Like a Prayer

I turned 38 this month, and I’ll tell you what I want more than anything else. I know this country is circling the toilet bowl, and I’m doing what I can to fight the flush, but I just can’t play Miss America and robotically proclaim that my greatest desire is for world peace. Not when television is giving freaking Amy Grant a public forum to grant Three Wishes next season, Tom Cruise is getting half of Hollywood hopped up on Scientology, and Oprah has descended into queen-for-a-day spiritual-makeover mode. We need release from such sanctimony. I want Madonna back.

The August issue of Vogue finds the Material Girl laughing gaily in her pearls, a chiffon dress, and fabulous jeweled shoes while feeding the chickens on her idyllic English country estate. Unlike those who would scoff at such posing, I have no problem with Maddie’s photo spread. Nobody expects Vogue to be the Farmers’ Almanac, and, frankly, were I ever to feed poultry in front of a camera, I’d be damn sure my plumage looked better than theirs, too. And I think it’s grand that the world’s most famous woman has the maturity not to pretend, several years and many more millions past the days when she was humping the MTV stage, that she spends her off hours just kickin’ it with the girlz from the hood. I know she gets to grow and change just like the rest of us; I don’t wear conical bras anymore, either.

No, what gnaws at me is Lady M’s distressing insistence that she eschews newspapers, magazines, and television at her idyllic English country estate—the very vessels that helped her to reach the point at which she could eschew newspapers, magazines, and television at her idyllic English country estate. Now, says Mrs. Ritchie, instead of such unbearable media distractions, she’s pondering “something much more deep and profound” and entertaining herself with salon-type gatherings for which Sting comes over to her house to play the lute. I personally can’t think of anything less entertaining than Sting playing the lute at Madonna’s house—unless, perhaps, it’s Madonna playing the lute at Sting’s house.

I’m overjoyed that so many celebrities have found their way to higher callings and social concerns; the world would be a much less palatable place without Angelina Jolie in Africa. But, in the meantime, can they please, please remember that they got where they were by providing different but equally important sermons from far more pleasurable pulpits?

I just watched the DVD of Madonna’s original Live Aid performance from 1985. There she is, still like a virgin, bouncing around in her brocade jacket as if singing “Into the Groove” was saving lives. And, you know, for a lot us back in that conservative age, it was. Many of you have probably never been 18 and gay and living in suburbia—my warmest regards if you have—but to look at a television screen and see some brazen tart joyfully proclaiming, “Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free!” made all the difference between deciding to survive that suburbia or giving up on life entirely.

Come back to the five and dime, Madonna. We need you again.