I have loved pop icon Madonna longer than any other human outside of my immediate family.
I fell madly in love with her at first sight in the fall of 1984 when her Like a Virgin performance at the MTV Music Video Awards was broadcast in the commons area at Northport Senior High School.
I was 14 years old and a sophomore. The TV cart was in the senior well and we were across the way in the sophomore well. I watched longingly from across the commons, dying to get a better look at the wedding-dressed performer writhing in apparent ecstasy on the stage.
I’d never seen or heard anything quite like Madonna that day – or possibly since. In my 14-year-old mind, many questions raged: Is she allowed to sing about that? Did her dress just flip up and reveal a white sparkly GARTER BELT!?!? Did she just show her underwear on national TV?
Thankfully, MTV replayed the performance, as well as plenty of Madonna videos, many times. Anytime I was babysitting I was able to put MTV on and get my Madonna fix. Obsessed doesn’t begin to cover it.
I soon had Madonna posters on my bedroom wall, Madonna cassettes in my stereo and an armful of black jelly bracelets. I was a wannabe from the very beginning. Madonna was everything I wanted to be: hot, popular, fearless and in control. Her belt may have proclaimed “Boy Toy” but Madonna personified Girl Power before we even had a name for it.
I loved her music: from Lucky Star to Dress You Up. From Cherish to La Isla Bonita. You want to talk about iconic eras, T-Swift fans? Madonna literally invented eras. Every album – or maybe even more often than that – she reinvented herself completely. Different looks. Different personas. Different careers – movie star, anyone?
And of course, different sounds. I already loved the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita, but when Madonna put her spin on it, I loved it even more. And the hits kept coming. Madonna was unstoppable despite controversy, criticism and possibly a few questionable choices on her part.
Then again, in the immortal words of Madonna herself, “I am the result of all the good choices I’ve made – and the bad choices.”
Perhaps the only person in my life who loved Madonna as much as – or possibly even more than – me was my beloved cousin Joanna in the U.K. Every time we went to visit family in England, Jo and I would compare notes on our favorite Madonna songs, outfits and videos. I remember the two of us studying a Madonna performance together and trying to learn all her dance moves.
By my senior year in HS, I was older and wiser but my love for Madonna was still true blue. I went to see her live at Giants Stadium in NJ with a handful of friends during her Who’s That Girl tour. She was even more amazing live – and I loved being one of the many fans dressed up in homage to our queen.
I still loved Madonna throughout college and even wrote a paper proclaiming her a feminist icon (I got an A). She kept putting out hits all through my college years in the early 90s; I remember being utterly mesmerized the first time I heard both Vogue and Justify My Love.
It didn’t end there. Even as I grew older and focused on my career, relationships and ultimately starting a family, I remained a huge Madonna fan. I send her good thoughts and the occasional social media post on her birthday.
As I watched Madonna become a loving mother when her daughter Lourdes was born, I thought “hmm, if Madonna can be a mom, maybe I can too!?” I loved her ode to Lola, Little Star, and used to play it constantly when we were pregnant with Z. Then, I found a Who’s That Girl tour onesie when Z was six months old and delighted in it – as seen above.
As Madonna entered her 50s and now 60s, I’ve seen her continually torn apart by critics for flaunting her sexuality, getting too much plastic surgery and “refusing to act her age.” As far as I’m concerned, those critics can suck it.
While I may not make some of the same choices as Lady M as I age, I don’t fault her for a thing. Madonna is unapologetically herself and walks her own path. She’s still feisty, powerful, talented and gorgeous in my eyes.
I’ll always be a fan.