It was just like old times. Madonna Louise Ciccone was sitting in her old Rochester, Mich. bedroom with Carol Belanger, her best friend from childhood, flipping through an Adams High School yearbook and other memorabilia. Looking on with the two old pals was Madonna‘s future husband, actor Sean Penn, whom Madonna had brought around to meet the hometown folks when her Virgin Tour was passing through Detroit last summer. Madonna seemed especially taken with a snapshot of 1974 senior Russell Long, whom she had dated throughout her sophomore year. Coyly she revealed that she had sacrificed her much-discussed virginity to Long when she was 15. Then she giggled. It was as if the superstar were a teen again. The illusion quickly passed. After all, Madonna is—in John Lennon’s phrase—a star at the “toppermost of the poppermost,” a woman who by year’s end would have achieved success beyond any teenager’s wildest dreams.
But there was a time when Madonna was just another Wanna Be: a girl who really was a virgin, who wore crucifix and moniker without irony, who attended church every Sunday morning in a crisply pressed dress, kneeling with her brothers and sisters, father and stepmother in a row at Sunday Mass.
Belanger describes the budding Madonna as unusually pretty, buxom and willful, but otherwise quite ordinary. The future Material Girl cruised the gravel roads of her suburban subdivision on a Schwinn. Years before she fostered a fashion revolution, Madonna spent hours poring over Seventeen and Glamour, after which she was inspired to camouflage her drab Catholic school uniform under hot pink, purple and orange sweaters. Madonna was a major Monkees fan, her fantasies centering on little Davy Jones. Today’s Boy Toy enjoyed games no more risqué than Monopoly, Sorry and Clue.
Yet there is evidence that the chaste child was mother to the vampy star. For example she and Belanger once got in trouble with Carol’s mom for stripping their Barbie and Ken dolls and propping them face-to-face under the covers of Barbie’s bed.
Madonna started toying with real boys early on. She attended make-out parties in junior high wearing a turtle-necked bodysuit to protect her virginity. Even then, Belanger says, “she broke a lot of hearts.”