"IN MY book, if you don't leave a pound of flesh on the stage floor, you haven't done your job properly!"
That was Madonna at the chaotic premiere of the film version of her record-breaking "MDNA" tour last year. After the film, Madonna took questions from the audience -- made up of die-hard, totally hysterical fans. She was charming. It has not always been so. Madonna can be icily monosyllabic or just plain bored with whoever is interviewing her, and doesn't bother to hide it. But at the "MDNA" event, she was the Madonna I know, personally -- smart, funny, appealing. She was even dressed in my idea of glamour: a black tuxedo, a white silk shirt, a black top hat, just like Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco" In fact, Madonna said her choice of outfit was inspired by the Paris Theater, where the premiere was held. "In 1948, Dietrich cut the ribbon when this theater opened. So I pulled out my Marlene drag for this night."
Epix, was without hitches. There was madness in front of the Paris. It was raining and unbearably muggy. People were desperate to get inside. Some of those waiting on the VIP line were annoyed when Madonna's fans were allowed in first. "Why are they getting in?" asked one woman whose coif was collapsing. "Maybe because they are the ones who made her a star," came the reply.
But even after the VIPs were seated, there was a loooong wait for Madonna. Like, an hour. The theater was almost as muggy as it was outside. Finally, Madonna and her entourage arrived. This included all her dancers from the tour, and her son Rocco, who also appeared onstage with his legendary mom. However, as Madonna remarked later, with a laugh: "He doesn't look like he did then. He's grown three inches, he's almost six feet tall and frankly, he kind of frightens me."
As for the film, if you thought the concert itself was intense, seeing and hearing it up close, pitches it to a new level. Madonna does some amazing -- and genuinely brave -- stuff here. A lot of it is not for the faint of heart. But, if you're going to accept the moniker of "The Queen," you've got to own it, and Madonna owns every bit of it! And even at a film premiere she knows how to put on a show. As the credits rolled, the lights went up and a full marching band with drums and cymbals appeared in both aisles. It was impressive, funny and ear-shattering. (It was also a way to keep everybody from leaving until Madonna took the stage.)
The party afterward was at Harlow, and the late hour had no effect on Madonna's energy -- she danced until 2:30 a.m.! Among the throng watching were John Travolta, Andy Cohen, ageless Debi Mazar, Adam Lambert, CNN's Alina Cho, ballet's handsome Roberto Bolle, Lee Daniels, Rachel Roy, the Cinema Society's Andrew Saffir (holding up surprisingly well amid the chaos) and Kelly Osbourne.
Best exchange of the night came when "Boy Culture" writer and Madonna historian Matthew Rettenmund approached Kelly O. for a photo. (She was chatting with Cosmo's sexy Sergio Kletnoy.) Rettenmund said, "I'm on your side in the stuff between you and Lady Gaga." Kelly replied rather tartly, "There are no sides. I just think it's disgusting to use gay people for making money!" This left Rettenmund momentarily speechless, but a friend standing behind him chirped up, "Well, it's better than using them for firewood, honey."
Miss Osbourne seemed not to be amused.
I HAD A really swell time this week lunching at the popular Michael's with my Texas friend -- one Jane Hickie, one time aide to Gov. Ann Richards. (I wrote about Jane here and her life between big-city ideas and Stephenville, Texas, where she has a ranch.)
Jane told me all about taking two 16-year-old champion gigglers to Europe and said, "I now know why I never had children."
It seems Jane quizzed these bright young things asking if they recognized Andy Warhol's big portrait of Elizabeth Taylor when they came upon it in Paris.
They hadn't a clue as to the identity of either famous person. They admitted they "thought" they knew who Hitler was, but not exactly what he did. At a London theater, where they saw Helen Mirren at her best, their verdict after the play was -- "Oh, she was OK."
This was so depressing that I questioned the future of the human race. But I kept right on eating those tempra soft-shell crabs anyway and then -- Steve, the guy who runs Michael's -brought over a photo of himself with the late Ann Richards.
Also, I ran into one of my true heroes, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. He was wearing a bright green tie to go with that morning's bright green assessment of certain controversial matters of national security. Ray was lunching with his lawyer, Richard DeScherer. I asked why the head cop of NYC needs a lawyer? "He needs me!" quipped Ray. (Not really, they are old friends.)
Also glimpsed philanthropist Pete Peterson, Joel Klein, now of the Murdoch empire, Peggy Siegal working the room in white organza, Tiffany's Linda Buckley and hard worker for charity Gillian Miniter, plus Richard Koshalek who oversees the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
Michael's! Eclectic like always.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)