Madonna: Behind the Scenes in Rio

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Madonna: Behind the Scenes in Rio
The March 2009 cover. CLICK HERE to see the complete portfolio.

Madonna: Behind the Scenes in Rio

Leave it to Madonna to have the last laugh. With the tabloid media in a frenzy over the 50-year-old’s divorce from Guy Ritchie and alleged dalliance with 33-year-old New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, does she low-key it and go out publicly only with her kids? Does she find an “age appropriate” man, someone born, say, before the Beatles arrived in America?

Hell, no. Madonna has never been one to hide. Nor to apologize. Provocation is simply in her nature. So she teamed once again with photographer Steven Klein for a W photo shoot that thumbs her nose at prudes and busybodies who would call her a cougar. If you think A-Rod is too young for her, how about 20-ish Jesus Luz, a Brazilian model discovered during casting for the shoot in Rio de Janeiro? Madonna and Luz’s obvious chemistry, Creative Director Dennis Freedman recalls, quickly sidelined the other, more seasoned male mannequins as Klein’s heat-seeking lens homed in on the megastar and the unknown. Soon the shoot’s plot, told in Klein’s cinematic style, evolved into the story of a strong, powerful, exceedingly chic woman and her new, boyish, beautiful plaything.

“Blame It on Rio” is Madonna and Klein’s third collaboration for W. The first, “Madonna Unbound” (April 2003), found her twisted like a pretzel in a photographic meditation on the performance process. The second, “Madonna Rides Again” (June 2006), explored her, uh, passion for horses. And now comes her appreciation for the male form. “Each one is extraordinarily ambitious,” says Freedman.

But who would expect anything less from Madonna? Say what you will about her, she is no slacker. She agreed to undertake the W project on her two-day break between concerts in Rio and São Paulo on the South American leg of her Sticky & Sweet Tour. The first day was devoted to fittings, and on the second, Freedman says, “she worked well into the night” as the crew plowed through a storyboard’s worth of scenes. And if she managed to squeeze a little pleasure into all that business, who are we to criticize?

Read more about Steven Klein HERE.