An isolated drunken performance accusation… an uncharacteristic concert delay… random sexual harassment of a fan. Taken individually, these incidents on Madonna‘s Rebel Heart Tour could be dismissed as, well, incidental. But taken together over a matter of days, if she were anyone else, they’d be grounds for intervention.
On Thursday, video surfaced of the singer during a show in Australia in which the Material Girl called a woman in the audience up to the stage and exposed her breast to the crowd. After remarking that the woman is “the kind of girl you just want to slap on the ass… and pull,” Madonna tugged at her top, revealing her breast.
“Oh shit,” the entertainer said. “Oh, sorry, sexual harassment.”
Never mind the fact that if the woman brought on stage was at a Chris Brown concert the Internet would have gotten epilepsy and courts would be clogged for years. Even for a woman famed for controversy, this behavior is highly unusual.
It’s becoming less unusual, however, for the 57-year-old entertainer.
On Tuesday, Madonna took to Instagram to refute reports that she was drunk during a performance in Melbourne in which she allegedly took shots from a flask, called ex-husband Guy Ritchie a “son of a bitch,” and nearly broke down while recalling her 15-year-old son.
Dismissing speculation of her insobriety as “sexism,” she reposted a defense by another Instagram user who blasted media reports of her alleged drunkenness as “another misogynistic attempt to undermine a highly accomplished woman’s value,” which is “infinitely more important to mankind than any of her detractors could ever hope to be” before closing with “Swallow it.”
Days later, Madonna was upbraided by Australian news outlets for keeping fans waiting nearly two-and-a-half hours past the stated start time of her concert in Brisbane on Wednesday. No reason has been given for the delay, which pushed the show’s finale past the end of train service from the venue.
Seemingly unapologetic, the singer quipped to the crowd when she finally did take the stage, “I’m hardly ever late. It’s you people that get here early that’s the problem.”
Of course, that’s not entirely true. The pop star was two-and-a-half hours late for a Nashville show back in January during which she defended herself against accusations of drunkenness at a date in Louisville two days earlier.
Live Nation, which promoted the Brisbane show, pre-warned ticket holders for the following night’s gig that the company couldn’t guarantee a timely performance for that date either, reportedly offering ticketholders refunds in advance. That appears to have been the show at which she pulled down the unsuspecting concertgoer’s tube top.
Madonna exposed her own breast during a 2012 tour date in Istanbul, Turkey, but this is the first reported case of her taking that liberty on behalf of someone else. Which may be illustrative of the difference between the rebellious Madonna that fans have known for over 30 years and the seemingly reckless one they’ve been treated to recently.
The entertainer has always been known for outrageous antics, but until recently they’ve been meticulously calculated.
There are two remaining dates on the Rebel Heart Tour, which concludes this weekend with a pair of shows in Sydney. With the finish line in sight, Madonna should be able to wind up the no-doubt exhausting tour without further incident, but given her recent penchant for impropriety, all breasts — er, bets, are off.
A representative for Madonna did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.