2019 American Music Awards

Madonna Encyclopedia 'By a Fan, For Fans' Gets 20th-Anniversary Update

Stumped on what to get the Madonna fan in your life for the holidays? How about the 581-page, 4-pound Madonna bible Encyclopedia Madonnica? The massive tome was written by Madonna expert Matthew Rettenmund and covers everything in Madonna’s world from A (the first entry is Abdul, Paula) through Z (zits -- yes, really).

Initially published in 1995, the unauthorized book has been thoroughly revised and updated to include even the most recent events in Madonna’s life (like her current Rebel Heart Tour). It’s also full of memorabilia and color photos that Rettenmund has been collecting for decades. The book is available via Barnes & Noble for $65 or via Rettenmund’s website for $60.

The encyclopedia was inspired by a similar book about Marilyn Monroe called The Unabridged Marilyn: Her Life From A to Z, released in 1988. Rettenmund thought, “You know, Madonna is deserving of that same kind of treatment. That everything-including-the-kitchen-sink treatment that you can't really get in biographies. In straight biographies, there's so much stuff that's left out.”

(Below, the author with his muse.)

He says “part of it was done seriously as an act of devotion … by a fan, for fans. And part of it also is kind of tongue-in-cheek, because just the fact that it exists is kind of ridiculous. Like, a Madonna encyclopedia?”

The new book was funded via a Kickstarter campaign that generated more than $30,000. The project also includes numerous interviews with a range of people who have been in Madonna’s orbit, including Desperately Seeking Susan publicist Reid Rosefelt, journalist John Norris and Madonna’s former stylist Maripol. (Full disclosure: The writer of this story contributed to the Kickstarter campaign and is also interviewed in the book.)

While Rettenmund has not heard directly from Madonna’s camp about her thoughts on the book, her representatives have been friendly with him since the first edition was published. (So much so, her publicity team was able to get Madonna to sign the cover of the first edition for Rettenmund. He jokes that he’s “not expecting any lawsuits.”)

“She strikes me as a person who would be very skeptical of any book written about her,” Rettenmund says when asked what Madonna would say if she flipped through the new edition’s pages. “If she gave it a chance and really looked through it, I think she would see the affection seeping from every page.”


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.