The last time Madonna was in Portland, she visited Pittock Mansion, hung out at the waterfront, poured candle wax on Willem Dafoe’s genitals, and fucked an old man to death.

That’s the plot of Body of Evidence, the alleged erotic thriller she shot here in 1992, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting. Critically eviscerated upon release, it quickly vanished from theaters, remembered only by the barely pubescent boys who’d come across it on cable and feel strangely aroused walking past Yankee Candle for years afterward. Along withthe Sex book, Madonna’s much-derided detour into softcore porn, the film represents one of the lowest points of her long reign as the Queen of Pop. But for Portland, it persists as an odd bit of local lore—that time, a decade before Portlandiaand all the New York Times travel pieces, when one of the most famous people in the world came to town, and all she got was a crappy Basic Instinct ripoff.

In honor of Her Madgesty’s return engagement—marking her first Portland performance since the Like a Virgin tour in 1985—we spoke to those who were there for our month with the Material Girl.

Stephen Simon, executive producer: I was the head of production of Dino De Laurentiis’ film company. When I was working for Dino, we made a deal to distribute Madonna’sTruth or Dare film outside the United States. We made a lot of money on it. Dino had a conversation with Madonna, then came to me and said, “Madonna wants to do a real sexy thriller. Find one.” I don’t remember the exact number, but basically he said, “With her being as famous as she is, and as well as Truth or Dare did, we can pre-sell this for $18 million. So you’ve got to make this movie for $15 million.” At that point, Dino didn’t really much care how the movie was going to be.

David Woolson, former executive director of the Oregon Film & Video Office: There was an intense focus around that film because it was really her first starring role after Desperately Seeking Susan. It was wild.

Simon: We didn’t want to be in L.A. because it’s too expensive. Portland had a lot of the moodiness that we wanted. She was going to live on a houseboat, so putting a houseboat in the Willamette was easy.

With the news that Madonna would be living in Portland for four weeks, local media promptly went into hyperdrive, with The Oregonian announcing “Madonna Watch,” asking readers to submit their most “candid photos” of the singer. To counteract the press frenzy, city officials set up a press conference at the Benson Hotel prior to shooting.

Mike Lindberg, ex-City Commissioner: The theory was that she, along with Willem Dafoe, can have this one-time, major interview where they were introduced and could answer questions, and that would take the air of future inquiries the press might be making. I was, oddly enough, in a political campaign for re-election. When it came up in my office, my campaign manager said, “Why don’t you give her the key to the city and get some publicity for yourself?”

Mindy Leek, Lindberg’s campaign manager: I had worked on the periphery of the film industry, and I just thought, “Let’s have some fun with it.” I had someone at this prop shop produce it for me.

Lindberg: It was about 2 ½, 3-feet high, made out of Styrofoam, and it had a black-knit stocking with a garter belt and a rose in the crotch. I kinda looked at it and went, “Oh my gosh.” Somebody introduced me, and then I stood up and someone delivered the key. She looked somewhere between horrified and disdainful. I got more negative letters about that issue than anything else I had done on the City Council.

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