"That was a load off my back," said a clearly relieved Madonna to a crowd of fans, friends and celebs last night at New York's famed Paris Theatre minutes after the world premiere screening of her "MDNA Tour" (hosted by The Cinema Society and Dolce & Gabbana), set to air on Epix this Saturday. "I can now honestly say that my tour is over."
Sporting trousers, a tailored tuxedo jacket and a top hat, Madonna (who said she was channeling Marlene Dietrich's iconic "Morocco" look in honor of the opening of the Paris Theater in 1948, during which Dietrich was present) looked like her iconic self onstage at the event for what was described in the press invite as a "Special Q&A." It delivered on the "special." Before making herself known to her adoring masses, a full marching band invaded the theater's two aisles and performed a blaring set as the concert's credits rolled. The star then took to the stage sans moderator and proceeded to direct the Q&A herself, urging folks to only ask "intelligent, interesting and inspired questions."
Below are the highlights from the informal chat. Her "MDNA Tour" airs on Epix at 8pm ET on Saturday, June 22nd.
On the strenuous nature of touring the world:
"First of all, thank god I didn't have to do it every night. I did four or five shows a week. It was hard, yeah. That was probably the hardest tour I've ever done. I was a mess. Just talk to my manager (laughs). But in my book if you don't leave a pound of flesh on the stage every night, you did not do your job. Go hard or go home."
On what she demands of her dancers:
"I force everyone to go outside their comfort zones. So straight boys wear high heels. And gay boys have to, you know, man up! I think it's important for everybody to understand that they're playing characters when they come into my realm and that they're telling stories. They're stories that hopefully everyone can relate to."
On how she stays fit while on tour:
"I hate those questions. I did the show every fucking night, OK? Is that a workout? I mean, did you watch? In all honesty, my workouts got smaller and smaller as the tour went on because I became more and more exhausted. There's your answer."
On touring with her son Rocco, who was featured in the concert:
"Well, he was going to go on my tour whether he liked it or not. He's a Leo, what can I say. He's very -- he's disconcertingly comfortable on stage. I was thrilled to see him every night; he gave me a little boost of energy. So, go Rocco, wherever you are. However, he does not look like that. In one year he's grown, he's six feet tall, his voice has deepened -- and I'm a little bit scared of him."
On the massive undertaking of editing down a ton of footage into one streamlined concert experience:
"Basically, me and the editor just strangled each other for five months. You have to understand there was a lot of work put into this because we filmed all over the world. The base of the show is in Miami but we used footage from France, from England, from Argentina, from New York. Imagine all that footage and all that time code that didn't match up. It was a lot of hard work. Hard work baby."
On what inspired her concert looks:
"I create a character for each session. The first section of the show is angry girl, in case you didn't notice -- angry girl wants revenge. I was inspired by Russ Meyer films -- ones like "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" I take a lot of ideas and references from films, or archetypical characters.
"The third section of the show is kind of obvious. I collaborated with Jean Paul Gautier who I've been collaborating with for years. He's an amazing designer. He loves to push the envelope and play with gender confusion -- and it all looks pretty sexy and hot.
"The last section of the show was a strange marriage between martial arts and Joan of Arc. There's something wrong with me obviously."
On pushing on, despite herself:
"I'm a human being like everybody else so I would have my bad nights and I would cry and say, 'I don't want to do this.' But I sold the tickets and I can't let my audience down. At the end of the day, even if I hadn't slept the night before and I was exhausted, before every show everyone came into my dressing room and we'd hold hands and say prayers. 49 percent of the time I was crying, usually because of exhaustion. But there's something about pushing yourself out there, whether it's pouring rain, or it's freezing cold, or you don't feel well, or something really shitty, crazy happened in the world like Hurricane Sandy.
"As we were traveling around the world there were so many crazy things happening. From the trial of Pussy Riot, to gays being arrested at my concert in St. Petersburg, to the election of Obama, to Hurricane Sandy -- the world was changing rapidly. It was just a crazy time and I was personally affected by all of it. Sometimes I didn't feel I had the strength to go and sing and dance and pretend that crazy shit wasn't happening in the world. But then I thought I have to do it. By the end of the show I felt victorious, that I had pushed through something. The world needs to be inspired."
And what she has planned next:
"Start a revolution of love baby."