Christopher Ciccone spent most of the last 47 years following his big sister Madonna around the world and pitching in where and whenever she needed him: back up dancer, tour director, interior designer and -- above all -- confidante. Which is probably the position she most regrets assigning him now that hes released a tell-all memoir entitled Life With My Sister Madonna. The Queen of Pop outed her brother in a 1991 interview with The Advocate, so it seems only fair that Ciccone should have a chance to return the favor and air some of her dirty laundry. And while he restrains himself from exposing anything too terribly shocking, word on the street is that Madge is none-too-pleased with her little brother.
The book was released nearly six weeks ago, but Out always likes to arrive at the party fashionably late -- when everyone is already loosened up a bit and thus more likely to spill a secret or two. Ciccone was more than cooperative and chatted with us about Madonna's reaction to the book, why shes distanced herself from her gay fans, and a particularly shocking, sticky night partying with Demi Moore.
Out: Was there any intimidation -- subtle or not so subtle -- when Madonna found out you were publishing the book?
Christopher Ciccone: Three weeks before the book came out Simon and Schuster approached the media and Madonna found out from someone at ABC. And I got an email from her -- I hadnt heard from her in nine months. When her private email name pops up on my screen, Im like Ack! It just said, Call me. Thats all it said. A command. And I dont respond to that anymore. So I didnt. Then I got a phone call from her and she left a message -- the same thing, Call me. And I thought, No, Im not going to call you. I know what this is about. [Laughs]
So she was flipping out?
But she didnt know exactly what was in the book, did she?
She had no idea what the content was. She went to the worst possible place [mentally] -- which is where everyone else went, too. That was a little disappointing for me on her part. After spending 47 years of her life with me I would have thought shed have known me a little better and known that I wasnt going to write a book that tore her apart. And thats what she was expecting. And I think its what other people wanted. That was another surprising thing -- the bloodlust out there, that people wanted that kind of a book. A lot of bloggers were saying what an awful person I was but, in the same breath, that they couldnt wait to read it.
Does that other book -- the one she was afraid you had written -- exist?
In my head. [Laughs] Its from another time. I did start writing a book when I was very angry with her, six years ago, and I got five pages and then stopped. I thought, This is not the way to do this. It felt bad. I knew I was angry and I know what happens -- its just bad karma. Its hard to work in Hollywood again after that. People see you in a weird way. And I didnt want to be seen as a destroyer. So I didnt write that book and time passed and I got to a better place for me and it felt like the right time.
I think the most shocking thing about the book is how totally not shocking it is. Shes arguably the most famous woman in the world but its like the Wizard of Oz and youve pulled back the curtain to reveal a run-of-the-mill -- if not fairly unpleasant -- human being.
We both are [unpleasant]. Its not just her Im exposing. Im exposing myself just as much. Im no angel. Its our relationship -- a brother and sister relationship behind the Iron Curtain. The stuff we did on stage was another whole thing. I think those were great moments -- the Girlie Show, Blonde Ambition, the houses -- great moments of creativity for me and for her. Those things far outweighed the things that were bad. And those came in doses. And Ive gotten a lot of grief about If you were being treated so poorly, why didnt you leave? But that was my family. She was my family. My real family I wasnt in contact with. I left town when I was 19. I was gay and I didnt have a relationship with them. So there was no place for me to go. I couldnt walk away from her.
You've said you have at least one more book in you.
I think so. It probably wont be a novel. The thing I dont go into is my personal sexual history because I was with somebody in my 20s and 30s. I had my first one-night stand when I was 35. Thats old for a lot of people. So I got to experiment from 35 on. So theres a whole 10-year period when it was all sex and drugs.
So thats all still churning inside of you?
[Laughs] No, I think Im past that moment. Or at least its certainly not what it was. It wasnt just that -- it was also a really creative period for me. I did a lot of painting, and a lot of writing, and a lot of photographs from that period. So I might do a diary from the Hollywood period because its a bit darker. Definitely X-rated.
Speaking of which, there are a few points in the book when guys used you to try and get close to Madonna but --
You know, two weeks ago I was at a bar in L.A. and I was sitting with my friends and this kid came up to me and touched me on the hand and then walked away. And then he came back and said, I just wanted to touch Madonnas DNA. And I was like, You are a creep. Just creepy! People are like that. Its just the way it is. Six years ago I probably would have torn him apart. But now I dont give a shit. Whatever. Its cool.
Did you ever use your sister to get laid?
No. Never to get laid. I used to her to get into clubs and stuff. But God, no.. First of all, it wasnt something I told people upfront. Its something Id wait until --
Youre having breakfast with them the next morning?
Not even then. Some people worked it out. Some people didnt. I was staying with a friend of mine in Miami once and I brought a guy home with me and we were sitting on the sofa -- I think we were making out -- and then my friend comes home and hes plastered. He sees the guy Im with and says, Youre cute! and Im like, Dude, go to bed. So he disappears into his room. Two minutes later he presses the page all button on his intercom and all throughout the house you hear, Did you tell him youre Madonnas brother yet? And I thought Fuck!
Youd been outed again.
[Laughs] Everything changes completely. I told the guy I was with, You should probably go. So, no. I never did it. That was not an aphrodisiac for me.
Has the book gotten you laid?
[Laughs] No. It probably could have, but I havent had any time. Ive been so damn busy. Im in need of some affection. Ill admit to that.
Lets talk about Madonna and the gays. Youve said that shes purposely distanced herself in recent years and you attribute that -- at least partially -- to Guy Ritchie.
Look -- she was at a certain age, shed had a child already, I know she wanted to start a family and she fell in love with a guy who doesnt particularly like homosexuals. You cant explain why you fall in love with people, but I know that in her need to make him feel equal to herself, the gays had to go. I dont know what his past has been like and I dont know whats happened in his world, so I cant tell him you why hes the way he is but its definitely there. If youve been gay for any great length of time you can tell. I knew immediately -- he didnt have to do anything. I could just feel it. It was the way he looked at me -- hes always been kind of a sour puss. Not the most fun guy to be around. And you can see it in the photographs -- he always has a scowl on his face. But the gays havent left her and theres no reason why they should. I dont think she deserves to be shunned by homosexuals.
Its strange to me though because the gays are the ones that are always ready to rally whenever she releases something new. And yet she isnt bending over backwards to court us anymore.
Believe me, I called her on it a while ago. This was before we werent speaking. It was the Gay Games in Chicago and they asked me to be involved in some way and they asked me to extend the invitation to her and I agreed to email her and see if shell do a short filmed message for the event. And she just wasnt interested. And I thought, This is nothing. You havent done anything in years -- I mean, look, she did plenty when AIDS was at its peak, she did her part. But the gays made her. They kept her where she is and I think you have a responsibility -- I dont care what anybody says -- to maintain that respect.
It seems like good business as well.
I dont think its affected her business with the gays. But I wrote her back and said, I dont get it -- now you only are interested in gay people when you need them. They just want a filmed message from you. And she responded, Ive done plenty. Ive done enough. Its hard to explain some things. I dont know where its coming from. But she has her own family now and I imagine thats part of it. There are some things shes dealing with that are out of her control right now: her children, her relationship with her husband, shes turning 50, theres this book. There are some things she just cant control. I imagine Lola is on the verge of rebellion -- shes got to be. Im not sure what form itll take but thatll be interesting to watch.
That seems like one of your biggest regrets -- that you dont get to see the kids.
Thats part of it. But even before any of this there was always a line of people in front of me: the nannies, the nurses, the bodyguards. It was very hard to get close to Lola anyway, and she was much younger then. I cant imagine what she must think of her uncle. Im sure shes not happy with me. But when shes ready to rebel she has a place to go.
She can come crash with you. Are you or were you ever a fan of Madonnas music?
I dont listen to that kind of music. I listen to R&B and country. I really dont listen to pop. Every once in a while -- like [Britney Spears] Toxic. I like the dance remixes of Like a Prayer, and I think Erotica was her best record. Its the most overlooked because of all the stuff swirling around it. The latest record [Hard Candy] is crap as far as Im concerned. Its surprising -- no, not surprising -- its disappointing for a number of reasons. She didnt have to go into Timbaland and [Justin] Timberlakes world. Shes doing their music. She should have dragged them into her world and made them do her music. To me its out of place and stepping backwards. And she doesnt need the cash, so she should go and experiment. Find the edge again. Why not? Or else -- why bother? It could be partly because it was her last record for Warner Bros. she just got it out of the way. But its still part of her package and people respond to it. I havent followed the charts, but I havent talked to too many people whove actually liked the record. I wish shed push the envelope and not in a sexual way -- weve clearly been there -- or a religious way. But in a musical way. She has the wherewithal to do it.
You just shot a pilot for your own reality show.
Its a design-based show called Pardon My Dcor. And its all the stuff you dont see on reality shows. You still get the set-up and the reveal of a typical design show. Its Middle America and somebody needs a room redone and they dont have any money. The family in the pilot basically had no furniture. The producers went and bought furniture to make the place look ugly so that I could come in and make it pretty. Were showing all that stuff and the people behind the scenes. Im actually talking to the cameraman and if dust is falling in my face, we keep the shot and if you make a mistake -- well it just so happens that all of that stuff happened that day. My assistant sliced her leg open -- it looked like someone had gutted a fish -- and we kept all that. Its not polished. Its very raw. But I refused to do another straight forward design show. Theres just too many of them. Whats the point? So I agreed to this is as long as I could keep six bottles of champagne on hand and just keep a little buzz for the entire period.
So youre interested in staying in the spotlight one way or another.
Im interested in doing things I havent done. This is something I havent done. The book is something that I havent done before. Id like to make a movie, Id like to do something on Broadway --
What about Dancing With the Stars?
Theres been talk about that. Maybe. I dont know if I have that in me. Thatd be a lot of work.
But you trained for years as a professional dancer!
[Laughs] Do you know how long its been? Id have to lose 20 pounds to wear the funky clothes theyd make me wear. Its something Id consider. There are certain shows I do like even though theyre polished. I love Project Runway. Its one of my favorite shows on TV. Its people actually making something and being really creative. Theyre forced to produce something and you can see it instead of people just being stupid on television.
What does the future hold for you and Madonna?
In a weird way we are speaking to each other through my father. Were not speaking to each other, obviously, directly, but I talk to him and she talks to him and he talks to me and then he talks to her and theres a funny conversation going on in a really roundabout way.
Do you think shes read it?
Id be shocked if she hasnt. If I was her, Id want to know. On the other hand, shes just distant enough in her own little bubble to only hear what people are telling her. And theyre telling her what she wants to hear. So I guess its possible that she still hasnt read it. The worst that Ive done is make her human and I think in a lot of ways its the best thing I could have done. I got plenty of emails from her fans when the media first found out I had written the book and they went on and on about how awful I was and how dare I? And I also got emails from friends who told me to tear the bitch apart. And everyone was speculating on the content. And then when the book came out, the same people -- strangers from Facebook and MySpace -- all had read it and all wrote me back to apologize. The connection that theyve been making is with their brothers and sisters. Theyve gotten the family thing. They havent latched onto the fame and the famous people stuff -- thats frosting for them. In fact, I got an email the other day from someone who said, I just read your book and I put the book down and I went and called my sister who I hadnt talked to in three years. Oddly enough its bringing people closer to their families. Nine out of 10 emails are about that.
Are you still getting the nasty emails?
No. Nothing. I got one weeks ago but it was obviously written by a crazy guy. Its all been really positive. Not that I require that vindication -- I dont. Im perfectly happy with the way the book came out. But its cool that people are finding a connection to it on that level.
If you got a call from Madonna tomorrow and she said I read it. I understand. Im not angry. Come see me when the tour opens in August, would you go?
Id meet her in a public place. [Laughs]
Yeah. Only in public. Id go. Absolutely. I love my sister -- thats not going to change. This isnt a book that was written by somebody who hates his sister. It just isnt. If youre reading that into it, youre a crazy person. Thats what you want to hear. I mean, you read it -- did it seem like that to you?
No. I just kept waiting for you to reveal the whereabouts of the Michael Jackson love child.
No! [Laughs] The way someone described it to me was theres no body buried in the backyard, theres just lots of little bodies. Lots of smoking guns, not one big one. And that impact is how life works. There isnt one massive explosion -- a lot of little things creep up and cause pain or happiness.
Please tell me you saved something juicy that didnt make it into the book specifically for Out readers.
There are certain stories that dont end the way that they end in the book. Its not really family stuff. Its more like -- well theres a bit in the book about Demi Moore and I dancing on the bar --
And the paparazzi got a picture of you --
Yeah -- and shes dancing up on me and humping me from behind. The one part thats not in the book is that she was lactating at the time and she was squirting breast milk at my lesbian friends. My friend Michelle called me the next morning and asked me, How do I get breast milk out of my black dress? and I said How the fuck would I know? Call Demi. It was hysterical. There are no pictures of it but it actually happened. The lawyers didnt think it was wise for me to print that -- so theres your juicy tidbit.