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Liz Smith : Living Legend Madonna



 “I love Liz Smith because she has big balls, like me!” Those were practically the very first words I ever heard, personally, out of Madonna’s mouth. I was at the 1990 New York premiere of Madonna’s highly entertaining documentary, Truth of Dare. I wasn’t covering it, exactly. I was there being interviewed by ABC’s “Primetime Live.” They were doing a segment on me. So, this event was an example of one of my “glamorous nights out.” And of course I was being pressed to speak to Madonna. I’d been writing about her exhaustively since 1984, so everybody assumed we were friends. In fact, I’d never clapped eyes on her. I told the ABC people, “Look, this is her premiere, I don’t think she wants to be part of my publicity!” Somehow Madonna was corralled into a corner where I stood with the film crew. We exchanged hellos. Then the producer asked Madonna what she thought of me. She answered with the quote above, and we parted, laughing. (It couldn’t really be used on the air.) So I had finally met this already legendary creature of music, video, and controversy. She was in a brunette phase, and looked gorgeous under a heavy coat of makeup. She was wearing a glittering Versace bodysuit, legs bare, bosom up and out. Yet in the brief moments I spent with her, I sensed her less a sexual provocateur and more like a little girl dressed up outrageously in Mama’s finery. She seemed nothing at all like her sometimes vulgar, deliberately inyour-face image. As the years went by, and I got to know her better, I found her a much more serious and far more vulnerable person than she ever lets on. But she has been determined, right from the start, to never beg her audience (or the media) for sympathy.


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