Madonna. An ideal and virtuous woman. The Virgin Mary. Sounds religious, pious, and everything holy.
That was until 1958, when Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on August 16. From then on, to the sanctimonious, Madonna still meant all that was holy, but to the music lover, it meant a woman who broke all bounds of society, a singer unlike any other to date, and is still one of the most influential women in the history of music.
And though Madonna is indeed a singer and performer unlike another, she is also perhaps the precursor and idol of today’s shock value icons like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus. If you think that RiRi and Gaga’s nipple reveals are a tad OTT, you should really flip through Madonna’s photo book, aptly titled Sex.
Unafraid, bold, and rather fond of scandals, Madonna has always been in the news for one thing or another, including her relationships, her children, and of course, her choice of fashion. She’s known to be a bit of diva, but frankly, with having sold more than 300 million records worldwide and having a Guinness World Record acknowledgment of being the best-selling female artist ever – she probably is justified. And not just that, she’s the fourth best-selling act of all time, behind only The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has dubbed her the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century with 64.5 million certified albums sold in the US. She is also the highest money-making solo-touring artist to date, so some of her arrogance is warranted for sure.
Despite her recent everything-and-the-sink public appearances, Madonna was once a hottie like none other and had a body that could put the starlets of today to shame. Let’s remember her in all her hot and sexy glory, when she really shined in her prime.
15 The Bejeweled Enchantress
From the beginning, Madonna certainly knew that her unconventional beauty could create ripples of shock amongst her admirers, and she took full advantage of it. Here she is dressed, if you can call it that, in a multitude of jewels and pearls and yet nothing shines brighter than her innate sass. With jewels that could put a queen to shame, and ornate motifs used as nipple pasties – Madonna looks hot AF.
Before Madonna became the diva, she sang, drummed, and played the guitar for New York pop band The Breakfast Club which she had formed with then-boyfriend Dan Gilroy. The band later boasted names likes Randy Jackson and Madonna’s ex-boyfriend Stephen Bray. This was still an interesting job for her. She also once worked at Dunkin Donuts to make ends meet while she was a struggling dancer in New York, and was fired for squirting jam in a customer’s face. Even when the fame wasn’t there, her sass was!
14 Her Animal Magnetism
Madonna is famous, especially in her later years, for her deliberate nipple flashes and equally cheeky (literally) shows. And whether she’s gone under the knife or not and whether she now continuously does so to look younger than her advanced years, and of course whether or not her photographs are heavily photoshopped or not – there’s no denying that in her prime, Madonna was a catch. She lies topless in the image here, and frankly, despite oozing of sensuality, this is one of her more demure shots.
And perhaps it is this invincible side of her that led scientists to name a species of Tardigrade – a microscopic, water-dwelling organism also known as water bear or moss piglet– as Echiniscus madonnae! While the organism is a tad funky looking, it is pretty much invincible. It can live for 120 years without water or food and can withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to above boiling point!
13 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Yes, we know that was Marilyn Monroe’s movie but Madonna had a blonde phase with a headful of curls that lasted quite a while, to many a man’s delight. With a headful of blonde corkscrew curls, a turquoise sheer bodysuit, and those red lips, she looks like a siren in this picture – all splayed out on a red leather couch with a martini to match.
All in all, Madonna acted in 22 movies, including critically acclaimed movies such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Evita. And yet, she also did an erotic thriller Body of Evidence that bombed at the box office and was critically panned for the excessive sexual violence as well as her acting, if you could call it that… And then came the movie Swept Away, a remake of the original movie by the same name that also bombed majorly and was another brick in the wall that was testament to Madonna’s acting failure.
12 Sheer and Sultry
Call it the sheer trend, or the naked dress, or the basic idea of celebs dressing themselves in fabric that shows everything and hides nothing is not new. As seen in this image, Madonna knew of this trend and also knew how to rock it into an image best described as NSFW!
Despite her immense success as a singer and performer, and some as an actress – Madonna does not have a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though for no fault of the jury. She was selected for the honor in 1990 but showed no interest in making the appearance and so the invitation expired. To receive the star now, her name would have to be resubmitted for nomination but considering she did not show any interest the first time, it is unlikely that she would have any interest now. To her, she is already a star.
11 The “Pop” Queen
And no, we don’t mean just the gum she’s about to pop in this picture, that defines what Madonna was in the 1980s – irreverent, a young woman, full of herself, and yet strangely naïve, but above all not at all reserved about her body.
Madonna has been known as various monikers through her life. She was born to Catholic parents. Her father was Silvio Anthony "Tony" Ciccone whose parents were immigrants from Pacentro, Italy while her mother was Madonna Louise Fortin and had a French-Canadian ancestry. Since Madonna and her mother shared the same name, she was called Little Nonni. She used the moniker Dita in her controversial book Sex and then was known as Madge when she married Guy Ritchie, the latter she hated!
Of course, with her musical success and legacy, the world knows her as the Queen of Pop!
10 The Bare-All Gal
Yep, Madonna is no prude and she has proven it time and again by appearing in costumes that are specifically designed to show off her assets and, sometimes, even her private parts. She has been photographed in the nude a multitude of times to the point that the Web is rife with her naked pictures.
Madonna’s mother and namesake died of breast cancer on December 1, 1963 when Madonna was all of five years. For a few years, Madonna was so terrified that she could only sleep when her father was around, fearful that he too would die. All this changed when Tony married their housekeeper Joan Gustafson in 1966. Though just eight years old at the time, Madonna entered a rebellious stage and became a delinquent student, often raising her skirt so that boys could see her underwear. This rebellious spirit still rings true.
9 The Blonde Bombshell
From the beginning of her career, Madonna has graced covers of many magazines and even released an erotic, soft porn photo book that shows her performing various acts of intimacies – and this way back in 1992. This shot is an iconic Madonna pose – just as famous as was Marilyn’s blowing dress photo! The blonde curls, Madonna in a bra and that gamine grin dressed up with a crimson lipstick – this was Madonna at the height of her stardom.
And while Madonna did win plenty accolades and awards for her music, and landed a Golden Globe for her performance in Evita – she has been Razzie’d plenty of times too. She has won a total of nine Razzie awards – Worst Actress for Shanghai Surprise in 1987, Who's that Girl in 1988, Body of Evidence in 1994, and The Next Best Thing in 2001. She was also dissed with Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple for Swept Away in 2003, Worst Supporting Actress for Four Rooms in 1996, and Die Another Day in 2003 as well as Worst Actress of the Century in 2000!
8 The Neo-Classic Beauty
Madonna was not what people would call as traditionally beautiful. But she had tons of sexual and sensual appeal which she further amped up with her various looks throughout the years. Now of course, she’s a caricature of her former self and her fashion sense has been critically panned by the fashion world, but there was once a time when everybody wanted to look like her – her short blonde hair, dark lipstick, and toned down make-up came about when she was with Sean Penn and perhaps was partly inspired from a person she holds in high esteem: Marilyn Monroe.
In 1984, the Madonna look became the "It look" after the release of "Like a Virgin" which she dedicated “to all the virgins in the world.” Female fans then started to copy her trademark style – cropped lace tops that revealed bras, fingerless lace gloves, footless tights, bangles and bracelets, pearls and beads, a drawn-on beauty mark, a crucifix, and of course, various rags, bows and bands in the hair!
7 The Romantic Madonna
Madonna was no prude when it came to relationships either. In a book that her brother wrote about her, it was reported that she lost her virginity at 15, in the back of a car to local school jock. Madonna later on remarked that this was her first career move.
She dated musician and fellow band mate Dan Gilroy and then later moved to Studio 54 DJ John “Jellybean” Benitez who produced hits on her debut album like “Holiday” and “Borderline.” In 1985 when she was at her career peak, she got married to actor Sean Penn and they had a volatile relationship, with Penn facing legal troubles for run-ins with the paparazzi as well as domestic violence charges. Madonna dated Warren Beatty after this, and then Calvin Klein model Tony Ward and rapper Vanilla Ice. Then came Dennis Rodman and her personal trainer Carlos Leon, with whom she had her first child – Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. She then married decade younger director Guy Ritchie after having their son Rocco. In 2008, they divorced and Madonna remarked that she would rather get run over by a train than get married again!
6 Madonna The Cougar
She may have looked all innocent and fresh in the beginning but after a series of relationships, two weddings, two divorces, and two biological children, Madonna swore not to get married and stated that she preferred younger men because men her age were boring, overstuffed, and had no sense of adventure!
And she then had a slew of relationships to prove what she said. As her marriage to Guy Ritchie ended, rumors of Madonna and MLB slugger Alex Rodriguez hooking up came about. Once that was over and done with, Madonna and Brazilian model Jesus Luz were together for most of 2009. Then came 24-year-old French break-dancer Brahim Zaibat in 2010 and they carried on for three years until 2013. Less than a month after their break-up, Madonna had her hooks in 26-year-old back-up dancer Timor Steffens. And finally, in 2016, Madonna supposedly found a new boy toy in African model some 30 years her junior, Aboubakar Soumahoro, nicknamed Brooklin.
5 The Mommy Madonna
In February 2017, Madonna confirmed that she had adopted two more children from Malawi – twin sisters who have now been named Stella Ciccone and Esther Ciccone. This brings her brood to a total of six, though son Rocco (her biological son with Guy Ritchie) is none too fond of his mother lately. In total, Madonna has adopted four children to date including Stella and Esther, all from Malawi. She adopted David Banda in 2006 and Mercy James in 2009. Biologically, other than Rocco she also has a daughter, Lourdes Ciccone Leon who she had with Carlos Leon and who is now emerging as a model who's amazingly beautiful in her own right.
Madonna’s own mother died when she was five and she had a step-mom foisted upon her when she was just nine – this is perhaps the reason that she has always been there for her kids and fought her ex-husband Guy Ritchie for their son’s custody, which they both settled in 2016.
4 The Star Who Never Ages
For years, Madonna was dubbed as being the eternally youthful woman. Of course nowadays, her age has finally caught up with her and she does look every bit her 58 years, even then though her fitness levels could probably put many of the young divas to shame. The sex appeal and the sass oozes out of every pore in this bikini shot, though the pony tail is a tad rare.
That said, you’d think that Madonna would be someone completely in love with her body, hot as it was and fit as it still is. But like every other woman on earth, Madonna once remarked that she too had a love-hate relationship with her body and since she was not born with a body like Gisele Bundchen, there was a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that went into making Madonna, Madonna. So there, if she could have doubts too, we all are mere mortals.
3 The Irreverent Beauty
She may not have had the beauty that Marilyn, her idol, did, but Madonna could not be considered any less of a woman, star, or diva with 30 years of countless hits, successes, and controversies behind her. Some would swear that she is all natural, while others are ready to take an oath that she’s had plenty of reconstructive work done. Believe what you believe, but there is a certain vitality that Madonna has that even her worst and ugliest public appearances cannot take away.
It is said that Madonna rises with her kids and then goes off to sleep again to sneak in those essential beauty hours. And she swears by never sleeping with her make-up on. Another beauty idol of hers is Frida Kahlo – and she says that though Frida was not conventionally beautiful, it was her strength that showed through her self-portraits where she never tried to hide her eyebrows or moustache. Madonna initially portrayed the same rebellion with overgrown underarm hair and unshaved body hair.
2 B***h I’m Madonna
Once Madonna got it into her head to be something, she was rather single-minded about it. After being encouraged by her ballet teacher, Madonna dropped out of college and came to New York to make it big with $35 in her pocket. And it took her a while to do so. Meanwhile she lived in grungy, closet-sized apartments, was raped at knife-point, and scraped together a living as a waitress. But she stood strong, and this is what the media needs to remember when they trash Madonna for her outfits, her choice of young men, and her antics. She is the one that turned $35 into $400 million… And she has the right to live her life as she wants to.
Amidst her many odd-ball jobs she did before she became the Madonna she is now, she posed as a live model for art and photography classes. And a few sultry black and white shots of Madonna in all her nude regalia have recently emerged. While she wasn’t famous then, she is innately bold and fearless in front of the camera.
1 There’s Something About Madonna
Once upon a time, celebrities did not secretly conspire to release sex tapes to be famous. But then, nobody has taken ownership of their fearless and unashamed sexuality the way Madonna did when she released her X-rated photo book Sex, along with her album Erotic. Shot by Steven Meisel and featuring Madonna, Isabella Rossellini, Naomi Campbell, Big Daddy Kane, and Udo Kier with a sentence that said it all "I’ll teach you how to f**k!"
We leave you with these words of Madonna in Rolling Stone: “Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start. So if I have to be the person who opens the door for women to believe and understand and embrace the idea that they can be sexual and look good and be as relevant in their 50s or their 60s or whatever as they were in their 20s, then so be it."