Credit: Olaventenbrek

Revisit the handwritten letter pre-fame Madonna sent to an erotic filmmaker

Madonna is certainly one of the most iconic stars of music and her steps onto the silver screen have also found some favourable results. It’s true that the singer had always flirted with the idea of a being a movie star and, for a while, it was a toss-up as to which path she would follow. In the end, she went the way of music and her unique style, compounded by her enigmatic charisma, ensured Madge would become a singing sensation—but this handwritten letter shows the one thing that underpinned all of her success: determination.

The letter, written in 1979, sees the singer pen an intriguing note to Stephen Lewicki, a first-time filmmaker who was on the hunt for a female lead for his new film Certain Sacrifice. The erotic thriller was in the need of a star and Madonna was more than happy to oblige, delivering a little of the charged re-telling of her early life, she imbued within the role. After all, the letter was so compelling that Madge ended up with the part.

Madonna’s mystique is one that only grew during her meteoric rise to fame. The singer was so determinedly salacious in the name of feminism that she became an enigma. However, before she did rise to the occasion, she was a hopeful unknown in the world of showbiz, working as a drummer, the star saw an opportunity with Stephen Lewicki and Certain Sacrifice.

Using the only means available to a young star in 1979, a letter, the singer dropped a note scrawled with passion and determination. Offering up a keen insight into her life at the time Madonna wrote: “By the time I was in the fifth grade, I knew I either wanted to be a nun or a movie star. 9 months in a convent cured me of the first disease.” The singer continued, “During high school, I became slightly schizophrenic as I couldn’t choose between class virgin or the other kind. Both of them had their values as far as I could see.”

Like most people, Madonna struggled during high school, revealing, “slowly but surely I developed a great dislike for my classmates, teachers and high school in general.” However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel: “There was one exception and that was my drama class. For one hour every day, all the megalomaniacs and egotists would meet to compete for roles and argue about interpretation. I secretly adored each moment when all eyes were on me and I could practice being charming or sophisticated, so I would be prepared for the outside world.”

Despite her impending singing start to life, Madonna reveals in her note that she wasn’t much interested in becoming a pop star. After being spotted dancing in a nightclub, Madonna was approached about a contract and invited to record in Paris. “I came to Paris on the agreement that after a few months of working in a music studio and becoming familiar with the record business I would decide whether I wanted to sign a contract with them. After 2 months of restaurants & nightclubs every day, being dragged to different countries every week and working with businessmen and not musicians I knew this life was not for me.”

Of course, things would change for Madonna. The films would dry up and the music would kick into overdrive. But before that, the main thing propelling Madonna into stardom was herself. Full of determination and dedication, the icon was clearly waiting for her moment to shine. See the full transcript below.

Dear Stephen,

Please excuse the informal resumé. I have been out of the country for several months and upon returning discovered many important papers misplaced. My resumés included.

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where I began my career in petulance and precociousness. By the time I was in the fifth grade, I knew I either wanted to be a nun or a movie star. 9 months in a convent cured me of the first disease. During high school, I became slightly schizophrenic as I couldn’t choose between class virgin or the other kind. Both of them had their values as far as I could see. When I was 15 I began taking ballet classes regularly, listening to baroque music and slowly but surely I developed a great dislike for my classmates, teachers and high school in general. There was one exception and that was my drama class. For one hour every day all the megalomaniacs and egotists would meet to compete for roles and argue about interpretation. I secretly adored each moment when all eyes were on me and I could practice being charming or sophisticated, so I would be prepared for the outside world. My infinite impatience graduated me from high school one year early and I entered Fine Arts School at University of Michigan studying Music, Art, Dance and participating regularly in most theatrical productions. (I seemed to turn just about everything into a theatrical production.) After 2 years of isolated and utopic living I was dying for a cha(lle)nge, so I moved to New York City and became a college dropout. At first I concentrated only on dancing and in 2 months joined a modern dance company (Pearl Lang) I did 3 seasons and toured Italy but dancing was not as fulfilling as I’d hoped it would be as Pearl’s psycotic ways were ruining me. I sustained myself dancing with some small mediocre companies (Walter Nicks, Peggy Harrel, Ailey III) singing in a New Wave band, working with a filmmaker (Eliot Fain) and modelling for artists and photographers. In May of 79 some French record producers (Aquarius Label) saw me singing and dancing at an audition and asked me to come to Europe where they would produce me as their singing artist. An apartment on 36 & 10th Ave and a steady diet of popcorn made the decision easy. I came to Paris on the agreement that after a few months of working in a music studio and becoming familiar with the record business I would decide whether I wanted to sign a contract with them. After 2 months of restaurants & nightclubs everyday, being dragged to different countries every week and working with business men and not musicians I knew this life was not for me. I hung out in Paris for one more month, feeling miserably unproductive, but I couldn’t bear the Parisian sterility or my homelessness any longer, so I came back to N.Y. I’ve been here 3 weeks now, working with my band, learning to play the drums, taking dance classes and waiting for my 20th birthday.

Is this all?

Madonna Cicconi
674-8301
h – 5’4½”
w – 102
Hair – brown
eyes – hazel
B.D – 8/16/59

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