistaken identity comedy, recalls the day he first told Madonna that Ritts would be photographing her and costar Arquette for publicity photos and, possibly, the film's poster.
“Is he gay?” Madonna asked. “Gay men take good pictures of me.”
Rosefelt recalls that during the meeting for the film's ad campaign an agency was pitching a campaign that traded on the film's disillusioned housewife plot, with Arquette’s face on a toaster and Madonna’s face on a piece of toast. Thinking the images were terrible, Rosefelt pulled out photos from the Ritts session, causing a hush in the room.
"Some people at Orion thought that the image would make people think it was a lesbian movie," Roseflet writes. "Thankfully the film’s producers, Midge Sanford and Sarah Pillsbury, were able to make their case."
The late photographer would go on to capture some of the most famous images of the music icon, including the cover of her 1986 album True Blue, as well as direct the video for her single "Cherish."
Rosefelt writes about having spent a lot of time alone with pre-superstardom Madonna during the shoot, where she even asked his opinion of one of her unreleased songs. Years later he ran into Madonna at an art shop and re-introduced himself, saying that he worked with her on Susan.
“A lot of people worked on Desperately Seeking Susan,” she said, as she walked past him.