Madonna Moved to NYC With $35 in Her Pocket — or Did She?
Madonna is a cultural icon however, her brother, Christopher Ciccone, says she hasn’t always been truthful. The Queen of Pop famously claimed she came to New York City to pursue her career with merely $35 in her pocket. Ciccone has a different narrative. Here’s a look at what he said in his tell-all book about Madonna — and how he thinks Madonna reacted to the book.
Madonna and her brother have different narratives of her younger days
Americans love rags-to-riches stories. Some of the greatest works of American art from The Great Gatsby to Citizen Kane revolve around rags-to-riches narratives. In addition, many American celebrities from Elvis Presley to Cher to Tupac Shakur started from the bottom and made it to the top.
In the same vein, Madonna presented herself as going from financial desperation to fame and fortune. According to the book Life With My Sister Madonna, the Queen of Pop once said “I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.”
Ciccone says this was a lie. He applauds Madonna’s bravery for defying their father to drop out of college. However, he says she was from an upper-middle class family and was financially stable. In addition, he said she had many friends in New York City on whom she could rely. Ciccone said Madonna’ first few months in New York City weren’t easy but still accused her of mythologizing her own life. He compared her to author Anaïs Nin, who also fabricated elements of her life story.
How the Queen of Pop and her fans reacted to Christopher Ciccone’s book
Ciccone’s book Life with My Sister Madonna is full of anecdotes about the Queen of Pop which aren’t flattering. During an interview with The Guardian, asked Ciccone what the Queen of Pop thought of his book. “She probably thinks of it as a desperate attempt for attention and money,” he said. “And, ultimately, a betrayal.”
Afterward, Ciccone discussed how others reacted to the book. “Other than that, there are two factions. People who hate me because they think I’ve betrayed their icon. And then the people who hate me because they think I haven’t betrayed her enough. The other day, I was walking through a gay bar and I heard this guy whisper, ‘Traitor!’ It was pretty funny.”
So does Christopher Ciccone have any affection for his sister?
Despite writing unflattering things about his sister, Ciccone still said he missed being a part of her life. “I miss working with her, on her tours and in her houses… Because we were all so focused on her, I now realize that she really didn’t know me at all as a person. But I did some of my best work with her, and she did with me, and I miss that part of it.” Ciccone missed working with Madonna — even if he felt she mythologized her life.