“I said I was an attention junkie?” Hmmm. Scored the first Canadian interview last week with Madonna’s brother — and his only Canadian radio interview — hot on the heels of Christopher Ciccone’s recent release of his bitchy yet pedestrian tell-all Life with My Sister Madonna.
Bearing in mind my longstanding membership on Team Madonna, Ciconne’s book still reads like the ultimate Freudian examination in sibling rivalry. How does a truly creative and artistic younger brother ever feel realized as an individual talent when all his achievements seem to have come courtesy of his influential and powerful sister, arguably the most famous woman in the world?
The answer is: He doesn’t — and it rips his poor gay heart out. The result is a lifetime driving around a truckload of bitterness.
Oblivious to his constant self-contradiction Ciccone says he doesn’t think he’s capable of writing something scathing about his sister, at the same time slagging her every other page, notably tracking her enviable financial circumstances versus his lesser ones, as though she were responsible for keeping it balanced somehow.
Along the way Ciccone also alleges Madonna cheated on Warren Beatty and that she staged many of the events in her documentary Truth Or Dare — “a travesty of reality” — including the infamous scene in Toronto in which she finds out that our men in blue threatened to arrest her for obscenity, reacting to news she would have been told of post-show, not pre-show.
What drove little brother to sit down and start typing his version in the first place?
“It was no one single event,” Ciccone says. “I have been fortunate enough to make a living off of creative things. For me in a lot of ways this [book] is an extension of that. I certainly didn’t write it to tear my sister apart, which is what everyone was speculating. Which is not a book I would have written, nor could I have.”
Ciccone says he worried mostly for his father (to whom the book is dedicated, alongside his stepmother, Joan “who was always like a mom to me”) as he unleashed his dirty laundry with his sister unto the world.
“Madonna’s been very openly abrasive and abusive to him and my family without thinking about the consequences,” he says. “I know that my stepmother was hurt by many of the things Madonna has said. I know my father has been squirming since she rolled off that cake on MTV years ago. Then it was Penthouse and Playboy and then the Sex book. He has friends, he has to face them.”
Having been employed by Madonna in jobs ranging from personal assistant to interior designer to artistic director of her earlier tours Ciccone was until recently arguably the one person closest to the queer icon. Privy to a cornucopia of up-close-and-personal Madonna moments he was also a rare insider who didn’t ever sign a confidentiality agreement. Which tales to choose while publicly reminiscing?
“Where I stopped was with things that were medical in nature, and what I consider to be unseemly to speak about in public,” says Ciccone, “and I’m not talking about the facelift.”
Such swipes aside Ciccone insists he still loves her, despite numerous personal grievances which also include never properly acknowledging a relationship he had with another man for 10 years, a man, interestingly, who was adamantly not a Madonna fan and resented her.
“She was my family,” Ciccone explains. “That was my world. I wasn’t close to my immediate family at all. And while it may have been sadomasochistic or passive aggressive the good things far outweigh the things she may have done.”
Comparatively, though, her accomplishments are mostly glossed over in favour of his take on her various failures and outrageous diva displays or sharing tidbits like her inability to tell a joke or throw a fun party.
As for her most recent controversies regarding the state of her marriage to Guy Ritchie (and an alleged affair with the baseball hero A-Rod), Madonna’s little brother just laughs.
“I’d like to thank her. Her timing couldn’t be more perfect [for the book’s release]. But knowing her the way that I do she’s in the middle of rehearsal for her tour and that’s all that’s on her mind.”
Not even a thought for a certain New York Times bestseller?
“I’m sure my book is sitting on her desk and I’m sure she’s debating on opening it. There’s a few things going on in her world she can’t control, not now. She’s turning 50. Her husband. And then me.”
Indeed. Meanwhile Ciccone may be in Toronto shortly for other media and book signings — stay tuned.
Speaking of turning 50, celebrate a half-century of Madonna on Sat, Aug 16 at Goodhandy’s (120 Church St at Richmond). Screww will be presenting shows by the Madonna tribute act Madgesty along with drag king Tyler Uptight (who took second place at Zelda’s Drag Idol 2008) and Screww’s resident performer Ryan G Hinds. $7 cover. Doors open at 10pm. Pose.
As for you, Leo lady: Happy Birthday, bitch. And thanks.