Where are you today?
I’m in New York, trying to get my Raising Malawi art auction together for Art Basel in Miami. Just dealing with artists and temperamental people.
How many artists will you feature?
It will probably be 12 amazing works of art. I wanted to keep it to artists that I collect myself or I’m friends with or art from my own collection. Originally it was just going to be art, but now it’s also experiences, so I’m trying to make them as interesting as possible. For instance, one is a trip with me to Malawi, where my son and daughter [David Banda and Mercy James] are adopted from. Another is playing poker with Jonah Hill and Ed Norton, and another is staying at Leonardo DiCaprio’s house in Palm Springs for a week. I didn’t think it was going to be as complicated as it is, but, oh well, that’s life. It’s complicated because I’m involved with everything: the lighting, the curtains, the flowers, the decor, the food. I’ve tasted too many bad bottles of wine. This auction is an extension of me, so I want everything to be beautiful, tasteful and well-appointed. It becomes exhausting because I need to be involved in every aspect of it: the people who are speaking, the clothes people are wearing, the music on the playlist.
Will there ever be a time that you let go of that control, or is this like, “I have to?”
I have to.
Where does that come from?
Obviously, you could say it has to do with my childhood, if you’re going to psychoanalyze me: My mother dying and me not being told, and a sense of loss and betrayal and surprise. Then feeling out of control for the majority of my childhood, and becoming an artist and saying that I will control everything. No one will speak for me, no one will make decisions for me. You could say I’m a super control freak. That’s what everybody likes to say. I don’t want to have an event that I’m not proud of. It’s like everything that I do. My shows, my films, my house, the way I raise my children. I take great offense when details are overlooked.
I want to ask you about ageism in the music world. In Hollywood, as you know, it’s rare for women to find great roles as they get older. I imagine it’s even tougher to be a woman of a certain age in pop music. When you go into the studio or mount a tour like Rebel Heart, are you concerned about staying relevant?
I don’t care. It’s the rest of society that cares. I don’t ever think about my age until someone says something about it. I feel that I have wisdom, experience, knowledge and a point of view that is important. Can a teenager relate to that? Probably not. But that’s OK. I understand that. “Relevance” is a catchphrase that people throw out because we live in a world full of discrimination. Age is only brought up with regard to women. It’s connected to sexism, chauvinism and misogyny. When Leonardo is 60 years old, no one is going to talk about his relevance. Am I relevant as a female in this society that hates women? Well, to people who are educated and are not chauvinists or misogynists, yes.
Speaking of: How did you feel about the outcome of the election?
It felt like someone died. It felt like a combination of the heartbreak and betrayal you feel when someone you love more than anything leaves you, and also a death. I feel that way every morning; I wake up and say, “Oh, wait, Donald Trump is still the president,” and it wasn’t a bad dream that I had. It feels like women betrayed us. The percentage of women who voted for Trump was insanely high.
Why do you think that is?
Women hate women. That’s what I think it is. Women’s nature is not to support other women. It’s really sad. Men protect each other, and women protect their men and children. Women turn inward and men are more external. A lot of it has do with jealousy and some sort of tribal inability to accept that one of their kind could lead a nation. Other people just didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t like either candidate, or they didn’t think Trump had a chance in the world. They took their hands off the wheel and then the car crashed.
Were you surprised?
Of course. I was devastated, surprised, in shock. I haven’t really had a good night’s sleep since he has been elected. We’re f—ed.