By Terri Schlichenmeyer
“Life with My Sister Madonna”
by Christopher Ciccone with Wendy Leigh
c.2008, Simon & Schuster $26
Did you ever wonder what it would’ve been like to grow up with a different family?
If you were an “only,” you might have dreamed about the fun you’d have with a houseful of kids to play with. Maybe you even gravitated toward friends with siblings, a little covetous of their raucous households.
If you had siblings, you might’ve wistfully thought about never having to share toys, the bathroom or Mom. Though you loved them, there were times, perhaps, when you would have happily shipped your brother or sister to another planet, no questions asked.
Undoubtedly, Christopher Ciccone felt like that, especially when his sister was hot-and-cold with him over the years. In his new book “Life with My Sister Madonna” written with Wendy Leigh, you’ll read about a star’s peccadilloes, her rise to fame, her demands, and the brother who loves her, always.
Born two years after his big sister, Ciccone says that he and Madonna weren’t close as children. Motherless at three, he says he has few memories of his early childhood. He does recall, though, that Madonna was their father’s favorite; even after their Dad remarried and there were more additions to the family, Madonna was singled out and treated specially.
Mythology says that Madonna went to New York for the first time with $35 in her pocket. True or not, it didn’t take her long to hone in on what she wanted, or to get it. Ciccone says she invited him along for the fame-ride, repeatedly yanking away the invitation and then extending it again. Still, he went running when Madonna called, partly because he was awed by her, but mostly because he loved her.
Just before her first tour, she asked him to be her dresser. Later, he decorated her homes, her sets, her clothes, and he protected her, both physically and mentally.
In this book, which takes readers from the beginning through to Madonna’s latest tour, Ciccone has everything to say about his famous sister: her loves (thumbs down to Penn, thumbs up to Beatty, thumbs down to Ritchie) and her friends, both male and female; her passions, ego, tantrums, and embarrassments; the things she really did, that which she only pretended to do, and the truth behind the rumors and their spat.
I was a bit taken aback at this book. I was expecting another blah-blah-blah praise-filled star bio. Instead, what’s inside “Life with My Sister Madonna” is a thoughtful, warts-and-everything, not-quite-tell-all from a brother who alternates between adoration, gleeful tattling, outraged pain, snarkyness and pouting. While this is definitely a book about Madonna, artist, designer and author Ciccone also seamlessly includes his own story of life as a gay man living in the shadow of the famous, beloved sister who infuriates him sometimes.
If you have a sibling, you may occasionally find yourself in this book (minus the billions, of course), but even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this gossipy, star-studded, behind-and-in-the-scenes book. Not for the whole family, “Life with My Sister Madonna” is still high-living fun to read.