Strike a Pose

DIRECTORS: Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan

Bay Area Premiere

Expected to attend: Subjects Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes III, Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Sue Trupin, Carlton Wilborn

In 1990, Madonna’s taboo-busting Blond Ambition tour blew the roof off of global pop culture and raised AIDS awareness while turning a sudden spotlight on seven male dancers. “Give me more of you,” the singer exhorted her young troupe, in rehearsals and performances, and they eagerly complied. A couple of the guys, however, hid secrets that withstood the glare and controversy of both the tour and the legendary behind-the-scenes documentary Truth or Dare, with its “scandalous” kiss that liberated so many young gay men.

A quarter century after these intense formative experiences, the extraordinary new documentary Strike a Pose reunites the talented corps of dancers—who dispersed as suddenly as they came together—not only to relive a seminal cultural moment through their eyes, but also to try to make sense of the momentous changes they’ve lived through. AIDS took Gabriel, alas, in 1995. Today, Luis, Jose, Kevin, Salim, Carlton, and Oliver (the only one who wasn’t classically trained, and the only straight guy to boot) continue to grapple with reconciling the massive career break of that exuberant, high-profile tour with the poignant reality of day-to-day life in middle age. Deeper and richer than a mere cautionary fable about fickle fame, Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan’s empathetic portrait conveys the pressures of growing up in public, the difficulty of being a role model, the double-edged sword of ambition, and the burden of family expectations.

Embellished with both vintage and current footage of the principals dancing, the film climaxes with a touching reunion dinner (sans the pop diva, with whom they still have an ambivalent relationship). Strike a Pose revisits an era when being HIV-positive carried a devastating stigma, and it honors how far we—and these talented, gutsy artists—have come.

— Michael Fox

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D318

Co-presented by:
National AIDS Memorial Grove

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