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Pop icons, paraphernalia and shifting paradigms

Business & Arts is a monthly column by Ashraf Johaardien, an award-winning playwright, producer and arts manager. He took up the role of CEO at Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) in March 2019.

‘A bridge must be built between the visionary and the decision-maker, between seeing and foreseeing, between creators and economists.’ – Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (‘The Cultural Dimensions of Development’, The Right to Hope).

Madonna Business Arts pop icon poster magazine Creative Feel
Madonna, True Blue poster

Years before there was internet, or cellphones, or any of the plethora of current social media platforms which abound, there was a curious thing called ‘Pen Pals’. At some point in the 1980s, my sister, Nazli, was an active participant in this international programme that connected strangers from the four corners of the (then analogue) globe for a range of reasons in the (now largely archaic) mode of exchanging hand-written letters via actual snail mail. For the purposes of this column, that throwback is only of any interest because it happens to be how I first became acquainted with the music and brand of the eternally iconic Queen of Pop, Madonna.
     When Nazli was a teenager, her walls were covered in Madonna posters and paraphernalia courtesy of her German pen pal Karla. As the ‘80s rolled on and Madonna morphed, so did the pictures on Nazli’s wall – as well as the cassette tapes she played in her bedroom: True Blue saw the ripped fishnets and layers of lace left behind for a different look and a somewhat different sound (which Nazli was less a fan of – but I was hooked). 1987’s Who’s That Girl may not have been the greatest movie ever made but the song was undeniably awesome. By the time Like a Prayer was released, I was a full-blown teenaged acolyte sporting the requisite crucifix earring in my pierced ear to prove my adoration.
     Fan or not, there is no getting around the fact that Madonna is arguably not the most talented singer or the best dancer any of us have ever seen. But she is a phenomenal businesswoman and her career epitomises the dizzy heights that can be scaled when creativity is matched with business savvy. Madonna was the original Lebo Mathosa. She was Bonang before Bonang publicly announced her interest in auditioning for the role of Mathosa in BET Network’s planned biopic The Lebo Mathosa Story.

To read more about pop icons, paraphernalia and shifting paradigms, purchase the May 2019 issue of Creative Feel or, to continue supporting our role in the South African arts and culture sector, subscribe to our monthly magazine from only R180.00 to R365.00 per year! SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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