Stricken by Strike a Pose

DATELINE:  Posing or Imposing



We never really paid much attention to the “Blonde Ambition” tour of Madonna back in 1990. We saw her legendary videos, like Vogue, but they were unavoidable. The boys who danced behind her were stunning examples of youth.

Now 25 years later, a documentary shows us what happened to her seven backup dancers that she plucked from obscurity and tossed away just as quickly.

Six of the seven were gay—and were probably too young to realize how much she used them for her own purposes in the movie Truth or Dare and on the tour.

Of course, it was at the time a great opportunity—bonding these young men into a band of brothers. However, the fallout in subsequent years took its toll. Drug abuse and puffed up sense of celebrity took years to overcome, but left a waft of regrets.

They had slightly more than 15 minutes of fame, thanks to Madonna, but when she was done, they were on their own. One died of AIDS, and others kept their secret for years of suffering with the illness—but they at least survived. They are still dancers and choreographers, working in their art. Yet, the pain is too readily at the surface.

No, Madonna does not join their reunion at the film’s end, though she likely gave them permission to use her materials—though not the famous video. Three sued her for callous treatment during the tour. They were too callow to understand much more.

Strike a Pose is like going to someone else’s class reunion. You see the angst, but these survivors did cast influence on a generation of gay young people, whether they were ill-used or not. No one mentions A Chorus Line, but the same fate befalls this crew. Ah, what they did for love.

The documentary is compelling evidence that touching fame fleetingly may be the cruelest part of show business.