Madonna’s artistic defiance makes her a San Francisco audience favorite

One of the more niche testaments to my personal fandom is a spiral-bound, stainless steel art book, its title discreetly etched into the cover: “Sex.”

Yes, Cicconephiles (a term meaning a superfan of Madonna, taken from the star’s last name, Ciccone), I own Madonna’s notorious 1992 photo book released in conjunction with her “Erotica” album, the one that scandalized the zeitgeist with its nudity and depictions of sexuality. Most shockingly for a pop star at the time, many of the most risqué photos featured the singer herself. It’s a project that pretty succinctly sums up key aspects of Madonna’s career.

From the opening pages, it’s clear what Madonna and photographer Steven Meisel were taking inspiration from (Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, Kenneth Anger, etc.) and then filtering through a Madonna-centric lens. At times, it reads like a marketing stunt that has some legitimately great material. But all these years later, it’s also still brave and at times a little brilliant, even if not entirely original. That’s also a good description for Madonna.

When it was announced that the singer would be playing three dates at the 2,297-seat Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco this November, there was much excitement among the Bay Area Madonna fan base. We are a Madonna-loving town with nights dedicated to her music at gay clubs and bars (most notably, Oasis does a yearly Mother show tribute to her) and there are even  mentions of her in The Chronicle from early in her career in Herb Caen’s column in the 1980s. Her music and various personas from “Like a Virgin” to “Madame X” have stretched across a remarkable four decades.

So why do Cicconephiles still stan the 61-year-old performer?

I asked a few Bay Area superfans, and interestingly, everyone I spoke to frankly pointed out Madonna’s flaws: She’s not a perfect singer. She’s probably difficult to socialize with, based on her behavior on talk shows. She has maybe five good films, which isn’t terrible until you remember she’s made about 30.

But they also say that the flaws are partially why they love her. Maybe she’s not artistically above reproach, but she’s really committed to her vision.

She probably isn’t the most gracious person in the room, but does she need to be? Women, LGBT people and others at the margins are so often told to shut up and be pleasant that it’s always exciting when one of us defies that dictate. That defiance is part of her appeal, and San Francisco is a culturally defiant city.

Then the fans quickly launch into passionate testimonials. 

Dancer Linda Gamino remembers her uncle, Rick, sneaking her a copy of Madonna’s “Virgin Tour” video as a child and how she would race home to dance with her idol. In high school, the first work Gamino choreographed for herself was to “Frozen,” a single off Madonna’s 1998 album “Ray of Light.”

“I’ll always remember seeing her in ‘A League of Their Own’ in the theater,” Gamino recalls. “Her character is tying her shoe, she looks up and we see her for the first time, kind of smirking. The audience here went crazy.”

Performer Terry McLaughlin has seen Madonna in concert four times and says part of why he’s spent as much as $500 to see her live is that she always brings A+ queer collaborators into her production, like fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

“She’s also been there with gay audiences as an advocate since way before it was popular,” says McLaughlin. 

Victoria Sutton has seen every Madonna tour since “Blond Ambition” in 1990 and will be there at the Golden Gate (the shows run Saturday, Nov. 2, as well as Nov. 4-5). She notes that Madonna frequently tours leading up to elections and isn’t shy about addressing social and political issues artistically.

“I remember this one dance she did about gun violence that was really bloody and gripping,” says Sutton. “At 61, she’s not afraid to speak her mind, which makes it easier for me to do that at 53.”

Excitingly, Madonna’s many personas and artistic eras have kept us guessing what’s next. My friend photographer Frederic Aranda and I once joked about how we can keep track of events in our own lives by remembering what phase Madonna was then going through. The woman is such a force in pop culture that you can actually keep time by her (the only other person I can think of that you can say that about is Jesus).

Drag queen Venus D-Lite, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season three contestant, is well-known for her Madonna drag and says that San Francisco audiences even fawn over Madonna impersonators with enthusiasm. 

“Maybe people like her because she likes to prove people wrong,” says D-Lite, whose next performance as Madonna is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4, at the Cafe in San Francisco. “She kind of gives me the courage not to give a s— what anyone else thinks.”

My feelings about Madonna are best summed up by the “Sex” book. Like that tome, I admire that she has always had a completely committed artistic vision, even if that vision is sometimes flawed.

And, yes, I also love her defiance.

By the way, aside from all the social theory, the woman has also given us some pretty danceable music. 

More at San Francisco Chronicle

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Bedtime Stories 25th anniversary – a personal memoir by Kimberly


While on holiday in Benidorm (this is just a coincidence I HAVE been to other places you know) Madonna’s new album ‘Bedtime Stories’ was released. I remember searching the streets of Benidorm for any record shops and managed to find the one store that sold records (aaaaaah the good ol’ days). 

Thankfully they had just received only one copy of Madonna’s brand new album in stock and I remember thinking it was extremely overpriced (yes even in pesetas). But it was Madonna’s new album and what else to spent my pocket money on? It was the 90’s and it was one of those phases where you assumed looking like a christmas tree was ‘hot’, all ten of my fingers carried rings, a ton of necklaces around my neck and I had the obligatory ‘peace’ sign earrings sparkling up my ears. So yes I think it was rather necessary to spent money on something else than cheap bling. 

The unfortunate thing was that I didn’t own a discman (yes I had the cassette walkman but that doesn’t fit a CD now does it?) so I had to wait to listen to the thing until we got back home in Amsterdam (the pre-internet days….) I wasn’t too keen on the cover artwork but I loved the colours used, especially the pastel blue jewel case (very Miami) 

The first thing I did arriving back home was pop the CD into my stereo and lock myself into my room for the next hour or so. First thoughts ‘well now this is quite a departure from ‘Erotica’ and thinking everything sounded alike. Human Nature, Sanctuary, Inside of Me, Bedtime Story and Take a Bow were the highlights for me and I quite disliked Survival and Don’t Stop. I remember getting the new ‘MadonnaMania’ issue (Dutch fanclub magazine at the time) and they kind of shared my sentiments on the album. The more and more I listened to the album, the more I began to appreciate the stunning arrangements, lyrics and vocals. 

I was completely set and ready for the ‘Bedtime Stories’ tour and so heartbroken when it didn’t happen because of other commitments on Madonna’s behalf. Anyhow I reached the phase where my hormones were ruling my life and therefore I lost Madonna for a little while in favour of romantic fantasies about Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys (whom I discovered in a magazine before they released their first single and fell head over heels in love……awwwwww).

Today when I listen to the album it stands out as her most beautiful and mature record, stunning vocals, brilliant lyrics and some of her best collaborations ever (Babyface). Sanctuary is one of my all time favourite Madonna songs and secretly hoping she will perform it live one day, a girl (em….grown woman) can only dream. 


Kimberly van Pinxteren

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Bedtime Stories 25th anniversary – a personal memoir by Dave

Bedtime Stories turns 25 today. 
The last album that came out while I was still living at home with my parents. My teenage room was full of posters and I remember how happy I was to find some Bedtime Stories images to put on the wall. My local record store also gave me some promotional cubes.
I couldn’t stop listening to the album, even though the R ‘n B sound is not really my thing I still absolutely loved the album. Still love it today even though it’s not in my top list anymore. 
Secret was a great lead single but Take a Bow stole my heart. Great song and fantastic video, she looks stunning in it.  When I was not busy at school, I was glued to the VCR. Didn’t miss one single episode of MTV news. So many great Madonna items around that time. The Making of Take A Bow, Bedtime Story Pyjama party and don’t forget Wetten Dass and the instant classic Brit Awards performance of Bedtime Story.
This was also the year that I was struggling more and more with my coming out. The song Survival gave me strength. My loneliness couldn’t be described better than in Love Tried To Welcome Me, still a big fan of that song.
I have really good memories of this album. 
Happy Birthday Bedtime Stories!!
Dave Crombeen
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Crave (Remixes Pt. 1) feat. Swae Lee iTunes link available

Buy through iTunes, click direct link below

1 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Tracy Young Dangerous Remix]
2 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Tracy Young Dangerous Radio Edit]
3 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Benny Benassi & BB Team Extended Remix]
4 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Benny Benassi & BB Team Radio Edit]
5 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [RNG Club Remix]
6 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Otto Benson Remix]
7 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Twisted Dee & Diego Fernandez Remix]
8 Crave (feat. Swae Lee) [Dan De Leon & Anthony Griego Remix]

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Madonna Gets $10 Million Start on Madame X Tour With Brooklyn Theater Shows

After touring arenas and stadiums for much of the last four decades, Madonna is experimenting with a new format for her live shows, playing mini-residencies in theaters around the world.

The Madame X Tour kicked off with a sold-out 16-show run at Brooklyn’s Howard Gilman Opera House (the theater is one of many facilities at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music). Averaging less than 2,000 seats per night, Madonna played to intimate audiences over the span of a month. According to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore, the shows combined to gross $9.6 million and sold 31,401 tickets.

Broken out by month, Madonna’s nine shows in September grossed $5.5 million (17,708 tickets), followed by seven shows from Oct. 1-12 that earned $4.1 million (13,693 tickets). That averages out to $601,985 and 1,963 tickets per show.

Full article HERE

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Madame X Tour – Los Angeles update

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 – For Immediate Release.

With the highly specialized visual and production elements, Madonna’s Madame X Tour at The Wiltern in Los Angeles will now begin on Tuesday, November 13. The additional nine performances November 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24 and 25 will proceed as scheduled.

Due to scheduling limitations, we are unfortunately unable to reschedule the November 12th date. Patrons who purchased tickets for that performance will be automatically refunded. We apologize for any inconvenience.


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Madonna at The Chicago Theater 10/21 – live report by Marjolein Heijen-Pilk


So, Madonna aka Madame X was there for the long haul last night at the Chicago Theater. The anticipation was high for everyone and especially for little old me, traveling from the Netherlands for this (and for my sister, for whom it was the very first time seeing the Queen ;)

Madame X arrived at a little over 11pm and was absolutely mesmerizing till it ended at 1.30am. With this show you finally get to see and experience the full force of her new album and how she intended it to be.

She took us on a journey through Colombia, Portugal, Africa, Spain, Brazil to bring us back to New York in the 70’s. The message throughout is the call for equality, love and being present in the world we live in. We can all be and should strive to be a freedom fighter and I couldn’t agree more.

The Madame X show really is fit for arena’s, but the vibe of the theater doesn’t make you want it any other way. She is very comfortable, funny and relaxed which makes everyone adore her even more. The famous Polaroid sells for a whopping 4000 dollars to none other than Detox (RuPaul’s Drag Race) and the crowd is ecstatic.

Everyone seems to be in the moment and you can tell she thrives on this. The show mainly contains songs from the new album, but mixes well with a couple of old songs. Especially ‘Frozen’ is stunning with Madonna behind her piano and daughter Lourdes displayed on the screen in front of her. Also daughters Mercy, Stella and Estere make special appearances throughout the show.

The visuals, dancers and overall experience is what I know and love about Madonna, she leaves nothing to chance and everything is carefully planned and rehearsed to the T. But seeing her as Madame X in this performance made it the most intimate show I’ve ever seen of her. The late start of the show is the only thing I struggled with and more people did unfortunately. A lot of people leaving before the show ended and the lady in front of me actually fell asleep during the show. Be sure to get your beauty sleep before the show so you can keep up with our secret agent, freedom fighter, dancer, professor, head of state, housekeeper, equestrian, prisoner, student, mother, child, teacher, nun, singer, saint, whore and spy in the house of love. She IS Madame X.

Madonna aka Madame X

The Chicago Theater

October 21st 2019

by Marjolein Heijen-Pilk

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Crave remixes coming to digital platforms!

  1. Crave (Tracy Young Dangerous Remix) 4:48
  2. Crave (Tracy Young Dangerous Radio Edit) 3:24
  3. Crave (Benny Benassi & BB Team Extended Remix) 4:52
  4. Crave (Benny Benassi & BB Team Radio Edit) 3:19
  5. Crave (RNG Club Remix) 6:39
  6. Crave (Otto Benson Remix) 4:23
  7. Crave (Twisted Dee & Diego Fernandez) 7:17
  8. Crave (Dan De Leon & Anthony Griego Remix) 7:10

Available on October 25. Check back for direct download links!


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Madonna’s SEX book is 27 years young – a personal memoir!

Happy 27th to the most notorious coffeetable book of all time! The world was in shock when Madonna released her SEX book back in 1992 and today we are still discussing it. Way ahead of its time with stunning photography, the book remains an important time in Madonna’s legacy.

In our Erotica album promo page we have a dedicated section to a lot of (mostly Dutch) press on the book’s release, check that out HERE.

I remember getting the book as a gift from my father back in 1992, he had no clue what he bought me! All my father knew was that there was a new Madonna book out and everyone was talking about it. Clueless as he was he went to a Dutch book store where he had reserved ‘the new Madonna book’ and paid around 60 Dutch guilders for it (around 26 EUR now). When he presented the book brand new in foil packaging to me, I was ecstatic with joy! It felt like I held something truly remarkable in my hands, something that the entire world was discussing. When opening the foil with scissors and browsing through the pages, my father’s expression started to change rapidly. The poor soul had no idea that this was a book on erotic fantasies by the biggest star in the world. He made me promise to store it in a safe place and to not really check it out again until I was older (and don’t show your friends!)

Well here we are 27 years later and I still have the book my father gave me back in 1992 neat in its original foil. Needless to say it has been read from start to finish once I was older and it has been shown to many curious people. Say what you want about Madonna, but she’s always been there throughout my life connected to many memories. 

But it’s still kind of odd when people ask me about the book and I say ‘yes my father gave it to me’……….


Kimberly van Pinxteren

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Madonna’s GAP campaign ‘Into The Hollywood Groove’ discography (promo) online

Next in our discography is Madonna’s collaboration with Missy Elliott for GAP back in 2003. Madonna recorded a new nostalgic version of ‘Hollywood’ titled ‘Into The Hollywood Groove’ mixing ‘Into The Groove’ (with new vocals and lyrics) with ‘Hollywood’ featuring Missy Elliott for this campaign. Besides the track they filmed a commercial together and a promo/free CD was pressed as a giveaway.

Madonna used this version during the Re-Invention Tour in 2004 with Missy on backdrop visuals. The track was later included on Madonna’s Remixed & Revisited EP (discography coming up, but working in chronological order)

In the discography we have collected four different (promo) pressings, click HERE to view

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Madonna’s ‘Madame X’ tour descends on Chicago

Artistic expression was displayed in a mega way on stage at the Chicago Theatre Wednesday night.

Madonna was in the house and lighting up the wee hours of the night with an out-of-the-ordinary artsy production on her “Madame X” tour. Wednesday’s concert was the first show in her mini Chicago residency, which runs through Oct. 28 and has the “Material Girl” performing seven shows.

The tour is promoting her “Madame X” album, which is her latest release.

Everything about the show — from the ticketing process (all via phone) and its start time (10:30 p.m.) to a cell phone ban and its absence of many hits on the playlist — was quite different from most other productions.

As Madonna indicated early on in the show, she wanted her audience to be “present” in the moment and fully engaged in the artistry of it all. So, as soon as people entered the building, phones were taken and placed in a little pouch and not allowed to be used.

“How do you feel not being able to use your phones?” she shouted to fans.

A common theme of the show remained that “artists are here to disturb the peace.” Those words were among the words typed on the stage backdrop at the beginning of the show and throughout other segments. Madonna also uttered that phrase throughout as well.

In this show, featuring stunning multi-media displays, a large focus on world music sounds, colorful costumes and sleek choreography, Madonna relishes in her Madame X character, whom she says is a “secret agent traveling around the world, changing identities, fighting for freedom and bringing light to dark places.”

Madonna took the stage at 11 p.m., opening with the tune “God Control” from “Madame X.” The show starred a great number of songs from the new album as well as other selections inspired by various world music including  Portugese inspirations. Her show ran for more than two hours, ending at 1:20 a.m.

For fans craving the hits, perhaps this isn’t the show for you. The biggest of Madonna’s hits offered by the singer this time around included “Vogue,” a bit of “Papa Don’t Preach,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Express Yourself,” and “Like  Prayer,” which audience members enthusiastically sang with her.

While the transitions between songs lagged a bit with Madonna talking very often to her fans, the musical selections proved engaging as Madonna sounded strong vocally.

Among tunes on the playlist were “Frozen,” “Come Alive,” “Crazy,” “I Don’t Search, I Find” and “I Rise.”

The singer is always full of surprises so mega fans of the “Material Girl” will always be curious to see what she’s up to.

This “Madame X” show drew a full house of admirers to the theater who were willing to go along with Madonna on her latest unique, creative journey. For more information about the tour, visit

More at NWITimes

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Live Review: Madonna at The Chicago Theatre

Madame X Tour
Chicago Theatre
October 16, 2019

“Artists are here to disturb the peace.”

One has to wonder if Madonna Louise Ciccone has accepted this James Baldwin quote as her life’s mantra. Let’s face it; the native Michigander has always had a reputation as a rabble-rouser. So, when it was announced that she would embark on an intimate, multi-city tour playing multiple dates at each locale, well, the surprising move probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

This past week saw her kick off the first of seven shows at Chicago’s intimate (as far as an arena-filling Madonna is concerned) and acoustically superb Chicago Theatre. Dubbed the “Madame X” tour, in support of her 14th album of the same name, it quickly became apparent why these shows wouldn’t play at the local Enormodome. The show had more in common with a Broadway musical or an art performance than to a big stadium spectacle. Loosely divided into five acts, the evening mostly ignored Madge’s vast cavalcade of hits, and instead focused on her most recent release. And when the chestnuts made appearances, they didn’t resemble their former selves. The disco-pop of “Express Yourself” was transformed into an acapella singalong, and “Papa Don’t Preach” became a revolutionary anthem for the #metoo movement. Still, a small sacrifice to pay for the equivalent of seeing an icon in what felt like a living room setting.

Flanked by a dozen or so backup dancers, the 61-year-old Madonna left most of the heavy lifting in her routines for them to execute throughout the night. At times, she still seemed hampered by a recent knee injury that didn’t allow her movements to be as fluid as one might expect. Fortunately, it felt like addition by subtraction. It freed her up to focus on her singing, something that usually gets lost amongst the pageantry and window dressing that accompanied so many previous tours. Not to imply that this was Madonna unplugged. Her complex set pieces helped drive home her raging against abortion rights (the aforementioned “Papa Don’t Preach”), gun violence (“Dark Ballet”), and oppression of women (a group of Cape Verde Batuque singers helped make “Batuka” an evening highlight).

Photo by Andy Argyrakis

Of course, with ambition, sometimes failure trails close behind. And this evening had those as well. In an effort to make the performances feel more intimate, Madge took moments between songs to engage with the audience. While it certainly brought a human element to the performance, some of the exchanges played out for too long, zapping the evening of some desperately need pacing and momentum. “Get out of your comfort zone!” she exclaimed at one point, completely owning her shortcomings with the same enthusiasm with which she owned her victories.

The overreaching arch was about the artist pushing the boundaries of what they know and expanding it outward to discover how much further you can reach. “Not everyone is coming to the future because not everyone is learning from the past,” she sang during “Future.” She was pushing her audience as well. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. Fall flat on your face in the hopes of flying past the sun. No hits meant that she also wanted YOU to work to get there because that’s where she’s heading. But again, this is Madonna. She’s here to disrupt, and if you’re not with her, you can damn well expect to be left behind.

– Curt Baran

More at IllinoisEntertainer

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