See photos and get backstage tales from the summer's hottest spectacle

By Jeff Gordinier
July 20, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Madonna: Jon Furniss/ImageDirect

This is an excerpt from EW’s July 27, 2001, cover story

Drowned World Tour 2001 marks the first time Madonna has toured since the stripper-chic cabaret of 1993’s Girlie Show. So you can pretty much count on a flurry of zany public contemplation about her inaugural road show of the 21st century, which makes its levitating, nunchaku-flipping, 100-minute Stateside debut on July 21 in Philadelphia.

Much has been made of the military vastness of the tour, which sold out months ago for its 29 dates in 12 cities. Madonna’s advance team distributes a sheet full of oceanic data about the event: A 4,900-square-foot stage, 1,500 storage trunks, two jumbo jets, a kimono with a 52-foot wingspan. Left off the press release: The $50 million gross that Pollstar predicts they’ll generate in U.S. ticket sales alone.