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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.
Spotted these ladies before I was out of Manhattan. They were blasting Madonna on the train.
Dear Madonna Fans,
Last night I was right there with you, at Yankees Stadium, waiting and watching as Madonna brought her MDNA Tour to her adopted (former, I think) home city. I sat through a just slightly too long opening set by a deejay I should probably be familiar with named Avicii. I bought a plastic bottle of Miller Lite for $9.50. I sat sweating in the million percent humidity. I even feigned enthusiasm for Madonna's latest record—the dead in the water MDNA—for solidarity's sake.
And, I want to thank you—because you people were the best part of the show. Because you were dressed. And, yes, some of you looked ridiculous. I probably did too. But all of it was done with such joy and spirit that it didn't even matter.
First of all: I hadn't even made it all the way up into the Bronx and I'd already spotted about a half dozen Madonna tee shirts. By the time I was off the train they were everywhere: Every tour, every era. Favorites: That Herb Ritts' photograph of the singer circa True Blue, screened on a big, bleached white bag; a crisp new Hanes with a New York Post cover blown up and printed—the headline "What a Tramp," the photo, from the Sex book; and a baby doll tee that just said "Madonna!" three times, in red glitter. I spotted duos and trios in matching or not matching tees; I saw bootleg tees; homemade tees; shredded tees; beaded tees; tees that were likely nearly as old as I am. There was even a family of four who each had on their own Madonna tee. The parents had matching shirts from a tour or two ago; the kids—they were pretty little—swam in official MDNA garb. They had a kinda biker bar look to them and the dad had a single dangly earring. Sorta George Michael-ish but butch. It was great.
The tees, the crosses, the ruffles, and that tattoo!
I guess the hundreds of Madge tees prove it's no longer a faux pas to wear a band tee shirt to a show. Before Pitchfork told Pavement fans they were allowed to like Beyonce, this was a major no no. It's nice to see we've moved beyond giggling at people displaying their devotion to music at a music event. And last night there weren't just a million Madonna tees—I spotted Nirvana, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, System of a Down, Rihanna, and an American Idol tote bag (being carried by a guy in a Wicked tee shirt).
Aside from all those tee shirts—which, yes, they indicate spirit but perhaps not much effort—there were innumerable clusters of fans who really went all out for the occasion. A trio of women in their late 30s had a major Romy and Michele doing Madonna at their senior prom moment: Teased hair, ruffled skirts, fishnets. Another pair, a bit younger, went seriously Boy Toy—complete with fingerless lace gloves and rubber band bangles. Many more eschewed those canned looks in favor of their own sort of Madonna fashion infusion. There were girls in tops and dresses printed in crucifixes (or cross-like shapes); girls in shear tops with dark bras and floppy headbands; girls in Live to Tell shirt dresses; girls in flowy Ray of Light yoga wear; girls in bustiers; girls who went '80s via H&M, '90s via Topshop. Plus a whole St. Mark's Place worth of crucifixes and bangles and rosary beads and footless leggings and nameplate belts.
And the rest of them? They just dressed like it mattered: wall-to-wall sequins, piles of jewelry, beaded sandals, sky-high heels, acres of black, acres of sheer. It didn't matter that they were in a baseball stadium and that hot dogs and Cracker Jack were at the ready. They were seeing Madonna.
I need this shirt to live.
As for Madonna's male fans—the ones who weren't wearing Madonna tee shirts at least—they fit into one of two categories. The first: Fashion with a capital F. The second: Slutty with a capital S. The fashionable fans wore drop crotch pants with Lanvin sneakers; icon-printed silk pants that were either old Versace or new D&G; satin; raw silk; pops of neon; mounds of jewelry; designer graphic tees; Skittles-colored chinos; leather; stretch; very expensive sandals; so many waistcoats. There was even a gentleman in a taupe satin boiler suit. It was sleeveless; had a drop crotch; and had a deep V neckline.
On the other end, the Slutty: Each and every one had on a either a skin tight or blousey, slinky tank top with tiny shorts and huge, designer sneakers or huge, floppy boots. Shirts that weren't born as tanks had their sleeves sliced off and arm holes cut so deep the shirt, in and of itself, was an exercise in futility. Likewise shorts—pants with the bottom 85 percent lopped off, pocket linings blowing in the breeze.
Of course, there were guys (and girls) wearing basic, innocuous items from places like American Eagle—but when you're faced with so much Dolce and so much fishnet, you're not seeing any of that.
All and all—it was amazing, and inspiring, and so much fun! Again, thank you!
Especially (and here's where things get curmudgeonly) since the show was kind of not that great.
Fact is: MDNA is bad. It was mostly not well-reviewed. It's been a tremendous commercial failure—after hitting number one on the albums chart it broke records in week two for highest drop off in sales ever. And the copies sold were largely bundled with concert tickets which went on sale in February. The singles are mediocre. The other tracks range from "this isn't the worst thing I've ever heard" ("Love Spent," maybe "Superstar," if you can tune out the lyrics) to "this is literally the worst thing I have ever heard" ("Gang Bang"). And despite these tried and true signs that the album isn't working—I mean, it's been out since March, it has no traction, "Girl Gone Wild barely charted—no-one thought to sort of tweak the set lists on this huge, crazy, epic concert tour.
So, she's still performing most of the album ? To dead silence and flaccid applause. Almost no one could, or would, sing along—even as requested by Ms. Madge herself. Which is kind of sad. Sad for her for thinking people care about this terrible record. And sad for us, sitting their sweating, wondering what else we could've spent our ticket money on.
Meanwhile, the classic songs she's included are truncated and often nothing like the versions we know and love (a neverending, nearly a capella version of "Like a Virgin" comes to mind—way to showcase those totally average vocals!) But those tweaked classics—omigod, we lapped them up. It was all there was to clutch onto. You can make "Hung Up" into a funeral dirge and turn "Open Your Heart" into some sort of gypsy hootenanny—but they're still great songs that people care about and really want to hear. The same cannot be said for "I'm a Killer" (a song that went on for, what? Eleven minutes? And had bits of the insufferable "Shanti Ashanti" spliced in—which ended up being the only thing we heard from Ray of Light.)
Further, it all just seemed messy and a little unseemly and probably worst of all—a bit dull. The imagery projected on her massive backdrop wasn't controversial; but they were sometimes in bad taste. The costume-change interludes appeared abruptly and lasted forever and didn't segue or even, frankly, entertain. The sets were fine; the costuming was whatever. There was no encore. There was very little banter. She did not mention Pussy Riot (though she did endorse Barack Obama by having his name painted across her back in the MDNA font).
I know what you're thinking: "Oh, Frank, that shrew—heaven forbid he like anything."
Well, I liked you, Madonna Fans. Your looks made my night (because the show definitely didn't).
· Love, Frank [Racked]