Sandra Bernhard Reflects on Her Relationship and Falling Out with Madonna 30 Years Later

Madonna and actress Sandra Bernhard (left) perform at the Don't Bungle the Jungle benefit concert
Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Madonna and actress Sandra Bernhard were one of pop culture’s most controversial duos. They went on late night shows together, were spotted out in Los Angeles, and even sparked romance rumors at one point. Then, in 1992, that all came to an end. Now, almost 30 years later, the Pose star is opening up about her relationship with Madonna and why they eventually went their separate ways.

Bernhard admitted that “for a while” she and Madonna “had a real friendship,” but it wasn’t to last. “What I tried to impart in our friendship is, ‘I’m really your friend, I’m not just somebody that’s passing through,” Bernhard said on the Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast on Monday. And while Bernhard said she tried to be genuine in her relationship with the singer, that wasn’t really congruous with Madonna’s lifestyle. “It’s hard for somebody like her,” Bernhard said. “She doesn’t really want somebody around who reflects too much of who she is. Therefore, her relationships just don’t last.”

The actress didn’t go into detail as to what exactly caused the falling out, but she explained that she felt a little boxed in with their relationship. “I didn’t really like that level of visibility and having to work it constantly,” Bernhard continued. “We all as performers work it to a certain degree, but I’m a very improvisational person, on stage and in my life, and I don’t like being tied down in having to be a certain way for my image.”

This isn’t the first time Bernhard has spoken about her former friend. Back in 2019, she revealed to Us Weekly that she has seen Madonna from time to time over the years. “We’re cool with each other, you know. But people move on and you have your life. I have a daughter [Cicely], my girlfriend [Sara Switzer]. I have my career, my life. And, you know, things do change.”