My Year : Madonna

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The Independent Online
OK, SO I start the year with this new dress Gaultier has made for me, right? It's kinda wicked and tricksy and plays with received conventions of modesty and decorum, by sorta not having a front to it, ya know?

Anyway, I wear it, with my new blonde hair, a little beret and no underwear, to a film opening party.

But yuck] As usual all these photographers just don't get the plot at all. They think it's, like, a pose. I smile for them, of course, but in an ironic way. I should've remembered irony is not a currency that's like got a high exchange rate with the paparazzi pack.

The next morning all the papers have endless headlines about me being an exhibitionist. Me? Puh-lease.

Worse than that, a lot of the papers have little black patches covering over my nipples. I mean, is that repressed or is that repressed? As an artist, I feel this is like clipping the flowers off of them water lilies or putting a paper bag over the Mona Lisa's face.

I mean, I am an artist and my body is both my tool and my temple. To black parts of it out is, like, vandalism. For me this is worse than fascism and Communism put together, because it's just censorship.

IN THE spring, it occurs to me that things are getting so bad, what with people both literally and metaphorically starving to death on the streets of Beverly Hills, that the world is in need of my new artistic project. It is not just a book, it's like a full-frontal assault on prejudice.

In it I seek to empower mankind (not to mention womankind]) to shake off the repressive shackles caused by 2,000 years of patriarchal domination. I do this by posing in 120 different positions without any knickers on, wearing instead a variety of items bought from my local pet shop.

Because I believe in total honesty and not in obfuscating meaning beneath layers of anti- self and hypocrisy, I decide to call the book Sex. My publisher tells me that, in tests, the word 'sex' makes people look at a book on shop shelves more often than any other. What a complete and fantastic coincidence]

ALTHOUGH I am an artist whose art is, in itself, sufficiently enriching, and my responsibility is only to myself as an artist, I feel I ought to share my expression with as much of the world as possible, or at least with that part of the world which has 25 quid to spare.

Therefore I spend the summer doing the usual round of completely demeaning publicity. I agree to do a few interviews but I get, like, totally misrepresented. There is, for instance, this guy from a British newspaper called Andrew Neil. At first I thought he was a fellow artist, you know, when I saw his hair I thought, what a statement]

But talk about one-track mind, it turns out all this Andrew wants to go on about is sex. Please, if that's all there is to me, then I'll just go ahead and, like, kill myself or something. I'm a human revolutionary, y'know what I'm sayin' here?

Anyway, at the end of a very long interview (my publicist later tells me it went on for 15 minutes) he asks me if I'd mind going through the questions again as his batteries have gone flat. Yeah, know what you mean, Andy]

IN THE autumn a man called Amis, from yet another British newspaper, writes an even longer article about me, but without even meeting me] The story circulating Britain is that I refuse to see him because I fear he is too famous.

PEOPLE seem to forget that before my amazing success as the world's most prominent post- feminist visual artiste, I was a, like, musician. So in the winter I release an album which, because I am a performer of such a sorta mind-fogging range of interests, is a million miles in subject matter from Sex.

The record is entitled Erotica and features 14 toe-tapping tunes which are mainly to do with shoving your naked butt in the face of a repressive society. It's like an aural Gaultier dress kinda statement, you know what I'm saying here?

The critics write a lot of beautiful things about Erotica. But the most beautiful is the reviewer in Rolling Stone who says 'buy this album'.

And, you know, I think that's the message I'd like you to carry into the new year.


29 December 1906 Raymond Asquith writes to Katherine Horner from Chatsworth: 'How you would loathe this place] It crushes one by its size and is full of smart shrivelled-up people. Lady Helen Vincent is the only beauty here and Lady Theo Acheson the only girl - quite nice but not very interesting. I have been a long walk with her in the snow this afternoon - sometimes up to our waists; but I never found it necessary to lift her out of a drift. There is some very mild tobogganing and a good deal of bridge, but shooting and skating are prevented by the snow, and there is only one bathroom in the house, which is kept for the King. I am going to have a good look at the pictures tomorrow - there are a thousand here, and the library which is the best in England . . .'