In October of 1983 I woke up to my alarm clock radio. FM 102 was playing a new song called “Holiday”. I laid in bed and listened.
“I know she sounds black, but she’s white, and her name is Madonna,” announced the DJ when the song was over.
At first impressions, I wasn’t in love with the song. I thought her voice sounded a bit nasally and I found the melody rather repetitive and annoying. I was embracing my “inner Simon Cowell”, even from a young age. I was picky.
There was no official music video to Holiday, and being of the original MTV generation, I blew Madonna off. But there was a music video to her next single – Borderline.
I liked the music video to Borderline. And I liked that I got to see what Madonna looked like as she danced around and played pool with a big bow in her hair. I dug her fashion as I was thawing out to her vibe. Still not a fan of her music though.
Then in 1984, her next single, “Lucky Star” came out and it was all over.
“I love this song!!” my sister declared as we sat down to watch Madonna’s latest music video in our living room. It featured nothing but her and two backup dancers against a white background. I was hooked.
Looking back at that music video, I realize now that I had fallen victim to clever editing as I thought she was doing more intricate dance moves than she actually was. But at age 13, I was officially impressed and a fan was born.
I soon begin copying Madonna’s style my freshman year in high school, as I too, showed up to school with a big neon pink bow in my hair, a thick white hip belt, neon pink socks, big dangly white star earrings and forty black rubber bracelets. I was a cool mess.
Some people in school thought I was “rebelling against society”, as this look was not the norm in the small town I grew up in where the standard required uniform was jeans and a t-shirt. But I wasn’t being rebellious and I wasn’t mad at anybody. Hey, maybe I was young and misunderstood….
Nah, I wasn’t that deep. I was just a freaky fan of Madonna. In other words, I was “expressing myself”.
I bought the “Unofficial Biography of Madonna” in paperback so I could study up on my latest celebrity crush. What was she really like? What did she eat for breakfast? How did she get to be so cool?
I read in awe as I learned that Madonna had left Michigan for New York City at age 17 with nothing but 35 dollars in her pocket and upon arrival told her cab driver to “drop her off in the middle of everything.” He dropped her off at Times Square.
I read that she survived on a steady diet of popcorn because it wasn’t fattening, yet ironically worked at Dunkin Donuts for a short time before she was fired. She struggled to make ends meet and took odd jobs while she pursued a career in dance. I thought it sounded glamorous.
In 1985 my friend April and I decided to make our own Madonna music video. I don’t know whatever happened to that blackmail-worthy footage, but somewhere out there is a home made video of me dancing around in a black fishnet shirt and pink bikini bottoms while lip sincing to “Get Into The Groove”. Ouch.
I was high on Madonna’s fashion circa her first two albums, so when she cut off her hair and bleached it platinum blonde in 1986, I cringed a little. Gone was her over-accessorized look I had grown accustomed to and now she was prancing around in a more grown up version of herself.
I didn’t like it. This was the 80’s man! I was not about to cut off my big permed coiffure I had worked so hard to achieve. Well, maybe not that hard. Okay, it was pretty effortless:
That’s me on the right.
Even though I could no longer follow Madonna’s fashion, I could still follow her music and performed a routine in my high school dance class to “White Heat” (from the True Blue Album) with my dance partner.
I have no video footage of this routine.
In 1987 I finally went to my first Madonna concert- the “Who’s That Girl Tour” and was stuck in the last row of seats at the Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View. Later on that week someone from the high school yearbook staff took a photo of me in drama class wearing my “Who’s That Girl” tank top with waist belt and ruffled miniskirt sitting on a desk pretending to rehearse lines. We were such posers.
During Spring Break ’89 my friend Lisa and I headed down the coast to Southern California in her white mustang convertible with the top down and our hair blowing in the wind to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” album. Wikipedia listed this album under the genre’s of “pop, rock and gospel”, but there was nothing particularly religious about this album unless you were into worshipping Madonna. This would be the album that would pave the way for her next concert tour and to my most fanatical obsessive MaDonnahoe move up to date.
To be continued.