A new documentary Strike a Pose – about the seven voguers from Madonna‘s fabled Blonde Ambition tour –premieres this month at the Berlin International Film Festival.
From directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan:
The “Truth or Dare” rockumentary followed Madonna on the road, behind the scenes with her “Blonde Ambition” family of backup singers and dancers, and is still considered groundbreaking for it’s candid, matter-of-fact depiction of the private lives of her seven dancers.
As a self-proclaimed “mother” to her six gay dancers plus straight Oliver, Madonna used the film to make a stand on gay rights and freedom of expression. The dancers became paragons of pride, inspiring people all over the world to dare to be who you are. Twenty-five years later, the dancers share their own stories about life during and after the tour. What does it really take to express yourself?
I talked to Luis Xtravaganza (you know, the cute one) about the making of the documentary as well as his overall feelings about the tour, the ensuing fan frenzy, and how he feels about Madonna 25 years later.
JSJ: That period of your life must have been such a mad whirl. What memories stand out? What do you treasure most from that time?
LX:The thing that I treasured most from that whole B.A. experience was the chance to “get out” and see the world, experience different people/cultures, all while doing what I loved doing… which was dancing. The result far exceeded my expectations and I’m still grateful that she gave a kid from the projects a chance to get out and spread his wings.
I imagine that you are asked about it ALL THE TIME (I know a thing or two about that) – does it ever get annoying?
My experience overall was positive both then (1990) AND now (2016).
Tell me a little bit about the filmmakers. How did you meet?
How I came to know the filmmakers is kind of funny and ironic! My partner David informed me that Kevin Stea was trying to get a hold of me. When I asked what for, he said it had something to do with a documentary. I asked him if it was the people from World of Wonder and he said that he didn’t think so. So I disregarded the request!!! Hand to God truth! LOL!!! After conversing with Kevin, he urged me to speak to them and so I relented.
What did you take away from the experience?
What I took away from the experience was a sense of closure. It was a full circle moment for me.
What’s your life like now? Do you still spend time with the houses? Are you a mentor to the children?
My life now is more “settled” than before…LOL!! I live in Los Angeles now so I don’t have as much contact with my house as I used to, but I carry the “X” proudly everyday!
We have a west coast division of our house and I try to see them when I can. Yes, I mentor some of the guys out here.
That whole Vogue period was so revolutionary – you DO recognize your part in the cultural shift towards LGBT acceptance, right? I know some people have spoken out about Madonna co-opting ballroom culture etc – I wonder if you can address that? Or is that rude of me to ask?
I’m grateful and humbled to have been part of something that was/is considered revolutionary… especially for our LGBT community.
In regards to co-opting…I strongly believe that things happen the way they’re supposed to. I don’t believe there was some diabolical scheme behind what is said about that whole situation. I do believe that people/artists draw upon what influences them… and I’d like to believe that we were influential to her at that time.
In the end…I think, it was a wonderful “expression” of a sub-culture that was brought to the mainstream from a person that was an advocator and a supporter of that community and the LGBT community as a whole.
Do you ever see/hear from Oliver? Will he be in Berlin?
To be honest, I haven’t seen Oliver in a long time… and that’s not because I didn’t like him! It’s just due to our lives taking us in different directions. I had the pleasure of seeing him not too long ago and have been in contact thru FB. I look forward to seeing him in Berlin!
The strange and wonderful thing about all of the dancers is, no matter how much time passes, we always pick up right where we left off. We have this lovely brotherhood that has sprouted from this whole experience.
I look forward to seeing them all in Berlin!!
Have fun in Berlin (it’s my FAVORITE CITY IN THE WORLD)
There’s no trailer for Strike a Pose yet. But it’s a film that we’ll likely be writing more about in the future, as it travels.