'Reinvention keeps Material Girl at the peak'

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AT THE age of 31 she is almost 20 years younger than her inspiration. But Fringe performer Evelyne Brink is perhaps best placed to explain Madonna's enduring appeal.

Ms Brink is Britain's number one Madonna impersonator and has performed all over the world for fees of up to 1,500 a night.

And as Madonna prepares to celebrate her 50th birthday, the performer, who is currently appearing in The Guru at the Underbelly as part of the Fringe Festival, said the star's appeal may lie in her resilience.

Ms Brink said: "When Madonna was younger she became the example of, 'If I can do it then you can do it'. Now she has become the example of if you take care of yourself you can keep on going. If something is not going well she gets rid of people. She seems to know what she wants in life."

Ms Brink said she sees no reason why the singer's success should end and said the Queen of Pop, who released her 11th album, Hard Candy, earlier this year, could continue to reinvent herself, as she has done for the past 25 years.

"It's crazy to think that Madonna is too old at 50. It is time for someone to be a role model for the over-50s.

"Madonna is successful because she's doing what she wants, not what people want her to do. She has got an amazing talent for working with the right people. She knows who to work with at the right time."

Ms Brink, said the star was a good role model: "I think discipline, extreme focus and health are all important. Madonna has a very good mindset. She does everything she can for herself whereas a lot of people seem to turn things against themselves. She doesn't do drugs, she goes training, she has a family life and a spiritual life."

Ms Brink, who trained in music and drama in her native Germany, has been a Madonna impersonator for six years.

"Since I was 16, people have been telling me I look like Madonna. I used to live in New York in the same district she lived in and people were always telling me I looked so like her.

"When I moved to the UK in 2001 people started telling me I should do a tribute act.

"I was working as a waitress at the time and I remember telling someone, 'I don't need to do that, I write and sing my own songs.' Then I realised I was carrying coffee."

But much as she enjoys performing as Madonna, Ms Brink said she would not like to be her idol: "I wouldn't want to swap with Madonna because she has got too much stress.

"It doesn't feel comfortable being Madonna. It doesn't feel cosy and it doesn't feel private, and I love privacy."

The performer said she is delighted to be performing an Edinburgh Fringe show and is already planning the next one.

She said: "I'm a musical comedienne and this is my first Edinburgh full show.

"I came here first in 2003 and it was buzzing – I'd never seen anything like it and I suddenly felt so alive and so happy and I knew I wanted to do a show here.

"At that time I worked out it would probably cost 10,000 to 15,000 (to put on a show] and you had to be prepared not to see anything back for that. You could get everything or you could get nothing."

She said her favourite work is at parties and private functions: "I did a brilliant party in Manchester a couple of weeks ago. These people were not terribly wealthy but they had saved up to have me. It was all for a woman who was 40 who was a massive Madonna fan.

"That was one of the best gigs I had ever had. I said to them, 'I'm not Madonna', but they said, 'To us, you are the closest thing to her'."

Blonde ambition for a long career…

FROM material girl to earth mother, Madonna has constantly confounded expectations and kept her fans wanting more.

And as she reaches her half century today, the queen of pop shows no signs of relinquishing her crown.

The singer has the knack of constant reinvention, from cone corsets, her Sex book and kissing Britney Spears, to writing children's books and raising awareness about the effects of HIV in Malawi.

According to Guinness World Records, Madonna is the most successful female solo artist, selling around 120 million albums and 40 million singles

It is not known how she will celebrate her 50th birthday. She is in the UK, but it has been reported that a party at her Wiltshire estate may be postponed as she has hurt an ankle.

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