Madonna and her Rebel Heart….that there was going to be another ‘iconic’ promo tour, was a given. After the Grammy’s, Brit Awards, Jonathan Ross and Che Tempo Che Fa she was a guest at Le Grand Journal in Paris.
Monday, 2 March
After sleeping only two hours (I can pull this off, no problem at all), me and Hans made our way to Paris by car at 4am. Thanks to a good navigation system we had no problem finding the studio’s. We arrived way too early at around 10am and had no idea where to park the car for the day. I went up to the security desk to inquire about the parking and thankfully we were able to park the car in the garage of the studio’s. Paris welcomed us with a lot of wind causing for my fantastic hairdo to change into a bird’s nest.
After meeting up with Fred we warmed up by drinking a nice cup of coffee and tea at a nearby Italian restaurant. I had taken everything I thought I needed with me to Paris except for a brush and clippings for my hair. So decided to do a braid and tried to save whatever there was to be saved. The windy weather had now turned into a rainstorm so we settled upon eating a nice hot meal, specifically spaghetti Arrabiata.
We were told the doors to the studio would not open before 4pm, so we made plans to do a bit of shopping near the Eiffel Tower. When we later returned fans were already queuing near the entrance. Trying to wait patiently along with the crew in front of the entrance didn’t do my improved hairdo any favours. When the doors finally opened it didn’t take long for us to get inside. Due to extra tight security, we had to hand over our passports, sign a form (since it was all in French I had no idea what I was signing but as long as I got to see Madonna I really didn’t care), put all of our belongings in the wardrobe and were scanned (yes, these were pre-Covid days.) Now the waiting continued at the entrance of the actual studio, thank God it was warm inside. Unfortunately we couldn’t see anything regarding the preparations inside the studio.
Madonna wouldn’t be Madonna if also this part of the waiting seemed to go on and on forever. We were still waiting when the clock hit 5.30pm. Madonna was still rehearsing and her team kept passing us every now and then. When we finally received the sign for entrance, fans got to go inside in groups. We were the second group and were escorted to one of the best seats in the house. Right near the table where Madonna was to sit down for the interview and right in front of the stage. One of the crew members asked me to pose in front of the stage to snap a photo of me…..I know since the lights are bouncing right off of my head that I was probably a bit sweaty.
You know the deal with television shows, you’re being instructed how to behave as a guest and how to create noise. I sneakily brought a chocolate bar with me (as I am always hungry) and had put it in the pocket of my dress. But due to the heat in the studio it started to melt. To prevent a total wreckage in my pocket I decided to eat the thing. Yeah I cleaned up after that. The host and guests sat down at the table and we saw Madonna’s back-up singers hit the stage. The band and dancers followed quickly. Butterflies started to fly in my stomach, yes it was almost finally time to see Madonna again. The people rose from their seats and everyone seemed to be clapping their hands until they hurt.
Eventually there she was, complete in bling Madonna looked sensational. A remix to Living For Love was performed with a stunning choreography that included some ‘vogueing.’ During the performance a lot of fans that weren’t seated in the audience got to gather around the small stage set up for her to perform. Some fans that wanted to be nearer, left their seat quickly to gather between those on the floor. When the first song was finished and to M’s liking she briefly left the stage for a wardrobe change. Once she returned on stage she performed a stunning Ghosttown with impressive live vocals, however Madame was not pleased with it. Madonna told her band “Their clapping is confusing me”, sure blame your fans why don’t you. Madonna the perfectionist she is, performed Ghosttown a second time. Despite the clapping still being there, Madonna seemed satisfied with the second try and left once again for a touch-up. The live performances were to be broadcast right at the end of the show, after the interview.
The live broadcast started and Madonna was introduced, unfortunately in France English-speaking guests are still being overdubbed live. I remember this was also the case at Absolut Madonna in Cologne in 2003. Madonna truly looked stunning, she shone, she sparkled. She was the chief-editor of the show and it was supposedly going to be very political. She did speak about Marine Le Pen and the dark cloud following her during the MDNA Tour in Europe (Pussy Riot etc.) The most impressive moment of the show was when Charlie Hebdo was discussed. She was truly taken aback, and it never gets easier seeing her cry. It was a very emotional moment in the studio.
Whenever a video was shown on the screen, her team quickly ran on stage to give her a touch-up. Her stylist B. Akerlund was not happy with how Madonna’s gloves were fitting, Madonna however pushed her away and said “stop it!” Andy Lecompte gave her a touch-up and she gave him the cutest smile I have ever seen. At one moment the crew of Le Grand Journal asked her to leave the stage for a bit to which she replied “they’re kicking me out.”
MEET & GREET WITH MADONNA
When the show ended everyone in the studio was escorted out. I was about to go when I was told to stay in my seat by someone from Madonna’s team. Security wasn’t happy with me and told me over and over to leave the studio. I could have tried to argue with them but knowing they didn’t speak English, this was a lost cause. Didn’t know what to think right then and there as to why I had to remain in my seat. Immediately I forgot the fact I had to pee and was extremely hungry.
The lady from Madonna’s team phoned with someone and told me she was informed of two people (Hans and me) but Fred and Alex were with us too. Of course we asked if they could come along. She continued her phone call and quickly got the green light that Fred and Alex were welcome too, to whatever the hell was going to happen. Security kept on giving us a hard time, who are you? where are you going? It wasn’t until we were finally given our green wristbands that we got to follow the lady……yep you guessed it right, we were on our way for a meet & greet with Madonna!
At that moment you truly don’t know what to think other than becoming nervous wrecks. We were escorted to a hallway that ended in this cafetaria-like tiny space. When I entered I bumped into Guy Oseary, who gave me a hug and didn’t seem surprised to see me at all. Here a red cloth had been set up with a camera in front of it. We still didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but I can tell you we were DYING. Someone told us to go back to the hallway where we came from and to wait in some kind of locker area. The competition winners that got to meet & greet her were already there, I settled on waiting at the entrance. Suddenly totally unexpectedly Madonna walks by……dressed in a black leather mini dress with shoes that had enormous heels. She had a white boa draped around her shoulders and pulled up her hair from underneath it while looking at the floor and following Andy (Lecompte.) We weren’t expecting to see her at all, so imagine our total and utter shock. She looked STUNNING, total perfection!
Only a few seconds after this someone told me that we had to be the first group to meet and greet her. Fred led the way inside the hallway and was completely stressed out. While waiting to enter the space we saw that Madonna was getting another touch-up. The door opened for us and we passed her as we were told to go to the red cloth in front of the camera. I noticed Fred was really nervous and tried to get him to relax a bit. A totally welcomed calm came right over me and my nerves disappeared. I did notice that everyone there all acted very rushed, like they were in a huge hurry, all apart from Madonna.
Madonna then turned to us and walked up to two guys first (that I didn’t know) she shook their hands and then turned to Hans. He introduced himself to her and she tried to repeat his name, she didn’t quite succeed. I had the luxury of watching her every move just inches from me, being surprised again at how tiny she is. Madonna’s manager took her by the shoulders and turned her into my direction while she said “this is Kimberly”. Can you imagine YOUR idol being introduced to YOU?! Like, my head was spinning! I looked into her eyes and was completely mesmerized, how can someone be that beautiful? I reached for her hand, shook it and introduced myself saying “Hi, I’m Kimberly, I’m from Amsterdam, how are you.” Once again she was being turned to my arm while she was being told “you signed her arm last year.” She turned to grab my arm and said “oh woooow” while sounding not too impressed at all (like I hadn’t expected otherwise.) I spoke to her and said “yeah I got it tattooed right after.”
Hans then remembered he had her signature tattooed as well and started to undress himself in front of her to show. Madonna with a surprised look on her face turned to stare at the fan stripping in front of her. However he had trouble getting his shirt unbuttoned so I turned to Madonna and said “I’ll help” and trying not to swear as the freaking little tiny buttons refused to open. Finally Hans got to show his signature too. I turned to her and said “we’re just a bunch of crazy people from Holland”, yes that is me always being the clown even when face to face with HER. Fred then pulled up one leg of his pants to show Madonna his Maverick tattoo and spoke to her for a bit. She then shook Alex’ hand. He told her “I’m Alex, I don’t have any tattoos but I still love you” to which she said “you’re the smart one.”
Thinking about it, the scene was hilarious. Here we are finally meeting Madonna and we all decide to undress ourselves.
Madonna returned to us for the picture and was told to stand in the center. Hans was directed to stand behind her and I was told to stand to her right. Fred and Alex stood to my right and the other two guys on M’s left. I held my wallet in my left hand (that damn thing) and my right arm was just like hanging there like a useless limb. The photographer said we all needed to get a little closer to each other to which I stupidly replied “ooooh I don’t mind at all” and Madonna obviously thought that was hilarious. I have been close to her before, but never like ‘this.’ Three pictures were then taken in a row, while it seemed we were promoting a toothpaste brand as our smiles couldn’t be any brighter. The photographer then said “one crazy pose please” and Madonna stuck out her tongue while I just kept on smiling, my jaws were frozen. For the last two pictures I put my right hand on her shoulder and was thankful she didn’t like slap me in the face. When the pictures were taken, Madonna’s team came up to us in a rush and told us the next group had to be brought in. I turned to face Madonna to thank her and said that I would see her on tour, she acknowledged, nodded and smiled. I made my grand exit when I managed to trip over one of those studio light cables…and yes she laughed……
I was in a complete different zone than all the others around me, it was kind of like M’s infamous ‘fuzzy dreams’ moments. While walking through the hallway we passed the other fans still waiting for their meet & greet photo with Madonna. When I saw cake and coke I couldn’t help myself and completely stuffed my mouth with it. Everyone was going crazy and I just remained very calm, I mean I had to….didn’t want to choke. So hard to believe what just happened here. Did I really just take a photograph with MADONNA?!
We picked up our jackets and made our way to the car. We said goodbye to Alex and Fred and immediately called my mother “you never guess what just happened!!’ Filled with adrenaline we made our way back to Amsterdam. I arrived at home early in the morning and immediately slept after being awake for a full 24 hours as I had to be at work in just a little while.
In the end we had to wait a few days until we received our meet & greet photo with Madonna, a dream realized and captured in a photograph.
No one can take that away from me!
Kimberly van Pinxteren – March 2015