Madonna Diary 6-12 July 1993

By John Anderton

6 Jul 1993
Phone call from Blackett Films asking if I’m free for a job in the USA starting on Thursday. I need the money, so I say yes, but the possibility of a shoot abroad with only half a day’s notice is a pain.

7 Jul 1993
Can the producers see me on Thursday? Leaving has been put back until Monday. The film is to be a seven-week shoot following Madonna, first in the USA showing her ‘at home’ and then on a trip to China where she will do a couple of concerts and visit a village that she has been sponsoring. I don’t really want to do this so I decide to ask for as much money as I can in the hope that they’ll get someone else.

8 Jul 1993
Meeting at Blackett Film’s office in Ladbroke Grove. It seems that Madonna wants to correct her image after In Bed With... and Sex. This film is meant to show her as a normal person, her charity work, Madonna as Mother Teresa. Initially we’re to go over to be vetted by her. If she likes us then shooting will go ahead. She is to pay for the trip and the filming, although there is no written contract with her as yet. There are two directors, Tim and Dick.

The project began through Tim’s mother, who was introduced to Madonna by a mutual friend at a k.d. lang concert in Northampton, Massachusetts, and the two became friends. At the moment Madonna is living, incognito, at her sister’s house in Northampton. She is about to have a baby, which we will (presumably) film.

10 Jul 1993
Wow! Business Class! I’ve been working on Channel 4 films for too long. Still, if you’ve got money from Madonna, why not spend it?

Because of visa problems Tim and I are flying out with all the equipment. The other four are getting a flight out later today. I think this is going to be a difficult shoot.

Eventually the others get to Boston and we meet in the hotel bar to discuss filming. There is talk of secretly recording telephone conversations with Madonna, something I won’t do. However, it’s suggested that if she finds out, then the film will be cancelled, so the idea is dropped which gets me out of a spot.

I can’t really believe that Madonna is going to let Tim and Dick do this. No one has met Madonna yet. Only Tim has spoken to her on the phone. I have a horrible feeling that this is going to turn into one of those ‘film everything that moves, including the crew’ shoots with the hope that there will be enough to cobble a film together in the edit.

11 Jul 1993
Pick up the gear in Boston, then off to Northampton. On the way, Tim and Dick talk about hiring actors in China to play the parts of Madonna fans. How else can the directors get them to do what they need for the film? It doesn’t seem to occur to them that there should be plenty of real ones we could use in the ‘documentary’.

We meet Tim’s mum, who gives the background to Madonna’s stay in Northampton. Apparently there is more to it than just an escape from the media while she has her baby. She is trying to adopt the children of her sister, who is a junky and has disappeared. One of the children is the son of Michael Jackson. Jackson, meanwhile is in New York with cancer caused by the skin-whitening drugs he has been taking. Madonna has been secretly married to a Northampton night-club owner – Alan. Since her marriage, Madonna has calmed down a lot and the idea for the film is partly a result of this change.

Northampton is a pleasant enough college town – neat, clean, a bit too nice. Apparently it is the lesbian capital of America, which Tim finds fascinating. After a pizza the evening is spent in a couple of bars. Everywhere we go, Tim asks very loudly where we can find a lesbian bar. He wants to see some lesbians. This is going to be a very long shoot.

12 Jul 1993
Sort out gear ready to start shooting straight away if necessary, then down to breakfast. This whole experience is very bizarre. It’s all supposed to be top secret and yet everywhere we go Tim, Dick and Roger (the production manager) talk about Madonna in loud voices and leave books and press cuttings lying around in restaurants.

We’d been told that she was living on a housing estate, so I had pictured something with tower blocks and dereliction, not the semi-detached cottages surrounded by trees and grass where we pull up. Alan (Madonna’s new husband) opens the door as we approach – ‘Welcome to our madness.’ We are ushered into a tiny crowded pink room. Everywhere are cute pictures and dolls.

In turn we are introduced to, and shake hands with, Madonna – except it doesn’t look anything like her! She’s about the right height, has bleached blonde hair, but her face is too thin, and the nose and chin look wrong. Her voice doesn’t sound right and she definitely has the wrong accent. She swears non-stop. Her eyes are the most disturbing thing about her – jet black with the aggressive stare of someone trying to start a fight.

Simon (cameraman), Kelvin (camera assistant) and I cram on to a settee as far out of the way as we can get, while Tim, Dick and Roger chat to ‘Madonna’ and Alan. Everyone carries on as if this was Madonna. They discuss plans for filming, what ideas she and Alan have, what ideas Tim, Dick and Roger have, etc.

How do I know this isn’t really her? I’ve never seen her outside of a promo or a newspaper photograph with all her make-up on. This ‘Madonna’ is nine months pregnant, in fact overdue. She claims her face looks thinner because Sean Penn knocked her teeth out and she isn’t wearing her false ones. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks it isn’t her.

If she’s already had one miscarriage and is now late with this one, why aren’t there any medical people around? We are told that there are secret monitoring devices hidden around the house, even they don’t know where, so that a medical team, based not far away, can be on the scene at a moment’s notice. These hidden cameras and microphones also act as security devices, as well as sending pictures back to her home in LA so that her other (?) kids can still see her on TV while she’s away. We are also told that one of her kids has just had a heart transplant at the Westminster Hospital for which she paid $23m.

At the moment Alan and ‘Madonna’ are in the middle of organising the biggest charity telethon ever, with loads of stars. The start has had to be put back as the studio was just destroyed by Satanists who hate Madonna because of Sean Penn who, this ‘Madonna’ claims, was caught up in Satanism. Her arms and legs are covered in scars, including an inverted cross, caused, she says, by Penn. I can’t decide if Alan is stupid, a con man or as mad as she is.

Eventually Simon, Kelvin, Roger and I leave so that Tim and Dick can talk to ‘Madonna’ and Alan about contracts, etc. Back at the hotel Roger calls England: ‘We have a problem here, it’s not her…no, seriously…look, I’m not joking. I don’t know who it is, but it’s not Madonna. The crew don’t think it’s her either.’

The crew rolls on the floor. The company decides to check where the real Madonna is, still hoping that we’re wrong. Meanwhile it’s suggested that we film anyway.

We return to ‘Madonna’s’ cottage to pick up Tim and Dick. The door is opened by this huge man – so there is a bodyguard after all. Dick arrives with a big grin followed by Tim. Tim still believes it’s her! We have a difficult job convincing Tim it is not the real Madonna. Finally he accepts it, sort of. He wants to continue and make a film about what has happened, and maybe involve the real Madonna. Dick just isn’t interested, while Roger and the rest of us don’t think Tim can do it on his own, and we’ve already missed all the best bits.

Back at the hotel we await a phone call from England. A knock on the door. It’s Simon, Dick, and Roger. We have to leave now! They tell me that two bodyguards have turned up. They were getting suspicious, and our arrival and then disappearance has confirmed their fears. They have been working for ‘Madonna’, without pay, for eight months. (One even bought a new truck with his own money because ‘Madonna’ didn’t like his old one.) The bodyguards are about to go and beat her up, so we have to leave before the police get involved. We beat it back to Boston.

13 Jul 1993
Return all the equipment. Fly back to London, this time Economy.

24 Aug 1993
From the Daily Mirror: ‘Mother of seven, [Marie] Lamour, 36, began her charade four years ago…she told neighbours that her sister worked for Madonna’s corporation in New York and they were swapping places to help the megastar avoid the limelight… She pledged money to charities and failed to pay up. Now one children’s home in San Francisco, banking on a promise of a million dollars, faces closure. A police spokesman said, “We have investigated, but there has been no crime committed. This woman is very confused and living a fantasy. Her children have been taken away from her for their safety.”’ The bodyguards were never paid. Said bodyguard Dean Liptak, ‘We didn’t want to complain too much in case we lost the job.’

John Anderton is a freelance sound recordist.