Reprinted with permission from Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-Amrican Community (Agate), © Copyright 2006 by Omar Tyree.
In 1994, I read a fascinating article by the great writer Norman Mailer in Esquire. The piece was on the sex, fortune, and fame of the one-and-only superstar diva Madonna. Her career as a superstar was well into its second decade, and she was expanding her wings in London, a place she grew to adore toward the end of the '90s. Later, she moved there for good.
During their conversation, Mailer got Madonna to speak very frankly about her adventuresome sex life. Madonna was never one to hold back about sex, and as expected, she was pretty frank with her responses to him. She explained that she had done her thing with Tom, Dick, Hank, Dave, Joe, Walter, William, Jeffrey ... well, you get the picture. Madonna isn't exactly a bashful woman. However, she made a point to let Norman Mailer know that she always, or almost always, used protection.
That's when Mailer showed himself to be the top-notch writer, journalist and thinker that he is and has been for many years. In his response to Madonna's mention of always using protection during sex, Mailer's response was: If you crave sex as much as you do, and if you just can't do without it, and if it feels the best when it is raw and natural, then why cheat the process protecting yourself with a latex condom?
Mailer response was along the lines of: Hell, make it an all-or-nothing deal, if you just have to have it so much. We don't kiss with bubble wrap over our lips. We don't hold hands with gloves on. We don't give hickies with plastic spit protectors over our necks. So why experience the explosiveness of sex that we just have to have with an unnatural shell over the penis?
Boy, I couldn't wait to read Madonna's answer to that. That was a real-ass interview. That's real writing. That's driving the car over the cliff with no parachute.
Madonna, brave diva that she is and has been for a long time, agreed with Mailer -- in theory. She basically said that she saw his point, and that he was right. If she just had to have it, and since it feels so damn good when it's raw, then naturally she'd want to see how crazy she could get with her cravings. It made perfect sense to Madonna. Yet, in the real world of disease, AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies, it was simply more practical and sane for her to have her cake and eat it, too ... as long as a condom was protecting her.
Madonna went on to explain that her celebrity had complicated the matter. If she actually came down with something, she couldn't just go to a clinic and get it cleared up, because every gossip-spitting asshole in the world would want to know and talk about it. She explained that she couldn't have raw fun like that, even if she wanted to. She had an empire to protect. Her name, career, and brand were worth millions of dollars, and as far as her public knew, she was fucking like there was no tomorrow -- on every tour ... in every hotel room ... and during every hour of the day. Madonna was smart enough to understand that she couldn't participate in that, no matter how strong her carnal desires were.
Man, I read that conversation between these two brave white folks and locked the conversation in my mind. It was an article worth remembering. In fact, even considering my own minor celebrity as an up-and-coming writer, great sex always seemed that much greater when it was on the edge. When you met that new person, in that new city, at that late hour, and you felt what you felt and wanted to go for it -- that was the hottest sex in the world. But what if you didn't have a condom ready with you at the time? What were you gonna do?
I can remember those times like yesterday. And with a few of the girls, the rush of the sex crave was so spontaneous and insane that by the time I ventured out to grab a pack of condoms and make it back to the heated bedroom, the girl had thought it over and cooled off enough to change her damn mind.
"I don't wanna do this anymore. I mean, I hardly even know you."
Shit! We all know that feeling, when someone changes his or her mind on us at the last minute. It's a real heartbreaker.
Well, the more famous and sexy you are, the more insane the sexual situations get, and the more frequent they are. And I'm bold enough to say it: the majority of famous folks are on the edge anyway. Nine out of 10 of them are driven to succeed at any and all costs. That's how they got to be famous in the first place. They were the ones who would break their necks to get what they wanted, and once they became successful at it, they began to expect it.