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Strike A Pose : Interview With Carlton Wilborn

Back in 1990 Madonna took stardom to dizzy heights no star had experienced before. She had a massive number one hit on her hands (Vogue), was in a hit film (Dick Tracy) and embarked on a World Tour that would have the whole world talking!
The Blond Ambition Tour broke boundaries and the box office, it was the hottest ticket of the year. And if you wasn’t lucky enough to get a ticket, the tour was made into a rockumentary which featured Madonna on stage, on the road and in bed with Madonna. The film (Truth or Dare/In Bed With Madonna) focused on the relationships the superstar had with those closest to her especially the seven male dancers who featured heavily in the film.
Truth or Dare has become something of a classic, probably the first venture into reality TV. The dancers that appeared in it became stars in their own right and attracted a fan base of their own. Now twenty five years later ‘Strike a Pose’ a feature documentary from Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan, catches up with six of the dancers and exposes the highs and the lows of life after Madonna.
Very few people got as close to Madonna as Carlton Wilborn. He toured twice with the superstar, appeared in the iconic Vogue video and had his life exposed to the universe in Truth or Dare. We caught up with Carlton shortly after the ‘Strike A Pose’ premier in Berlin.

W&W: Hi Carlton, we can’t remember a time when a pop stars arrival in the UK caused as much controversy as Madonna did when she arrived in London for the Blond Ambition Tour, what are your memories of being in London at that time and playing Wembley Stadium ?

Carlton: It was the largest venue we performed in, so that was amazing. Plus, I got to have dinner (Indian food) with Daniel Day Lewis, and he gave me some great advice regarding my acting career. so that totally Rocked!
W&W: That summer Vogue was riding high at the top of the charts, were you familiar with vogueing before you guys brought it mainstream?
Carlton: No I wasn’t. I don’t think I had even heard of it before the audition.
W&W: Was there a realisation while on tour that you were creating something unique and special, did you know that the tour, the film would have the everlasting impact that it’s had?
Carlton: No, I didn’t have a sense of the impact we were making. And the fact that it’s 25 years later, and so many people are interested, it is truly amazing and an honor.
W&W: And you worked with Madonna again on The Girlie Show, how different was that tour?
Carlton:  For me TGS was my favorite to do, because it was more elegant and conceptually more mature.
W&W: Did you stay in touch with the other dancers from Blond Ambition over the years?
Carlton: Yes, Kevin Stea is my Ride-or-Die, and Luis and I have connected several times. I love them both.
W&W: How does it feel, to all be part of a project again (Strike a Pose)?
Carlton:  Strike a Pose has been a really great 3 year journey. Mainly because of the integrity of the Producer & Director team – Reijer Zwaan and Ester Gould. Plus, it’s great for me to be inside of another moment of High Impact, without any emotional baggage. That’s truly a Blessing!

W&W: Being part of such huge iconic Pop moments such as the vogue video, the Madonna tours, truth or dare, did this help you with your career or was it difficult to shake the Madonna tag to move on to other work?
Carlton:  Working with Madonna on those projects, and my entire 7 year working/friendship with her, has ONLY been a benefit to my other creative ventures. I learned a lot from my time with her.
W&W: What was the highlight of working with Madonna? Was there a special moment or event that stands out most in your mind?
Carlton:  Yes, the special moment for me was when I got to sing Happy Birthday to my Mom, at Madison Square Garden. To have the entire arena singing to her, with a flood light shinning on her was super cool.
Strike A Pose opened at the Berlinale Film Festival in February and judging by the reviews these guys are still very much in Vogue!



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