The very first MTV Video Music Awards debuted on September 14, 1984. This up-and-coming music network channel decided to invite an up-and-coming singer to perform for their inaugural award show. Yes, that “up-and-coming” singer was Madonna. Her second studio album, “Like a Virgin,” was set to debut later that year, so she naturally decided to perform the title track at the VMAs.
And perform, she did. Madonna caused quite a stir with her titillating performance of “Like a Virgin.” Madonna rolled around the stage (literally) in a white wedding dress with a belt that read “Boy Toy” on it. While it’s pretty tame by today’s standards, people were clutching their pearls when they saw Madonna doing that suggestive thing with her veil. Supposedly, her furious manager swore that her performance would ruin her career. Oh, how wrong they were.
A Kahlo Collector
One of Madonna’s personal heroes is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. When she first moved to New York, Madonna would often draw inspiration from Friday Kahlo for strength to keep pursuing her dreams. Now, as a successful and wealthy musician, Madonna can appreciate Frida’s artwork in a new way. She’s a big collector of the artist’s paintings. She even owns “My Birth” (1932), which was painted by Frida Kahlo when she lived in Detroit for a short time.
Madonna caused a bit of a controversy in 2015 when she and her team refused to lend “My Birth” to the Detroit Institute of Arts. The established museum organized a show featuring works by Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera. However, after trying to procure a loan from Madonna for over a year, the museum was unable to convince her to lend it out.
An Expensive Wedding Dress
Wedding dresses can get pretty pricey, as anyone who’s planned a wedding can tell you. But Madonna’s vintage 1985 wedding dress? Now that’s a whole other level of expensive. Back in 2014, the oft-forgotten marriage between Sean Penn and Madonna was back in the headlines because her original wedding dress was going on sale.
The dress, which is quintessentially 80s and oh-so-Madonna, went up for auction through Julien’s. There was a ton of buzz around the piece of fashion history, and many predicted that it would sell for tens of thousands of dollars. No one could have guessed the actual selling price: a whopping $81,000.
The Truth Behind the “Virginal” VMA Performance
Madonna has never been afraid to push the envelope and shock her audience. After her scandalous “Like a Virgin” performance at the first MTV VMAs, Madonna explained her behavior and defended herself. She famously went off-script during her wedding cake performance, but it was for a good reason.
Apparently, she decided to roll around on the floor because her stiletto heel had accidentally come loose or fallen off. Madonna didn’t want to make her performance look like a mistake, so she rolled around in order to surreptitiously grab her heel and put it back on. She showed her undergarments and stockings off to the whole audience as a result, which made “Like a Virgin” all the more memorable.
“Like a Virgin”
Up until the release of her second album, Madonna’s singles were doing pretty well. However, none of them, including “Borderline,” had hit number one in the charts. That all changed with “Like a Virgin,” the single off her second album by the same name. Thanks in part to her eye-popping MTV performance, the song reached number one in the charts and stayed put for a few weeks.
The single and “Like a Virgin” album shot Madonna to a new level of fame and success, which was a pleasant surprise. The album was such a success that it drove Madonna to break the first record of her career. She became the first female artist to sell more than five million copies of an album. Not bad for a small-town girl from Michigan.