The thousands of Madonna fans who will be flocking to downtown Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena this weekend to see the erstwhile Material Girl in concert are undoubtedly familiar with her greatest hits, from “Lucky Star” to “Like a Prayer” to “Music,” and her influence on fashion (ladies, how many of you rocked a lace bustier, crucifix necklaces and bleached hair in the ’80s?).
So as the Queen of Pop heads for the Magic City on Saturday and Sunday for her 10th major tour in support of “Rebel Heart,” her 13th studio album, we thought fans might like to dig a little deeper before catching her shows at the AAA.
Here, then, are five things you might not have known about Madonna:
1 – Her success goes beyond mere pop icon; in fact, it’s historic. She has sold more than 300 million records worldwide, making her the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Madonna is also the top female touring artist, the most successful solo singles artist in the history of Billboard’s American singles chart, and holds the record for most No. 1 hits on all combined charts, including 12 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and eight albums on the Billboard 200. Madonna has also been honored with 20 MTV Video Music Awards, the most for any artist.
2 – The original Boy Toy has had an amazing run of romances with men, including relationships with legendary New York abstract graffiti artist Jean Michel Basquiat; musician and DJ John “Jellybean” Benitez, who remixed her first album, producing the hit “Holiday,” and had a big dance-floor hit with the Madonna-penned “Sidewalk Talk”; Sean Penn, whom she married on her birthday (Aug. 16) in 1985 and divorced in ’89, and who has created incredible controversy for his unlikely recent interview with Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”; notorious ladies’ man Warren Beatty, whom she met on the set of the film “Dick Tracy” (1990); rapper Vanilla Ice, whom she dated for eight months in 1990; film producer Guy Ritchie, whom she married in 2000 and divorced in 2008, and with whom she had a son, Rocco; and fitness trainer Carlos Leon, with whom she had a daughter, Lourdes, who is now 19. But it’s her rumored flings that might be the most interesting: Alex Rodriguez, Dennis Rodman, Chris Paciello, Tupac Shakur, John F. Kennedy Jr. and even Michael Jackson. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
3 – Although Madonna was born and raised in Bay City, Mich., and moved to New York to find stardom at age 20, she loves Miami and is great friends with South Beach nightclub queen Ingrid Casares, with whom she partied at star-magnet Club Liquid in its heyday in the ’90s, and DJ Tracy Young, whom she hand-picked to perform at her 2000 wedding in Scotland to Guy Ritchie.
4 – Most critics and film aficionados view Madonna the actress with a grain of salt, as many of her big-screen endeavors were universally ridiculed. But two of her efforts – the 1986 flop “Shanghai Surprise” (with hubby Sean Penn), for which she was awarded the Golden Raspberry Award for “worst actress,” and the 2002 box-office bomb “Swept Away” (directed by Guy Ritchie) – can largely be written off as Madge being, er, swept away by love. And two more films – the sexually charged 1993 dramas “Body of Evidence” and “Dangerous Game” – were part of Madonna’s early-’90s over-the-top erotica binge, which also included her explicit coffee-table book “Sex” (which helped spell the end to her romance with a jealous Vanilla Ice) and an infamous appearance on David Letterman’s talk show, in which she handed him a pair of her panties and told him to smell them. In actuality, Madonna has acting talent, as evidenced by her critically-acclaimed work in 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan” and, especially, her Golden Globe-winning turn as Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron in the 1996 epic “Evita.”
5 – In the wake of rock legend David Bowie’s death on Jan. 10, Madonna revealed the extent of the Thin White Duke’s influence on her through a written tribute: “I’m devastated. David Bowie changed the course of my life forever. I never felt like I fit in growing up in Michigan. Like an oddball or a freak. I went to see him in concert at Cobo Arena in Detroit. It was the first concert I’d ever been to. I snuck out of the house with my girlfriend wearing a cape. We got caught after and I was grounded for the summer. I didn’t care.” She followed that by fitting Bowie’s classic “Rebel Rebel” into her Rebel Heart Tour set list in Houston.