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(Reuters) - Madonna on Tuesday hit back at claims that she was drunk on stage in Australia last week, saying she was merely playing a character during a performance in which she dressed as a clown and fell off a tricycle.
In an Instagram posting, the 57 year-old pop star thanked fans for supporting her after media reports and video clips posted by audience members showed her behaving erratically at shows in Melbourne on March 10 and 12.
The much talked-about performances came in the midst of a custody battle between Madonna and her ex-husband, British film director Guy Ritchie, over their 15 year-old son Rocco.
"Too bad people don't know the art of acting and playing a character. I could never do any of my shows high or drunk," Madonna wrote on Instagram.
"Underlying all of this is sexism and mysongony which proves that not only do we not get equal pay but we are still treated like heretics if we step out of line and think outside the box!" she added.
Last week Madonna donned a pink wig, top hat, striped stockings and a short yellow dress to perform a special "Tears of a Clown" concert in Melbourne, outside of her current "Rebel Heart" world tour. She later posted a photo of herself drinking what her representatives said was one Cosmo cocktail - usually made with vodka and cranberry juice - on stage.
Video clips posted by some audience members showed her at times to be stumbling and speaking erratically during the show - a contrast to her usual highly choreographed tours. Two days later, her behavior again caused a stir at another Melbourne concert.
In the "Tears of a Clown" show, Madonna showed a large photo of Rocco as a young boy, telling the audience "I probably would have enjoyed myself a bit more on this ('Rebel Heart') tour if he hadn’t disappeared so suddenly."
Rocco has been living with his father in London since December after refusing to return to his mother's New York home. He had previously been working backstage on the initial stages of Madonna's "Rebel Heart" tour.
The custody case is being determined by courts both in London and New York. A New York judge earlier this month urged Madonna and Ritchie to resolve the dispute between themselves in the best interests of their son. The couple divorced in 2008.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Marguerita Choy