The original “bad gal” and a pioneer of the first-name-only musician movement is turning 55 tomorrow: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADONNA! While today we know her as the eccentric humanitarian, frequent tabloid staple, continuous producer of radio hits, and mother of four, let us not forget that once upon a virgin she was a pop icon responsible for the proliferation of the cone bra, rubber bracelets, and suggestive white lace ensembles. Her style, carefully curated at first by Maripol, has since been mimicked ad nauseum, and not just at theme dances or Halloween parties. Capitalizing on her religiously affiliated name, she made bold crosses a symbol of subversive style rather than Christian dedication. Since 1984, Madonna has been setting fashion and musical standards and, unlike many of her peers, has managed to maintain her relevance, even earning the first (of few) specially themed Glee episodes.
Whether she was on the arm of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sean Penn, Guy Ritchie, A-Rod, or Jesus Luz (you can’t script that—Madonna dating Jesus? If only we could have heard the screams of joy at the New York Post offices...), the woman was, and still is, a sex icon. In honor of her 55th birthday, may we present 55 photos of her finest early moments. "Life is a mystery…"