Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

David Schmader / Madonna

David Schmader is Seattle’s king of clever pop culture commentary. Most Seattle-ites probably know him from his Stranger duties {where he’s been a beloved associate editor and columnist since 1998} or from his stints around town hosting and providing commentary for the 1995 cult film Showgirls, a film for which Schmader’s commentary can be found in the V.I.P. Edition of the Showgirls DVD.

He also has performed a number of solo monologues shows  on both the local an national stages to deserved critical acclaims {his most recent one man play, Straight, was brilliant!}. You can imagine how honored we are to have him hosting the upcoming Imaginary Winter Holiday Spectacular {December 23rd} or excited to see his next Showgirls showing {December 24 at the Triple Door}.

But before all that, we get to see him every Monday (starting tonight) for the next five weeks  (from Dec 7-Jan 4) at the Central Cinema as he curates and hosts Almost Human: Madonna on Film / Exploring How the World’s Greatest Pop Star Became the World’s Worst Actress:

    Painfully lame romantic adventure comedy that earned Madonna her first Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. (1986)
    Painfully lame slapstick comedy that earned Madonna her second Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. (1987)
    Painfully lame sex thriller that earned Madonna her third Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. (1993)
    Painfully lame gay-buddy comedy-turned-courtroom thriller that earned Madonna her fourth Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. (2000)
    Painfully lame remake of an Italian art film that earned Madonna her fifth Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. (2002)

We were able to catch up with David and get the inside skinny on the Almost Human: Madonna on Film series…

TIG: First off, how deep does your Madonna fandom go? What is your favorite Madonna phase / song / album?

David Schmader: I grew up with Madonna all over MTV and the radio so I know her music inside out, but I didn’t really become a fan until 1989. That’s when The Immaculate Collection (her first greatest-hits record) came out and made it clear that all these more or less entertaining pop statements Madonna had been making over the years added up to something important. Putting all those songs side-by-side showed her facility at shape-shifting, but more than that it was just an astounding collection of songs: “Borderline,” “Like a Virgin,” “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Open Your Heart,” “Like a Prayer,” “Express Yourself,” “Cherish,” “Vogue”—gathering all those songs onto one album proved that Madonna wasn’t just a humongous pop star but a Major American Artist, who happened to be devoting herself to pop. Then came the po-mo persona deconstruction of Truth or Dare and I’ve kind of been her bitch ever since.

My favorite Madonna record after Immaculate Collection is Erotica, which was pretty much dismissed when it was released in 1992, because it got cast as some audio byproduct of her not-so-great Sex book. But it’s my favorite of her studio albums. It feels kind of lame to say this, but it’s her most adult record. (Adult like “grown up,” not adult like porn, though kinda that too.)

TIG: Have you ever seen her perform live?

David Schmader: Tragically, I have never seen Madonna perform live.

TIG: What made you decide to put together this series? Was it a long time coming?

David Schmader: I got the idea when I was putting together the bad-movie series From Bad To Worse: A Guided Tour of Cinematic Awfulness last winter at Central Cinema. A number of Madonna films were in the running for inclusion, but then I realized she had an entire bad-movie ouevre, and deserved a series of her own.

TIG: I assume you’ve had to watch the five films in this series multiple times to gather your commentary. Had you seen these films more than once before you decided to curate this event (were they personal cult classics prior to this)? Do you have a favorite amongst them… or at least a favorite line from one of them that should be a catch phrase around town (or we can work towards making a catch phrase)?

David Schmader: I first watched the movies closely while curating From Bad to Worse…and have recently watched them all again, once or twice. Individually, none are so-bad-it’s-good favorites of mine, because they are all just so bad. But cumulatively, they are astounding. It’s like the inverse of The Immaculate Collection: Who knew one woman could make so many awful movies? In this way, they are all my favorites….but I especially love how everyone in The Next Best Thing is required to begin every scene with Madonna by commenting on her extraordinary beauty. “But Abbie, you’re a beautiful, talented, beautiful woman!…”

TIG: Do you have any suspicious about Madonna’s film intentions? Do you think it says anything about her psyche that she tends to marry hollywood (an arena in which she struggles) types verses music types (where she is queen)?

David Schmader: Now that you mention it, I imagine there could be some “love me, Daddy!” element to Madonna’s quest for film stardom. Courtney Love talked about this explicitly during her Hollywood years. (“After years of being worshipped by kids, it’s an amazing thing to have rich old white men love you” was the gist of the blabbing as I remember.) I also think Madonna must be as baffled as everyone else about her inability to succeed as an actress. She tries so hard, but she seems to only be getting worse. Having accomplished so many of her most extravagant dreams, it must drive her insane. (Maybe the stress of continual suckage is what’s causing that “she’s getting worse!” feeling…)

TIG: Do you have a favorite Madonna film? Are there any that you think are actually *good* performances or film choices?

David Schmader: Desperately Seeking Susan is good, and she’s really good in it—she’d never come across so naturally on film again. Truth or Dare is also good. (Also, people who like musicals say Evita is good, but I’m not one of them.)

TIG: What type of roles (would) best suit Madonna? Is there a role as of late that you think would have fit best? Do you see a rhyme or reason to the roles she picks? Can she be helped?

David Schmader: I think someone like Quentin Tarantino could help Madonna. She needs someone who seriously understands what she can and cannot do on film, and does the imaginative work to create a context where her limited abilities make sense. For instance, Madonna could be great in a comedy about an amazing pop star who cannot act. She could also be good playing a character who is mute. She’s brilliant when she’s lip-synching in videos—it’s only when she opens her mouth to speak in films that her suckiness is revealed. But such a role would require her to shelve her vanity, which is perhaps asking too much.But seriously, if Who’s That Girl? were recut as a faux-documentary about a mentally disabled woman wreaking havoc wherever she goes, it could be a smash.

TIG: Is there another actor to whom you would most compare her acting style to?

David Schmader: Pam Tisdale from my 9th grade drama class. After one semester, she changed her elective to choir. But Madonna just keeps making movies.

TIG: If you could have dinner with Madonna, would you? If so, who else would you have join you at the table?

David Schmader: Yes, totally, and I’d want it to be just us. I’d love to hear her talk about her early years in NYC, which is totally an era I romanticize—that early-’80s stretch of Keith Haring, Basquiat, the ongoing birth of hiphop, plus baby Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and Madonna running around…

TIG: Do you already have ideas for your next film curating series? Any hints?

David Schmader: Nope, all about the Madonna for now. (But I’ll keep you posted.)