Confessions of an Airbrushed Anglophile

A veddy British Madonna wants to keep it bloody real

Throughout her ever-changing incarnations -- Material Girl, religious provocateur, dominatrix, crypt keeper -- one thing Madonna has remained is honest. Whether she's hitchhiking naked, exploring Jewish mysticism or feeling super duper about her Mini Cooper, Mama M has never had a problem telling the American public exactly what she's thinking.

We know her kids aren't allowed to watch TV or read magazines. She loves Michael Moore, hates Dubya and wanted to suck off Antonio Banderas before anyone stateside knew who he was. She wasa teetotaling vegetarian. Now she bellies up to the bar for a pint and a burger. We've been with her through both. She rides horses. And falls off them. The woman is a walking, talking advertising campaign for herself. If she does it, thinks it or believes it, we, praise red-thread bracelets, will know.

So now that Madonna is unhappy, it's no surprise we're starting to hear about it. Her current source of discontent? The December 1 issue of Rolling Stone. Featuring Ms. Lucky Star arching catlike toward the camera, the cover makes her look nothing short of stunning.

What's the problem, you ask?

"It's all a bloody farce," she's been blurting in thick Cockney outside various pubs in England, according to sources.

Nigel Pepperworth, owner and pint puller at the popular central London Pepperworth Pub, says Madge came in the day the issue hit shelves. "She was right mad. She brought it in and started waving it about after her third pint of Bass. She was going on about airbrushing and Photoshop touch-ups and whatnot. I couldn't really understand a bloody word she was saying actually. Her faux-Brit accent gets fuckin' right thick after a coupla ales. She's from Michigan; why the fuck she talk like that?"

Better able to understand her was Colin Boddington, who made the mistake of approaching Madonna with a copy of the issue at a pub in Brighton. "She right snatched the fucker from me hand and held it to me face and began bloody screamin', 'This isn't me! It's airbrushed. I don't bloody look like this. I'm, like, 103 or something. I don't look this bloody good. Look at me goddamn face and tell me I look like this!' " Did she? Boddington remembers, "Not in the least, mate. She's got a point. Her face has more wrinkles than me ball sack. Body looked right shag-worthy, though. Me thinks it's all the Pilates and mocha lattes that keep her lookin' so fit."

Sussex, England, pub patron Mary Maryfellow had what she described as "a right deep conversation with the old cow," which helps explain Madonna's position on the matter. "She was well pissed from half a dozen pints. She was very maudlin, almost to the point of bloody tears. She was tellin' me that Kabbalah takes a very strong stance against vanity. She didn't want to let down the Kabbalahist scholars she'd been larnin' undah. She was afraid they'd get the wrong idea, that she wasn't acceptin' of her status as a octogenarian."

Nigel Pepperworth says Madge was sentimental about the same thing at his place. "I gave 'er some spotted dick and blood puddin' and a bunch of udder disgoostin' shit our people eat to sober her up. She started natterin' about things along those lines. One thing I remember distinctly was her sayin', 'Maybe I'm getting' worked up over bloody nothin'. After all, those Kabbalah books are in Yiddish or somethin'. I can't even read 'em!' "

Attempting to explore more deeply, Wack was able to get Madonna on the phone.

"Tell us about your trepidation over the Rolling Stonecover," we mined.

"Something something bloody something," she replied.

She then added, "Bloody 'ell!" -- Brian McManus

A TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS HEADBANG WITH MOM, DAD AND THE TSO

My parents are no concert slouches: They saw the Who in their 1960s heyday and have accompanied me to R.E.M. and U2 shows. But since my dad delights in playing the rockified holiday tunes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra every Christmas, Wack decided to grant his holiday wish and send him and my mom to one of the band's shows to report back on what they saw.

Wack: How many people were on stage?

Dad: I think there must be eight of them? There was the narrator, three guitarists, a violinist, two keyboards…

Mom: Drummer.

Dad: And a drummer. An excellent drummer.

Mom: And then an orchestra.

Wack:What does the narrator narrate?

Dad: Each year there's a different story that they put their music to. The story was about an old man going into a bar on Christmas Eve, sitting all alone. Then he starts talking to this other gentleman, and the gentleman relates a story about an angel going around the world on Christmas Eve.

Mom: This is how it starts out, okay: "In an old city bar, that was never too far…" [laughs]

Dad: That's it. Your mom took notes, so that's the quote.

Wack:What was surprising about the concert you didn't expect to happen?

Mom: They went into this long rock concert [after the Christmas portion].

Dad: I think they were trying to spread their wings, because they were playing non-Christmas music.

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