July 2012September 2012 


2 posts from August 2012

Aug 29 2012
Glock A Virgin: A Review Of Madonna's MDNA Tour In Philadelphia Comments (29)

VogueAll images copyrighted by Matthew Rettenmund. No use without permission.


"Forgive me...I wanted the show to be perfect for you because my fans deserve it. And, quite frankly, I deserve it."—the late Madonna, Philadelphia, 8/28/12

TitsAfter an interminable wait while she assaulted Europe with it for weeks, I was finally able to experience Madonna's MDNA Tour, complete with wall-to-wall firearms, religious iconography, most of her new album and some redemptive rays of light (but not "Ray of Light" itself) for those willing to submit.

IMG_1356Age is brought up a lot regarding Madonna, but how about addressing it from a different route—it's not that not many 54-year-old artists are still pushing the envelope, growing and taking new risks in their work so much as it's that very few artists who've been on top of their game for 30 years are doing it. In the musical arena, almost all artists either have no career or are reduced to oldies tours. Madonna, who can do and sing anything she likes, usually does, with no regard for ruffling feathers. That's bad-ass. That's MDNA.

Girl Gone Wild 1 Madonna Matthew RettenmundThrowing shade

Girl Gone Wild 2 Madonna Matthew Rettenmund
Girl Gone Wild Madonna MDNA tour Girl G
Girl Gone Wild
Girl Gone Wild Madonna tour MDNAWe shot Madonna! (All of the above from "Girl Gone Wild")

Hung up 2 Madonna Matthew RettenmundIt's easy to see why some have rejected the tour—it's dark, at times delving into a much more committed take on SM than her past flirtations with the topic, it begrudgingly offers classic hits of yesteryear and the bitch is not only out of order, she's apparently without a watch—Madonna came on at 10:30PM after two rolling boos for her tardiness which explains the quote that opens this post. (It needs to be mentioned, though, that there is a huge difference between being getting booed because they want your show to begin and getting booed because they want your show to end.)

Like a VIrgin Madonna MDNA Tour Matthew RettenmundBut while MDNA is a tour to be admired rather than clutched to the heart and loved, it is nonetheless an overwhelming piece of theater. It is intelligent, unpredictable (something hard for Madonna to do when she's seemingly done everything already, some things more than once) and effortlessly artful. This is not to say Madonna's effort is not apparent—nobody could credibly argue that she doesn't work her ass off on this tour, dashing about her ingeniously designed stage with its generous opportunities for physical interaction or at least close encounters of the iconic kind. Rather, it's that Madonna seems 100% comfortable in this milieu, a world that encompasses edgy, experimental theater as well as a more traditional pop concert. She is at home (or at least it feels like it), she is smiling with confidence and she is having a ball.

The main thing that struck me about MDNA versus her other tours—and really, Madonna's tours can't be compared with almost anyone else's, with only Lady Gaga in her wake having attempted the template Madonna created as far back as Who's That Girl in 1987—is that MDNA is less artificially divided into sections. Though there are suites, there's far more artistic and stylistic and musical overlap than in past efforts, where you might find yourself with pop cultural whiplash after zipping from disco to Dietrich just because why not? I never felt, even with the suites separated by what are the best overall visuals from any Madonna tour, that separate thoughts were happening. Rather, MDNA feels like one cohesive rumination on a relationship, and it's pretty hard not to imagine it was borne of Madonna's failed marriage to Guy Ritchie.

I don't know what Guy did to her, but based on this performance, dude needs to get arrested—she is not just sad, she is devastated, and it makes for a fascinating two hours. It's hard to envision Madonna as vulnerable even after many years of some of the tenderest love songs you'd ever want to hear due to the strength she emanates as a woman and as an artist, but even Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit had a chink in his armor. Madonna's appears to be located close to her heart.

Hung up again Madonna Matthew RettenmundHer blue period


The show opens with a prolonged, um, religious chant that involves black-robed monks and an ominously swinging censer that was beyond spectacular as seen from the golden triangle. (I wouldn't give my golden triangle experience back for anything, but if you're dying because you can't get in, don't—you see much more of the show from the rows in front of the pit.) Madonna's always good at ratcheting up anticipation, often writing the word into her songs, but I would have suggested she pare this part down. The build-up became a little tedious at one point, even though her eventual appearance from behind a scrim (Who's That Girl Tour!) was of course orgasm-inducing.

Madonna MDNA tour Matthew Rettenmund
Madonna Golden Triangle MDNA
Madonna MDNA tour fans Matthew Rettenmund
Madonna MDNA tour Matthew Rettenmund curtainViews from/of the golden triangle, aka Madonna's fertile crescent

* Hunter Matthew RettenmundBoy Culture reader Hunter wanted to pose with me and not Liz Rosenberg???

"Girl Gone Wild" is a goddamn good song that deserves more love than it's been given, and it serves as a fine, rousing opener, featuring terrific dancing. Madonna looks alarmingly perfect, even with her Hilary Duff updo. I would venture to say everything about Madonna has never looked better on any other tour. You'd have to go back to Blond Ambition or even The Virgin Tour to find a comparably beautiful Madonna, and the clothes are sick.

RevolverReally Lil' Wayne

"Revolver" is filler, a gun-filled almost-anthem featuring a larger-than-life Lil' Wayne projection dueting with the diva.

Gang bang 2 Madonna Matthew Rettenmund
Gang bang Madonna Matthew Rettenmund
Gang Bang * Madonna Matthew RettenmundTarantin-Oh, my God!

"Gang Bang" is one of the best bits Madonna's ever done on stage, an instant classic. The over-the-top theatricality more than makes up for the harshness of seeing her blow people away. It's been said before, but the Quentin Tarantino vibe is palpable as Madonna scales a wall in her stylized hotel set using a cross that doubles as a mini-ladder. Climbing the stairway to heaven while her lover gets ready for a trip to hell? Ah, he deserved it.

Hung up Madonna Matthew RettenmundMadonna in motion after being all "Hung Up"

"Papa Don't Preach" appears in a truncated but faithful version that will be a welcome relief for casual fans not wild about hearing only music made in 2010 or later. "Hung Up"—a joyous, bubbly dance tune—is reinvented as a plaintive, cold, bondage-induced complaint. Seeing Madonna literally strung up hammers home the point of being restricted and controlled.

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Aug 15 2012
We Saw What You Did: Signing Up For Another Autograph Show Comments (14)

Gerard Christopher autographGerard was gonna sign it "you changed me—I changed back"

*** Great videos of some of the stars or just click on their hot-linked names to see. ***

Hollywood Show pricesAnother Hollywood Show has come and gone, and I came, I saw, I kicked its ass.

Not really.

I just went and had a lot of fun.

Christian BaleI was gonna ask this Christian Bale dummy for a photo but was afraid it would berate me

This was one of my longest trips out to Burbank because I combined a bunch of networking meetings with the show, which to be honest was not as thrilling as some Barbara Hale autographs 2have been in the past due to a lack of massive stars. But even though the show only had a few really big draws this time (Henry Winkler, Tab Hunter, Dean Cain and Barbara Hale (pictured) seemed to be the most wanted), it had a large number of people I was after for one reason or another.

Ivan Roth Matthew Rettenmund Night of the Comet Ivan E Roth autographI even got my friend's autograph—he was in Night of the Comet (1984)

Yet again, my buddy Ivan was my sidekick, taking pic-withs, shooting B-roll and obsessing over my hydration—I try not to eat or drink for these things until after all photo ops are done!

Chris AtkinsChris is a man of the (loin) cloth

Right off the bat, my pal Roy from Baby Jane introduced me to Christopher Atkins, 51, of The Blue Lagoon (1980) fame. I can't be the only one for whom Chris was a teenage dream—he was all over the teen mags and was shirtless (and totally nude in TBL) in most of his movies. I'm not usually a blond-chaser, but he was just cute as a button.

Chris Atkins Matthew Rettenmund

Chris Atkins shirtlessI think I make a better pair with Chris than Kristi McNichol did

Now, Chris is a handsome guy, supertanned because he's a nudist (life imitated art), and was very nice. He has done these shows before, bringing with him a stack of awesome original mini-posters from TBL of himself in a loin cloth pre-signed. But he also had a great folder of nudes to choose from. I went with a really beautiful Greg Gorman shot (above) in which he almost looks like Jon Bon Jovi (no?) and is showing off his best ASSet. When I asked him what it was like to work with Greg Gorman, he laughed and said he was working with him when he was just his friend Greg.

Chris Atkins and daughterHis daughter, an actress in her own right named Brittney (pictured), was right there to help with the transaction. If you think it must be an odd thing to sell men photos of your dad's butt and dick, you don't understand Hollywood and never will.

When I asked about his teenybopper-magazine memories, Chris's reaction was to exclaim, "I don't know where all that time went. Back then, it was...every day, it was another magazine." He told me he'd just been hanging out with Leif Garrett and his best friend Scott Baio (can you imagine?) and that he has movie nights with Scott all the time where Scott's wife digs out all the old teen mags with them on the cover and shows their daughter.

Henry Winkler"Eyyyy!"-rights advocate

Next, we went for Henry Winkler, 66 (can you believe it?), who already had a decent line even before the regular attendees had entered (I always pop for "early-bird" admission, an hour before). He'd been set to attend the last show but bailed, so I'd mailed him my vintage photo to sign and he'd returned it signed, "Matt is great!" It was a great way to make me feel I was in third grade again.

Henry Winkler meeting
Henry Winkler Matthew Rettenmund Happy DaysMove over, babe, here comes Henry

But I wanted an in-person autograph and of course a pic-with, so we braved the line. In no time, we were up to him and he was being pulled in various directions. I seem to have a knack for attracting people who line-jump and try to infringe upon my experience with the stars. It's so annoying. You're only with them a minute or less and yet there are always people walking up who just wanna shake their hand or say hi or who once worked with them.

Henry Winkler autographA Fonzie scheme

That happened, but I think the real reason Winkler wasn't especially warm to me (and he wasn't) was that my buddy Ivan was filming him and was spotted immediately. Some stars care, some don't. Winkler seemed on the fence. He signed my photo but it was all very business-like. Another friend had asked him to give the Fonzie "thumbs-up" in their photo and he'd refused. He was also asked about getting a business address for one of his celeb friends and replied, "No." Wasn't a prick, just wasn't all hugs. And hey, he has no reason to do these shows—it's a total gift to fans. A gift that costs money, but a gift.

Tab Hunter autograph to Matthew RettenmundTab's signature is huge

Tab Hunter Ida MyersNext we queued up for Tab Hunter, who just turned 81. Tab was bright-eyed and very sweet to everyone who approached him, very conversational. Too, in my case, because an elderly lady came right up as we were beginning to speak and reminded him they'd worked together. She turned to me and said, "You wanna take our picture and send it to me?", pressing her card into my hand. So I agreed to do just that and then waited while they kibbutzed. "We're lucky," he told her, presumably meaning, "...to still be alive."

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