This documentary charting the lives of the seven dancers featured in Madonna: Truth Or Dare is packed with interesting stories—it’s just a shame they’re so clumsily told. The title of the original tour movie becomes poignant rather than provocative in Strike A Pose, as directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan find out that a gay kiss during the “truth or dare” scene was not only a major moment in queer film history, but also a public outing for young dancer Gabriel Trupin, who died of AIDS in 1995. Trupin’s mother appears in the film, claiming that her son never wanted to be an advocate; he attempted to sue Madonna for invasion of privacy in 1994. Two other dancers reveal that they had actually been living with HIV for several years before joining the tour, a revelation that casts an entirely different light on certain scenes from Truth or Dare.
For some, fame led to excess led to rehab; for others, including two who also sued Madonna for financial compensation, their pain seems to stem from losing contact with the woman herself, who they say they looked up to as a mother. Their different paths are fascinating, and the project is obviously a worthy contribution to the history of gay men on screen—not least because their culture was so cheerily exploited by Madonna in her documentary, as she uses their sexuality to “push people’s buttons.” But the film lacks the style and grace its characters deserve, with a maudlin soundtrack that frames their gayness as a tragedy and a cringeworthy attempt to recreate the original “truth or dare” scene with a dinner party reunion (in which the one straight man manages to make it all about himself—but of course!).