The Real Meaning Of Madonna's Like A Virgin

Madonna's song "Like A Virgin," the title track of the 1984 album that made her a household name and one of the most famous and influential pop singers of all time, has been a topic of discussion since its release. Quentin Tarantino's 1992 movie "Reservoir Dogs" opens with a group of associates planning a bank robbery as well as discussing the lyrics of the song. Mr. White (played by Harvey Keitel) offers the theory that the song's about a woman who's been hurt in the past and finally found a nice guy, while Mr. Brown (played by Tarantino himself) suggests a much more explicit, racy interpretation of the lyrics. In a 1993 interview with Empire magazine, Tarantino shared that when he eventually met Madonna, he asked her if his interpretation had been correct, and she replied, "'No, it's about love, it's about a girl who's been messed over and she finally meets this one man who loves her." 

Madonna has been defending the song against racier interpretations since its release. In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, she expressed surprise at the way people had reacted to "Like A Virgin," saying, "Because when I did the song, to me, I was singing about how something made me feel a certain way — brand-new and fresh — and everyone else interpreted it as, 'I don't want to be a virgin anymore ...' That's not what I sang at all."

'I like innuendo. I like irony'

Madonna didn't actually write "Like A Virgin," but it sounds like her interpretation is in line with of one of the people who did. Per "The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits," lyricist Billy Steinberg said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that "the idea for the song came from personal experience ... I was saying that I might not really be a virgin — I've been battered romantically and emotionally like many people — but I'm starting a new relationship and ... it's healing all the wounds and making me feel like I've never done this before ..." Looks like Mr. White and Madonna were right.

Madonna was no fool. The book "Madonna: The Complete Guide To Her Music," quotes her as saying, "I like innuendo, I like irony, I like the way things can be taken on different levels." This possibility — to hear and sing the song with multiple meanings — may have been the inspiration for Madonna's performance at the very first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 (available on YouTube). As reported by Mental Floss, Madonna opened the show atop a giant wedding cake in a white lace bustier, veil, and voluminous see-through skirt, clutching a bouquet. As she descended the cake, one of her shoes fell off, which led to her kicking off the other one and eventually dropping to the floor and rolling around, exposing her undergarments. Per Mental Floss, host Bette Midler quipped at the end of the instantly iconic performance, "Well, now that the burning question of Madonna's virginity has been answered ..."