I believe we all have secret celebrity soul mates. We keep our celebrity soul mates in the periphery of our everyday experiences as a reference and a comparison as we grow older. We check our earthly bodies against theirs while accepting that we are not even in the same universe.

We choose them based on their age, gender, appearance, birthplace and life circumstances. It’s not a random selection. When they succeed, we take note. When they misstep, we notice.

I have two celebrity soul mates. Prince is one. Madonna is the other.

Prince, Madonna and I are the same age. We are summer babies, U.S. Bicentennial-year high school graduates and rock stars.

OK, we are not all rock stars.

At 5-foot-4, Madonna is the tallest among us. We are Gemini, Cancer and Leo: In June, July and August 1958, respectively, we arrived on the scene.


Prince and Madonna are my touchstone celebrities, lingering in the place in my mind where I keep track of my progress or regress – my missed opportunities and my missed calamities.

The attachment to these two superstars is not romantic. I don’t want to sleep with Madonna or Prince. I want to be Madonna or Prince. And if I can’t be Madonna or Prince (I think that ship has sailed, Jolene), I would like to simply hang out with them.

I’m drawn to their raw edges and imperfections. Becoming Madonna and becoming Prince was not easy for them. As working-class kids, they stuck to a path until the path stuck to them. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone became “Madonna” and Prince Rogers Nelson became “Prince.”

I’m drawn to their swagger, their courage and mostly to the way they move. After all, I was the first person on my block to learn the Twist. I made it my business to learn the Pony, the Dirty Dog and the Swim. I think if they could just see me move, they would hire me as a backup dancer. As the young Billy Elliott said, “I just want to dance!”

Prince, Madonna and I each became parents around the same time. I learned today that Prince’s child, Boy, did not survive. He was born Oct. 23, 1996, and died a week later from a rare condition called Pfeiffer syndrome. Madonna’s first child, Lourdes, was born Oct. 14, 1996. I learned today that she is now a model. My own daughter was born in May 1997. I learned today that she needs more money deposited into her savings account.

When we love someone’s life’s work, we naturally look for connections to him or her. If our connection is our age, then we would like to believe that we listened to the same music as adolescents and hung the same posters over our beds. We bet that we loved the same Monkee.


We fantasize: What if? What if I had moved to New York in my early 20s? What if I had been named “Queen Ann McGowan” or “St. Ann McGowan”?

Dinner conversation would be easy with my celeb soul mates. I would mock them for some of their creative choices. I hated the movie “Truth or Dare” and wish Madonna would drop the British accent, but I admire her bravery and her biceps.

Today, I learned that we lost Prince. Fans young and old posted their reactions, tributes and love for this small man with the giant talent. But unlike when David Bowie passed, I felt protective of him in a way that was more like a friend than a celebrity.

The circumstances of his death are still not known as I finish this post. As sad as it is to lose him, I’m hoping that the flu got the best of him and that he was not hiding an addiction.

We want the best for our celebrity soul mates, even in their death.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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