“Vogue” was a watershed moment for gay culture, exposing the world to New York’s ballroom scene and Madonna to accusations of appropriation and exploitation. In 1990, the dancers from the iconic black and white video joined the Queen of Pop for her Blond Ambition tour, a Broadway-level extravaganza of incredible choreography, fashion, sex, religion, and biceps. And all of those dancers became instantly famous when the film about the tour—Madonna: Truth Or Dare—became the highest-grossing documentary of all time.
Alek Keshishian shot over 200 hours of backstage footage, editing in black and white to create a vérité-style contrast with the gaudy stage show. The result really does feel intimate, capturing the comedy and catfights in gory detail, right down to Madonna’s bratty behaviour, the awkward presence of her then-squeeze Warren Beatty, along with the infamous “truth or dare” scene, in which Madonna fellates a glass bottle and two dancers make cinema history with a steamy kiss.
The show itself is a thrill: Jean-Paul Gaultier’s pointy bras and gender-bending suits are as eye-popping as the sexed-up choreography, and with its simulated orgasms and Catholic cosplay, the Blond Ambition tour more than fulfilled Madonna’s brief to “push people’s buttons,” offending parents, police, and the Pope along the way. Keshishian’s film certainly added to Madonna’s notoriety at the time, but Truth Or Dare stands up as a work of its own, and one of the most unique concert docs ever made.