There's a 65-year-old woman simulating masturbation for a crowd of thousands.

Don't be alarmed, but right now there's a 65-year-old woman simulating masturbation on stage in front of 20,000 people.

Not only that. She's getting lapdances from all comers. She's being touched and rubbed and pulled and groped, tied up, even. A man in a jockstrap, bottom exposed, is pretending to perform oral sex on her.

She's wearing lingerie, sometimes. A corset, sometimes. And a stretchy knee brace familiar to any of us who, these days, have a bit of a twinge down there.

Oh, and her children are watching. Participating, sometimes. Some of them are adults, some of them are kids. It's a family show that is very definitely not a family show.

Watch: Madonna — The Celebration Tour Announcement. Post continues after the video.

Video via Youtube.

What it is, is a radical act. And it's glorious.

Of course, the woman is Madonna.

She's just started a huge new tour. Celebrations is a two-hour show, with nine costume changes, an army of dancers and lots and lots of sex.


If you are Generation X, every song she's singing in these shows means something to you, and each one will conjure a specfic visual image in your mind.

A tutu and a gondlolier for Like A Virgin. Monroe satin and fur for Material Girl. The bleached-out pixie cut of Papa Don't Preach. A cowboy hat for Music. Legwarmers for Hung Up.

She, for the longest time, was It.

If you are not Gen X, you probably know Madonna only really as an older woman who is constantly being told to put her clothes back on. Who's had some dodgy face work, perhaps. Who maybe shouldn't have embraced TikTok so hard during Covid.

In a world where the most powerful people in music are Taylor Swift and Beyonce, and you've lived through Britney Spears and Gaga, you might not grasp how ground-breaking and important she was and is. 

You might think, even, that she's a bit... sad.

Madonna isn't sad. She's gloriously, unabashedly herself. Consistently controversial. And in a world where we are constantly urging women to stand in their truth and be who they are, not to make themselves small, to let their freak flag fly, she's an example of what happens when you do. 

A lot of people don't like it.

"Madonna isn't sad. She's gloriously, unabashedly herself." on stage. Image: Getty


Madonna has never performed all her bangers back to back before. She never wanted to be a greatest hits jukebox from the past, but maybe, like many before her (Mick Jagger, anyone?) she's finally decided to cash in on what her audience wants.

They want the big songs. And Madonna is not the kind of artist who's going to pull on a tasteful linen jumpsuit and a sequin jacket, dust off a grand piano and get busy performing them all acoustically, minus choreography, to a a sitting down audience nibbling on prawn sandwiches and sipping prosecco.

Madonna is the kind of artist who goes to her cupboard and pulls out a gimp mask, throws it at her lead dancer and says, 'You're going to be needing this'. 


Some people aren't happy. Predictably there's a fair sprinkling of "Isn't it time she grew up?" and "act your age" out there in tabloid headlines and cluttering up the comments section. 

But it's not worth your time. Or Madonna's.

What is worth our time is examining what it is about a woman who is clearly into her third act performing sexuality that makes us cringe a little. 

I've said it before, Madonna is 65. And despite all the cosmetic interventions she has clearly enjoyed, despite the intense athlete-level training she's been at for decades — who remembers when she and Gwyneth became besties and then Gwynny stole Tracey Anderson from her? Just me? She looks like a woman in her 60s. Even with all the money in the world, there is only so much time you can actually outrun. 

And women of that age, or, in fact, over the age where she is any longer reproductively useful to males, are generally not considered sexual beings. What are you for, the culture shrugs, once you are no longer my version of f**kable. 

The thing is, Madonna has never cared whether she is your version of f**kable. The woman who released an entire coffee-table book about sex long before the term sex-positive had been coined, never embraced a passive, hetero, vanilla version of sex. She was always playing with perception, always celebrating difference, queerness, kink. Justify My Love, she sang, lugging a suitcase full of toys down a hotel corridor, spied on by hot androgynous models in BDSM gear. That was in 1990.


"The thing is, Madonna has never cared whether she is your version of f**kable." Image: Getty


She followed it up by having sex with a version of Jesus on an altar in a church and releasing that book about sex in which she is naked on almost every page. 

And here we are, all these years later, and an artist addicted to challenging what you think of her, and by extension, what you think of women in general, knows the most shocking thing she can do is refuse to calm down. To not hang up her intense main character energy. To throw "tasteful" into the bin with the shame she's been shaking off her entire life. 

In the words of her song Human Nature, she's not sorry. "I'm not your b**ch, don't hang your s**t on me".

It is a little bit shocking to see Madonna, in her knee brace and wig, need to sit down inbetween the spirited sexy choreography with her rubber-clad dancers.

Listen to the episode below.

She's a grown woman, after all, modifying parts of herself to reflect her physical limitations, but refusing to modify the bits that she, clearly, finds essential to who she is. 

So yes, it's a little bit shocking, but it's also inspiring. Because the truest thing Madonna can do is to keep on being Madonna.

And isn't that what we'd all like to be more of, as we grow? Ourselves?

Featured Image: Getty.