Above, Madonna Dietrich!
Tonight was Madonna's Cinema Society-sponsored premiere for Madonna: The MDNA Tour on Epix, held at the Paris on W. 58th. Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon on this theater in 1948...remember that, because it's on the test.
I dashed up in the rain around 7:15PM. There was a small but determined crowd of contest winners and hopefuls across the street, peopled by most of the same folks we would later see shouting at Madonna from within the Golden Triangle on the big screen. These are the people who go everywhere Madonna goes without fail. Do they have jobs? Where do they get their money? (The same questions must be asked of me.) It's always fun to see them...and it feels like home.
I bumped into Frankie Grande, a dazzling NYC talent who was one of the Born Yesterday producers, was a former Mr. Broadway and who tells me his next work will be on stage in Pageant. He was with his adorable pal Isaac, and both looked spiffy in the muggy mist. This is a hard thing to accomplish.
My friend Denis and his friend (and now my friend) Scott arrived just as we "VIPs" were being allowed in. My name was on the list, yay! But then we were hassled at the door about our lack of wristbands. I threw attitude, and the always calm Nadia from Liz Rosenberg's office (Liz was AWOL in L.A. with Cher) had us escorted to our assigned seats, mid-eway back and with a spectacular view.
Inside the theater was a shitshow. People were milling about, seats with names emblazoned across them stood empty and impatient celebs—like Martha Stewart—up and left rather than wait for Madonna's tardy arrival.
While killing time, I wandeed around getting photos of the celebrities, both of the real and of the in-their-own-mind kind.
I was absolutely thrilled to encounter Roberto Bolle, the brilliant dancer and a physically perfect specimen. He kindly posed for me and with me. I was a mess, but I had to stand with such a work of art.
Similarly, I was gobsmacked to see supermodel Garrett Neff, so tall and almost disappearing when he turned sideways, except for that gorgeous mass of hair. He was in a turquoise blazer and seemed nonplused when I asked him for a picture, as if he weren't a superstar model, but just some cute guy I was stalking. (He was both.)
Andy Cohen was sitting with a hot piece of ass in a backward baseball cap who also turned out to be totally sweet and good with a camera. I'd never snagged Andy for a pic-with despite having met him a few times, so I couldn't resist. He was...indulgent.
I turned and found myself next to ageless Debi Mazar, who was in a white jacket and looking exquisite. I asked her if I could shoot her, which was not how I phrased it to formerly fatwahed Salman Rushdie, and she acquiesced. She hasn't changed at all since her appearance in the "True Blue" video in '86.
I also snagged Rushdie and his neighbor Nicky Hilton. I wonder if they discussed radical Islam?
My readers know I have a love/hate with Kelly Osbourne, but I'm certainly on her side vs. the Little Monsters who wish her to get cancer, so I told her so. Kelly said, "It's not even a sides thing, I just don't think people should make money off of gay people." Ouch! She looked pretty in a casual prison-stripes outfit, and happily posed for me with her good pal Sergio Kletnoy, a sexy publishing and fashion insider whose e-missives are can't-miss.
I also had to snap a shot of Madonna's gorgeous back-up divas, Kiley Dean (who I once interviewed when she was a young popstar-wannabe) and Nicki Richards.
Finally, they played "Celebration" followed by "Gambler" (yes, "Gambler!") and then Madonna made her way into the theater...decked out in full Marlene Dietrich drag. (Do you remember why this is significant? You'll be reminded during the video of the Q&A.)
Along with the obvious Dietrich reference. she also reminded me of that Lucille Ball doll in the top hat and tails from Here's Lucy, or of Lucy from Mame, as my pal Greg Pace suggested. At any rate, it was a wonderful surprise to see her in another costume (following GLAAD's high-concept look) and looking so great. She was clearly happy, making a big, "OMFG, it's you!" face upon seeing Cohen, and going over to warmly hug and pose with Mazar.
Without further adieu (bitch was already pushin' 90 minutes late), we saw the film. Madonna: The MDNA Tour debuts June 22 on Epix. It's a straight concert film with a ton of dizzying edits and, as it wears on, more and more artistic tweaks that remove it from being so straight after all. For example, her mesmerizing "Like a Virgin"/"Love Spent" performance is rendered in beautiful black-and-white (as are parts of "Vogue"), and there are many instances where imagery is overlaid to create depth. But it didn't feel as FX-driven as the Confessions Tour special, so if you saw and liked the show, this serves as an accurate reminder of the parts you loved.
For me, watching the tour (yet) again, I was struck by a few things: First, the violent parts came off as 100 times more violent once they were zoomed in on by a movie camera. It was oddly discomforting to be watching the gleeful superviolence so gaily cheered on by the crowd. Also, all the vocal tinkering in the show got old much quicker on the screen than it did in life (her unfiltered, unenhanced voice doesn't pop up for a few songs, recall).
But if the first part of the show didn't live up to my memories, most of the rest did. Highlights like "Open Your Heart," "Vogue" and "Like a Prayer" are still energizing, and the use of dramatic, arty stills during "Like a Virgin"/"Love Spent" blew me away.
It was more fun for me, though, to play "spot the famous fan" in the crowd scenes, as well as to hunt for blatant continuity errors (sleeveless vs. sleeves during "Turn Up the Radio," having "Eva" vs. "Psyche" painted on her back), etc.
I did like how, in the flick, her speech was about how it's what's inside that counts even though she immediately then asked a guy in the Miami audience to go topless. (I guess it makes sense—it's what's on the inside...so let's have a look inside that shirt.)
Overall, even if MDNA isn't your favorite of her shows, it's impressive. This whole "there's only one queen" schtick isn't; it's real, and you can't be the queen if you're not willing to claim it, over and over and over and over again.
After the movie ended, a chair and signage were set up and a marching band poured out of nowhere to loudly beat us into submission even more than we already were. Then, Madonna emerged, shocking me to death by opting to do a self-moderated Q&A. She literally sat and took (planted!) questions from the crowd, most of them her most diehard fans.
I have to say that at first I was shocked. It seemed so chaotic! But Madonna was absolutely, 100% charming and on tonight, alternating between teasing and praising those lucky enough to speak to her.She looked ecstatic, even if she only spoke for just under 20 minutes.
As a final send-off, Madonna offered a minute-long trailer for her Steven Klein "Secret Project." I thought it looked pretty bad-ass, and not unlike her collaboration 10 years ago with Klein, which led to all those horrible/beautiful images that in turn led into the Re-Invention Tour. Could be good...the jury's still out!
With Madonna gone, fans congregated outside to do a quick post-mortem and pose for photos by the step-and-repeat.
As Madonna said herself, this signified the ultimate finale for MDNA. The show is over...say good-bye.