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    As I sprinted up the steps of the KFC Yum! Center Saturday evening, a sidewalk preacher with a megaphone bellowed in my ear about repentance.
    Image: Elizabeth Myers
    It was frigid in downtown Louisville, and herds of Madonna fans were hustling towards the concert, a stop on the singer’s Rebel Heart tour. “The things we do for Madonna!” a guy next to me shivered. “Where are you going when you die?” the grating street evangelist bellowed.
    Image: Elizabeth Myers
    The crowd was forty or fifty-something, with clusters of younger fans here and there. Some wore costumes: tulle skirts and cone-shaped bras, sparking sequins, squeaky pleather. The concert was supposed to begin at 8, but at 8:30 DJ Mary Mac began to warm up the stage for Madge. DJ Mary Mac pronounced Louisville correctly; an action by which I judge all non-Louisvillians performing in or reporting on Louisville.
    The forty-something couple standing next to me was holding hands and dancing, shaking their hips together. She could have arrived to this concert straight from the carpool line to pick up her kids, he had his glasses pushed up over his forehead.
    Image: John Miller 
    Finally, at around 10:15,  the concert kicked off. The first few numbers were tinged slightly with cultural appropriation as Samurai caricatures danced around the cage lowered from the ceiling, the cage containing the Queen of Pop herself. Sadly, Madonna pronounced Louisville LOUEY-ville which we all know is wrong. Madonna still looked amazing, by the way, spry enough to climb a cross-shaped stripper pole and gyrate in time with her lithe cast of backup dancers.
    The first song I recognized from her set was “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” a made-for-summer number featuring a sneering Nicki Minaj verse. The respectable-looking couple next to me was close-dancing, bleary with excitement, and every time something remotely dirty happened on stage he yelled “Oh my GOD!!!” as though seeing a woman’s bared breasts at the Yum! Center would stick with him for the rest of his life.
    Image: John Miller 
    Madonna rolled out her first piece of Kentucky-tailored banter while showing off the abs of her dancers. "I hate to quote Colonel fuckin’ Sanders but my six-packs are pretty finger-lickin’ good!” She crowed. She brought out the hits: “Like a Virgin” hyped up the crowd hard.
    Through the show, Madge joked about her current state of intoxication: “maybe someone slipped bourbon in my Throat Coat tea!” she laughed. Since, TMZ has reported on her alleged drunkenness, and the Queen of Pop has responded via Instagram. Later on she passionately extoled the virtues of Muhammad Ali to the audience: “I’m a big fan of boxing and I’m a big fan of Muhammad Ali and I’m a big fan of people who start from nothing and become something extraordinary!” She did not, for the record, seem drunk during her concert, she just Madonna. It would be a true feat of intoxication to maintain a buzz through the hours of intense physical activity she performed onstage: if there was really bourbon in her Throat Coat tea, there wasn't much. 
    Image: John Miller 
    At one point during her Louisville performance, Madonna swayed back and fort, clad in glittery fringe, poking at her crotch to the cadence of the Kentucky Derby trumpet call. She spoke, at times, in an exaggerated Southern twang. Perhaps some audience members took offense at this, but the show was energetic and entertaining, nonetheless. Dancers perched atop tall, flexible poles and whipped back and forth over the audience. Muscle-bound boys and girls gyrated suggestively over one another on beds. They were all, like the audience, engaged in the tired orgy of irreverence that once shocked the world and now feels charmingly retro. 
    Image: Elizabeth Myers
    By the end of the show, at nearly 1 a.m., the sidewalk evangelists are gone. Internet buzz is beginning to surface about the performance, with special attention paid to Madonna’s alleged “fake hillbilly accent” and intoxication. It’s true: with a few heavy-handed jokes and generalizations, Madonna’s alleged "trashed trash-talking" drew Louisville in caricature.
    Image: John Miller
    But should we be surprised that the self-proclaimed Queen of Pop sees the world in burlesque? 
    Cover Image: John Miller
    Elizabeth Myers's picture

    About Elizabeth Myers

    Big fan of bacon and bourbon, deep fried anything, sweet tea and sweet nothings.

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