The Girlie Show (Ep. 68 - Madonna)

This Week's Guest: David Russell

What is it about strong women that gay men find so irresistible? Whether it's a golden girl or Bayonetta or, as is the case for this week's guest, Madonna, there's something extra inspiring to us about the women who run the world.

So it's no wonder that David Russell's dedicated his career to supporting fabulous lady performers. For the last few years, he's managed Sia, the Australian singer-songwriter, and his path to success was paved with heroines like Wonder Woman, Belinda Carlisle, and an extremely understanding family. A family who stood up for him when he wanted to dance, and stood up to school officials who were so scared of having a gay student that they wouldn't even allow David to talk.

This Week's Recommendation: 20 Years of Madonna in 20 Minutes

Thanks again to David for joining me. In talking to him, I realized another reason gay men might love powerful women: their ability to adapt, to transform, to reinvent themselves and always stay one step ahead of everyone else.

Speaking of quick changes, for my recommendation this week I suggest you run to YouTube and look up the incredible drag act, "20 Years of Madonna in 20 Minutes." I've also posted the video in the shownotes for this episode, which you can find at

It's an incredible costume-changing lip sync medley of Madonna's entire career, performed by a San Francisco artist named Kimo. Half of the pleasure of the show is hearing one greatest-hit after another, and the other half is witnessing the dizzying, frantic exchange of costumes and dresses and wigs and completely different looks within seconds.

It's easy to forget just how many Madonnas we've had from the 80s to today, from Starlight to Material Girl to Open Your Heart to Like a Prayer to Vogue -- and that barely even gets us into the 90s. Watching Kimo rocket through Madonna's career is an incredible reminder of just how many times she's changed.

And I think that knack for transformation is one key to Madonna's ongoing success. When you hit on something that works, there's a temptation to keep riding it, and riding it, and riding it, and riding it. After all, if something you did worked, if people love it, that seems like the riskiest possible time to change.

But risks can be won. Not every time, and you may need to adjust your definition of what winning means. But imagine if Madonna never moved on from Material Girl -- those furs would be pretty threadbare by now. You may not love all the risks she takes. But if you don't, so what? There'll be another quick change soon enough.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About


Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
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