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Sandra Bernhard candidly explained that former friend Madonna‘s relationships and friendships don’t go the distance because she doesn’t like being around someone who “reflects too much of who she is.”

Bernhard opened up about her friendship with Madonna and their appearance on The David Letterman Show. But she was frank about why their friendship fizzled.

Sandra Bernhard shares why she didn’t think her friendship lasted with Madonna

Bernhard reflected on the friendship they had in the late ’80s and early ’90s, sharing that there aren’t many press photos of them even though they hung out quite a bit. “We have few pictures there really are of us, and that had it been now, it would be like everywhere and have absolutely no impact whatsoever,” she told Jess Rothschild on her Hot Takes and Deep Dives podcast.

Madonna and Sandra Bernhard performed at the Rainforest Benefit in May 1988
Madonna and Sandra Bernhard performed at the Rainforest Benefit in May 1988 | Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

She then shared what she and Madonna learned from each other during the time they were friends. “Well, certainly for me, I learned that I didn’t really like that level of visibility, you know, and having to be, you know, work it constantly,” she remarked.

“I mean, you know, we all as performers work it to a certain degree. But I’m a very improvisational person onstage and in my life,” Bernhard continued. And I don’t like being tied down to having to be a certain way, you know for my image. And therefore, I feel I continue to evolve as a person and a personality. And I think, I mean, what I tried to impart in our friendship is that I’m really your friend. You know, I’m not just somebody who’s like passing through. And I guess for a while, you know, we had a real friendship, but it’s hard for somebody like her. She doesn’t really want somebody around who reflects too much of who she is and therefore her relationships don’t last.”

She recalled surprise Madonna David Letterman appearance

She also dished about the legendary Letterman appearance with Madonna including who decided to wear the matching denim outfits. “I don’t remember where they were from, but it was definitely her idea,” she recalled about the outfits. “And then, of course, everybody at that time was wearing those cowboy shoes. They were like, they were like half boot shoe. They were insane. I don’t know. I mean, that is something I don’t think we’ll ever revisit again. It was so ’80s. It was insane and brilliant. It was definitely her idea to wear the matching outfits.”

Bernhard then shared what was going on backstage and if Letterman knew Madonna would appear. Bernhard was the scheduled guest that night so Madonna’s appearance was supposed to be a surprise.

“I am sure that my publicist, whoever booked me at that time said that Madonna would be coming,” she recalled. “And I don’t think we ever gave it a whole like there was no definition to it. And of course, I went on first, you know, so I was on for like at least seven or eight minutes before she came on. So I obviously had the thing about going on a show then. You’d have so much time to talk and set the table for everything. So I don’t honestly remember. I think she was just waiting backstage. Then, you know, I said, I brought my friend Madonna. And she came out and we didn’t have anything planned. I mean, truly.”

Where does their relationship stand today?

Bernhard and Madonna didn’t seem to have an explosive fallout, but rather they just suddenly weren’t very tight. Bernhard hinted in a 2019 interview with Wendy Williams about what happened and where they are today.


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“I would have liked that to have gone on for a while [longer],” she said [via US Weekly]. “Certain people can’t handle those kinds of friendships. That’s not my style. I like to maintain my friendships throughout my life. … It’s OK, you know. All is forgiven.”