Today is an international holiday. Maybe even an interplanetary holiday. It’s Madonna’s birthday! She turns 56 today. Madonna Ciccone (she has a last name, you guys) has not only been famous for over 30 years, she’s been (and continues to be) relevant. And in those 30 years, she has done a few things that were pretty outrageously shocking to most people. Okay, maybe more than a few. But to her fans, it was just Madonna being Madonna. And that’s exactly why we love her.
To celebrate the Queen’s birthday, let’s take a look back at some of greatest moments of Madonna being awesomely Madonna.
(Disclaimer: There’s some NSFW/adult content. But it’s Madonna, so that’s to be expected.)
The time she made Letterman and America super uncomfortable.
In her 1994 David Letterman interview, she cussed at least 13 times, spoke only in sexual innuendos and requested that Dave smell her underwear. I’m no late night talk show etiquette expert, but I think that’s not how you’re supposed to do it. Which is why Madonna did it, and why we loved it.
The time she kissed Britney and Christina on the mouth.
At the 2003 MTV Awards, Madonna performed with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. The performance was sort of a passing of the torches to the younger pop stars, but instead of passing it with her hand, she passed it with her tongue (and still kept the bigger, better torch for herself).
The time she became an author.
In 1992, before she wrote a series of children’s books, she wrote a coffee table book called Sex. It featured images of her in various sexual situations with various people—including Vanilla Ice and Naomi Campbell. She was pushing buttons. In a 2003 interview for the London Times about making her Sex book, she said, “If a man can do it, I can do it.” And she wasn’t wrong about that.
The time her “Justify My Love” video was banned from MTV.
MTV banned the video for its “inappropriate” sexual content (open-mouthed lesbian kissing, bisexuality, sadomasochism). Because people are cooler than corporations, the video went on to be the number one best-selling video single of all time. So take that, MTV.
The time she almost got arrested.
Madonna does this thing where she expresses herself and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. During her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour, the Toronto police threatened to arrest her for “lewd and obscene behavior,” AKA simulating sex on stage. She didn’t get arrested, but she did let the world know that her artistic expression can’t be censored by law enforcement.
The time she co-founded Raising Malawi.
Raising Malawi is an organization that Madonna co-founded in 2006, and has helped provide food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care, and emotional care to some of the one million orphaned children and their caregivers in Malawi.
The time she gave birth to two children, adopted two more, and was a really great mom.
The time she predicted the future.
In 1983, Dick Clark interviewed Madonna on American Bandstand. He asked her what her dreams are for the rest of her professional career. Her answer—”To rule the world.” And that she did.