Madonna expresses herself under wraps

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'OH YES, yes, yes . . . of course booksellers want it. It's an absolutely glorious object, the response from the trade has been overwhelming.' The countdown to the publication of photographs of Madonna acting out her sado-masochistic, homosexual and - though these are rare - heterosexual fantasies may have sent shock waves through publishing houses across the world, but it has left Briar Silich and her fellow marketing managers in the London headquarters of the Reed publishing conglomerate undisturbed.

The team was confident yesterday that it would not be troubled by the Obscene Publication Squads or booksellers worried about complaints from squeamish customers, even though the UK has some of the tightest anti-pornography laws in the western world.

'There are extraordinary pictures which will shock, amuse, delight, and create controversy like everything she does,' Ms Silich said. 'But the truth is that there's nothing that the Independent Magazine or Sunday Sport would not publish.'

The only precaution Reed will take is against casual browsers getting a free gawp at Madonna posing with 'bare- breasted, tattoed, skinhead lesbians', Madonna being bound and violently threatened and Madonna walking naked in public places. Sex - as the pounds 25 book is succinctly titled - will be covered in a metallic jacket and placed in a sealed bag, the type used to hold dry-roasted peanuts.

The Japanese had greater anxieties - they were so shocked they withdrew from the simultaneous international launch on 21 October. Madonna's American publishers told employees they need not work on the project if they had ethical or religious objections.

Vanity Fair yesterday revealed that the 34-year-old singer could fight back with her own philosophy against anyone who cast aspersions on her ethics.

She told the magazine: 'The point is just to feel comfortable with yourself and whatever you want to do. Whether it's to be with another man. Be with another woman. Be with three people. Be alone. Masturbate. Whatever. If people could talk about it openly . . . we wouldn't have people abusing each other.' '

More in that line can be expected. Ms Silich added that a second Madonna book was being planned. 'It won't quite be the wit and wisdom of Madonna, but it will be her views in her own words with very few pictures.'