Strike a Pose

For her ‘Blond Ambition’ tour in 1990, pop superstar Madonna was looking for performers who knew how to vogue. Out of countless hopefuls, the gay dancers Salim, Kevin, Carlton, José, Luis and Gabriel were chosen along with hiphopper Oliver, the only straight guy. The tour was accompanied by a film crew and Madonna cast herself in the role of mother figure of her stage family. The boys soon found fans among homosexual youths who saw them as role models, while the tour came to epitomise Madonna’s commitment to gay liberation and the acknowledgement of AIDS. But the idyll fell apart after the tour. Although the dancers were pivotal to Madonna’s message, they weren't all living it. After failing to persuade Madonna to cut out the kissing scene that would ‘out’ him to his family and friends, Gabriel filed a lawsuit against her. In he Gabriel died of AIDS-related illness, while the others continued to pursue their professional careers. Now, twenty-five years later, the six surviving performers are reunited and long-buried secrets are aired. The filmmakers excel at telling the stories of these very different dancers in order to edge closer to the truth.
by Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan Netherlands / Belgium 2016 83’

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