Madonna has seen her share of shocking moments in her career. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Madonna has been the source of shocking moments throughout her career.
Sometimes, people think that Madonna intentionally sets out to shock and offend people. They figure that is her stock in trade. And when she tries to do something normal, like adopt children, she is pilloried by people who think she is unfit.
Howard Stern recently asked Madonna about all the flak she has caught from the Catholic Church for her videos, performances, and other activities that they deem offensive.
“I don’t care about the Pope — don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t care about the Pope [as a person] — I don’t care if the Vatican thinks I’m ‘Catholic material’ or not. That’s cool with me. But I find it really strange that people gave me a really hard time for adopting children. I’ve certainly wanted to crawl into a hole, and that was one of those moments.”
Especially since Howard Stern is also generally thought of as trading in shock — he is one of the original “shock jocks” — the two talked about how odd it is that anything they do would shock anyone anymore. As Madonna pointed out:
“I think that thinking for yourself and having a strong opinion and going against the grain is shocking to most people. We live in a very Puritanical country. Killing is ok, but …”
She then told a story that turned the whole Madonna Mythology on its ear. One of her earliest “shocking moments” was when she performed “Like a Virgin” live at the very first MTV Video Music Awards. She rolled around on the stage, and her elegant dress came up, showing the audience — live and televised — her backside. Everyone figured that was Madonna, doing anything to shock people.
That incident has been pointed to as an early harbinger of misbehavior to come for Madonna’s entire career. But Madonna tells the story differently.
“When I did Like a Virgin, when I performed it live for the first time, my shoe fell off on stage. I had come down the wedding cake and my shoe fell off, and I thought, ‘Oh shit, I can’t dance in one shoe… How am I gonna play this out?’ So I just dove for it, and my dress went up, and my butt was showing.
:Now, everyone’s showing their butt now. Back then, no one saw anyone’s butt. And I didn’t know my skirt was up. So I proceeded to sing the song laying down on the ground. I was just like making the best of the situation — which is what I do; like when I got yanked off the stage by my cape the other day. I’m hard-wired to just keep going.
“After I got offstage during that performance, my manager was white as a ghost. He looked at me and he said, ‘Do you know what you just did?’
“I said, ‘Yeah, I sang a song, and I lost my shoe onstage.’
“He said, ‘No, your butt was showing for the entire song. Your career is over.’
“I felt really bad, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I mean, I wasn’t that apologetic. I was just like, ‘Fuck it. I made a mistake.’
“But when you’re told your career is over decade after decade, year after year, at this point, it’s just noise. People just like to give me shit.”