daily preciousness

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

dedicated to naughty children everywhere

Agent provocateur, Todd, is in effect. Once again, he's got the goods. He's snagged tickets to see Madge at MCI.

I can smell exhaust fumes, acrid and noxious, through the air conditioning vent, as we speed from the waterfront to Chinatown. The bump-and-divit potholes don't slow us. We speed along at a steady and insistent pace.

My mood is giddy, carefree and extravagant. Of course, the presence of glitter only adds to this. So we glittered ourselves. (I'd brought a can of my roommate's gold spray glitter to add to Todd's lavender, yes, lavender colored powder puff glitter. We have two methods of application: patting and spraying. We look like Jem and the Holograms: truly outrageous.)

Princess parking status is achieved with a remarkable example of carma. Quick-change artist me, I slip out of my pants only to realize that I'd forgotten my other pair. Sitting in my backseat, parked on a quiet street, I am quietly thankful that nobody passes by to spy my upturned legs in "Horton Hears a 'Ho" boxers.

Todd stands in front of me, shielding my shame. So, lacking more appropriate pants, I settle on the dress slacks (which now have more sparkle than a rural drag queen). At least I have my fun-fun party shirt. It's a loud, brassy and Escher-like pattern, evoking blood orange food fights.

Thank god the parking spot -- we only have to walk across the street to enter the arena. We pass under a garish MCI Center sign that is spiked like a medieval torture device, although I suspect it's only to keep the pigeons away.

Just a few steps down into the arena and we find ourselves a mere three rows from the floor. We've got great seats.

First off, we started with a wholesome Sunday School Lesson. Not. It was the oh-so familiar thump and high tat from "justify my love," accompanied by queasy, stacatto edited videos.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

And they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars , shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

The Marilyn Manson style video editing featured all kinds of furry fun. I remember a fox mask and a colorful Mardi Gras style mask on our glamorous Sunday School teacher. She rolled around on a divan and looked like she was having awful menstruation cramps. It was truly very difficult to watch... but intoxicating, all the same. More than any other song, that night, she brought me back to the original appreciation I had for the song, which I still have the Japanese single for.

I'm not sure what made it so distressing about the video. Maybe it was the skillful combination of the hypnotic B-side Revelations 13 remix and this completely new imagery. Whatever it was, it was electrifying and very effective. This material girl made it clear from the get-go that she was not yet out of material.

And she's matured. Her music -- indeed her overall ability -- to express herself has ripened and grown. It was total nonstop music video action. But it wasn't just a melange of her greatest hits. It wasn't a singles album made live. It was a variety of old and new, filmic and rhythmic, political and war critical.

The highlight for me? The video clips.

Impressive. Not just the first set. Nearly every song had an elaborate backdrop of visuals. The large-scale screens actually moved around, providing a textured, collage-like effect. It was a kinetic, pulsing painting of sex. What's not to love?

The next highlight for me was a faithful adaptation to "Vogue." Again, the background imagery was perfect. This time, the august, aesthetic lines of classical paintings in a museum popped up. Like a kalaidoscope, the paintings randomly curved and sloped in on themselves, like an act of curator cannibalism. And isn't that the whole point of (vogue) fashion? Does it not feed on itself?

Oddly unfoody, the dancers were not as scrumptious as in our lady's previous tours. I remember watching them in Truth or Dare, licking my chops, and thinking, "Those dancer men are amazing. I would lick the sweat off of every square inch of them, toe to head -- and pay for it!"

Admittedly, I was just a teen at the time, all rhinestone nails, scrunchies in my hair and a My Little Pony lunchbox.... so I've changed a lot. (Now I have a Power Puff Girls lunchbox.)

But the dancers on this tour were decidedly less sexy. I don't go for the tattoos, kids. And these dancers had more religious writing on them than the Wailing Wall.

I guess she hired them so that they could actually dance, which they did. They danced very athletically. In military garb, throwing bayonets around, then in kilts, pounding marching drums and one even skated gymnastically on a half pipe. What they lacked in sex appeal they made up for in ability to shake their henna-dyed, Aramaic tattooed bodies. Their costumes were great; I loved how they actually had people come out in burkas at one point during "Holiday." That was a highpoint. The world needs more women shaking their bad Islamic self like Kelis on that milkshake video.

(Didn't John Lennon mention that in his classic "Imagine" song: "Imagine all the baby dolls in burkas, shakin' like a polaroid picsha"? Or maybe that was Outkast....)

During one of the slower numbers, Todd slipped out to get some cocktails. As he left, the latino next to me offered his opera glasses in a very neighborly way, adding, "She's still hot -- she may be old, but her legs look great!" I thanked him, peeped Madge and had to agree -- she had her some toned and firm gams. To return the favor, I offered him a hit of Todd's glitter powder puff. He demurred, but his tiny wife accepted. She gingerly patted her nose and forehead with the lavender sparkle. "Don't forget your cheeks," I reminded her. "Now why don't you join us," I asked the husband, who was again admiring Madge's legs. "No, no," he resisted, waving his hands at me in shocked disbelief, as if I'd offered him tofu tamale. After pointing out to him that "everybody's doing it," gesturing at the sparkling faces of everybody north, south and east of us, he relented. And then failed miserably.

As if to prove his complete ineptitude at applying makeup, the guy dropped the powder puff into his beer cup. His full beer cup. His little swarthy complexion quickly turned the color of a red pepper as he apologized. His wife quickly grabbed the puff and frantically attempted to dry it by rubbing it up and down her arms. Juanita was as hyper as a Chihuahua at a soccer match! I laughed and told her not to worry about it -- we could just freebase the glitter (like 1980s Boy George) or simply sprinkle it on, Elton John 1970s style.

By the time she'd dried it off and worked up a fierce glitter on her right arm, Todd had arrived. She'd forgotten to dry the powder puff bilaterally, though, and her left appendage was dull and lackluster by comparison. I whispered to her,
"¿Me excusa, señora, pero usted fue labrado por una reina de la fricción del amputee? ¡Usted parece verdaderamente espantosa!"

(Excuse me, ma'am, but were you styled by an amputee drag queen? You are truly frightening!") She just smiled and clapped along to "Holiday."

Just then, I realized that the vicious comment was fueled by the cocktail. I was shocked and embarrassed by my candor. (Luckily, she didn't understand a word. My slurred Spanish sounded like a drunken Japanese salaryman with a Louisiana accent! So I was in the clear. Her husband didn't bludgeon me with his opera glasses. On the contrary, he continued to let me borrow them throughout the show.)

In between glimpses through the binoculars, Todd and I danced like Deiter on Sprockets.
We jumped and jived like floozies at a juke joint.
We hooped and hollered like Pentecostals.

Of course, all the true Madonna fans around us appreciated our devotion. A few of our neighbors, like the tall, impassive straight boy to our left, ignored the love and feigned acute boredom. We actively pitied him and danced some more, as penance for his aural indifference.

The twenty foot high image of Dubya hugging Saddam Hussein brought a huge round of applause to this Sunday night crowd. You have to admit, ours was arguably the most politico-centric crowd she'd see on her world tour. And this audience probably applauded for that visual treat at least as much as her British and French audiences will.

Before we knew it, the show was ending. No curtain call... Just a final confetti cannon blowout, dance-around-the-big-catwalk number. "Holiday" got everyone on their feet and jumping. Flags of every nation morphed together. It was an act of unapologetic optimism:
"You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your troubles down
It's time to celebrate
Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
And make things better
We need a holiday"

That song was an unlikely but telling ending song for the show. I think her ultimate act of rebelliousness on this tour was to be -- *gasp* -- optimistic.

She left us -- liberated us -- to experience the ultimate guilty pleasure of a culture of fear: feeling joy.

The happiness of the holiday she spoke of -- she brought it. She brought us back.

For a few moments, the bad guy wasn't Dubya, but Darth Vader.
Reese's Pieces, not yellow cake.
E.T., not WMD.
It wasn't fighting in Fallujah, it was Fast times at Ridgemont High.

With the simple act of singing this song, she recalled the carefree 80s. That was her bravest song choice of the evening, if you ask me, kids. And she brought us back with this joyous song. Hearing it gave me pause to close my eyes, take a mental snapshot, (*click*) and just experience the total bliss of being alive. You don't have to be a Kabbalahist to get that. You just have to be alive. So thanks, Madge, for that undiluted optimism and the little slice of hope in an threat-elevated, terror-fied world.

It's no wonder she dedicated her latest book to naughty children everywhere. Just like Yakov of the traditional folktale, she proved that good things can happen with faith and optimism. Even if you're naughty.

Thanks, Madge, for that important reminder. And thanks, Todd, for experiencing that with me.


  • (dabbing tender tears of joy from my eyes) . . . .
    I laughed, I cried (i always choke up during "Nothing Fails"), I shook 'dat ass (for the sake of all the straight women who wished their husbands and boyfirends could pull off tight white satin pants and a sheer bordeaux Bill Hallman shirt); I spread that glitter love all *ovuh* the MCI Center; and most of all, we rejoiced in the sparkling magic of it all. As always, perfectly expressed by JBlend . . .

    By Blogger whizzbangdc, at July 14, 2004 12:35 PM  

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