The Uncomfortable Moment With Madonna That Anderson Cooper Wishes He Could Forget

Before he met Madonna, Anderson Cooper was a big fan of her music, and he has gotten to interact with the "Like A Prayer" singer several times throughout his career. In 2012, Madonna was a guest on his show "Anderson Live" ahead of her special Super Bowl half-time performance. A year later, Cooper was ecstatic when he learned the music legend would give him his GLAAD Award. "I'm the oldest groupie in the world," Cooper explained on "Anderson Live" (via Variety). "I saw her in Paris, Yankee Stadium, and Madison Square Garden!"

In 2015, Madonna brought Cooper onstage to participate in one of her shows. After the show, Cooper posted a photo on Facebook of Cooper smiling at his idol while she leaned in close and sang to him. There was a lot more that happened onstage beyond that one snapshot, however, and while Cooper relished the moment, he is also self-conscious about it. 

Video from that evening showed Madonna pretending to kick Cooper's butt and suggestively gyrate behind him. After coaching Cooper in the choreography as they processed down the stage, the singer instructed him to do some freestyle dancing. Afterward, Madonna crawled between his legs and joined in with her own sexually suggestive moves. "That was not the low-key, CNN style," she remarked after the song ended. "You did good. You're a great man." Before Cooper could leave, Madonna gave him a banana. While he began eating it, the singer and her crew danced off-stage.

Cooper almost didn't get picked to go onstage

During a 2023 appearance on the podcast, "Let's Talk Off Camera," Kelly Ripa asked Anderson Cooper about his time onstage with Madonna. "I'm mortified," Cooper admitted. "I love the experience of it. I don't love the video that exists of it." Ripa and Cooper's families are friends, and not only did she accompany Cooper to the show, but she also recorded his performance on a cell phone. Even though it was a new experience for Cooper, inviting a guest onstage was a scripted part of Madonna's song, "Unapologetic B**ch." Cooper nearly escaped the experience completely, as Madonna had to decide between calling up either him or Ripa. "I've been dancing with him at nightclubs," Madonna later explained on "Live with Kelly and Mark". "He's a good dancer, he's very enthusiastic." 

Madonna was surprised to discover her friend's dancing was compromised by stage fright. After decades of touring experience and dance training, being on stage is second nature to Madonna. In the moment, though, Cooper said he was preoccupied with trying to figure out what was expected of him. Even so, he praised Madonna and her dancers, noting the experience gave him added respect for their skills. Luckily for Cooper, he got a second chance to demonstrate his dance prowess when he joined Madonna on "Live with Kelly and Mark" in 2017. Three years later, Cooper asked funk musician George Clinton how he could have improved onstage. Clinton recommended Cooper relax and just have fun.

Madonna was one of Cooper's childhood role models

Anderson Cooper revered Madonna long before he met her. "Through her music and her unapologetic outspokenness, she encouraged me," Cooper praised Madonna during his speech at the 2019 GLAAD Awards (via Vanity Fair). "Through her, I saw that there was a community out there for me." Just as Madonna had been onstage when Cooper received the Vito Russo Award at the 2013 GLAAD ceremony, he was with the singer six years later when she was honored with GLAAD's Advocate for Change Award.

The broadcast journalist also supported Madonna when she was named 2016 Woman of the Year by Billboard. "Madonna's inspiring," Cooper explained in a heartfelt tribute video for the event. "Who else has recreated herself, her sound, so frequently and remains so relevant and revolutionary in so many ways?"

Although Cooper hasn't retaken the stage at Madonna's concerts as of this writing, Kelly Ripa finally got her chance in January 2024. The talk show host helped Madonna judge the fashion show during "Vogue." Cooper was in the audience excitedly cheering for Ripa, while Mark Consuelos, Ripa's husband and "Live" co-host, was stoically focused on recording the moment. While Ripa had an amazing time, like Cooper, she was embarrassed by part of the experience. After she was given a keepsake photo, Ripa was surprised to discover her mouth was stretched wide with exuberance. Even so, she laughed about the situation on her show the next day.