Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ shows rare vul­ner­a­bil­ity

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - BY BENE­DICTE REY

JPARIS ostling for space with younger ri­vals like Lady Gaga, Madonna brings a grown woman’s voice to her al­bum “MDNA,” out Mon­day, on which the 53-year-old Queen of Pop evokes the pain of her di­vorce.

Since her last al­bum, the dance-fla­vored “Hard Candy” in 2008, new faces have crowded into the space long ruled by the Ma­te­rial Girl: Ri­hanna for sex­i­ness, Lana Del Rey for edgy glam­our and the ever-the­atri­cal Lady Gaga.

So when Madonna an­nounced she was work­ing on a new al­bum, the mu­sic world raised a skep­ti­cal eye­brow: Can a woman in her 50s still set the pace in a youth-driven pop world?

The first track from the al­bum, “Give Me All Your Lu­vin,’ ” which Madonna per­formed at the Su­per Bowl last month, failed to win over the mu­sic press.

But crit­ics have since given a thumbs up to Madonna’s 12th stu­dio al­bum, which leaked on the In­ter­net last week ahead of its re­lease.

“Madonna is still very much the Queen of Pop,” wrote Bill­board. “Nearly 30 years af­ter first hit­ting the Bill­board charts with her de­but sin­gle ‘ Ev­ery­body,’ Madonna is still show­ing the world how it’s done.”

Like­wise, Bri­tain’s Daily Mir­ror wrote that “Madonna’s new al­bum shows the young pre­tenders she is still a force to be reck­oned with.”

Madonna teamed up with a host of care­fully cho­sen col­lab­o­ra­tors for “MDNA,” most notably M. I. A., the Bri­tish hip-hop star who set tongues wag­ging at the Su­per Bowl with a brief flip of the mid­dle fin­ger to the cam­eras.

On the pro­duc­tion side, she signed up the French DJ Martin Solveig and Ital­ian duo Alle and Benny Be­nassi, mas­ters of the dance floor hit.

The al­bum — whose ti­tle is a play on the night­club drug MDMA — is pep­pered with he­do­nis­tic dance tracks, but they share space with highly per­sonal pieces in which Madonna al­ludes to her 2008 di­vorce from Bri­tish di­rec­tor Guy Ritchie. Among the lat­ter is “I Don’t Give A” where she sings that “I tried to be your wife/i di­min­ished my­self.”

And “Gang Bang,” a hard-elec­tro that

sec­ond most fa­mous per­son af­ter soc­cer leg­end Pele. It’s made him the goto man for A-list celebri­ties, in­ter­na­tional states­men and royalty seek­ing a quick fix to their aes­thetic woes. Dr. Pi­tan­guy’s long and il­lus­tri­ous pa­tient ros­ter is said to in­clude such lu­mi­nar­ies as Zsa Zsa Ga­bor, Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand and Brigitte Bar­dot, although the dis­creet doc­tor has rarely named names.

Dr. Pi­tan­guy’s hand­i­craft on the world’s rich and fa­mous al­lowed him to join their ranks — he com­mutes to Rio by he­li­copter from his own pri­vate is­land. But he has re­mained at­ten­tive to the less priv­i­leged.

More than half a cen­tury ago, he founded a sur­gi­cal wing to help treat the poor. While the wing at Santa Casa de Mis­eri­cor­dia Hospi­tal in Rio fo­cuses on re­con­struc­tive op­er­a­tions for burn vic­tims and peo­ple with se­ri­ous de­for­ma­tions, it also pro­vides dis­counted cos­metic pro­ce­dures.

Other hos­pi­tals have since fol­lowed suit. Now, at least two dozen hos­pi­tals, mostly public, in Rio alone of­fer dis­counted or some­times free cos­metic surg­eries to low- in­come peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a web­site aimed at in­form­ing po­ten­tial pa­tients.

With more than 11.5 mil­lion op­er­a­tions a year, Brazil is the world’s sec­ond-big­gest con­sumer of plas­tic surgery af­ter the United States, but here there is none of the stigma that still clings to the prac­tice in the U.S.

Lo­cal celebri­ties ap­pear on the cov­ers of glossy mag­a­zines with ti­tles like “Plas­tica e Beleza,” or “Plas­tic [Surgery] and Beauty,” and wax po­etic about their lat­est face-lift, breast im­plant or round of Bo­tox. Ac­tors on the prime-time soap op­eras that cap­ti­vate the public here reg­u­larly get sur­gi­cal makeovers, as do the char­ac­ters they play as part of the soaps’ high­drama story lines.

Sil­i­cone, on prom­i­nent dis­play at the beach here year round, takes cen­ter stage dur­ing Car­ni­val, when samba queens wear­ing only a sprin­kling of se­quins and feathers flaunt their pumped-up bust­lines and grav­ity-de­fy­ing rear ends at Rio’s ex­trav­a­gant Sam­badrome pa­rade. (Breast and but­tock im­plants are among the most pop­u­lar plas­tic surg­eries here, along with li­po­suc­tion, face-lifts and pro­ce­dures to flat­ten prom­i­nent ears.)

The Se­nate is de­bat­ing whether the gov­ern­ment’s na­tional health ser­vice should fully cover breast re­con­struc­tion for can­cer pa­tients. The state-funded health ser­vice al­ready pays for gas­tro­plas­ties for the mor­bidly obese and some surg­eries to re­pair se­ri­ous de­for­mi­ties or in­juries, in­clud­ing cor­rect­ing cleft palates in chil­dren.

“In Brazil, plas­tic surgery is now seen as some­thing of the norm,” said Alexan­der Ed­monds, an an­thro­pol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Am­s­ter­dam and au­thor of “Pretty Mod­ern: Beauty, Sex and Plas­tic Surgery in Brazil.” “In a way, surgery is be­com­ing the stan­dard of care among mid­dle- class and wealthy women, and so it’s not sur­pris­ing that lower-class peo­ple as­pire to it, too.”

While he ac­knowl­edges the po­tent psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits that some­times re­sult from plas­tic surgery, Mr. Ed­monds warns that Brazil’s over­whelm­ingly pro-”plas­tica” at­ti­tude can be dan­ger­ous.

“The word ‘beauty’ in Brazil kind of ob­scures the fact that you’re talk­ing about real surgery,” he said. “The prob­lems and risks of surgery are of­ten min­i­mized, and these op­er­a­tions tend to be seen like a ‘beau­ti­fi­ca­tion’ like any other, which of course they’re not.”

Still, wor­ries about risk don’t ap­pear to be hold­ing back many here. On the few days a year when low-in­come peo­ple can ap­ply for free or cut-rate cos­metic surg­eries, the lines snake out and around the hos­pi­tals. Once their cases have been ap­proved, pa­tients of­ten spend months or even years on the wait­ing list be­fore the ac­tual surgery.

The free surg­eries are widely seen to ben­e­fit the hos­pi­tals, too, as they al­low young doc­tors to hone their skills.

Nil­cea Fur­tado said she waited three years for her first free laser treat­ment. Though the clinic, which is also a pri­vate train­ing in­sti­tute for doc­tors, doesn’t per­form sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures that re­quire any­thing more than lo­cal anes­thetic, Ms. Fur­tado says, she’s ex­pe­ri­enced the kinds of psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits de­scribed by Dr. Pi­tan­guy.

“Since I was a teenager, I had lots of hor­ri­ble hairs on my chin and I tried ev­ery­thing to get rid of them but noth­ing worked,” said Ms. Fur­tado, 48, a sec­re­tary whose en­tire monthly salary is less than a sin­gle laser hair re­moval treat­ment ses­sion. “I had heard that lasers were ef­fec­tive, but they’re so ex­pen­sive they seemed like an im­pos­si­ble dream for me.”

Six free laser hair re­moval ses­sions later, Ms. Fur­tado’s chin is silky smooth, and she says she’s a new woman.

“I never knew what it was to look into the mir­ror and like what I saw,” she said. “It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing.” been charged and says he shot Trayvon in self-de­fense.

The case brought hun­dreds of peo­ple to­gether in New York with Trayvon’s par­ents for a protest march last week. The BET tele­vi­sion net­work said it would air a spe­cial, “Shoot First: The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin,” on Mon­day.

Of Trayvon, Mr. Rivera said, “God bless him, he was an in­no­cent kid, a won­der­ful kid.” But he said the case should be a warn­ing to par­ents to watch what their chil­dren wear.

“If you dress like a hood­lum, even­tu­ally some schmuck is go­ing to take you at your word,” he wrote in a com­men­tary posted Fri­day on the web­site Fox News Latino.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple had posted mes­sages on Mr. Rivera’s Face­book page by Fri­day af­ter­noon, the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of them neg­a­tive about his com­ments.

Mr. Rivera com­pared his own com­ments to those of fel­low Fox an­a­lyst Juan Wil­liams, who was fired by Na­tional Public Ra­dio in 2010 for say­ing on Fox that he gets ner­vous when he sees peo­ple on a plane with cloth­ing that iden­ti­fies them as Mus­lim.

“No one black, brown or white can hon­estly tell me that see­ing a kid of color with a hood pulled over his head doesn’t gen­er­ate a cer­tain re­ac­tion — some­times scorn, of­ten men­ace,” Mr. Rivera wrote in his com­men­tary.



A doc­tor wheels a breast-im­plant pa­tient out of an op­er­at­ing room at Santa Casa de Mis­eri­cor­dia Hospi­tal in Rio de Janeiro, which fo­cuses on re­con­struc­tive surg­eries for burn vic­tims and peo­ple with se­ri­ous de­for­mi­ties but also pro­vides dis­counted cos­metic pro­ce­dures for Brazil’s poor.

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