If you asked nearly anyone in 1981 what they imagined when they heard the word “Madonna,” they would have answered the Virgin Mary or another idealized woman cloaked in modesty — submissive, gentle, embracing, calm. If you asked the same question a decade later, the answer would have been radically different.

By then, the world had discovered a new Madonna, a corset-wearing, ballsy provocateur from Michigan. That Madonna said what she wanted, did what she pleased and dared others to do so, too. That Madonna was a showgirl and most definitely not a virgin.

Full article (by Mary Gabriel) at the New York Times