Howard Stern was audibly thrilled to finally have Madonna on his SiriusXM radio show – to the point that the live Wednesday broadcast was moved to the afternoon to accommodate her schedule.
In their 90-minute interview, Stern, who is unequivocally the best interviewer currently on the air in any medium (it also helps that he can ask questions uninterrupted by commercials), probed into her childhood, her relationship with Michael Jackson and her thoughts on drugs. They also, naturally, chatted about her new album, “Rebel Heart,” out now.
Here are some excerpts.
Stern asked about being a mother since she didn’t have one growing up:
“I try to be the mother that I didn’t have, I try to be all of those things that I wanted…sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes things don’t go the way I planned. I ask my sister for her advice because she was raised by my grandmother and she’s a good mother.”
To Stern’s query of “Are you happy?”
“I am happy at times. There are lots of different gradations. Happy is a big word…When you get exhausted and get in the cycle of HAVING to do things, sometimes you get tired, sometimes you don’t feel well, but there are 20,000 people waiting for you in a sports arena, the show must go on… I wouldn’t say I’m miserable, but I do feel trapped sometimes. When you go on tour and sell tickets, you have to show up and give people the greatest show.”
On her relationship with Michael Jackson:
“I could certainly relate to him on many levels, but he was also a very shy person. He was famous since he was a child and didn’t really have a childhood. He was painfully shy. We didn’t really have a relationship about me revealing myself to him, but making fun of the crazy world we were living and working in. We didn’t talk about our childhoods…I think he felt eternally tortured. It was hard for him to look into people’s eyes.”
Her thoughts about drugs:
“I don’t like being stoned, I don’t like that fuzzy feeling you get. I’m not an herbalist and I never will be.” She also recalled that she left Jean-Michel Basquiat because he wouldn’t stop doing heroin. “We always think we can fix people and we can’t…just change yourself.”
She wrote “Vogue” in a couple of hours. “I had seen people ‘voguing.’ Warren (Beatty) asked me to write a song for ‘Dick Tracy’ and I was thinking about all of the movie stars. Warren grew up in that era and he dated all of Hollywood, basically.”
When Stern sidekick Robin Quivers interjected to inquire whether Beatty was as sexually adept as his legend suggests, Madonna responded, “Yes, he was (an incredible lover). I’m not going to lie.”
She also revealed that the new song “Ghosttown” is about the end of the world and she’s shooting the video for it next week. “It’s a post-apocalyptic love song.”
And “Joan of Arc” – “This is me wishing I could be as impenetrable as I perceive Joan of Arc to be…she’s always been a female hero in my life.”
On her racy new song, “Holy Water”:
“I think my son likes the beat of ‘Holy Water.’ They like the music. They did roll their eyes a little bit, but they’re used to it. I’m their mom at this point. They separate it.”
On performing live:
“If someone I know is in the audience I would get a little nervous.”
She also expounded on her Super Bowl performance – “You have eight minutes to build the stage in the middle of the stadium and the NFL hires locals to do that, so you have locals building your stage, (and you start to worry) what if it starts to break down? (You’re) so out of control. Live TV is crazy anyway. Whatever happens, happens, you have to roll with it.”
On what happened at the Brit Awards that caused her widely publicized tumble:
“I rehearse everything to death. I never do anything live that I haven’t rehearsed…I had a long beautiful cape made for me by Armani, I was walking down this long runway to the stage at the O2 in London. I entered in the middle of the audience and had to walk up these steps, the cape was placed on me at the bottom of the stage. I had two Japanese girls holding the train of my cape and I could barely see. We rehearsed this 1,000 times. And how the cape is secured, I had magnets going all the way up but the one at the top kept coming undone because the cape is so heavy and I wanted to be obscured. So I tied it with a silk string, we rehearsed in 20,000 times…I pulled the string that time (during the show) and it didn’t come undone, it turned into a knot. (What happened was that) the director or stage manager of the show at the last minute said you can’t walk out in the middle of all these people. So now I had to walk farther so my stylist said, I’m worried that the cape isn’t going to stay on your neck, so let’s tie it tight.”
After she fell, “Honestly, I was in shock. I had so much adrenaline pumping through my body. The first thing that flashed through my mind was I have to start this all over again and then I realized it’s live TV…then I just danced like an angry matador for the next 30 seconds…No one beats up on me more than me, I have a lot of pride in doing shows well and not messing up and I did and that’s really what I did, beat up on myself. That lasted pretty much the week.”