Madonna Cacciatore

Madonna Cacciatore is the Executive Director of Christopher Street West/LA Pride. Prior to taking on this role, Madonna worked as Director of Special Events at the Los Angeles LGBT Center overseeing projects including their annual Vanguard Awards and the Simply DiVine event. She began her career in activism at AIDS Project Los Angeles after doing grassroots work in Washington for marriage equality and volunteering at The NAMES Project — The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

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Passionistas: Hi and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast. Today we're talking to Madonna Cacciatore, the Executive Director of Christopher Street West, the 501c3 non-profit that produces the annual L.A. Pride Festival and Parade. Prior to taking on this role Madonna worked as Director of Special Events at the Los Angeles LGBT Center overseeing projects including their annual Vanguard Awards and the Simply Divine Food and Wine event. She began her career in activism at AIDS Project L.A. after doing grassroots work in Washington for marriage equality and volunteering at the NAMES Project — The AIDS Memorial Quilt. So please welcome to the show Madonna Cacciatore.

Madonna: Thank you.

Passionistas: We're really glad to have you here. We're so excited to be doing this interview.

Madonna: I'm excited to be doing this interview as well.

Passionistas: What are you most passionate about?

Madonna: I think it's every living thing having a chance to thrive — every person, every animal, the planet, every tree. I cry for any time tree's cut down in L.A. which is pretty much all the time, so I'm always crying. I'm about to cry now. Yeah I just care about life.

Passionistas: So how does that translate into what you do for a living?

Madonna: It translates beautifully because I've been an activist for most of my life. I came out as a lesbian when I was 19 years old and I grew up in Texas so I had a lot of great friends and I had a lot to deal with. So ending up being here as the Executive Director of Christopher Street West L.A. Pride is kind of incredible. This isn't where I was headed. I thought perhaps it was in some alternate universe.

I came to L.A. to pursue my acting career and I was doing event production and I sort of stumbled into the nonprofit world that way. I was hired to do a event fundraiser a summer party at AIDS Project Los Angeles that was supposed to be a temp job to sort of pay the bills. And then we hit it off and then I just started working there. And then I produced more events. Meanwhile I kept my acting because that's my passion and my career my acting and theatre has been part of my life — dance and theater for my whole life. So I kept sort of all of my worlds going trying to believe that I could do all the things. I still believe I can do all the things.

But ending up with a trusted fantastic board of directors and Esther Von Montamayor who's our board president of L.A. Pride really putting his faith behind me and just sort of being a professional gay is pretty incredible. And being able to work with people who have like minds and like spirits and want to make change and want to have a place where people feel they can come out and be safe to do so. And not just come out is not even just LGBT, allies coming, out bisexual people coming out, and not being judged by our own community for who we are or by anyone for who we are. So I feel like I'm in a great position to be where I am. It fits with everything I've done in my life from lying down on the street in Washington D.C. yelling "Free Barbara's Bush" to you know being here today it's all pretty cool.

Passionistas: Tell us a little bit more about your childhood in Texas and what that was like.

Madonna: We ended up in Texas. My family's from New York but we ended up there my dad was in the military and that's where he met my mom. My grandfather had a restaurant called Dan's Venetian Club. My mom's side of the family is from Venice and Parma in Italy and my father's side was from Sicily. So they all argued about who spoke the right dialect. And they always drove into Italian when they were upset. So I know all the bad words. So my dad was in the restaurant business and my parents were you know we ate well throughout my life but I also worked really hard when I was young.

We all worked in the restaurant. You know I washed dishes, I served people my dad cussed at everybody who came in the door. He loved Italian food. I mean that was a specialty but he also cooked an amazing cheeseburger. And so somebody would come in what kind of mood is Salvadori in today can I order a cheeseburger? God damn son of a bitch you know yeah. All right whatever. Yep. How are you doing today John? You know I knew he would just he would go into a tirade and then he would be honored to fix them whatever they want. Of course I eat no meat anymore. Let's make that clear. But I grew up with everything. So I was raised by Italian Democrats in the middle of a red state. At the time though it was a little different. You know there were just the signs in the yards and people would pull people signs out of the yards for whatever politician which is very immature. But it's not like it is now. I feel like it's gotten way worse. So I still was able to just be who I was. Probably all our neighbors were Republicans. We were the only Democrats. We were the Kennedy Catholic Democrat Italians. I loved what all that stood for at the time because for me it was about being courageous and taking care of people. And so it was interesting growing up. But we always went back to New York. I have cousins and I'm actually rediscovering all my cousins that were either in Texas with me.

Interestingly enough there's a book called "The Road Back To Thurber" which is a little town called Thurber, Texas. And this pocket of Italians ended up there. And there are the Pontramolis, the Byzantines. And I'm finding them all again. And so the Cacciatoress and the Rafeals, which was my mom's side of the family. So I was very much influenced in the Italian culture. But we were in the middle of Texas. So it was sort of like not the Texas for me that I see represented sometimes. It was a different version of it. And it was pretty cool. I liked it.

Passionistas: Tell us about your acting and dancing career and what kind of projects you were involved with?

Madonna: When I was six years old my mom put me in ballet. And I was very incongruous my whole life. I was in ballet and then I was playing army with the boys. So you know I was always considered myself a tomboy. But I would also go do barre in ballet class and loved that equally as much. Because I feel like dancers are the most finely tuned athletes there are. I don't care who you are if you're a dancer you've got a grealy tuned body. And basically whenever I was dancing I started really digging like jazz and modern dance at the time — now it's contemporary. So throughout my life I always danced. I danced for about 42 years. I kind of I really still wish I'd feel like a fool right now I probably but I always feel like I have that as part of who I am and could go into a dance studio very easily.

But I moved to Chicago and did my first musical which was "Carousel." I play Louise and my best friend Gayle Beckman played Julie. We've been friends ever since. That was in 1981. I was also in dance companies but I transitioned into some musical theater and then I moved to D.C. and I became part of this like feminist Dance Troupe and we were doing this music festival called Sister Fire, which was a women's music festival. And there were people there like Tracy Chapman and Alice Walker. And it was really cool. You were just in groups of amazing women just creating art. And one of the pieces we did was about the Chinese foot binding. This woman Sandra Cameron directed this company and we basically she wrote about women's sort of history. So all of our dance was very powerful. We danced with sticks and we created the witch burnings and we did all these things but that was called "Yashin and the Golden Carp" and it was about Cinderella's feet being bound and she being the only one who didn't have the freedom to move about like her stepsisters. So it was just that story and sort of storytelling in that way was incredibly important to me. And then I transitioned from that when I moved to DC. I ended up studying at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and the Shakespeare Theater. And took classes at the Folger the arena. The really cool places. DC has an amazing theater community. And so that just sort of propelled me. I stopped dancing as much and I went into theater.

And then I got this like under five rule on "The Fugitive" as the law co-star role. And it was the one with Tim Daly. It was that and I had a little teeny scene with Michelle Hurd who I still just think is one of the most wonderful people. And I was like that's it I'm moving to L.A. I got my own trailer I'd only ever done theater and extra work. So this is the first time they said oh we'll take you to your trailer and it's like I have a trailer? I thought I was going to have to stand in the rain and like wait for somebody to schlepp me somewhere. And so I moved to L.A. to pursue that.

And then I just you know I got on a few sets and I did a lot of training. I trained with Dee Wallace. Dee also one of my mentors and she taught me that I'm good enough to be here basically. I was in Dee's master class for three years with a group of people who are amazing and we're all still very, very much connected. Many are or you'll see on working you know a lot right now. So I felt very blessed in my path because I was surrounded by people always who were either creatives or who were very passionate about what they were doing in life. Whether it was entertainment or nonprofit work or just trying to feed the homeless you know. So I've been surrounded by great lights. 

And then of course when I moved here I met Robin McWilliams who is everything to me. She's clearly the better half of me.

Passionistas: Let's circle back to Washington for a minute and just tell us a little bit about the work you did on The Names Project — AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Madonna: The first year of that quilt I believe was 1987 and I went with my brother's ex partner and my brother had just been diagnosed. And then there were 2000 panels unfurled. And that was the most... I mean I was sobbing I'm in. There's a book called "The Quilt." And there's a little picture of Jimmy and me and he's he's hugging me and we were just. We'd both been sobbing. And then unfortunately when it came back two years later my brother's panel was in it. I made a panel for him and it went from like 2000 to I think 20,000 to the last year I saw it unfurled it was 45,000 panels. It was stretched from the Capital almost to the Monument on the Mall. It was quite incredible. So I volunteered. And it was a way for me to sort of heal and see that other people were experiencing what I was experiencing. And sort of be in the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood in the eyes of everyone who was dealing with this crisis and this sort of crisis of government at the same time.

Our brothers mainly at the time many gay men were dying but you know it was transcending into all communities. And to see people care and to be in one place like that is really amazing. When your heart is completely just broken and astonished that a whole group of people who could be ignored or judged because they got a disease for being gay you know are condemned. You know there was a lot of condemnation going on. Like there is now. So for me being in spaces where I could make positive change. And we learned cool things at the Quilt. They taught us how to fold up the entire quilt in 60 seconds. You had volunteers on each corner and you go fold, fold, fold, fold, put them in plastic bags. If it was a downpour you could save the quilt in 60 seconds. I mean that was pretty cool.

Also I was learning about how activism turns into action. Lying down in the street felt this is good. But when you're able to do something that feels like I'm here and I'm making a difference and I can be standing here and educate people about people who died or were actually great people. We're gonna be missing a lot in our future because they're gone. Still gets me. So it was life changing for me because that was the first sort of crisis where people were dying. And I was going to memorials in New York constantly and in D.C. and sitting by people's bedsides and going to hospitals in New York with our brothers who were just you know they try to make you wear masks. And I felt like, I'm not wearing a mask. I'm going to hug him. And so it was going from that to sort of seeing them begin to find drugs and things that would help people live. And you know where we are now which is pretty amazing that people with HIV and AIDS can thrive. So that was a pivotal point and The Names Project was very important to me.

Passionistas: Was that the beginning of your decision to really become an activist? And what's your journey been in that capacity?

Madonna: I didn't think of myself that way. I didn't think of myself as an activist. I felt like doing what I needed to do to help people live at the time. But also to help other people. And you know I'm big animal activist. I do consider myself an animal activist. Any time I see an injustice or you know with social media we see it all too often where you see horrible things happening to animals I just like literally I almost can't take it. But I have to do something to save something you know. So I'm always just like what can I. You know we have five cats. I'm sorry but I'm a typical lesbian. And it's because well three of them their momma was taken by a coyote and we ended up with those three. And the other one ran into a florist on the corner of Wilshire and Western and we had to take that one. And then the last one was on the side of a highway. So we're done. But we rescue and we have friends. My friend Addy Daddio — peace out girl I love you. She's also a great Passionista, by the way. She has an organization called Love That Dog Hollywood. She rescues dogs. My friend Angie Rubin who's also a music editor rescues every cat in the world. I mean there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work.

So my activism I guess was just me sort of progressing through life and seeing things that I wanted to adjust or make try to make better or try to stop pain for someone. I'm not used to talking about myself in that way. It's more about being around people who are just really good people. And we have a terrible homeless crisis in L.A. right now. It's everywhere. I mean we live in the Hollywood Dell, which is kind of uphill and there are encampments everywhere. And there's this desire to make things better and help homeless people get off the street. We were actually able to help a woman who set up in one of the tunnels there. We had to keep moving her because she got beaten up once. She had a big dog and a little cat and they all lived in this tent. We're able to get them into a place where she now is thriving. She's working. She's got her animals and she's in a place where she's actually getting herself back on her feet. But had it been left to some people in the community they would just get her out of here. She doesn't belong here. Well you know it is true that also there are aggressive, mentally ill, homeless people as well. And I have as much compassion for them as I do for anybody who is on the street. But it's like we've also had people break into our building. And so what's walking the line between safety and caring.

But it's so out of control right now. I don't think anybody really knows what to do. People are struggling with how to deal with it. And so we're all activists. We're all active on whatever we're doing. It's just that my activism and my life has led me toward. I think it stems from my parents. My parents were very caring people. They would feed the entire neighborhood lasagna. They would like feed the ducks lasagna. They fed everybody lasagna, but they also, they didn't judge. My dad had a reaction to my being gay but then he wanted to invite her over for dinner like one second later. So my mom was always that person is like Oh honey she's very soft spoken I just love everybody and I just love who you are. It doesn't matter. You just you know and she was just my best friend you know. So for me it's just been about carrying an open heart and love in the world. And sometimes that's incredibly painful to.

Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and you're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Madonna Cacciatore. To learn more about all the exciting events at this year's L.A. Pride Festival from May 31st first to June 9th. Visit Now here's more of our interview with Madonna.

Talk a little bit about your work at the LGBT center as the Director of Special Events.

Madonna: I went there right after AIDS Project Los Angeles. Position opened up I applied twice. I got in the second time I seen Lorrii Jean speak the CEO of the Center. She's one of my mentors in the world. Actually Lorri and I were probably circling each other at Sister Fire, the event I mentioned. Because we were both in D.C. at the time. So I went to work the Center. I finally got hired as an Event Manager and then promoted to Director. And we did seven or eight galas together maybe seven and Simply Divine Food and Wine event with another role model for me Susan Fenniger. I love that woman dearly. And David Bailey and Lloyd Denims. We did this LGBTQ Food & Wine event and we actually ended up bringing it the last year that I was there, which was two years ago to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. So having a food and wine event in a cemetery is really awesome. Especially Hollywood Forever because it's kind of iconic. And they do the movie screenings there. So it's a cemetery but it's also this celebration place. That's really this cool mix. So it was very successful there but we did many many great fundraising events together. An Evening with Women was one of my favorites. Linda Perry. Every time I say a name I'm like these people have influenced me so greatly. Linda gave, every year she would help us get artists like great artists like Pink and Christina Aguilera and Cei and Ozzy Osborne and every year we had this amazing lineup of music in honor of women. And Linda she produced it. She directed it. But I was just felt lucky to be in the room with a lot of these people.

In raising money, you know, when you get to announce at a gala that you raised $1.3 million dollars a night that's a great feeling. And you've raised it for an organization that's using it wisely. So the Center is one of the best. Their charity rating and their cost of fundraising is very low. They've always been really great at that. That's thanks to Lorri Jean and pretty much the entire development staff there that's helped facilitate that. I worked there for six years and I wasn't intending to leave. I was just gonna retire there and then I was approached to put my name in the hat for Christopher Street West which I did willingly.

Passionistas: They did an extensive search for the position that you now hold at L.A. Pride. So what do you think they saw in you and why did you ultimately decide you wanted to take the job?

Madonna: Well Estevan and I have been very candid with each other about that. And so have many of the board members. We had a few board members who were turned off in October but they're all amazing people. I've only been here since July. So it's not even a year, is just a few months. But Pride is an interesting concept. It started as a March. It started in reaction to Stonewall Riots. And so Pride is many things to many people. So it's very eclectic. It's very fluid like our community has become very fluid. It's not one thing and you can't try to make it one thing. Can't try to make it what this demographic wants or what... That you have to sort of look at it with big open mind and heart. And so Estevan has told me one of the things they liked about me is that I have a history and I have been an activist. But I also have an openness to our whole community. And I feel like there's a lot of value in our youth and our transgender community. And in the two spirits community I mean the Indigenous community has been probably one of the communities that's been stepped on by the white man, if I'm just being blunt, more than any of us. You know so I feel like there is an opportunity to look at things from a bird's eye view and sort of try to... I'll never get everything right for everybody. And I know that and I'm not going to try to do that. What I am going to try to do with this great board of directors is help make improvements, help make people feel included.

I went to two InterPride conferences one was in Canada. Tribal elders were there and there was a woman who spoke. I literally wept in her arms. I didn't see it coming. I went to tell her you know what she said was very relevant to me because the native community has always spoken to my heart. I did the 23andMe I was hoping there would be some but there wasn't and I was like damn it I'm all Italian I love that but I wish there was some native in there but they had an Elder Council basically talk. And one of the things one of the young people said was "We don't need inclusive space we need brave space we need space to come out we need space to be who we are unapologetically." And then she said, "I don't need to be in your canoe. You don't need me on my canoe. We are different people. We're riding in different canoes. We're having different journeys. What we do need to do is go down the river together and figure out the waters wherever they are. We have to do that together." That image is stuck out for me in my leadership at pride to make sure that I'm not trying to me in anybody's canoe. I don't even need to pretend that I understand that I know what you're going through. But I do need to be compassionate about what you're going through. And then my canoes next year and basically whatever I can do to help us get down here together. That's what I'm here to do.

So it's like throwing a festival is very tricky because you can only do so many things in one weekend. So what we're doing is trying to create Pride 365 here. Where we have different events for different demographics. We had a Trans Brunch last year. You're working on a new Trans program called Platform which is a policy and leadership training program for the Trans community. And we'll have some sort of graduation in June at Pride. So we're working on different programs and supporting other organizations. Because we don't have a health service organization but we are the umbrella. I feel like we should be sort of a leader. For other organizations and be giving back. So that's what we're going to be doing this year as well.

Passionistas: What do you think are the key skills that you bring to your job here?

Madonna: I think listening is a huge missed opportunity most of the time. I listen. Sometimes it results in me trying to take on too much admittedly but I'd rather try things and they not work out that way. But maybe we could try a different way than not try something at all. Also growing up where I did and with parents who dealt with their own struggles I learned to navigate personalities and energy and where somebody might be in the moment I guess is is a phrase I would use. Because I was always living in the moment. You know my parents were awesome but they also struggled with their own addictions so sometimes that resulted in different behaviors. So I would have to navigate those and I would also say that in any nonprofit we have a board of 15 people. Every one of those people have incredibly different ways of doing things and they're all valuable. So how do you navigate. I think it's one of my skills is like listening and focusing energy where it needs to go. Sometimes I need help focusing my own energy because I want to go do all the things all the time and I can't do that. But yeah I think listening and sort of trying to keep the flow going basically in a positive direction.

Passionistas: We read that you like to find projects that advance social justice through creativity and artistry. Why is that important to you and how do you do that?

Madonna: My creative self, my dancer self, my actor self, all those things have helped me. Creativity has helped me through any hard time I've ever had. And it's also helped me through the good times. Like I thrive when I'm on a stage. I thrive when I'm doing work that's impacting a whole bunch of people at the same time. I love doing theater. Theater has always been at my soul. You know I just love creating character and finding bits of myself. And observing life when creating character. It doesn't take you away from what's happening in the world but it helps find a positive focus for what's happening in the world. And some of the best artists are the ones who have been through the most difficult things in their lives. And so I see people take hard times and create art from them too and that's inspirational to me. I mean watching a great performance is just god, that's what inspires me. That's what I want to do. When you watch somebody just go to those nuances in themselves and take you on a journey that's everything. Any time I've ever done any thing — dance or theater or I got to do one episode of "How to Get Away With Murder" — you know being on a set with somebody like Viola Davis Oh my God I was very humbled and also very empowered by that experience. 

And it doesn't matter. Robin and I just shot a very short film with a AFI Conservatory with these young filmmakers who were so inspirational. And they're so beautiful and they're so engaged. And you're just creating these moments and you watch them work and you go god I'm inspired by this person's life. Twenty three years old and they already have this beautiful skill that they're honing right now. I wish I'd done that when I was younger. I have no regrets about it but I wish my younger self I could have said you can do that and you'll be okay. So I love seeing people who believe in themselves like that.

Passionistas: Having a front row seat basically to the LGBTQ movement, what do you think is the most significant changes you've seen and what do you think still needs to be done?

Madonna: We made a lot of progress since 2008 when we were talking about Proposition 8. And you know since Ellen came out. You know I mean if you just think of when Ellen came out and the hell she went through to just come out. And it's much more acceptable to sort of come out today than it was when I was young or in anytime in between then. However, I think we made a lot of progress and marriage equality became the law of the land. And that we were able to say that we could get married. I can call my wife my wife. I couldn't have said that five years ago. Now of course I'd never thought of myself as a wife. I don't know what the word is. But like I always sort of related more masculine in my growing up and then like you know sort of like a butch lesbian when I was younger and so now I could do that my younger self. I had a... I did have a mullet. And remember Ellen's mullet, mine sort of look like hers. And then when I was younger people would actually call me Sir sometimes I go oh thank you sir because I had very short hair. And I had actually no boobs. And like because I was a dancer I had like no body fat at all. So I was kind of lean and mean at the time. Now you know still in spite of what's happening I still feel like... I love what President Obama said the arc of history is long. So I feel like even though we went to this great place and we all feel like oh man, and it feels like we're going backwards. We're not going backwards we're going forward but somebody is trying to pull us backwards. I guess is the way I look at it and we're not going there.

Yes they're trying to take more rights away but I can still be in a group of straight people and my you know I mentioned Gayle Beckman earlier. She and her husband Bill have been my friends all these years. They live in Vegas. We go there although you know as much as we can and we're in groups of their friends who are like so Madonna and Robi, when you were married. Let's see your wedding pictures. And they're talking to us in a way that we just want to be talked to like. We're just people who love each other and got married.

They're not talking to us about they're gay so or however people identify. They're really just interested in who we are. And I think that's what we have to keep doing. We have to keep just remembering who we are. Our brand for L.A. Pride last year was #JustBe. And basically I think that applies to anybody, anywhere, anytime. Just be who you are. If you're an asshole if you're going to hurt somebody else then you're not welcome in my world. And you're not welcome in this world. Because this is about respect, mutual respect, and love for one another .and that's basically all we're here to do.

You know I think we're certainly a long way from where we were and for the good. But we've been challenged again. So we have to step up and honestly I thought I was really done. I honestly thought that I wasn't gonna have to protest as much. I think a lot of us thought that and now here we are since 2016. My wife started drinking wine that woman never drink before. So I figured if we come home at night just like we have wine and I'm like Oh my god, who are you? Yes again. But yeah it's... It's just changed the way we have to step up right now.

Passionistas: What's been your biggest professional challenge and how did you overcome it?

Madonna: I'm probably having my biggest professional challenge because our community is so diverse and so passionate about how each person has gotten where they are today. And each person in our community has traveled through challenges. I actually very very fortunate and September I got to go to China with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. I was already here. But it was a trip we already had planned and we were going to visit LGBT young leaders in China. They've come over here and done. We've worked with them at the Center so different groups would come through and we would talk to them. The challenges here are looking at our community's diversity and figuring out how to create brave space for everybody and then going back to China. When I when I was we went to four different cities all around China. So they were I was seeing and hearing things that I was experiencing 20 years ago. But with people who were really actively making change in a very difficult situation. They can't even, they they can try to raise money but they can't talk about it on social media. They can't really invite, they invite people verbally. They can't you can have you know sort of organized events like that.

So basically it was interesting to me to see to be there and to be doing that work with Darrell Cummings an amazing group of people at the Center. And then come home and go wow my challenges feel really different right now. What I'm not trying to do is please every person in the world what I'm trying to do is understand how far our movements come and how we situate ourselves because it's always fluid and there's never a comfortable moment really so it's a where are we in this movement at this point. And that changes all the time. So you know my biggest challenge is right now and it's it's navigating everything I know with where I'm going to take my leadership with CSW and in what kind of a legacy I want to leave here. And also working with a lot of different people with a lot of different personalities and a lot of different opinions and a lot of anger and a lot of happiness. I mean we we run the gamut because we've all been through so much. So I feel like I'm really challenged right now and I might be like call on you guys and go help me. You know it's really just staying staying in your truth. That's it. You know. And that's what I, Robin helps me do that. Because if I come home and I'm like you know there's this happening in this she says, "Just do what you do." And that's what I just keep trying to remember just do what you do. Sometimes I just need to remind her about keeping myself true to myself.

Passionistas: What's the most rewarding part of your career?

Madonna: Teaching through love and kindness. Seeing people kiss. Seeing Transgender people feel safe in any environment. Seeing someone do something that they may not have felt safe to do. Many of us weren't doing the work we're doing. So yeah seeing somebody walking around with HIV that's perfectly healthy. There are many walking examples of things that are rewarding to me.

Passionistas: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to be an advocate or just do good with her life?

Madonna: Just stay true to yourself. Stay true to the reason you started doing this. Don't let people throw you off. Listen to people. Don't listen to the negative voices but listen to the voices of people who you know are caring and who maybe have experience or who even are starting out. For example I was talking about that little film we did by watching the director and the cinematographer work. I was learning more about myself. I was learning more about who how can I. You know so always there's always a lesson for you somewhere and sometimes it's the lesson of how you want to move forward. And sometimes it's lesson of the voices you don't need to hear anymore. Because some of the voices are not helpful. Some of them are negative. There's a lot of hate spewing right now and people being beaten up. So whatever's happening you have to go back to your internal self, your true self and realize why you started doing this to begin with. And just sort of reconnect with that.

Passionistas: What's your definition of success?

Madonna: Success is happiness. Just being able to thrive. It's being able to live in a place where you can be yourself. And at that place whether it's a physical place or just an internal place just being able to live in a place where you're happy with who you are.

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Madonna Cacciatore. If you're in Los Angeles between now and June 9th, be sure to check out one of the many L.A. Pride Festival events including the Opening Ceremony on June 7th. The L.A. Pride Festival on June 8th and 9th with headliners Meghan Trainor and Years & Years and the L.A. Pride Parade in West Hollywood on June 9th. Visit to get all the details. And be sure to subscribe to the Passionistas Project Podcast. Do not miss any of our upcoming inspiring guests.


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