Don’t Cry For Me: Madonna’s Tears of A Clown Show (Including A Cover of “Toxic” As Homage to Donald Trump & Britney Spears’ Birthday)

Madonna has long ago reached the point of immunity, both in terms of the type of and extent of criticism she’s able to let wash over her and with what she’s capable of doing creatively. The Tears of A Clown show that she performed for Australian audiences back in March while there for her Rebel Heart Tour is just such an example of this. Resuscitating it for the benefit of her Raising Malawi charity during Art Basel last night, Madonna gave us a taste of the freedom she must feel after thirty-plus years in the business–probably only twenty of which she was really trying to prove herself. Opening with “Music,” during which she pranced around with Ariana Grande, who was wearing M’s costume from the 20s-inspired flapper segment of her Rebel Heart Tour to promote its auction, Madonna then segued into an emotional performance of the Sondheim classic, “Send in the Clowns.”

The slow jam, acoustic motif was at play for a large majority of the performance, which also featured a ballad-infused cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which paid homage both to Donald Trump (pictures of him and his various unhinged quotes flashed across the screen behind her) and Spears’ thirty-fifth birthday–killing two birds with one stone.

Other highlights included her audience banter, at one point addressing the constant barrage of ageism thrown her way, with which she noted, “The most controversial thing I’ve ever done is stick around for thirty-four years.”

And then there was the presence of the once proclaimed “love of her life,” Sean Penn, who prompted Madonna to (semi) jokingly tell, “I’m still in love with you,” and for Sean to handcuff her as she quipped, “The many moments that were our marriage.” She even offered to remarry him if he placed a $150,000 bid to support Raising Malawi.

Although Tears of a Clown featured a mere eleven songs, two of which (“American Life” and Beautiful Stranger”) hadn’t been performed in over ten years, the substance and intimacy with which she imbued each song seemed to make the unheard of price points for entrance worth it to those who shelled out for a good cause. Watch the “Toxic” cover below to get a glimpse of Madonna’s distinct brand of politicized art.