Life is a mystery no more! Madonna let it all out inside the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Interview magazine, where she posed topless in a racy spread for legendary photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, and discussed her (short!) history with drugs, losing her mother at a young age, as well as her former relationships.
The pop superstar, 56, spoke candidly with magician David Blaine about dabbling in drugs in the past. “It’s about how people take drugs to connect to God or to a higher level of consciousness,” she mused. “I keep saying ‘Plugging into the matrix.’ If you get high, you can do that, which is why a lot of people drop acid or do drugs, because they want to get closer to God. But there’s going to be a short circuit, and that’s the illusion of drugs, because they give you the illusion of getting closer to God, but ultimately they kill you.”
“I mean, I tried everything once,” Madonna confessed. “But as soon as I was high, I spent my time drinking tons of water to get it out of my system. As soon as I was high, I was obsessed with flushing it out of me. I was like, Okay, I’m done now.”
Madonna said she would rather just indulge a day of isolation and silence, especially as a mother of four. “I feel like people are always talking to me, at me, asking things, questioning me, wanting information, work, music, loud noises, children — it’s endless,” she shared. “So the idea of a whole day of silence sounds very seductive to me.”
Something else that was very alluring to the singer was the concept of death, especially after her mother passed away when Madonna was 6 years old. “I became very obsessed with death, and the idea that you never know when death will arrive,” she confessed. “So one has to do as much as possible all the time to get the most out of life.”
Maximizing her time included hanging out with those who pursued what they wanted in life. “I was attracted to creative people,” she reflected of her relationships. “You don’t want to be the smartest person in the room; you want to be the dumbest in the room. You want to be surrounded by other thinking people who are going to say something that makes you think, ‘Oh, my God, that’s an amazing idea. Why didn’t I think of that.’ And somehow we found each other in Manhattan. That’s the crazy thing. We found each other and we connected to each other and we moved around the city together. They supported my shows. I supported their shows. We were a unit. And I don’t even know how it happened. It just did.”
Part of Madonna’s journey in music stems from her profound appreciation for art, which in turn, developed after dating famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the very early ’80s, when she was still a complete unknown trying to make it in downtown NYC.
“I remember having conversations with Keith [Haring] and with Basquiat about the importance of your art being accessible to people,” she recalled. “That was their big thing—it should be available to everyone. It was so important for Keith to be able to draw on subways and walls. And Basquiat used to say to me, ‘You’re so lucky that you make music, because music comes out of radios everywhere.’ He thought that what I did was more pop, more connected to pop culture than what he did. Little did he know that his art would become pop culture. But it’s not like we really had discussions about the meaning of art. I remember hearing them talk about those things.”
Madonna spoke fondly about how she would watch Basquiat pour his heart into his work, and it lasted with her even after their relationship ended. “They were incredibly dedicated to their work,” she claimed. “I mean, Basquiat was my boyfriend for a while, and I remember getting up in the middle of the night and he wouldn’t be in bed lying next to me; he’d be standing, painting, at four in the morning, this close to the canvas, in a trance. I was blown away by that, that he worked when he felt moved. And they gave jobs to everyone. Keith would meet kids on the street and ask them to come stretch his canvases for him. Basquiat had every B-boy and every graffiti artist in his loft. He was constantly giving everything away. I think they felt guilty that they became successful and were surrounded by people who were penniless, so they shared what they had. They were incredibly generous people, and that rubbed off on me. You stay inspired that way.”
As for any artists that she appreciates today? “I like Banksy,” Madonna mused of the British street graffiti artist whose identity remains concealed. “I think he’s inspiring and he speaks to what’s going on in the world, socially. I like JR. Like [Jean-Michael] Basquiat and Keith Haring, who both started off as graffiti artists — their art is on the street, available for anyone to see. It’s not elitist.”