Sitting in a silver Daimler and acting for all the world like royalty, the singer, sex-siren and supreme self-publicist swept out of the airport in a convoy. Admittedly it was Luton airport, best-known for its self-deprecating television advertisements, but then Madonna has never been afraid of going down market.
Escorted by two car loads of advisers and minders, a police Range Rover and police motorcyclists, she sped towards London and an appointment with some meticulously calculated hype. The build-up began with everyone at Luton airport denying any knowledge of her arrival. There is nothing like an absence of facts to whet the journalistic appetite and the growing press pack became ever more certain that it was in the right place.
By the time Madonna's private jet flew in from Paris the word had spread further afield and a couple of dozen fans also appeared at the airport gate. Craig Bavister, 17, from Harlington, near Luton, said: 'I've got to see her. She's outrageous.'
Outrageous is the word that many people have applied to her book, Sex, to be published later this month. Her visit to Britain is to publicise it although by now this is hardly necessary. It depicts the star naked, which is nothing new, but this time in scenes involving sado-masochism, lesbianism and toe-sucking. The latter seems to be in vogue this year.
Needless to say it has been widely condemned as pornographic which, with wearisome inevitability, will absolutely ensure that it is a best-seller.
After staying in a pounds 1,500 suite at the Hyde Park Hotel in London, Madonna will probably go jogging today. This will allow for some traditional knock-about between her bodyguards and photographers. Then, after a television interview, she will fly to New York having spent roughly pounds 1,000 an hour on her visit to Britain. She should end up with a handsome profit on her investment.
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