Say the word “vogue” and “Madonna” and the iconic video with the amazing dance moves come to mind. Twenty five years later, a new documentary, “Strike a Pose,” catches up with six dancers, who unknowingly, would become icons to legions of dancers and gay kids worldwide.
In the early 1990’s, Madonna, then a rising pop star, was so thirsty to know about “voguing” she asked one of her bodyguards to take off his pants so that a young Dominican American dancer from the Lower East Side of New York City, José Gutiérrez, could borrow them and show her a dance craze that was the rage in the underground black and Latino gay scene of the city.
José, 18, was a classically trained dancer (much to Madonna’s surprise) and part of the underground ballroom dance duo, The House of Extravaganza, along with his best friend a young Puerto Rican teen, Luis Camacho.
José told NBC Latino about his life-changing moment with the superstar:
“I was at the Sound Factory, an after-hours spot where we went to dance all night long. A mutual friend, Debbie Mazar whispered to me that Madonna was in the club and wanted to see me. Madonna went straight to the point, she was very direct and asked, “Can I see you do this vogue thing I keep hearing about.” I loved fashion, because of course, fashion is part of the expression and what you wear to the club is part of the performance and I didn’t want my clothes sweaty or dirty. And she saw me pause and says, “It’s your pants right?”
“Then she tells her bodyguard to give me his pants. We went to the bathroom and changed. Wearing this stranger’s pants I did what I usually do, I danced my ass off. Then as more people found out that she was there everyone began to show their moves. It was a wild scene. I sat with Madonna and pointed out the best of what I saw.”
The moment changed the teenager’s life. In a matter of months, José was part of seven male dancers, all gay except for one, who joined the singer in her most controversial and successful Blond Ambition Tour.
“I am picked out of oblivion to be part of the famous singer’s dance crew,” José said. “We beat out seven thousand other dancers.”
Madonna was amazed to learn José was classically trained. He had his eyes on joining the renowned modern dance company, Alvin Ailey, since receiving a scholarship in the third grade.