Madonna looks on during a press conference for the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. (Scott Halleran/GETTY IMAGES)

”How can you guarantee against a wardrobe malfunction, given your history?” one middle-aged guy asked Madonna at a Super Bowl news conference Thursday in Indianapolis, as though he suspected she had something up her bustier.

“Is that something you’re thinking about?” he added, pointedly.

“Oh, yes,” she responded with poise. “Great attention to detail has been paid to my wardrobe. There will be no wardrobe malfunctions.”


Madonna is, once again, a trailblazer — the first non-guy Super Bowl halftime star since Janet Jackson had a breastplate ripped off her costume by Justin Timberlake, exposing her right breast for about a half-second during the 2004 halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The “wardrobe malfunction,” as the incident became known, resulted in a record $550,000 fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission against TV stations owned by CBS, which broadcast that year’s Super Bowl — and the effective banning of female halftime headliners. Since then, only Viagra Generation guys have been allowed to star in Super Bowl halftime shows, starting with Paul McCartney in ’05, followed in subsequent years by the Rolling Stones and Prince.

Prince tried his best to break down this boys’ club in 2007. During a halftime solo, his silhouette and that of his guitar were projected onto some large flowing sheet-like thinggummy, casting what some saw as a phallic symbol. The TV networks reacted in the only possible way: doubling down their ban on female halftime performers.

Since Prince, halftime entertainment has been provided by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the Who.

Then last year, there was a glimmer of hope when the Black Eyed Peas — including its female singer Fergie — were hired to be the halftime headliners.