This week completes Madonna’s 10-night run of the Madame X Tour at the Wiltern Theatre. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for Angeleno Madonna fans. L.A. Weekly reviewed the first show last week but the show itself is just one piece of the popstar’s takeover of our town. Madonna Mania has been — and is — everywhere. “Time For Tea” breaks it down.
The celebration in our city kicked off with Bootie LA’s Madonnapocalyspe at El Cid in Silver Lake at the start of the tour. Bootie’s famous R.A.I.D. (Random Acts of Irreverent Dance) dancers and DJ ShyBoy playing Madonna and Donna Summer mash-ups made the event a stand-out. If you missed it, check out ShyBoy on the decks at Faultline Bar’s quarterly MaDonna Summer party, December 14. More info here.
Other Maddy madness: filmmaker and Madonna fan Oxana Nabokova screened her documentary film Like A Prayer, which focuses on five long-time Madonna fans from all around the world including Russian-born Nabokova for a Los Angeles audience at the Santa Monica Playhouse. “It’s incredible how many people have been able to connect and be inspired by the stories in my film,” says the director. “It’s truly universal — “The Power of Madonna.” Nabokova says she’s working on expanding the film to a wider audience in the future, possibly on a streaming or VOD platform. In the meantime, fans can visit her website for more information on the film and on upcoming screenings.
Last Friday, Madonna’s two former back-up singers Niki Harris and Donna De Lory performed an intimate show at the Mmhmmm Lounge in the Standard West Hollywood, presenting a show called Songs and Stories featuring original music from the duo as well as covers that included Madonna songs “Rain” and snippets of “Live to Tell,” “Open Your Heart” and “Causing A Commotion.” Big Madonna fans of course remember Harris and De Lory from some of her most iconic tours of the past. They both first toured with the Material Girl in 1987 for her Who’s That Girl Tour and the pair was on every tour that followed through 2001’s Drowned World, which was Harris’ final tour with Madonna but De Lory would join her for two more, 2004’s Re-Invention Tour and 2006’s Confessions Tour. Both women played big roles in Madonna’s iconic 1990 Blond Ambition Tour and in the corresponding documentary Truth or Dare that followed them on the road. The ladies had mostly praise for Madonna at the show. Harris credited the queen of pop for helping her overcome her insecurities and body image issues, and how Madonna inspired her to embrace her “thick” thighs and love herself.
Finally, if you’re bummed about missing all of the above there’s still this Wed., Nov. 27. The Madonna fan Podcast MLVC, run by New York-based fans Tony Trius and Stefan Mreczko, will release an episode featuring yours truly discussing Madonna’s L.A. run. The episode is called “Madonna In LA: Madame X Tea & More with Michael Cooper” and it’s available everywhere you can listen to Podcasts. I break down some of the highlights and most memorable moments of the Madame X Tour and Madonna’s career in general.
Among the topics this life-long fan will be discussing:
Madonna’s longevity: It’s been 36 years since her debut album, and she’s still selling out 10 nights at the Wiltern. At 61 years old, her new music may not be played on the radio as much as it used to be, but on stage is where she has always shined and she proved that she’s still got it, even with an injured knee (which she mentioned on numerous nights).
Madonna’s fearlessness: She once said, “I know I’m not the greatest singer or dancer, but that doesn’t interest me. I’m interested in being provocative and pushing people’s buttons,” and she proved that even 36 years later, she still has a lot to say, even though her vocals sounded great as well. The show started with a quote from writer and activist and James Baldwin: “Artists are here to disturb the peace.” This sort of served as the guiding theme of the show as Madonna tackled hot-button contemporary issues like gun control, the #TimesUp movement, a woman’s right to choose and the state of our political climate. It’s a testament to Madonna’s artistry that the issues she was singing about decades ago are still relevant today.
Madonna’s activism: Her longtime support for the LGBTQ community has never wavered. During the concert’s closing song “I Rise,” Madonna’s queer anthem from Madame X, images of the LGBTQ fight for equality appeared on screen and then disappeared to reveal a giant rainbow-flag for all to see. Audience members put their fists up as they rose to join the icon in advocating for LGBTQ acceptance. Of course, Madonna is not the first in the tradition of bold female LGBTQ icons. Legends like Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer and Deborah Harry came before her and of course she opened the door for many after her such as Britney and Christina, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.
Madonna’s impact: More than maybe any other performer in pop music, Madonna changed the pop landscape for those who came after with her theatrical performances, bold imagery and subject matter and her limitless activism. As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to thank Madonna for not only paving the way for female pop stars, but also for her LGBTQ advocacy which has meant so much to her fans and the community in general.
Read more about the (more than) material girl’s significance to the gay community here.