Friday, November 18, 2005

What it feels like to meet a girl

The new Madonna album, we have come to accept, is very good. She had us fooled at first. We were convinced it was rubbish, but it turned out not to be. (Except the lyrics, of course, they're still dire).

The man behind it all is dance producer Stuart Price, aka Jacques Le Cont. In a recent interview he explained that, when he opened his front door to find Madonna standing there, his "entire Madonna life flashed before his eyes". It's a wonderfully evocative phrase, and it made us think: what would your reaction be if you met Madonna?

A quick bit of research, and now we know:

Back in 1990, Warren Beatty was still Madonna's bit of rough. He told the press:

"When I met Madonna I became interested in whatever it was that she was doing. Madonna sort of makes you stand up... when she's talking to you... She's funny. She's ironic. She has wit. She has a lot of ambivalence... And in most areas she has a lack of inhibition. And it's fun. It's fun.''

That last "It's fun" seems a bit like Warren is trying to convince himself. Maybe he was tired because Madonna always made him stand up when he was talking to her.

Anyway, ten years later, Madonna got together with 'real cockney' Guy Ritchie. It may not surprise you to find that, on their first meeting, Guy was an insufferable buffoon:

He told the Oxford Union: "We met at lunch. She was with her boyfriend, and he was sulking, and they were a few seats down in the restaurant from where I was sitting, and I thought, 'F---ing hell, it's Madonna'. So I went up to her and made crap jokes. I think I said, 'If you play your cards right, I'll put you in a movie'. She thought I was cocky and things went from there."

Things actually went from there to Skibo Castle in Scotland, where Madge'n'Guy got hitched. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. Susan Brown, who was interviewed by the Daily Telegraph in the run-up to the wedding:

"She admitted to an attack of nerves before meeting Madonna and Ritchie for the first time last week, but had coped by telling herself: "They need me more than I need them."

Rev Brown was nicknamed "Holy Spice" by the press - this was back in the days when the Spice Girls still had some cultural relevance. And funnily enough, the Spice Girls were the topic of conversation when Blur met Madonna.

Drummer Dave Rowntree told The Face: "Madonna came down to the studio when we were recording with William [Orbit, who also produced Ray Of Light] and said, 'Most Americans think the Spice Girls is Britpop', and Damon said, 'The Spice Girls probably are.' And they are, aren't they? They're the only people who seem to have a made a career out of it..."

One thing we noticed while researching this article, is that struggling new artists often name-drop Madonna in an attempt to get a few column inches. Singer Ashley Jade (no, we've no idea either) got into the Mirror with a story about how she quite literally bumped into her hero at an industry party:

"When I met Madonna," she says, "I dropped a drink over her blue suede shoes. She graciously said she was bored with them anyway."

Indeed, footwear seems to be an obsession for these struggling starlets. Ari Gold met Mrs Ritchie backstage at the Rosie O'Donnell show; "I exchanged words with her," recalls Gold, "I don't think that constitutes as meeting her. Nobody said, 'Madonna, this is Ari.' ...I told her that I liked her boots and she said 'Thank you.'

Fascinating, isn't it? But not nearly as fascinating as Fame Academy 'winner' Alex Parks' meeting with Madge.

"When I met Madonna she spent the whole time looking at me. She didn't have to do that but she gave a lot of her energy to me.".

Yes, Alex. That's called 'getting the silent treatment' and it's supposed to make you go away.

Madonna was rather more impressed with Ricky Gervais. "Madonna came up to me at Live 8," he told the Mirror, "and said, ‘I’m your biggest fan’, so I said, ‘And who are you?’ to which she replied, ‘I’m Paris Hilton’."

Later on, Madonna told Jo Whiley that she'd happily sweep Ricky's floor. That's quite a high compliment: Madonna has often said her worst high-school job was being a maid.

"I had to clean houses - it was gross," she recalled. "I had to clean the toilet bowls of boys I went to school with. No, there's nothing more degrading than being someone's housekeeper. I mean, God bless my housekeeper and... well... all my housekeepers!"

But one person who's actually had Madonna clean his floor is her producer, Stuart Price. He had Madonna round his gaff for weeks on end while they were recording 'Confessions on a Dancefloor', as he told

"She's the perfect guest - but she did spill coffee on my white carpet by knocking a mug off a keyboard. I was amazed at just how well, using only a kitchen towel, she could draw the coffee out of the white carpet. The technique she had was to never rub, just to gently pad the carpet with the kitchen towel."

But, let's face it, none of us are ever going to get Madonna on her hands and knees in our living rooms. So what happens when a mere mortal meets the disco diva?

James Faris, a Madonna fan from Belfast, has had the opportunity. "When I met Madonna backstage at her 1993 Wembley concert and she told me that I was the cutest guy she'd ever seen," he boasts.

Now James may be gorgeous, but one of the pitfalls of meeting your favourite celebrity is finding out they're uglier and shorter than you'd imagined. LosPigs, who writes at has met both Madonna and Prince, so he's in a position to compare their looks: "When I met Madonna I thought she was much hotter than when I met Prince. Of course I met her in Barbados and when I met Prince it was in Newcastle… so it could have just been the weather."

However, our favourite meeting Madonna anecdote comes from Peter Morse. He's been Madonna's lighting director on all of her tours since "Who's That Girl". But, as he divulged to, things didn’t go so well when they were introduced:

She was rather definite about what she had in mind and I had some ideas for a set and she had no set designer and she liked my ideas she said: "Can you draw them for me" And I said "Well I'm not an artist but I will go to someone and have my ideas drawn and I'll bring them back to you".

So I did that and we sat and looked at the drawings and it was not a particularly good day for her, she was in the recording studio having some problems and she looked at the drawings with me and she said: "Well but where am I in these drawings?" And I said "well you're here" and she said "Draw me" and I said"I'm not an artist".

She then said: "Well you've got to draw something so I can see what you're talking about". So I drew a rather terrible stick figure (laughs) 'cos I'm not an artist. And she was very upset about that. And in the end that first tour I didn't do. She was upset with me.

Madonna in those days was demanding very short on praise but heavy on ridicule so you never got much praise from her but you definately heard from her when you did something wrong… but as the years progressed she's matured and mellowed and become more and more depending on and involved with the artistic people around her. Certainly more appreciative also."

So, has anyone out there met Madonna? Leave your experiences in the comments box.

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