Madonna Opens Up About Performance Mishap That Nearly Ended Her Career

In her long career, Madonna has seen it all. She's released 14 studio albums, performed everywhere from Madison Square Garden to the Super Bowl, and weathered the type of scandals that would have ended anyone else's career. First, there was her 1986 hit "Papa Don't Preach" about a pregnant teenager, which shocked and outraged everyone from Tipper Gore to Gloria Allred, per Los Angeles Times.

That was followed by her self-published coffee table book boldly called "Sex," the time she got banned from MTV, and of course, her mysterious ever-changing accent. She has an answer for that, though, "I didn't know what anyone was talking about until I heard old interviews of myself," she said in 2020, per BBC. "And then I was horrified and flabbergasted. Why did you let me do that to myself? I'm from Michigan!"

Despite all the scandal, Madonna's career has yet to plateau. She just released a remix of "Break my Soul" with Beyoncé and a new album. Truly it seems like there's nothing that could cancel Madonna. If you ask her, though, it all almost came crashing down in the '80s, thanks to a poorly timed wardrobe malfunction.

Madonna made a big mistake

During an appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Madonna talked about a tense moment during a "Like a Virgin" performance on MTV. The popstar detailed how at just 26 years old, she was set to take the stage when she slipped and lost her shoe. "I was trying to do this smooth move, like dive for the shoe and make it look like it was choreography," she said. However, as she bent down to grab the fallen shoe, she said, her dress rode up and exposed her backside to the crowd.

"Those were the days when you shouldn't show your butt to have a career," she told Fallon. "Now it's the opposite." Ever a professional, Madonna took the stage and the show went seamlessly. However, after her performance, she claimed she was accosted by her manager, who told her career was likely over. "It wasn't even the whole butt! It was like a butt cheek, like half of a butt cheek," Madonna laughed.

Of course, he was wrong, and Madonna went on to such great success that there is now a highly anticipated biopic in the works, and just like in every other area of her life, Madonna is calling the shots. "[Making the film] was a preemptive strike because a lot of people were trying to make movies about me," she told Variety in July. "Mostly misogynistic men. So I put my foot in the door and said, 'No one's going to tell my story, but me.'"