Is Madonna Becoming Sticky and Sour?

Her Sticky and Sweet tour grows sour as bitterness from divorce spills over.

October 21, 2008, 12:10 PM

Oct. 22, 2008— -- Poor Madonna. The mistress of spin who has so carefully controlled her image ever since she worked every DJ in New York City in the 1980s when she first burst on the scene, no longer appears to be calling all the shots at age 50.

The pop diva had reportedly planned on announcing that her marriage to director Guy Ritchie was over after her Sticky and Sweet tour wrapped. Instead, the announcement came in the middle, and the tour is growing more sour than sweet as it rolls on.

A few hours after the breakup was made public, Madonna opened her show in Boston with the track "I'm Not Sorry," telling the crowd, "That's right, I'm not sorry."

Later she performed "Miles Away," a song she once said was inspired by her often long-distance relationship with Ritchie.

Introducing it, she told the audience, "This song is for the emotionally retarded. Maybe you know some people who fall into that category. I know I do."

Perhaps Madonna's bitterness stems from losing her grip on all things in her world. At a concert in New York earlier this month, she made the following cryptic announcement to the audience: "In exactly 29 moves, the Queen will dump the King."

At the time, she had 29 dates left on her U.S. tour.

Whether it was Ritchie or Madonna who jumped the gun, it's now clear the couple is headed for what could be a bitter divorce and custody battle over their son, Rocco, 8, and adopted son, David Banda, 3.

Even David's father, Yohane Banda, weighed in on the divorce from his home in Malawi. According to British newspaper The Sun, he wondered if David would be better off back home with him. "I am still a poor farmer with nothing to offer, but maybe he would be better off back with us," he said.

Ritchie's father, John, also jumped into the fray. After hearing about Madonna's "emotionally retarded" comments, he lashed out at the Material Girl in the British press. "She is being beastly," he said. "She is saying, 'Did you ever love me?' It goes back to a time when she fell off her horse and she's blaming him for that. She's calling him an emotional retard. When he's being bashed by her it's horrid."

Contacted by, Madonna's stepmother, Joan, who is married to her father, Silvio "Tony" Ciccone, declined to comment. So did Carlos Leon, the father of Madonna's daughter, Lourdes.

Her brother Christopher Ciccone, who recently published a tell-all book called "Life With My Sister Madonna," released a statement: "In writing my memoirs, I have made a great many observations about myself and my sister Madonna. I will not be commenting on her divorce, as that is a private matter between her and Guy Ritchie and would consider any commentary on my part dishonorable and disrespectful. I have expressed my heartfelt sadness to her and her family and offered my support should she need it."

In an interview with "Good Morning America," Ciccone partly blamed Ritchie's homophobia for his estranged relationship with his sister.

"Guy Ritchie pretty much happened to our relationship, for the most part," Ciccone, who's gay, told "GMA's" Deborah Roberts.

He also said he's holding out hope that, despite his bombshell book, he and Madonna will someday resume communication.

Madonna has a few things to take care of before then. Douglas Thompson, who has written a pair of Madonna biographies, said living in England these past few years must have been tough on the Queen of Control.

"She's always been in control of things," said the author of "Madonna Revealed" and "Madonna: Queen of the World."

"It goes back to her early days in New York, picking the guys in the band, the guys who could help."

For a while, he said, the British press treated her like royalty, until it realized she was like the "empress's clothes -- that there wasn't much there."

Thompson, who hails from Britain, said the failure of Madonna's marriage to Ritchie comes down to culture. "She's a very brash woman from middle-America," he said. "She conquers New York, she conquers the world. And then she plays this part in England, and there is a big gap. Guy's a normal bloke. He's happy to go down to the pub. He's probably very set in his ways. It looks like a complete mix-matched marriage. I would have thought that from the beginning."

Thompson believes that Ritchie, 40, doesn't care that the marriage is over and won't put up much of a fight over the children or their assets -- including a 1,200-acre country estate, a London town house and homes in Los Angeles and New York.

"I think he'll do the English thing -- roll over and let her do what she wants," Thompson said. "I don't think he's confrontational. He was the one wearing the kilt."

Another Madonna biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, said that while Madonna may seem cold and calculating professionally or in media reports, she is actually quite vulnerable in her personal life.

"One of the biggest misconceptions I found about Madonna that I really worked on setting straight is the notion that she has sort of flitted from relationship to relationship without any emotional consequence, that she's cold and unemotional," Taraborrelli, the author of "Madonna: An Intimate Biography," told CNN in July 2001. "What I learned was that in her personal life, and I make that distinction here, she's more emotionally vulnerable than most."

It seems her brother would agree. He told" GMA" in July: "I think, ultimately, she's a lonely person and, unfortunately, it truly is lonely at the top."

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