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March 31, 1994 - MADONNA vs. LETTERMAN ("You cannot beat me at this game.")


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The make-up sex...

First at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards (only to duke it out with Steven Tyler moments later)...



...and then back on Dave's stage just in time for Valentine's:

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But before we got there, there was the media firestorm...

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Madonna's shocking David Letterman interview -- The pop-star's interview on the ''Late Show'' produces the show's highest ratings

The most shocking thing about Madonna's appearance on Late Show With David Letterman-a night that will live in infamy for, oh, at least another 15 minutes-wasn't that she said ''f -- -'' 14 times or that she resorted to an incredibly corny that-microphone-looks-like-a-penis joke. No, what was more unnerving was that, for the first time in this brazen hussy's tough-minded, frequently revolutionary career, the primary emotion she inspired was pity.

Here, after all, is the '80s star who, more than any other, built her inescapable image around notions of power and control. She gleefully exploited herself as a sex object, coming on to us at various times as everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Marlene Dietrich to all-purpose shot-on-video porn star. Yet the point of every persona was that she was mistress of her own destiny. Madonna was not about to be used-by men or by the media-and she was hell-bent on making every garish pose a witty hoot set to catchy dance-pop melodies.

No more. Madonna's career in the '90s has stalled and sagged. Once she was the Last Pop Superstar-Bruce Springsteen had abdicated the position; Michael Jackson never grew up enough to accept the responsibility; it's doubtful Axl Rose could even spell it-but she stopped making music that mattered. After she appeared in a string of uneven films, the movie industry just chewed her up; tough Tinseltown wasn't about to allow her to exert the same control she'd had over her albums. Heretofore a deep-dish provocateur, she's been reduced to superficial media stunts: the flaccid Sex book, the sapphic frisking with Sandra Bernhard.

The Letterman appearance was another such stunt, a way to keep her name in the papers in lieu of actually producing some sort of creative work. And it was a shrewd choice, since, for better or for worse, David Letterman is mass America right now. (Looking at Letterman's Madonna ratings-his highest since his premiere week-NBC must have been mortified that it had just banned naughty-talking Martin Lawrence from The Tonight Show.) But Madonna made a crucial mistake: She didn't seem to realize that her public feels increasingly alienated from her at exactly the moment when Letterman is really connecting with his own huge audience. She strode out on March 31 assuming the audience wanted to see her kick Letterman's butt, but quickly found out the crowd was cheering for Dave to kick hers.

At a time when one of the hottest songs in the country carries the refrain ''I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me,'' Madonna's perennial stance as an indomitable winner seems outdated, if not deluded. As a feminist culture hero, she can't muster a critique of sexism that's as cogent as the ones offered by the women in bands like the Breeders and Bikini Kill. Face it, Madonna: Riot grrrls are tougher than material girls.

Letterman has a running joke, one he repeated this night: ''I have a theory about Madonna: I think that Madonna loves to shock us!'' This is a perfect '90s remark, since it reduces the notion of shock, of creative disruption, to something worthy of ridicule. The confidence and power that Letterman so effortlessly exudes these days are precisely the qualities Madonna now lacks. Her once-exhilarating bravado and impudence have curdled into a sullen, crude rebelliousness.

Besides, what was most offputting about her Letterman appearance wasn't the obscenity spew that supposedly rattled Dave but, rather, Madonna's adamant refusal to converse-there was no content to her dirty, ditzy blather. Who'd have thought we'd ever see the day when Madonna turned into Shelley Winters with a Susan Powter hardbody?

To me, nothing better symbolized Madonna's feelings of betrayal by, and antagonism toward, her fans than the fact that this star, who during her brilliant 1985 Like a Virgin tour used to ask her audiences if they wanted to marry her, refused to give an admirer in the Letterman studio crowd the kiss on the forehead he was begging for.

The next night, CBS ran prime-time promos with Dave crowing happily, ''You can tune in safely-she's not on tonight!'' Which goes to show that when she wasn't looking, Madonna missed the zeitgeist boat: In the mid-'90s, her notions of danger and controversy are a lot less hip than Letterman's idea of safety.

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Transcript of the show from an old mailing list.

Print it out!... Reenact with buddies for the anniversary!... Knock back a shot whenever she says a bad word! (I am.)

(click to expand)

David: Our first guest tonight is one of the biggest stars in the world, in the past ten years she has sold over 80 million albums starred in countless films and slept with some of the biggest names in the Entertainment industry.


Paul: She's your guest!

David: It's right there on her bio for heavens sake.

Paul: She's your guest.

David: It's what it says.

Paul: She's your guest.

David: Oh, she's, oh, everything's fine just relax will ya.

David: We're just trying to have fun.

Paul: Ok, I know.

David: Ok, Ladies and Gentleman, here she is Madonna.

[Music, Holiday by Madonna]

[Madonna comes out and hands Dave her panties]

David: How are you doing?

Madonna: I'm only here cause there isn't a Knicks game, don't get excited.

David: Oh, come on.

David: Lets go kiss a guy in the audience, why don't you go kiss a guy in the audience.

Madonna: Why are you so obsessed with my sex life?

David: As we all know, I have none of my own.

Madonna: Well, um.

David: Go kiss the guy in the audience, it would knock him out.

David: Look at that guy, just, like on the forehead, just on the forehead.

Madonna: I can't.

[both laughing]

Madonna: He's not tall enough.

David: I like that, she said "I can't", lot of people would cave into the pressure and say oh alright, they'd go out and kiss

him and get it over with.

Madonna: yeah well I've never succumbed to peer pressure.

David: Well good for you, that's what we love about you Madonna.

Madonna: Yes.

David: What brings you....

Madonna: Incidentally, you are a sick (fuck).

Madonna: I don't know why I get so much (shit).

David: You realize this ...

Madonna: You're twisted.

David: ... is being broadcast, don't you?

Madonna: Yeah.

[both laughing]

David: Well you canomi (can't) be talking like that.

Madonna: What?

David: I say, oh never mind.

David: What brings you to...

Madonna: Wait a minute, Aren't you going to smell them? [referring to the panties]

David: [sighs twice]

Madonna: I gave them to you for a reason.

David: Let's see what I'm doing at my house right now ladies and gentlemen.

Madonna: No, no, no, no, no.

David: I'll take care of that later, it's a lovely...

Madonna: I gave him, my, come on, I gave him my underpants and he won't smell...

Madonna: [laughing]

Madonna: That's not where they go. [Dave putting them in his desk drawer]

David: No, that's, no believe me, that's where the underwear go, that's..

David: That's where, see look here's where I keep my socks, here's where I keep my panties.

Madonna: [laughing]

David: That's where they go.

Madonna: No, that's where, that's where you keep my panties.

David: Ok.

David: So what are you doing in new york city? Let me ask you a question, are you buying an NBA team, you buying the

Bulls, you buying the Miami Heat, you buying a whya whya ...

Madonna: No.

David: How come?

Madonna: Uhhmm.

David: Is that just a rumor? Is that an un..

Madonna: Yes.

David: Untrue rumor?

David: But you like basketball.

Madonna: Isn't that an oxymoron? An untrue rumor.

David: No ... Not necessarily.

Madonna: Isn't that sort of like jumbo shrimp?

David: Some rumors are true.

David: Yeah jumbo shrimp, yes, oxymoron, I mean.

Madonna: Untrue rumor.

David: No, no some rumors are true.

Madonna: Untrue rumor, I mean that's like funny David Letterman.

David: Oh, man.

[boos]

David: Sir, [to the man who would have been kissed by Madonna] you're the luckiest man in the house!

David: So you like basketball a great deal, where's your interest in basketball.

Madonna: [looking up at microphone] That microphone is really long.

Madonna: Speaking of the NBA.

Madonna: I'm sorry. [giggling]

Madonna: I always go there, and really I don't care, I mean.

David: So now lets talk about your interest in the NBA, you go to a lot of games, you were, you were friends with Charles

Barkely.

Madonna: I wouldn't go that far.

David: You weren't friends with Charles Barkley?

Madonna: I don't think he understands the meaning of friendship.

David: Oh, really he seems like he might be a hothead, that guy.

Madonna: Hmmm, hmmm.

David: Did you know him at all.

Madonna: Hmmm, hmm.

David: Yeah.

Madonna: Yeah.

David: Did it hurt when you had that thing put in your nose? [referring to her nose ring]

Madonna: I thought you were going to ask me if it hurt something else, but, I thought you were going to continue the

Charles Barkely line of questioning.

David: Ohhhh, man, this is..

Madonna: (fuck)

David: What a revelation.

Madonna: And the question, and the answer is, um...

David: What a lovely young woman.

Madonna: Hmm, yes.

David: But, you have like, a nose ring there.

Madonna: It hurt, the answer is yes, both questions.

David: What happens when you take that out, will you ever take that out?

Madonna: What happens whey you take it out?

David: Yeah.

Madonna: Both questions?

David: Oh, come on, come on, what a, what a, what am I speakin' Chinese here, now stop it.

Madonna: Listen, all you do is talk about my sex life on your show, so now you don't want to talk about my sex life when

I'm on your show.

David: Now what do you mean, do you mean because we refer to you periodically, we make jokes...

Madonna: Periodically?

David: Yeah.

Madonna: You can't get through a show without talking about me or thinking about me.

David: [laughing]

David: No, but do you mind that, is that a problem for you?

Madonna: It's never a problem.

David: Yeah.

David: Alright, I'll tell you what, let's do, let's do a commercial, do you want to do a commercial?

Madonna: No.

David: Ok, we'll do a commercial...

Madonna: I don't think we should ever cut to a commercial.

David: No, we'll...

Madonna: Let's keep talking and film every second of it.

David: Oh yeah, because if the rest of it is as fascinating as the first part of it...then we've, we've got something there,

there, that's money in the bank, there. [making hand gestures that signify money]

Madonna: Before, wait, wait, wait, before we cut to a commercial, I just want to know...um is that a rug?

David: You talkin' about my hair? Well, alright what is that a swimcap? What are you wearing?

[applause]

David: Come on, Let's go, [gets up and puts his dukes up] here we go.

[applause]

David: Come on.

[Madonna gets up and takes his challenge]

David: No, no, no, I got a bad neck, I can't, I can't, just sit down.

David: Just sit down, sit down, just have a seat.

Madonna: Don't make me act a fool, Dave, alright.

[both laughing]

David: Have a seat.

Madonna: Don't make me, do you want to touch my dress?

David: I would, I would I would like to touch your dress, [touches dress] oh, very nice, very nice. [sighs]

[both sit down]

David: I tell you what, we are going to do a commercial, and uh, we are going to wash her mouth out with soap...

Madonna: And he's going to smell my underwear.

David: And then we'll be right back.

Madonna: And um...

David: ... Kids, come on back.

[Commercial]

David: How do you do ladies and Gentleman, welcome back, Madonna is here, Madonna and I are just sitting around

smoking cigars and swapping recipes.

Madonna: [with cigar in mouth] Yeah.

David: Also uh Counting Crows and the uh world champion grocery bagger. Did you have jobs like that when you were a

kid? Did you work in grocery stores, bagging groceries, any of that?

Madonna: No.

David: Have you ever been in a grocery store?

Madonna: You really have, you really...

[both giggling]

Madonna: Yeah. [to grocery store question]

David: Yeah? Good.

David: Uh, and uh...

Madonna: You know you really changed since the last time I was on the show.

David: Well we haven't seen you in like 6 years or 7 years.

Madonna: You used to be really kind of, like, cool.

David: I know, there is no bigger dweeb than me.

Madonna: Money's made you soft.

David: Really, you think so?

Madonna: Yeah.

David: In what sense?

Madonna: Because you just kiss up to everybody on your show now.

[oohs from crowd]

Madonna: You do man, you're always kissing up to like all, I see all these, like you know movie stars coming here and

you just all ga-ga, you should just give people a hard time.

David: Yeah, I can suspend that behavior tonight if you'd like.

[applause and laughter]

Madonna: [laughing] I believe you have already.

David: Oh, I know, now we're just kidding around, now explain to folks, we're just kidding around.

Madonna: Don't treat me special, Ok?

David: Alright, sure.

Madonna: I wouldn't want you to do that.

David: Now what specifically are you getting at, what is driving you nuts here? What's troubling ya?

Madonna: About you or life in general?

David: We'll let's start with life in general.

Madonna: No let's just get back to you.

David: Ok, fine.

Madonna: Um.

David: First of all, you're not irritated at all, you're not irritated at all, I know this is a little act.

Madonna: You are not irritating me.

David: Ok, good

Madonna: Are you trying to?

David: No, I'm not trying to irritate you.

Madonna: Actually you do irritate me sometimes.

David: Hmm, hmm.

David: Well you kind of irritate me to.

Madonna: Really?

David: You see we have so much in common.

Madonna: I know.

Madonna: Why are you always ...Actually I brought something, to like make a point...

David: Right, ok, good.

Madonna: Because you are always (fucking) with me on the show.

David: God.

Madonna: You are always (fucking) with me on the show.

David: This, you kn...

Madonna: You are always (fucking) with me on the show.

[an older couple is shown gasping at madonna's comments]

Madonna: Where is that thing? [the camera]

David: See what you're doing.

David: You see, you see what you're doing?

[applause]

David: Now there, you see.

Madonna: What?

David: A, a nice couple, Where are you folks from? Yeah Appleton Wisconsin, look they drove all the way, they came in

an Avis car and they wanted ...

Madonna: Will you shut up please, can we... let's get to the tape, I brought a tape to prove that he's obsessed with my,

obsessed with me.

David: Alright, you think we refer to you much to much on the show.

Madonna: Yeah.

David: Alright, roll the tape Hal, let's see what she's talking about here.

[tape]

David: As luck would have it, I look up and there's Madonna...

Paul: There she was.

David: ...Riding her bicycle. Hal roll my home video tape of Madonna. Watch this, this is very impressive ladies and

gentleman, look there she is.

[applause]

David: Ok, stop it.

[The tape is film of a naked woman riding her bicycle away from the camera, with a black spot over her butt]

[Tape over]

David: Alright.

Madonna: What's that all about?

David: Now can you do that? Don't you have a problem with chaffing when you're out there like that?

Madonna: My ass looks a lot better than that.

David: [laughing] Are you enjoying that smoke there?

Madonna: It's just the right size.

David: What are you, uh now when you leave here tonight, what are you gonna do, are you gonna go out are you going

to...

Madonna: Don't (fuck) with me Dave

David: Oh, jeez

David: Please.

Madonna: Aren't there any other segments? That's it?

David: Do we have more tape for Madonna?

David: Sounds to me..

Madonna: I like the way you say my name, by the way.

David: It sounds to me like somebody might be hmm, hmm with you...

Madonna: Somebody fucked up.

David: [laughing] Oh, god.

Madonna: It's ok.

David: I want to thank you folks for coming out for this run through show, thank you very much, this of course will never

see the light of day, you won't miss a thing tonight, ummm, you have, you have a top ten list, I'm told.

[acting like end of a show]

Madonna: Yah I'm sitting on it.

David: You're sitting on it, oh are we going to do the list?

Morty: Yes.

David: I heard Morty over there weaseling, first he said "no, no, no,no" and then I said, and then I said "are we going to

do the list" and he said "sure."

Madonna: There seems to be a lot of confusion right now.

David: Yeah guess why.

[Audience Dave and Madonna laughing]

Madonna: Is it cause I've been saying (fuck)?

David: You just, you can't...

Madonna: Speak the truth or train(chain?) the devil baby.

David: No, you can't be comin' on here, this is American Television, you can't be talkin' like that, now we're going to have

to...

Madonna: Why?

David: Because people don't want that in their own homes at 11:30 at night.

Madonna: They don't?

[applause]

Madonna: Wait a minute, wait a minute.

David: Yeah, yes sir!

[Dave stands up and salutes the older couple]

Madonna: Stop!

[organ music and clapping]

Madonna: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.

Madonna: People don't want to hear the word (fuck) in their...

David: Oh, stop it, will you stop... Ladies and Gentleman turn down your volume, turn the volume down immediately, she

can't be stopped.

[applause]

David: There's something wrong with her...

Madonna: I want to know, what do people...

Madonna: There is definitely something wrong with me...

David: Yeah.

Madonna: ... I'm sitting here.

Madonna: Anyways, what, oooh... [mimicking the crowd]

[crowd oohing]

David: We have to do another commercial, we have to do another commercial, we'll figure...

Madonna: I don't think we should...

David: No, we are going to do one...

Madonna: I don't think, I think we should break the rules...

David: Oh, yah, I'm callin' the shots.

Madonna: ... tonight...I think we should ...

David: We're doin' another commercial.

David: We'll be right back.

[Commercial]

[Madonna smoking a cigar]

David: Counting Crows will be out here in a little bit and Madonna is with us, if you're just joining us, so far it has been a

fascinating interview.

Madonna: Yeah, you just, Dave just slobbered all over my cigar.

David: Ya, know you asked me to light it for you and I thought I was doing the gentlemanly thing.

Madonna: This is the closest I'm ever going to get to kissing you.

David: Aaah, well...

[crowd aahing]

David: ...We could certainly change that, ya know what I mean.

David: ...If I don't have to wait in line.

[laughter]

David: It's a joke, I'm sorry.

Madonna: We'll you're not in the NBA, so forget about it.

David: [laughing] Now, Madonna, I'm told that you've prepared a little special comedy thing for us, your own kind of ..

Madonna: Me?

David: Yes you, your top ten list, there, and I think all America is..

Madonna: Want to get it? [she is sitting on it]

David: [Madonna leans to the right and Dave reaches to get it] Oh, man, uh damn thing seems to be stuck. [Madonna

laughing hysterically]

David: Somebody bring me the Jaws of Life!

Madonna: See?

David: There, Ok.

Madonna: See, I haven't dated that many basketball players.

David: Alright, just... [unwrinkling paper]

Madonna: That was a very subtle joke.

David: There, ok. How you been, ya doin' alright? You look pretty good, everything going alright?

Madonna: Are you talkin' to me?

David: I'm talkin' to you, yah.

Madonna: This seems all very rehearsed.

David: I know.

Madonna: Why did you have to go and read a top ten list?

David: We do it every night, have you ever seen the show?

[laughter]

Madonna: Well, actually I have seen the show, but I've never, I mean I've always been doing something while I was

watching the show.

David: Oh, I know , I've heard, I've heard all about you.

Madonna: Exactly, so.

Madonna: I don't really, it's not funny [crumples up top ten and throws it behind her] forget it.

[audience claps]

David: Well, now what the hell are we going to do?

Madonna: Oh (fuck) it.

David: Now, come on, you, you know you.

Madonna: We're going to have to deal with each other.

David: Oh, lets don't do that.

Madonna: No holds, barred.

David: We have tape? Tape of what?

Madonna: Tape? Why can't we just talk to each other, why do we have to have all of this contrived (bullshit)?

Madonna: You know, (fuck) the tape, (fuck) the list, everything....you know what I'm saying?

David: Oh, man.

Madonna: I think we should get...don't you want to show everybody the underwear.

David: Well, uh, I think most everybody has seen underwear.

Madonna: No they haven't seen, they haven't seen my unde.. mine ...

David: Now, that's not true.

[laughter]

Madonna: No, no, no, no, they saw me out of my underwear, they haven't seen me in my underwear.

David: What? Oh, jeez we're out of time.

David: [laughing] You know, uh...

Madonna: Don't make me act a fool, Dave.

David: No, no, you know it was fun, I get a big kick out of you and ...

Madonna: Really? In what way?

David: Yeah...

Madonna: What part of your body?

David: I think you're a nice...

Madonna: Where?

David: You know I think you're a decent, nice person, you know...

Madonna: Uh, huh.

David: And uh, I'm happy you came by here tonight and gross us all out.

[laughter]

David: But you know, I'm just you know...

Madonna: Isn't there anything you really want to ask me?

David: [sighs] You know, it's seems like we know almost everything there is to know about you.

Madonna: Really?

David: Tell us something we don't know.

Madonna: You don't know a (god) damn thing.

David: Yeah? Like what?

David: What's the next look? What's the next incarnation? What's the next sort of a image, what do we uh ..

Madonna: That's what you want to know?

David: Yeah.

Madonna: No, that's not what you want to know.

David: Oh, jeez were out of time again.

[laughter]

David: What are you going to do now, what are you going to do after the show?

Madonna: Did you know that it's good if you pee in the shower?

David: I'm sorry.

Madonna: I'm serious.

Madonna: No seriously, peeing in the shower is really good, it, it fights um um athletes foot.

Madonna: I'm serious, no urine is like, is like, is like an antiseptic, it's all got to do with the enzymes in your body.

David: Don't, don't you know a good pharmacist?

[laughter]

Madonna: Uhm...

David: Get yourself some Desinex or whatever that stuff is.

Madonna: I wanted to share something that I knew with you.

David: Ok, well, thank very much and uh I'm going to try to wrap this up.

Madonna: Do you have a girlfriend?

David: Yeah.

Madonna: Really?

David: Yeah.

Madonna: Uhm.

David: what do you care?

[laughter]

David: What, like a guy like me, wouldn't have a girlfriend?

Audience Member: Yeah Dave!

David: Yeah, thank you very much sir!

[laughter]

David: What about you, do you have a boyfriend?

Madonna: I thought you were going to ask me if I had a girlfriend. Um.

David: Are you currently interested in someone?

Madonna: Hmm, hmm.

David: Oh, really, what's his name?

Madonna: Dave.

David: Dave? No. no, no, not ...former mayor of New York, Dave Dinkins?

[laughter]

David: GOOD NIGHT EVERYBODY! [stands up waving and kissing like show is over]

Madonna: Look I don't want to ...

David: You have to, we have to say goodbye now.

Madonna: Why?

David: Because we have other guests.

Madonna: Why?

David: Probably, probably not anymore, but we should.

Madonna: Can't this just go on and on?

David: Oh, it seems like it has, don't it?

[laughter]

David: You know we want to get the Counting Crows out here and we want to get the bagger.

Madonna: why?

David: We want to hear their song, they have a little song they've planned for us, so we'd like to hear it.

David: And the grocery bagger, you don't want to break his heart, do you?

Madonna: [shakes her head yes]

David: No, look at this [clock showing the time is 12:13] Look see? Hi how ya doing? Oh, ok, so.

Madonna: It's not really this late anyway, this is all a fantasy.

David: Right, but I mean when...

Madonna: We are living ahead of the time when it actually is.

David: Exactly, very heavy Madonna, thank you.

[laughing]

David: I don't know, I don't kn...

Madonna: Don't fuck with me Dave?

David: I know.

Madonna: Don't make me act a fool.

David: Um, so I think what we'll do is..

Madonna: Wait a minute, I just want to ask you one more question.

David: Yeah, sure, go ahead shoot.

Madonna: Have you ever smoked Endo?

David: I'm sorry?

Madonna: Have you ever smoked Endo?

David: I don't know what you're talking about.

Madonna: You're a (god) damn liar!

David: I , No, I ah, uh, ah, I don't ah, I don't.

[Madonna laughing hysterically] [organ music]

David: No, I don't, I, uh sorry, I don't, I don't know what you're talking about.

Madonna: Well, you should.

David: alright, well, I'll put that on my list of things to do

Audience Member: Get off!

David: [writing on a piece of paper] Smoke some Endo!

Madonna: Oh, oh, oh, and pee in the shower.

David: Ok, pee in the shower. Get those panties cleaned, ok, Alright Madonna.

Madonna: Don't tell me you haven't peed in the shower.

David: [laughing strangely] Whoop!

Madonna: Everybody pees in the shower and everybody picks their nose.

Audience Member: Get off!

David: Ok, now, um.

Madonna: Why do we have to be, why do you keep flashing that card?

David: Because, we because...

Madonna: Can't we just break the rules?

Audience Member: Get off!

Madonna: Who said that?

David: No, no, that's the guy you wouldn't kiss earlier.

[laughter]

David: The guy out there, you irritated him.

David: Alright, ok, now.

Madonna: Is the show almost over?

David: The show is nearly over, we have to say goodbye now.

Madonna: We only have a few minutes.

David: We only have a few minutes and thank you again from the bottom of my heart, it was nice of you to stop by tonight.

[applause]

David: Madonna!

[applause]

Madonna: When you come back I'll still be here, (fuck) it!

David: Of course that's what I was going to say, she, she, [in a loud crazy voice] she won't leave, we can't get rid of her, what if she's still here tomorrow night!

[laughter] [organ music, Jaws?]

David: [in a strange voice] Ah, that's crazy, ah, ah...

[laughter]

David: Ah, just for the hell of it let's do a commercial and see what happens, we'll be right back.

[laughter]

[Commercial]

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In 1995, Madonna spoke of the Letterman experience with Spin magazine:


Do you regret doing that David Letterman Interview?

I regretted it right afterward because of the reaction. I couldn’t believe how freaked out people were. But then, in retrospect, I was so glad I did it. That’s how I feel about a lot of things. You know, I do it and then everybody freaks out and then I start feeling bad about what I did, then I get some space and distance, and I go, no, that was the right thing to do. It’s hard to feel good about the choices you make when an entire nation is beating up on you. I mean I can’t tell you how intimidating it all is, and how, if you’re not an incredibly resilient human being, it can crush you, no question about it.

The whole thing about going on TV and saying "fuck" was just ridiculous You can show a person getting blown up, and you can’t say "fuck?" It’s such hypocrisy. The fact that everyone counted how many fuck’s I said — how small-minded is that?

People were really worked up about it.

A word. A word. It’s just a word. And it doesn’t even mean what it used to mean! It’s become a part of our daily life, it means like a zillion things.

The other thing that was ridiculous was that David Letterman knew I was going to do it. I talked to the producers of the show. Everybody was like, this will be really funny if you say "fuck" a lot and they’ll just keep bleeping you. Well, I came out and started doing it, and David freaked out.

The way he introduced me was derogatory, so my whole thing was, okay, if that’s how you want to play it, you cannot beat me at this game.

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But before we got there, there was the media firestorm...

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LIKE AVERSION:

Madonna's shocking David Letterman interview -- The pop-star's interview on the ''Late Show'' produces the show's highest ratings

The most shocking thing about Madonna's appearance on Late Show With David Letterman-a night that will live in infamy for, oh, at least another 15 minutes-wasn't that she said ''f -- -'' 14 times or that she resorted to an incredibly corny that-microphone-looks-like-a-penis joke. No, what was more unnerving was that, for the first time in this brazen hussy's tough-minded, frequently revolutionary career, the primary emotion she inspired was pity.

Here, after all, is the '80s star who, more than any other, built her inescapable image around notions of power and control. She gleefully exploited herself as a sex object, coming on to us at various times as everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Marlene Dietrich to all-purpose shot-on-video porn star. Yet the point of every persona was that she was mistress of her own destiny. Madonna was not about to be used-by men or by the media-and she was hell-bent on making every garish pose a witty hoot set to catchy dance-pop melodies.

No more. Madonna's career in the '90s has stalled and sagged. Once she was the Last Pop Superstar-Bruce Springsteen had abdicated the position; Michael Jackson never grew up enough to accept the responsibility; it's doubtful Axl Rose could even spell it-but she stopped making music that mattered. After she appeared in a string of uneven films, the movie industry just chewed her up; tough Tinseltown wasn't about to allow her to exert the same control she'd had over her albums. Heretofore a deep-dish provocateur, she's been reduced to superficial media stunts: the flaccid Sex book, the sapphic frisking with Sandra Bernhard.

The Letterman appearance was another such stunt, a way to keep her name in the papers in lieu of actually producing some sort of creative work. And it was a shrewd choice, since, for better or for worse, David Letterman is mass America right now. (Looking at Letterman's Madonna ratings-his highest since his premiere week-NBC must have been mortified that it had just banned naughty-talking Martin Lawrence from The Tonight Show.) But Madonna made a crucial mistake: She didn't seem to realize that her public feels increasingly alienated from her at exactly the moment when Letterman is really connecting with his own huge audience. She strode out on March 31 assuming the audience wanted to see her kick Letterman's butt, but quickly found out the crowd was cheering for Dave to kick hers.

At a time when one of the hottest songs in the country carries the refrain ''I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me,'' Madonna's perennial stance as an indomitable winner seems outdated, if not deluded. As a feminist culture hero, she can't muster a critique of sexism that's as cogent as the ones offered by the women in bands like the Breeders and Bikini Kill. Face it, Madonna: Riot grrrls are tougher than material girls.

Letterman has a running joke, one he repeated this night: ''I have a theory about Madonna: I think that Madonna loves to shock us!'' This is a perfect '90s remark, since it reduces the notion of shock, of creative disruption, to something worthy of ridicule. The confidence and power that Letterman so effortlessly exudes these days are precisely the qualities Madonna now lacks. Her once-exhilarating bravado and impudence have curdled into a sullen, crude rebelliousness.

Besides, what was most offputting about her Letterman appearance wasn't the obscenity spew that supposedly rattled Dave but, rather, Madonna's adamant refusal to converse-there was no content to her dirty, ditzy blather. Who'd have thought we'd ever see the day when Madonna turned into Shelley Winters with a Susan Powter hardbody?

To me, nothing better symbolized Madonna's feelings of betrayal by, and antagonism toward, her fans than the fact that this star, who during her brilliant 1985 Like a Virgin tour used to ask her audiences if they wanted to marry her, refused to give an admirer in the Letterman studio crowd the kiss on the forehead he was begging for.

The next night, CBS ran prime-time promos with Dave crowing happily, ''You can tune in safely-she's not on tonight!'' Which goes to show that when she wasn't looking, Madonna missed the zeitgeist boat: In the mid-'90s, her notions of danger and controversy are a lot less hip than Letterman's idea of safety.

Thank you for posting this! A must read for a lot of Madonna's newer fans.

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For fun, here are posts from the old mlvc mailing list as the Letterman appearance

happened (March 31-April 1, 1994). "The more things change" and all that rot...

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Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 01:04:38 -0500 (EST)From: Ed Sadtler <ehs12@columbia.edu>Subject: Re: Letterman 0n Thurs> NEW YORK (AP) -- Madonna, whose rumored desire to purchase an NBA franchise> was zinged by David Letterman, can ask the ``Late Show'' host about his >comment Thursday when she appears on the program.Does this mean Madonna is on Letterman tommorow night, April 31?  I can't wait to tune in to see what conspires.> While recording her new album in New York, Madonna has showed at Madison> Square Garden for several New York Knicks games. And the multi-millionaire> singer is reportedly in the market for an NBA franchise.New album!  I guess that confirms rumors that a new album is in the works.  If she is working on it now, I guess we can axpect a release dates sometime in early 1995 (or perhaps late 1994).Ed----------------Subject: Letterman 0n ThursFrom: wcrusher@alexus.uu.nix.com (WCrusher)Date: 31 Mar 94 12:05:56 8Regarding: Letterman 0n Thurs > was zinged by David Letterman, can ask the ``Late Show'' host about his comme> Thursday when she appears on the program.> Madonna, whose video of her ``Girlie Show'' concert tour will be released nex> month, is making her first appearance with Dave since he jumped to CBS. She > made a surprise appearance on Letterman's NBC show in July 1988, showing up > with pal Sandra Bernhard.When is she going to be Letterman then?Wes Welty-----------------Date: Thu, 31 Mar 94 16:52:18 ESTFrom: ThomasInskeep%0%MC@athena.manchester.eduSubject: HELP! info neededHELP!I'm doing a short paper on Madonna for a class in music videos, and I desperately need to know 2 things -- and where else would I go but to my Madonna-lovin' brethren? Anyway, the questions:	1) Who directed "Like A Virgin"? I know Mary Lambert did "Material 			Girl" -- did she also do "Virgin"?	2) Who was Madonna's boyfriend at the time of "Justify My Love"? That 		*is* him in the video, isn't it? If not, who's the guy in the 		video? I thought his name was Tony something... Ward, maybe?---> If anyone's wondering, no, I *don't* have a copy of The Immaculate Collection on video -- just copies of these two videos (actually, I rented "Justify"). <---Please e-mail me privately, as I'm on the digest & am in a hurry on this one! & I'll be crediting whomever gets me this info first, in my works cited page. It only makes sense. Fame (albeit in a limited sense) beckons!            can't wait for Letterman tonight!,in pride,Thomas                                                      p.s. In case anyone's wondering, and it hasn't been reported already, Madonna will NOT, I repeat, NOT be singing tonight on Letterman. He already has a musical guest: Counting Crows. Bleh! :(---------------Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 18:00:50 -0500 (EST)From: Andre Passero <5PASSERO_A@spcvxa.spc.edu>Subject: ATTENTION ALL MADONNA FANS, SHE'S BACK!!!           I can't wait to see Letterman tonight.  Yes she is on and sheis ready to begin  another season on Madonnamania. David dropped all otherguests to give justice to Madonna.  I know that in the recent past , Davidhas been dissing M alot.  This will be very interesting.   Even all the NYnews stations and radio stations are constantly talking about this!!Z100 is saying that this will be Davids highest rating show ever since hemoved to CBS.  They showed her on the news getting out of her limo withdark hair and wearing a black bandana.  She looked great and I can't wait.I just wonder if she will sing and if so , what??????????              So those of you in the US , have fun tonight.----------------Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 19:43:19 -0600 (CST)From: ST3HD@Jetson.UH.EDUSubject: silly me!Well, though not as bad as the recent goof up someone on the net made aboutthe Madonna/Mariah request, I did something so dumb.  The other day as Iwas leaving work I flipped stations and "Can't let go" by Mariah was on, andsince I was in the mood for something slow, I left it.  Anyway, lo and behold,the song ended and I flipped to anothe station where "Like a prayer" was justending.  AAAAAHHHHHH!!!  Not a big deal, but then again, it is, for me.	Also, about "I'll Remember":  it's brilliant in every respect, andthough I wasn't convinced of this brilliance in the beginning, I'm more thanever persuaded of it now.  She has done it again.  I don't know if theperson who wrote in the day the song came out and criticized the song'sbridge wants to take his/her words back.  I looooove the bridge--it's oneof the sweetest and prettiest--both musically and lyrically-that Madonna'sever done.  Mes deux centimes--voila.Anuj-----------------From: amedrano@euclid.ucsd.edu (Archie Medrano)Subject: MTV's Most WantedDate: Thu, 31 Mar 94 17:49:19 PSTMadonna's "I'll Remember" is at #9 as of today, March 31, 1994.-- Archie Medrano   (amedrano@euclid.ucsd.edu)"Is the Pope Catholic?"   -- Madonna's response when asked if the Girlie Show includes nudity.------------------Date: Fri,  1 Apr 94 00:44:52 ESTFrom: ThomasInskeep%0%MC@athena.manchester.eduSubject: Letterman, of courseDamn! Set my VCR up to tape & everything, only to find it's not currently taping. Ah well, at least I got to see it.How many times *did* Madonna say "fuck"? I stopped counting around 10 -- it had to be close to 20 (esp. if you count other profanities)! Is anyone sure why exactly she was on? Just had some spare time? Or, as she put it, "there's no Knicks game tonight"? IMHO, she was wonderfully bitchy, Dave was Dave, and the audience **obviously** wasn't full of MLC fans. I figured our NYC-area contingent would be there; oh well. The audience, as it was, seemed rather hostile, and all 3 segments were rather anti-Madonna -- or was it just me? Anyway, her dress was fabulous. Not so sure about the slicked-back hair. No matter what, though, I found the lady TOO much. As always! :-)  [Sorry if this post is vaguely not-all-there; it's past my bedtime :-) ]"oh, do it, diva baby!" -- Niki to Madonna, during The Girlie Showin pride,Thomas 
Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 00:00:23 -0500 (CDT)From: Brian <BWG001@ACAD.DRAKE.EDU>Subject: Opinions on Letterman wanted!Hi Everybody,Okay...I just watched Letterman and I want to know what everybody thought.  I'll describe it (or somebody else can) after it has finished airing across theU.S.I really don't know what to think of the show.  It certainly wasn't what I expected.  I mean, I admire the point M was trying to make but I just don't know if this is the way she should have come about making her comeback.I'd heard earlier today that CBS was hoping that this would be his highest rated show yet and all I have to say is that I hope they were wrong.  If enoughpeople were offended by tonight's show then M is going to be getting quite a bit of negative press.I'm going to very interested in the media and public's reaction tomorrow.  If you hear anything about the show, please post it to the newsgroup as I'm sure we'll be talking about it quite a bit for the next couple of days.Brian....who is still in a state of shock----------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 00:08:23 -0500 (CDT)From: Brian <BWG001@ACAD.DRAKE.EDU>Subject: Letterman againHi again,After reading Thomas' post, I'm wondering if I just made too much out of thewhole thing.  I did like the interview but M really didn't come across too welland I think Dave was getting quite annoyed with her.Anyway, post away those opinions and reassure me that I made too much of it.Brian--------------From: jwb@MIT.EDUSubject: Re: Letterman againDate: Fri, 01 Apr 94 01:16:51 ESTI really think that the whole thing was weird.  She really didn't have a reason to be there, except maybe to get back at Dave for all the negative stuffhe's been saying about her for the last two years.  Nothing at all was mentioned about the new album that she's supposedly recor-ding, and everytime he said anything, she turned it into some sort of sexual reference.She probably pissed him off, and he deserved it.  He was definitely getting frustrated with her, and I think that she enjoyed it.  The press is going to beall over the censoring stuff (I'm sure we'll see a tally of the number of bleeps soon).  Frankly, I have to admit by the end, I was getting sick of watching it.  I hada ton of stuff I had to do, and I kept waiting for her to say something mean-ingful, but she never did.  	JoeP.S.  I think that the nosering has got to go!----------------From: jwb@MIT.EDUSubject: Re: Letterman againDate: Fri, 01 Apr 94 01:31:54 ESTTwo articles about it already (From AP/MIT Freshman Fishwrap):Madonna Keeps Censors Busy At U.S. Talk ShowNEW YORK (AP) -- Censors had their work cut out for them after Madonna's tapedappearance with U.S. talk show host David Letterman.The singer who loves to shock used a forbidden four-letter word 13 times inThursday's taping of ``The Late Show with David Letterman.'' She also threw in a couple of other expressions not allowed on American television, including two``god damns.''The show was scheduled to air at 11:30 p.m. on the CBS network -- minus theoffensive language, show spokeswoman Rosemary Keenan said.Madonna was a difficult guest from the outset, pouting and refusing to chat about her career.``Why are you so obsessed with my sex life?'' she demanded moments after sitting down.She handed Letterman a pair of her panties and ordered him to smell them. Herefused, stuffing them in a desk drawer and turning the conversation to her interest in basketball.After she left, Letterman said: ``I tried to be nice to her. I'm exhausted now.''Madonna shows Dave she's no angelBy Jay Maeder, New York Daily NewsNEW YORK -- A petulant, foul-mouthed Madonna waxed super-raw on networkTV on Thursday night, lacing the ``Late Show With David Letterman'' withobscenities that NBC bleeped out more than a dozen times.Letterman has been trying to lure the pop singer onto the show for years -- butafter her contentious appearance Thursday night, it was doubtful whether he found it worth the wait.``It turned kind of ugly, didn't it?'' a visibly shaken Letterman said on the show after the superstar's combative appearance, during which she showed littleinterest in the good-natured jousting that guests often engage in with the genial host.Throughout the show, he had apologized to the audience for his guest's behavior.  ``This is American television; you can't be talking like that,'' he protested after Madonna had used the TV-forbidden F-word several times.In response, she talked at length about urinating in the shower. At one point she offered Letterman a pair of women's panties and ordered him to sniff them. He declined.Wearing a long, dark green velvet dress and sporting slicked-back black hair and smoking a cigar, Madonna tossed off the F-word 13 times before finally leaving the set -- after overstaying her scheduled visit.Despite the fact that she did not appear to be having much fun, Madonna refusedto leave, forcing the producers to bump a scheduled segment.Some in the audience cheered as she left.Madonna said she was annoyed because of Letterman's constant jokes about her sex life.As he was introducing her, he said she had ``slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.''``Why are you so obsessed with my sex life?'' she asked. ``You can't get through a show without talking about me.''She also took Letterman to task over the softer tone of his new show. ``You used to be really kind of cool. ... You just kiss up to everybody on the show now,'' she said.As things went downhill, Madonna told the host that his comments ``seemed veryrehearsed,'' and asked, ``Why do we have to have all of this contrived bulls--?''Taped earlier in the evening, her comments were bleeped from the audio track when the show was broadcast late Thursday.After she left, Letterman said: ``I tried to be nice to her. I'm exhausted now.``What if she's here tomorrow night?'' he added.----------------From: rmacdona@diana.cair.du.edu (Ross Aryk Arias)Subject: M on LettermanDate: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 23:59:38 -0700 (MST)OK.  I love M, but what exactly was that all about?  I thought it wentterribly, and if there was a large audience, M's chances for a comeback maybe gone.  This whole image has been carried way too far - it isn't funanymore.  M was difficult; if she just would have answered some of Dave'squestions without turning them into a slam or sexual innuendo, it may havebeen OK.  As it was, everyone was uncomfortable and counting the secondsuntil the segment could end, including me.BTW - I thought she looked great.  The dress was fabulous, and I kindalike the nosering and slicked back hair. -- ..............................................................................Ross Aryk Arias			"In school they taught me how to bermacdona@du.edu			So pure in thought and word and deed...				They didn't quite succeed." -PSB           __...........................................................................\/.------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 02:46:49 -0500 (EST)From: Ed Sadtler <ehs12@columbia.edu>Subject: LettermanI was definitely dissapointed with Letterman tonight.  Though funny at first, the cold exchanges between Letterman and his honored guest got old very quick.  At first I thought she was just playing around, but after refelcting on it I think she was definetely quite angry at him.  She clearly came in with an attitude that she would make no effort to cooperate.  She avoided every question she was asked and already the press is heralding her 13 expletives.  I don't think she was trying to make a free speech point, but rather intended to disturb her host.  Maybe I'm the only one,but I would really have liked her to say something about her new single, album,or anything substantive.  On the other hand I commend her humor and unbridled spunkiness without which she wouldn't be Madonna, the prima bitchy diva.______________________Edward Sadtlerehs12@columbia.eduColumbia UniversityNew York, NY______________________Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 05:47:32 -0500 (EST)From: JENNIFERYEKO@delphi.comSubject: She was on Dave?Not literally, that is!  Ack, I guess I'm not reading my messages very well,there goes me reading comprehension score :)But seriously, I wish I had seen it.  Oh well, I wonder why she gave Davesuch a hard time (again, no pun intended).  Why is everything coming out sostrange tonight?  Anyway, this seems to just increase the public's negativeview of her but I guess she doesn't really care.Jen ------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 94 09:12:08 ESTFrom: Terrance Heath <heath@phoenix.cs.uga.edu>Subject: ATTENTION ALL MADONNA FANS, SHE'S BACK!!!I taped David Letterman last night (forgive me, Madonna, but I wasjust too, too tired to stay up late last night), and watched the firstpart of the interview this morning before I went to work. She looked*great*, and the banter with Dave was *wicked*.  She started outgiving him attitude, and throwing it back at him every time he threwit to her!  I gotta get home and see the rest at lunchtime!------------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 08:21:28 -0500 (CDT)From: Brian <BWG001@ACAD.DRAKE.EDU>Subject: Letterman RevisitedHi everybody,Well, I was up early this morning anyway so I thought I'd flip through the various morning shows and see if they mentioned M on Letterman last night andI didn't really come across anything so maybe the backlash I was fearing isn'tgoing to happen (we can hope!)Also, I don't want to sound ignorant but what exactly is "Indo."  I was totallybaffled last night when she asked Dave if he smoked it.  Thanks,Brian----------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 09:32:24 ESTFrom: "Anthony J. Rzepela" <rzepela@cvi.hahnemann.edu>Subject: Letterman -- is she slipping?Whoa!I *know* our lady doesn't like not being in control of a situation, so the appearance last night must have been pretty maddening.She was right - Dave used to be an asshole to his guests whereashe sucks up now, and as far as bumped grocery-bag packers go, they are just the kind of guests I used to hate on NBC because Davewould make them uncomfortable when they were committing no greater sin than being out of their depth.Well, she got what she asked for - that was the first time I've seen Letterman get an audience to turn on a guest, and it was PDU (pretty damn ugly). The audience was ready for it, though.They just don't like ladies saying "Fuck".Fuck'em.Anybody catch the verbal ejaculations from the audience? One sounded like "Dave" (when Madonna was asking Letterman about his girlfriend) and another sounded like "Get off." (directed at Madonna - we replayed and replayed, andstill couldn't figure it out.)---------------------------------------------------------------------------Anthony Rzepela    <rzepela@cvi.hahnemann.edu>"What IS this fascination with Axl Rose? He looks so...unhealthy."  M.L.C. 1991-------------------Date: 1 Apr 1994 09:54:03 UFrom: Jeff Jackson <Jeff_Jackson.PERF#u#DIV@it.berklee.edu>Subject: More Letterman chatterAm I the only one here who thought her Letterman stint was a brilliant"fuck you" to Dave, CBS, the FCC and the conservative American publicthat supports the censorship of words on tv? I think Dave is often anasshole, as do some of his guests (ie. Cher and Shirly MacLaine haveboth made a point of calling him an asshole). He likes to push hisguests negative buttons, and madonna was pushing his right back! Andwhy is everyone talking about a comeback? Where has she gone? As far asI can tell, she had great success with Erotica (over 2 million copies in the USalone), three huge singles off that album, and a tour that generated more pressthan Jesus at Easter! I was in awe of her defiance to behave. It takes guts to be such a bitch. Like Bono at the Grammy Awards, I think she intends on fuckingup the mainstream. And I'll support her all the way.-jackson.--------------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 08:58:50 -0600 (CST)From: ST3HD@Jetson.UH.EDUSubject: lettermanI refuse to watch Letterman ever again.  The very last thing he said was"I'm sorry", looking into the camera rather solemnly, as if to say theaudience had been really hurt and he, daddy Dave, was truly sorry theyhad to bear such filth.  Well I have news for him, and for anyone elsethat thinks it was filth--WAKE UP and realize that the world's notas rosy as you think.  Madonna was fab, but after Dave's comment I willnever ever watch his slovenly, wanna-be program again.ANUJ----------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 10:07:38 -0400 (EDT)From: DONDI <HOM42@SNYBUFVA.CS.SNYBUF.EDU>Subject: DaveI thought she was funny.  She avoided many subjects.  She didn't even talkabout her new single, "I'll Remember."  But I don't think she had to.She looked gorgeous.  Except for when she raised her arms, you could seethe flab jiggling.  She is MADONNA.  She will do whatever she wants to do.  But, it didn't even seem like it was 40 minutes.  It was like 10.She should be back again.  I think the audience loved her.  Some didn't, butthe majority did.  I want to see her again.Her outfit was great.  Does anybody know who designed her outfit?------------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 10:19:45 -0500 (EST)From: Andre Passero <5PASSERO_A@spcvxa.spc.edu>Subject: Press reaction on M and Dave   I thought that they were going to trash her for that but they did not.People in NY realized what she was trying to do. I mean, My God, Dave alwaysmakes fun of her sex life for a long time now and all she was doing is spreadinga little heat.I think that they both were having fun. Dave must know how sheis off the camera because he told her that she is sweet and that they wereonly joking last  night.  Z100 said that she really had nothing to  say butthey all agreed that it was a good show!!!!!!--------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 10:34:35 -0500 (EST)From: William McBrine <wmcbrine@clark.net>Subject: Re: Letterman RevisitedOn Fri, 1 Apr 1994, Brian wrote:> I didn't really come across anything so maybe the backlash I was fearing> isn't going to happen (we can hope!)I certainly don't think there'll be a "backlash". I think the reactions will be as follows: 1. Madonna fans will think it was funny (if a little disappointing). 2. Dave fans will think it was funny. 3. Normal people won't like it (but who cares what they think, eh?).One of the newspaper articles already posted here about it was prettyridiculous; it sounds like the author has never seen the Late Show(including that episode). What Madonna did is probably very close to whatCharles Grodin will be doing tonight, though his appearances have been alittle more polished. It's also pretty similar to her appearance on LateNight six years ago, and her first two stints on Arsenio. I wasn't surprised at all.I am disappointed that she said nothing substantive, but I didn't expecther to. Madonna's interviews can be broken into two groups: those with alive audience, and those without. In those without, she's usually intelligent, witty and charming. In those with, she's juvenile, bratty and vulgar. And that's what she should be. It's impossible to talk seriously on the Late Show, and those who try just make themselves look foolish.  The same is true of any talk show with a live audience, but especially the Late Show. In her first appearance on Arsenio, Madonna got an absurd level ofaudience reaction when she said "fuck", just in the normal course ofconversation. So she said it a few more times just for effect; but laterin the show, when she wanted to talk (relatively) seriously, she bleepedherself, saying "eff" instead. It was fascinating... Similarly, lastnight, seeing Dave's wild overreaction to her first use of "fuck", shekept it up. BTW, despite all the bleeping, I distinctly heard her say "shit", unbleeped, at one point. (Checked it on tape, too.)Another aspect of the "conflict" is that Madonna and Dave are both controlfreaks, and you could see them both trying to take charge of the show.Unfortunately, it was Dave's crowd. :-) I was surprised by how seriouslythe audience took the banter in some parts, considering M's huge grinthroughout the show. There's also the fact that Madonna has a pretty strange sense of humorsometimes. And, no, I don't think she was "on" anything, but I think shewas nervous, and had the giggles. Her performance was really not so bad -not so great, but not so bad. It fit in with the show. With practice, shecould become one of the best guests Dave has, in the tradition of TeriGarr, Charles Grodin, and, yes, Sandra Bernhard; but I don't think she'llget the chance. Her appearance with Sandra and her appearance with RosieO'Donnell on Arsenio benefitted greatly from her friends' presence. Eachof them was much more practiced in the situation (late-night-talk-show, oreven live-comedy-audience) than she, and also knew her better than thehosts. Rosie once said of herself that she was *terrible* when firststarting out; she needed to expose her sense of humor to audiences for a long time to develop it. I feel the same could apply to Madonna, but she'll never have the opportunity to develop her comedy in obscurity that Rosie had. Rosie would've been good to have around last night for another reason - onArsenio, she was constantly saying "She's really not like this; she'sreally a nice person." :-)> Also, I don't want to sound ignorant but what exactly is "Indo."Second that question! ("endo"?)--William McBrinewmcbrine@clark.netwmcbrine@cap.gwu.edu------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 10:59:40 -0500 (EST)From: hoi polloi <jhl14@columbia.edu>Subject: Re: Top Hits Online 26 Mar 94 (fwd)Hallo people on this mailing listSomeone sent me this info about a weekly online music ranking determined by people's email preferences.  Maybe some of you will be interested in participating.By the way, I just saw the Madonna Letterman appearance and it seemed rather boring.  Was there any point at all to the whole show?  Oh well, at least Counting Crows were good.  They're on DCG records (David C. Geffen Records).  ------------------From: Roger Thomas Whiting II <whiting1@student.msu.edu>Subject: Ms. MadonnaDate: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 12:00:55 -0500 (EST)Hey all! First of all: I know M. released Bye Bye Baby in Germany (i have theimport remixes).. but I never heard how the single did over there. Does anybodyknow?       2nd: M. looked ravishing on Letterman. BUT I was disapointed that shedidn't mention: 1) her new single 2) the GS on video 3) her new album she'srecording 4) ANYTHING UPCOMING.     I liked her point of telling Dave that he is always up in her dinkiesabout her sex life, but now she's there LIVE, he doesn't want to talk aboutit... that was cool. I don't think the crowd was ANTI Madonna, but just ratherPRO Dave.(except that one dude who yelled for her to leave).   I thought it was a hoot the way she fucked up all their commercial time. Didyou notice that he kept trying to break and she wouldn't let him... thenfinally when he did break it was like 3 sets of breaks into one setting.-- OH WELL.. I just wish she'd've disclosed some upcoming information, but alasit's Madonna and you just never know with her....   --Roger--------------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 12:27:07 -0500 (EST)From: MCDERMO1@MUVMS6.WVNET.EDUSubject: I loved itI loved her appearance on Letterman.She was the Diva again.Of course, Regis and Kathie Lee couldn't stop talking about her this morningand how she should have done better on the show....sigh....They STILL don't get it.Check out Mad's nose diamond! Devoted Madonna fans - look out!This is certainly a chance to test your bravery....jimjim mcdermott                           Make a difference! Go to Stonewall25!e-mail: mcdermo1@muvms6.mu.wvnet.edu    It's not JUST a party!  Inside, I was a child, that could not mend a broken wing, Outside, I looked for a way to teach my heart to sing, And I'll Remember, the love you gave me,  Now that I'm standing on my own.  I'll Remember, the way that you changed me, I'll Remember.         -Madonna, I'll Remember  (3/17/94)	----------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 11:51:43 -0600From: Hyland Kevin Robert <k-hyland@ux4.cso.uiuc.edu>Subject: I missed Letternam     If only somebody had posted that Madonna would be on Letterman last nightwould I have seen the show.  Initially I was disappointed.  AFter reading allthe postings, I saw that I didn't miss much.  Does anybody know how they rerun Letterman's shows?     Also, yesterday I purchased the import of "I'll Remember.""  The OrbitRemix was just like the album version except M's vocals have a slight echo tothem and the dru m sounds like the ones on "Where Life Begins."  It's OK.BUT, the Guerilla Beach Mix (about 6:10) was horrible!  It sounded like videogame sound effects throughout the whole thing!  There were just vocal snippetsfrom IR, like "to cr y, you taught me that", "and I'll remem-em-em-em-em-em"and all the different wawys of saying "I'll Remember."  This mix takes awayfrom the solemnity of the original song.  The original song is still the best.All in all, I hope the U.S. maxi-single contains better remixes of IR, and adifferent live tarck than WYSH (the same one from the HBO show where she screwsup the i  line "accept that we're -- system".).  A simple instrumental of IRwould be nice, and live Express Yourslef would be too.  Happy Easter, everyone!Kevin------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 13:13:26 -0500 (EST)From: Shajuana <bsagel@emoryu1.cc.emory.edu>Subject: LettermanI consider myself a big Madonna fan, but does anyone side with me that she went a little bit off the deep end last night?  I expected her to be a total bitch, and true, Dave had been ranking on her recently (and on that show), but I think her insulting him got her nowhere.  She broke the camel's back with the pot incident.  She asked him twice if he had smoked indo, and he denied it twice, and then she called him a "goddam liar?"  Does she normally expect a 45 year old man to listen to Snoop Doggy Dogg?Plus, did anyone learn anything new about her from 3 full segments?  Attitude aside, I think she looked great, as always . . .----------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 12:31:29 -0600 (CST)From: Chi-Yeow Koe-1 <koex0001@gold.tc.umn.edu>Subject: Re: silly me!On Thu, 31 Mar 1994 ST3HD@Jetson.UH.EDU wrote:> I don't know if the person who wrote in the day the song came out andcriticized the song's bridge wants to take his/her words back. Not. Still don't think this song even *touches* the magnitude or artistryof Madonna's other songs.*at least the Guerrila Beach Mix loses the pathetic drum track of thealbum version and lends some credibility to the song.  ------------------From: bspurr@diana.cair.du.edu (Bradley Spurr)Subject: WAKE UP!!!! (Letterman)Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 11:53:32 -0700 (MST)  Pleeeeaase!  Are you all so wrapped up in touting how wondereful Madonna is that you all can't even see she was AWFUL!!!!  She wasn't "wonderfully bitchy" she was a CUNT!  I love M, really, but I'm not so blind as to miss the fact that she was TERRIBLE on Letterman.  If anyone thinks saying FUCK 13 times is original--get real.  What are people talking about Madonna making a point--she said NOTHING!  She wouldn't let Dave take a commercial, or run clips, or read her top ten list, but instead insisted on dialog--the thing was she responded to every attempt by Dave to make dialog by saying FUCK.  It wasn't colorful banter--it was antagonistic and stupid.  Sure, it was funny the first time, but a whole 15 min.  segment of the same response says that M wasn't attempting any dialog, wasn't even being bitchy--just a cunt.  She was awful and I think she deserves the fallout from it.  Please people don't be so BLIND!    ____   __                 _   \  /  /  )             / //   \/  /--<  __  __.  __/ // _    .      /___/_/ (_(_/|_(_/_</_</_(_/                               /            (bspurr@du.edu)    '------------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 14:31 ESTFrom: CMSINGL@INDSVAX1.INDSTATE.EDUSubject: IR on MTV, Lettermanfirst of all, to all madonna fans who have still not seen the IR video, i cangive you a definite time that it will be on MTV:)  tune in MTV tonight at8:00 PM (eastern time) and you will see m's IR video as it is number 20on the top 20 video countdown...as for letterman, i haven't seen it becausei didn't even know it was going to be on until today *great publicity CBS:p*i don't think calling madonna a "cunt" is getting anywhere...now of course,i didn't see this show, but i can assume what happened from all of your posts...let's face it, dave disses madonna on a regular basis, so much so, i gave upwatching his show....if you had been consistently dissed by an individual whohas the kind of ratings dave gets, wouldn't you get a little bitchy and takeevery opportunity to get back at him....i think that this is exactly what mwas doing and she had it planned that way from the time she agreed to do theinterview....i'm not saying that i agree with the way m approached this, buti see where she is coming from.....anyway, i still love madonna and ALL facetsof her personality, including the bitchy diva:)neil----neil singletonIndiana State UniversityInternet:  CMSINGL@indsvax1.indstate.edu& BITnet:  CMSINGL@indsvax1.bitnet----------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 15:04:27 ESTFrom: "Anthony J. Rzepela" <rzepela@cvi.hahnemann.edu>Subject: USENET group alt.fan.lettermanIsn't misogyny great? So far today, posters on this group have referred to Madonna as a "whore", "bitch", and "tramp".Several others detailed the way Dave should have abused her physically. Tony, reading alt.fan.letterman and waiting for "cunt" ----------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 15:11:28 -0500 (CDT)From: Mark Byrne <mbyrne@bluejay.creighton.edu>Subject: Oy, Letterman....Hello, everyone.  It is one of the twins, and I am writing as an individual,b/c I have not consulted my brother (telepathically or in any other way) since the show aired last night.Her looks: she looked old!  Her biceps were frighteningly huge.  If there wasanything physical b/t Mads and Dave, SHE WOULD HAVE KICKED HIS BONY ASS TO THE KINGDOM COME!!!  Her hair was deeeegorgeous, even though Dave threw a crack at her, saying it looked like a swimming cap.  I have 4 words for Dave on the matter, don't take me there!  The nose ring was awes, she did look like a lady, too bad Dave did not look like a man.  The boots made her look classy, but those eyebrows were wrong.  Her powdery make up or whatever it was made Mads look really old.  Her eyes sparkled like cubic zirconium in good light.  What do I know, I am far from a fashion consultant (12 credit hours, just kidding).  Oh yeah, the cigar needed to go.She deflected every question in every way, and Dave (sorry folks) started winning the dissing contest towards the end of the show.  He had more comebacks, but he swallowed 'em.  SHE DID NOT EVEN SING!!!  I did not know what to exspect, but that did not stop me from being so disappointed.  She did prove to the audience that sheis very sly, beautiful, and most of all, vengeful (look out Mr. Penn).I will try and do the Republican thing and block this event from my memory.Bye all.  Ciao.Mark (Mr. No Hate Mail Please, soon to be Dr. No Hate Mail Please)--------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 94 13:33:37 PSTFrom: amedrano@euclid.ucsd.edu (Archie Medrano)Subject: Madonna ON LettermanHey!Whatever anyone thinks of Madonna last night, I still LOVE Madonna.The entire time she was on made me laugh!  I LOVE her sense of humour!:-)Archie---------------From: James P Carameta <carameta@student.msu.edu>Subject: showdown: MLVC vs. LettermanDate: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 17:06:41 -0500 (EST)I know someone on my floor who said that M and Dave are "great friends."I beg to differ.She reminded me of me when I argue with my Uncle Pete who is very much likeDave.  He constantly antagonizes people and picks arguments with them.  Stupid,inane arguments, I might add.That is my two cents.  Tawk amongst y'selves.  Discuss.-Jamie--------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 94 17:15:31 EST  From: "Madonna Cicconne" <bdaher@bottom.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu>Subject: Yes I do read thisYes, I do read this newsgroup and the digest.  Hi Joe!I've read some of the messages today and to the gentleman that called me acunt..... I'll see you after school!I'm glad some people still understand me.Now this would be a really Good Friday if I can find someone to make me ....happy.Ta ta my fans, I love you all, well most of you.... Especially you JimMcDermott!  Neil, Mr. McBrine, Joe, Jennifer, the Brians, and all the rest!Diva----------------From: Brian D Daher <bdaher@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu>Subject: Thanks Mads for stopping by the libraryDate: Fri, 1 Apr 94 17:31:07 ESTI just want to thank Mads for stopping by the library to say hi and using my PCto send a message to her fans.We had lunch at the Wexner Center.  Very hip.  Dissed Letterman, compared our sexual exploits with basketball players, just like last year.Happy Easter everyone!!******************************************************************** A/~~\A                        Greetings from Cowlumbus!((0  0))_______  \  /    ___  \   /o                 Brian Daher  (--)\  /   \  |              The Ohio State University         |OSU|                      daher.1@osu.edu         \___/                         "Why's it so hard to love one another?"********************************************************************--------------From: sgordon@casbah.acns.nwu.edu (Sharon Gordon)Subject: Bad career move Madonna!Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 16:37:45 -0600 (CST)I was totally disgusted last night.  I thought that by getting backtogethter with Patrick Leonard and releasing a ballad that was reminiscentof her work on True Blue and Like a Prayer she was moving away from thishard-core sex image that obviously hasn't done much to help her career.  Whydoes she constantly give such meaningless TV interviews?  In print, she isoften thoughtful, but print interviews are generally read only by fans.  OnTV, she has the chance to impress people who aren't already fans, but allshe did was reinforce the negative image people had of her.  Not a greatmove.  Her new album better be spectacular to make up for this.Sharon----------------Date: Fri, 1 Apr 1994 16:41:16 -0600From: daveb@merle.acns.nwu.eduSubject: LettermanI thought this was one of the classic Letterman shows.  I don't think,unlike others, that either of them took it seriously. Dave must've figuredthat M would act like that and simply decided to play the innocent victim, likehe does whenever Sandra or Charles Grodin is on.  The sight of them smoking cigars together was excellent, and M had a glow on her that was missing during the Erotica phase, when I thought she looked too cold and mechanical.  Dave may have acted flustered, but I think he has good feelings for M, and vice versa.  One thing: I don't think I have ever seen her so nervous before.  Maybebecause this was her first nationwideappearance in a while..------Dave WaldonDHCFC, GMTB, NVTB, SPTB"Let's play two"--Ernie Banks-----------------Date: Fri, 01 Apr 1994 18:46:26 -0500 (EST)From: Andre Passero <5PASSERO_A@spcvxa.spc.edu>Subject: Is that really you????   Was that really Madonna responding to the list???  If it is, This willbe a very Good Friday for me.   /this is almost too good to be true. I mean, she actually cares and takes the time out to truly hear what her diehard fans think.   If this is really her, this only reinforces my love forMadonna.  She is not only Devine, but she is also human with a big heart for her fans.          MADONNA,  I LOVE YOU.   now, if you will excuse me, I must go and Pray For Madonna Eyes!!-------------------Subject: Re: USENET group alt.fan.letterman Date: Fri, 01 Apr 94 19:57:42 -0500From: "Lee S. Kilpatrick" (Mr. Breeze) <leekil@BBN.COM>> Isn't misogyny great? > So far today, posters on this group have referred> to Madonna as a "whore", "bitch", and "tramp".> Several others detailed the way Dave should have abused> her physically. > Tony, reading alt.fan.letterman and waiting for "cunt" Well, we've already had "cunt" here.  But I don't know if it'smisogyny -- there are plenty of male-specific derogatory terms --"dick", "bastard", and usually "asshole" isn't used to refer to women.They probably aren't mysogynistic, anyway, just a little too rabid over Dave.	Lee
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VH1 produced a special a while back that was something like "Madonna's Greatest TV Moments." It included this, with interview segments from Rosie O'Donnell and Paul Schaeffer (sp?). Rosie was defensive of Madonna (of course) -- saying that, at the time it happened, she immediately called Madonna and was like, "What is going on?" (Makes sense -- they were super tight as friends after ALOTO and Rosie was probably concerned that M was not having some sort of pre-breakdown or something. Ha!) She said Madonna said something like, "it was the show's idea; they told me to do it, they would bleep it, and everyone would laugh." But then that's not the way it played out exactly, as we know.

The band leader, Paul, was ... hmm. I can't find a nice word to describe, but he was like, "I remembered thinking the Material Girl has no material." [i have never gotten the impression there is much genuine respect/admiration from him toward Madonna. Occasionally he seems like he's paying her lip service, but most of the time, he seems to be throwing shade at her or messing with her mind. The comment I'm referring to here is one time where he was criticizing her when the writers/producers of the show he worked for were in on the concept. And then other times he's done stuff like have his band play unreleased things to make her wonder how he's gotten access to it... Wasn't "Cook & F*ck" played by them around the 2000 Music album promo interview? I think they were trying to provoke her into saying the title -- to get her to say f*ck again -- but she didn't take the bait. Perhaps it was the same interview where he started talking to her about some musician that was a session or tour musician for her, and he made some remark about how she should pay them more... I don't know. Maybe I'm recalling things incorrectly, but ... I just have a negative haze around him in my mind because I don't think he's been very respectful of Madonna always.]

Sorry I don't have video evidence of this. I have it on VHS somewhere, but ... I can't really get that transferred to digital easily/soon.

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VH1 produced a special a while back that was something like "Madonna's Greatest TV Moments." It included this, with interview segments from Rosie O'Donnell and Paul Schaeffer (sp?). Rosie was defensive of Madonna (of course) -- saying that, at the time it happened, she immediately called Madonna and was like, "What is going on?" (Makes sense -- they were super tight as friends after ALOTO and Rosie was probably concerned that M was not having some sort of pre-breakdown or something. Ha!) She said Madonna said something like, "it was the show's idea; they told me to do it, they would bleep it, and everyone would laugh." But then that's not the way it played out exactly, as we know.

The band leader, Paul, was ... hmm. I can't find a nice word to describe, but he was like, "I remembered thinking the Material Girl has no material." [i have never gotten the impression there is much genuine respect/admiration from him toward Madonna. Occasionally he seems like he's paying her lip service, but most of the time, he seems to be throwing shade at her or messing with her mind. The comment I'm referring to here is one time where he was criticizing her when the writers/producers of the show he worked for were in on the concept. And then other times he's done stuff like have his band play unreleased things to make her wonder how he's gotten access to it... Wasn't "Cook & F*ck" played by them around the 2000 Music album promo interview? I think they were trying to provoke her into saying the title -- to get her to say f*ck again -- but she didn't take the bait. Perhaps it was the same interview where he started talking to her about some musician that was a session or tour musician for her, and he made some remark about how she should pay them more... I don't know. Maybe I'm recalling things incorrectly, but ... I just have a negative haze around him in my mind because I don't think he's been very respectful of Madonna always.]

Sorry I don't have video evidence of this. I have it on VHS somewhere, but ... I can't really get that transferred to digital easily/soon.

I remember this, too, and have it on tape somewhere. I found what I think is a UK cut of the special on youtube but for some reason it's missing the Letterman segment. If someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll try to get it online tomorrow.

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That E.W. article is missing one glaring point: that Madonna was using Dave (& the audience) for HER amusement.

Correct me if I'm wrong (I was like 4 years old when she did this interview) but from those clips, she seems to be in complete control of the conversation. She wasn't fishing for approval or canned laughter, she wanted to keep Dave on his toes and watch him sweat. In retrospect, SHE looks completely unbothered and effortlessly fucking cool; every time the audience groans she just grins and chuckles. Nowadays, young fags like myself LOVE that 'bad girl' shtick, but Madonna was doing it at a time when being likable was way more lucrative. Love a woman with a sense of humor about herself.

And his opening comment about her sex life would have made a lesser pop diva storm off, but I respect the fact that she came out onstage anyway just to toy with him. What a bitch :wow:

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I remember this, too, and have it on tape somewhere. I found what I think is a UK cut of the special on youtube but for some reason it's missing the Letterman segment. If someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll try to get it online tomorrow.

Great thread!

I ripped some stuff off my tapes yesterday so I could post them tonight for this anniversary lol!

BTW - here's the VH-1 special I uploaded a few years ago (UK version in full) - at work right now so can't watch the vids / can't see if they include the Letterman stuff:

http://www.madonna-tv.com/2013/01/tv.html

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Great thread!

I ripped some stuff off my tapes yesterday so I could post them tonight for this anniversary lol!

BTW - here's the VH-1 special I uploaded a few years ago (UK version in full) - at work right now so can't watch the vids / can't see if they include the Letterman stuff:

http://www.madonna-tv.com/2013/01/tv.html

Thanks Jamesy. Looks like it's the same edit I found on youtube which omits the Letterman segment.

Going through tapes now... I found and just uploaded a similar segment from VH1 in 2000 covering her Music-era Late Show appearance. The recap makes heavy reference to '94 and has a few, kind comments from Paul Schaffer:

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20 years. It's amazing. Back then, as big of a fan as I was, I wondered how much longer the public was going to be interested in Madonna. I mean, I didn't see her fizzling out anytime soon, but I never could have imagined there would still be a worldwide fascination with her, and that she would still be active in the business, 20 years later!!

Anyway, this is an unforgettable TV moment, and as usual Mattress, you've done a brilliant job presenting it for us.

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In 1995, Madonna spoke of the Letterman experience with Spin magazine:

Do you regret doing that David Letterman Interview?

I regretted it right afterward because of the reaction. I couldn’t believe how freaked out people were. But then, in retrospect, I was so glad I did it. That’s how I feel about a lot of things. You know, I do it and then everybody freaks out and then I start feeling bad about what I did, then I get some space and distance, and I go, no, that was the right thing to do. It’s hard to feel good about the choices you make when an entire nation is beating up on you. I mean I can’t tell you how intimidating it all is, and how, if you’re not an incredibly resilient human being, it can crush you, no question about it.

The whole thing about going on TV and saying "fuck" was just ridiculous You can show a person getting blown up, and you can’t say "fuck?" It’s such hypocrisy. The fact that everyone counted how many fuck’s I said — how small-minded is that?

People were really worked up about it.

A word. A word. It’s just a word. And it doesn’t even mean what it used to mean! It’s become a part of our daily life, it means like a zillion things.

The other thing that was ridiculous was that David Letterman knew I was going to do it. I talked to the producers of the show. Everybody was like, this will be really funny if you say "fuck" a lot and they’ll just keep bleeping you. Well, I came out and started doing it, and David freaked out.

The way he introduced me was derogatory, so my whole thing was, okay, if that’s how you want to play it, you cannot beat me at this game.

1996-madonna-spin.jpg

:bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow::bow:

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I remember at the time being so surprised she had been on his show at all - and even now it's kinda strange when you think about it.

Cos pretty much no-one ever goes on these talk shows unless they have something to sell - and she didn't really have anything to sell at that particular time other than her single "I'll Remember" (which was almost at the very top of the charts at that point) - but there was absolutely no mention of that during this appearance.

Do you guys think that was the reason she did this show? The soundtrack single? Letterman didn't hold it up before or after her appearance (as he always would, if someone was on his show to promote a CD).

I mean - when else in her career has Madonna made a full-blown appearance on a TV show when it's not been to sell either a movie, book, CD or tour? And like I say - that's standard across the industry, people only ever do these shows when they're on the promo trail.

In a way I loved this appearance more when I thought about that - it was like she was just on there selling herself. Like it was time to remind everyone (in the absence of an album, movie, tour or whatever) that she was still around.

BTW I'm not gonna count her 1988 Letterman appearance (she was not scheduled to appear that night - was definitely impromptu).

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The other thing that was ridiculous was that David Letterman knew I was going to do it. I talked to the producers of the show. Everybody was like, this will be really funny if you say "fuck" a lot and they’ll just keep bleeping you. Well, I came out and started doing it, and David freaked out.

The way he introduced me was derogatory, so my whole thing was, okay, if that’s how you want to play it, you cannot beat me at this game.

I didn't know about this :bow:

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I thought she was going to promote Ill Remember that night and announce something about her upcoming album.

I remember i was so depress reading that entertainment weekly article (i was a subscriber) and the immaterial girl of Us magazine. I thought she was never gonna bounce back again. But weeks after that infamous guesting, Ill Remember was zooming up the charts and leading the radio airwaves.

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