Pose has finally done it: the series has reached peak Madonna, and there is no turning back. After heavily referencing the superstar on each episode of season two, the obsession finally reached an apex with episode five. In “What Would Candy Do?” Ricky and Damon (played by Ryan Jamaal Swain) are on the rocks relation-ship wise, and are both auditioning to be backup dancers for the Blond Ambition tour. Going head to head in a dance-off is certainly not helping them in the love department, but we, as viewers, do get some insight into the importance of the backup dancers on the iconic tour. Over the past decade, critics have accused other pop stars—like Lady Gaga—of copying Madonna, but the show makes clear that the Material Girl also did her fair share of “borrowing.” It’s no secret now—especially not in the ballroom world of Pose— that Madonna brought voguing to the mainstream when she co-opted the moves. But the question of appreciation versus appropriation comes up here, with Blanca on one side of the argument (she sees the popularization of voguing as useful and empowering) and Pray Tell on the other (he’s fearful of the subculture being siphoned). Looking back at the real Blond Ambition tour, which was immortalized in the documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare (and later in the 2016 doc Strike a Pose), we can see that as much as that tour is known for Madonna’s famous Jean-Paul Gaultier cone bra, it was her dancers who made the whole spectacle culturally relevant. Pose aims to unpack that in this episode. If it weren’t for the queer men of color who danced on the tour, BlondAmbition would not have been as effective or as subversive. And neither would her music video for “Vogue”—a black-and-white David Fincher project that was as inspired by the ballroom scene as it was by Isaac Julien’s film Looking for Langston and the work of Bob Fosse. Here, a glimpse of what the tour looked like nearly 30 years ago—including scenes of backup dancers Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes, Salim “Slam” Gauwloos, Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, Kevin Stea, Gabriel Trupin and Carlton Wilborn.
Madonna 麦当娜 Blond Ambition Japan Tour 1990 D9（DVD ISO 7.3G）