Above: A gallery of 30 more, unranked Madonna mag covers!
Unlike any star since—and unlike only a precious few before—her, Madonna has made the act of being on the cover of a magazine into an art form. A gung-ho participant in creating a visual record of her beauty, her aesthetic, her political and quasi-punk challenging of social norms and her status as a visual icon, Madonna has always taken her covers seriously, in some cases as seriously as other rockstars take music videos or even albums.
As a rabid collector of Madonnabilia, I specialize in ephemera, especially in magazine covers. I would hate to be presented with a calendar and shown exactly how many months of my life I've spent tirelessly pursuing new, old and new-to-me old magazines with Madonna on their covers, valuing some for their uniqueness (she posed specifically for the cover!), some for their status within her career (it was her very first time on a cover!), some for the exotic nature of their home countries (Japan! Japan! Japan!), some for being totally weird (ugliest Madonna cover ever!) and some just for the sake of fulfilling my desire to have one of everything.
Choosing Madonna's best covers took forever, and it will take another forever for us to duke it out in the comments over my rankings, over which ones I forgot, over which ones I personally detest and excluded on purpose...these kinds of lists are a recipe for dissent.
But if you're into this shit, you're into it, and the time spent is as good as the time spent inhaling and exhaling oxygen.
Madonna's still causing a cover commotion in 2014...
Please enjoy this list, and please comment on it. If I have forgotten any major ones, I'll happily amend my list. And if you have Long Island's Nightlife and/or Hamptons '85, I'm all ears and am ready to buy them.
Each entry contains the magazine's title, the country (it's the United States unless otherwise specified), the date of publication and then a credit for the cover photographer. In cases where I was unable to quickly determine the ID of the shooter, it's listed with a question mark. If you think you have info on any of who any of these photographers may be, I'm all ears for that as well.
One more thing: This 32,000-word post is my gift to you. But I would appreciate it if you would consider contributing any amount to my Kickstarter so that I can produce a 20th anniversary edition of my book Encyclopedia Madonnica. Click here! Tell your friends!
Thanks! Now, on with the list...