Caldwell Tidicue, best known as Bob the Drag Queen, is currently accompanying the legendary Madonna on her ‘Celebration Tour’, which kicks off its American stretch this Wednesday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. When Bob first interacted with the superstar at her New York Pride event in June 2022, he found her unexpectedly down-to-earth.
He humorously shared, ‘It would have been quite a story if she’d been imperious, but actually she was really cool. Remarkably ordinary, even.’ Needless to say, the extraordinary career of Madonna Louise Ciccone over four decades defies ‘ordinary’ altogether.
Bob, who identifies as non-binary and is also known by Caldwell Tidicue off-stage, has been responsible for prepping audiences for the age-defying icon since the ‘Celebration Tour’ started in London in October. He expressed astonishment at Madonna’s impressively enduring appeal. ‘The fact that Madonna can still captivate such vast audiences 40 years into her career is nothing short of amazing’, he said. He highlighted their sold-out shows at the O2 Arena in London as a testament to her lasting influence.
Bob has the somewhat daunting task of getting audiences into the right mood for the series of Madonna’s classic numbers, although he seems well prepared for the challenge. ‘You would think there’d be a lot of pressure, but oddly, I don’t feel it’, he acknowledged. ‘Whether it’s a cozy room accommodating 100 people or a massive arena filled with 20,000, the energy is surprisingly similar. To me, it’s less about crowd size and more about their enthusiasm.’
That being said, it still takes a substantial amount of pre-performance work for Bob to get ready. A full two-hour transformation involving hair, makeup, and a stylish corset leads to his stunning entrance, replicating Madonna’s iconic Marie Antoinette look from her unforgettable ‘Vogue’ performance at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. ‘The actual dressing takes around ten minutes’, he noted. ‘The real time commitment is the makeup application.’
The mesmerizing entertainer’s duties don’t stop once Madonna graces the stage. During her poignant 1986 hit ‘Live To Tell’, Bob appears dressed as a ‘sad clown’ in tribute to the lives tragically cut short by AIDS. Commemorating World AIDS Day with the powerful number was particularly impactful. ‘It was a chilling and profoundly moving experience to perform on World AIDS Day’, Bob recalled of an event in Amsterdam.
Bob later returns to the stage as a ballroom emcee during ‘Vogue’, a perennial fixture in all Madonna’s tours and a tribute to the electric New York City nightlife during the time of the Stonewall riots. Donning a sparkling black tuxedo, Bob participates in this exciting homage. ‘It’s a poignant nod to the New York’s vibrant LGBTQ+ culture and nightlife, and the revolution that started it all’, he shared. ‘Getting to play a part in it while accompanied by the legendary Kevin Jz Prodigy’s voice is an incredible honor.’
Madonna’s 11-year-old daughter, Estere, also takes part in the energetic performance of ‘Vogue’. She receives unanimous praise from Bob for her runway skills during the song. Surprises guest judges for Estere have included big names from her family, like Lourdes Leon and Rocco Ritchie, as well as leading designers such as Donatella Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier, in addition to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ stars Aquaria and Miss Fame. ‘She’s exceptional’, he enthused. ‘She’s a true talent at such a young age – and exceedingly pleasant.’
Madonna’s other children, David Banda, Mercy James, and Estere’s twin Stella, also feature in the ‘Celebration Tour’, making it quite a family show. ‘They’re true talents in their own right’, Bob stated, speaking of their performances. Bob’s dynamic onstage interactions with Madonna also shed light on a more personal side of the legendary singer.
The interactions between Bob and Madonna offer fans a glimpse into a more laid-back side of the pop music icon. ‘Engaging in a little light-hearted banter with Madonna is rather entertaining’, he said. ‘She has a great sense of humor and an affinity for improvisations, which keeps the stage energy playful and upbeat.’
However, there was a serious setback for the ‘Celebration Tour’ team when Madonna was hospitalized with a grave bacterial infection, leading to a delay in the tour’s originally planned start date. Recalling that time, Bob shared, ‘It was truly terrifying’. Paying tribute to Madonna’s resilience, he declared, ‘But which better example than her to define survival.’
Bob was visibly relieved and grateful to have the singer back in action. ‘I’m so glad she’s still with us’, he said, a sentiment certainly echoed by her legions of fans.
The upcoming show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has a special significance for Bob. Reflecting on his first Madonna concert experience eight years ago, he shared, ‘I attended the ‘Rebel Heart’ tour here at Barclays’, referring to the 2015 tour for Madonna’s popular album. ‘And now, to be actually performing alongside her at the spot where I first watched her perform is a surreal full circle moment.’
Indeed, from starting out as a Madonna concert-goer to sharing the stage with the icon is certainly a career highpoint. Bob’s journey underscored the awe-inspiring trajectory of a performer who started as a fan, now commanding the same stage alongside the Queen of Pop herself. Always staying true to himself while navigating an impressive career path with grace and humor, Bob the Drag Queen remains a shining beacon in the global drag scene.