Released on July 27, 1983, by Sire Records, Madonna’s debut album was initially set to carry the title “Lucky Star”, named after one of its tracks. Edo Bertoglio, a renowned photographer, was roped in for the initial cover, with sleeve designs curated by Madonna’s friend, Martin Burgoyne. However, as recounted by Seymour Stein, the image didn’t resonate with the Queen of Pop’s vision for the album; she felt “it just wasn’t iconic enough.” Perhaps sensing that her singular name itself carried an aura of stardom, the album title was simplified to “Madonna”.
Crafting an Icon: Gary Heery’s Magic Lens
With the decision to revamp the cover, the mantle of capturing Madonna’s essence fell upon Gary Heery. The final artwork he produced presents Madonna as we remember her from that era: short, platinum hair, an assortment of black rubber bangles adorning her wrists, and a striking dog chain gracing her neck. The inner sleeve showcases another bold and intriguing aspect of Madonna – her navel, a feature she described as an “innocent” yet unexpectedly sensual part of the body.
Sharing her views on this distinctive imagery, Madonna once mused,
The picture inside the dust sleeve of my first album has me, like, in this Betty Boop pose with my belly button showing. Then when people reviewed the album, they kept talking about my cute belly button. I think there are other unobvious places on the body that are sexy and the stomach is kind of innocent.
A Glimpse Behind the Scenes
The photoshoot, as recounted by Heery, was a captivating affair. Madonna, ever the trailblazer, came to his Broadway studio armed with a modest bag of clothes and jewelry. Remarkably, she was alone – no entourage in tow. What unfolded in front of the camera was nothing short of electric. Heery recalled Madonna as “explosive, like a great model, but with her own unique style.”
Their collaborative spirit was evident when selecting the final images. As Heery nostalgically reminisced,
She came over the next day to see some prints and the proofs, and there was shot after shot to choose from. We agreed on every choice and whittled it down to the album cover images. I had no idea what I had just been a party to.