Madonna before becoming the Queen of Pop – new photo book.

Photographer Richard Corman‘s polaroids of Madonna in the ’80s will be published in an upcoming photo book, Madonna 66.

Interviewed by V Magazine, Richard Corman reflects on Madonna’s inimitable style, the art of polaroid photography, and the creative, palpable energy of downtown Manhattan in the ’80s. You can pre-order Madonna 66 here.

Describe your first encounter with Madonna. 

Richard Corman Madonna made sure I called her prior to entering the building on East 4th Street because the crew on her stoop would not have let me through without her say so.  When I approached the building, I told those outside I was a friend of Madonna and the seas parted. I heard M yelling over the banister from the 4th floor to come on up. When I looked up from the first floor and encountered those piercing cat-like eyes I knew that something special awaited on the 4th floor. Indeed as I walked in, she served me espresso on a silver-plated tray with bazooka bubble gum…so raw, so real, so sexy, so much fun.

What was it about her that attracted you? Could you have predicted then how big she would become?

RC From the moment we met, her charisma was unlike anything I had seen before.  Her confidence and determination were so visible! When I asked her over our espresso what her goals were When I asked her over our espresso what her goals were and she blatantly said, ‘to rule the rule‘, I was sold! Torn denim jeans with white lace tights underneath, vibrant red lips, a faux mole, dark rooted hair with white/blond highlights, dozens of rubber bangles on her arms, those cat-like eyes made up perfectly, and the sensuality of her aura were all encompassing. One could never predict that M would change the course of pop-culture history as we know it today, but there was no question as she stood in front of my camera in 1983, that her presence was fucking amazing.

This series of photographs seems very raw and natural. How did the stylistic choices come about?

RC Madonna’s sense of style, sensibility, and swag were her own.  It was genuine, accessible, and absolutely raw with no pretension attached. Location, clothing, makeup, and hair were all Madonna’s decision and reflected everything that we all loved and everything that made her so original.  It was such simple process; Madonna, me, and a camera. Although I directed when needed, I felt as if I was a fly on the wall documenting someone in real time.


Why polaroids?

RC There was a sense of urgency prior to this shoot. Images needed to be shared immediately and at that time there were no iPhones, thus the brilliance of Polaroids!  The polaroids were to be sent to a Hollywood studio along with a modern-version treatment of Cinderella, “Cinde Rella,” to potentially star Madonna as Cinde. The concept of Cinde Rella was all Cis Corman.


What is your favorite photograph from this collection and the story behind it? 

RC So many of these polaroids bring me back and resonate with me today.  At that time and for years to come, although M was beyond relevant, I never felt the images were until recently. Stylistically, she was a visionary…if she walked out of those polaroids onto the street today, she would be trending heavily in the most modern way.  I guess the images of her with her boom box are some of my favorites. She was never without it and became the pied-piper of her Lower East Side hood, inspiring all the kids that would sing and dance with her to that booming box!


Can you talk about how they resurfaced after they had been lost for so long?

RC In my mind these 66 polaroids were lost forever. I was heartbroken over these 33 years as this was the only project I worked on with my Mom and I knew how memorable they were to me and to her. Cis is now 90 and suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was not until a recent move (less than one year ago) that I was moving personal items into my storage facility that I noticed a small box, unlabelled, in the furthest corner of that room.  When I opened that box and discovered all the Polaroids and the original treatment for “Cinde Rella” my breath was truly taken aback. I was shocked and excited, to say the least. I had recaptured a memory that I thought never to be seen again.


Pre-order Madonna 66 now here.

Keep on reading: V Magazine.