The image is sure to set tongues wagging as the Material Girl reignites her age old beef with the Catholic church, posing with a crucifix dangling from her nose into her mouth. Religious fervor to one side though, the cover is beautifully done and the Material Girl looks on point, as ever. Shot by powerhouse fashion photography duo, Mert and Marcus, (as announced by Mert himself) the spread will undoubtedly be as interesting and controversial as the cover image – neither M&M or M herself have a reputation for shying away from contentious topics.
Call me old fashioned, but I find it hard to still see Madonna + religion = controversy. I think after witnessing the tricks Madge has pulled over the years, you’d be hard-pressed to find her tonguing a crucifix groundbreaking. With that in mind, check out four of the times M really did whip up a religious storm:
1. “Like a Virgin” Live at the 1984 VMAs
Whilst she later told Jay Leno that her shoe had fallen off and THAT was why she was rolling around on the floor, Madonna gyrating against the stage of the VMAs in a wedding dress displeased many religious groups who felt she was ‘undermining the sanctity of marriage’ (where have we heard that before?) Interestingly, manager Freddy DeMann reportedly screamed at her as she came off stage that she’d ruined her career. Oh, how wrong he was.
2. The “Like a Prayer” Music Video
Featuring burning crosses, black Jesus and a lingerie clad Madonna with stigmata, “Like A Prayer” caused a shit-storm of religious controversy. So much so that Pepsi pulled out of a $5mil endorsement with the singer, but let Madonna keep the cash. In news that shocked no one, “Like a Prayer” went on to peak atop the Billboard Hot 100 and become one of the best selling singles of all time.
3. “Shanti Ashtangi / Ray of Light” at the 1998 VMAs
Following her now time-honored tradition of pissing people off at the MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna took to the stage for what seemed like a fairly innocuous performance of mega-hit “Ray of Light”. Aparently Madge could now anger entire religions without even trying, as Hindu groups took offence at the superstar donning traditional Hindu facial markings that symbolize chastity and purity, and show dedication to God.
4. “Live to Tell” on the Confessions Tour
What is perhaps Madonna’s most religiously shocking moment didn’t come until 2006 during her enormously successful Confessions Tour. Performing “Live to Tell” for the first time in 16 years, M rose up from the stage attached to a mirrored cross with a crown of thorns on her head. Naturally, the Catholic Church (and indeed, almost all of Christianity) were not impressed with one bishop positing that “maybe the only way an aging superstar can attract attention is to offend people’s religious sentiments”. Ouch.
What do YOU think was Madonna’s most religiously shocking moment?