Shocking response to Madonna's book is laughter


People are missing the point about the new Madonna book. It isn't that she's naked. I mean, who hasn't seen Madonna naked? Her breasts have spent so much time in the great wide open that they might as well be a national park. Don't you have your own personal Upper Deck Madonna's-naked trading cards? Just the other day, I traded Madonna-naked-on-horseback for Madonna-naked-on-a-bus.

It's how she's naked. That's why 150 people queued up in the rain in London the other day to buy the oh-so-subtly entitled "Sex."

Let me give you an example. It's on about page 60. There's this dog, lying on his back. Naked. Well, of course. Everyone in the book is naked. And Madonna is on her knees, sort of kneeling over him. She's wearing high heels, long black gloves and a bunny tail (you read that right: a bunny tail). And that's all. Oh, she's also got that well-known, dog-toy look on her face. I'm surprised she didn't have the pooch smoking a cigarette.

You think this is how Rin Tin Tin got his start?

Are you shocked?

One point of the book, besides making money, and Lady Madonna's making loads, is to shock.

It is shocking. I can see a time when this poor, innocent, defenseless mutt who doesn't have an agent and who, years from now, broke and out of work, is going to say he didn't get a cent from the deal and Madonna made $44 million -- and how can that be right?

In the book, Madonna hitch-hikes naked. She rides a bike naked. She even eats pizza naked (please, folks, don't try this at home). She is, on page after leather-studded, dog-collared, toe-licking, whip-wielding page, tied up naked in her own personal story of M.

That's the other point of the book -- to depress people.

What depresses me is how bor-ing my life must be.

For instance, as I sliced my way through the vacuum-packed, silver Mylar, keep-your-hands-off, unless-you've-got-50-bucks wrap, the first thing (and second and third and fourth . . .) I saw was Madonna, naked, frolicking with two naked, multi-tattooed, lesbian skin-heads with nipple rings.

This never happens to me.

OK, I see lesbian skin-heads all the time. But with nipple rings? Not once. Apparently, I'm just hanging out at the wrong places.

But if this were just some crummy coffee table picture book for the the neighbors to browse through over cocktails -- "Oh, don't you love what Madonna has done with that leather-studded collar?" -- that would be one thing. My gosh, no. Throughout the book, we are given the chance to learn from the Madonna philosophy in a text that puts one in mind of Kierkegaard. I wonder what he looked like naked.

Try this. It accompanies a picture in which this guy is chaining her leg to a wall: "There's something comforting about being tied up. Like when you were a baby and your mother strapped you in the car seat. She wanted you to be safe. It was an act of love."

I know that our forefathers, who were never naked unless the country's honor was at stake, fought a great revolution so that we'd have the right to see Madonna undressed. It's paying off, too. There's now a book out called "The Madonna Collection: Representational Politics, Subcultural Identities and Cultural Theory." I'm not kidding. It's a collection of essays by academics on the Madonna phenomenon. This is a serious study of a woman who sums up her personal philosophy by saying she'll never make love to a man unless he's had another man's tongue down his throat.

The other book -- "Sex," in case you forgot -- is numbered, suggesting it's a collector's item. I'm looking at 0000986, which is just short of the number of people in my office who have thumbed through this particular copy. It's got more fingerprints on it than Bill Clinton's passport record.

And you know what people do when they see the book? Here's the truly shocking thing. They laugh. It's a hoot. The book is about as sexy as a house plant. You can get a couple of nice plants for 50 bucks.

The question is: What will Madonna, a better salesperson than Ross Perot, do next? Let's hope it's not sing. You want shocking? In her new album, she does Peggy Lee's "Fever" disco-style.

And if you want a shocking picture of Madonna, try finding one with her fully clothed. That would be a collector's item.

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