Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life With My Sister Madonna, by Christopher Ciccone


I got this back from the library and thought, why on earth did I order this book, and determined not to read it at all. Alas, once I'd opened the book, it was like tearing the seal on a pack of potato chips. I could not stop reading, even though I knew it probably wasn't good for me to do so.

Poor old Christopher (not Chris, mind you, he gets upset when his name is shortened thus). He seems part courtier and part flatterer. He always 'sympathises', always reassures. When Madonna asks how one of her shows went, Christopher is supportive, even though he may think otherwise. He seems to have boxed himself into the role of propping up Madonna's ego. When she asks an opinion, obviously seeking approval, he has to erase himself and support her. It's like something out of that classic by Jean Genet, The Maids. Madonna is the self deluding Madame whose monstrous ego must be propped up at all costs.

Alas, by around page 260 (the book is 340 pages long) I thought, that's it, I'm sick of this maudlin sad sack who can't get his act together. It was like wading through this dreary family fight. It's also tricky trying to figure out what's true and what's not.

There are lots of points of interest though. In these books, when looking for the truth, I guess you've got to keep your eyes peeled for odd and incongruous detail. Like Christopher's confession that he never told people that while he was working on Madonna's tours he was basically working as her dresser, picking up her dirty clothing after her, work that he felt was not appropriate for an adult male. Or Madonna's not liking to be seen naked. Her outré sexual persona is a more theatre and grease paint than reality. He also lists all the factual errors in the Madonna story, and discusses how Madonna is keen on creating her 'mythology'.

The parts dealing with the club meets for Kabbalah reminded me of something straight out of that episode of Ab Fab called Bookclub. All the arguments about who gets to sit next to whom, and all the bitching over who gets to carry the Torah to the alter. Nuts!

The take away from this book is that Christopher feels in some way Madonna's spiritual twin, and the men in her life keeps fracturing that relationship. Madonna's marrying the childishly homophobic Guy Ritchie was bound to create a fissure in this once close relationship. There's another irony for you. Gay icon Madonna chooses for a husband a man with a puerile homophobic humour. All the 'poofter' jokes from Guy at his and Madonna's wedding sound truly horrible. Why didn't she mind?

But boy, what a self-serving book to write. Madonna of course is completely and utterly self serving, but she's always been open about that. She's the Napoleon of pop music after all, planning concerts and promotional tours like military campaigns. That and of course conquering the charts.

Christopher just makes himself look bad by writing such a petty, whining book. He needed to have the courage to walk away from Madonna, who obviously needed someone to be her poodle. Instead he took refuge in cocaine and the company of supermodels.

I felt bad after having read this book.

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