Tag Archives: Madonna



In 1990, Madonna’s back up dancer Carlton Wilborn seemed to be on top of the world. He appeared in videos like “Vogue”, danced on the Blond Ambition Tour (the most iconic in Madonna’s 30+ year career) and was featured prominently in its behind the scenes documentary, Truth or Dare. This groundbreaking film set the precedent for the reality shows of today.


Carlton became a fan favorite – meeting Madonna’s daring challenges on and off stage. He played along, but it wasn’t all fun and games. Carlton was secretly living with HIV – and he didn’t want his status to affect what people thought of him. More importantly, while others on the tour were living it up, he worried about his health. Fearing he might get sick, he worried if his body was going to hold up against a grueling schedule that entailed traveling around the world and performing shirtless in the rain.

25yrs later, Carlton along with the surviving dancers are the subject of the documentary Strike a Pose which premieres tomorrow on Logo – 9/8c.  The film is a dramatic tale about overcoming shame and finding the courage to be who you are.


In 1990, I  was in high school and as a major Madonna fan, I knew all of the dancers’ names. Like Carlton, I had a secret; I was struggling with my sexual identity. Back then, there weren’t many images of gay men portrayed in the media – I identified with the dancers. They provided me an image of what a gay man could look like – Madonna’s dancers were beautiful, masculine and had killer bodies. They made me feel like I was OK.

Carlton went on to join Madonna on her 1993 tour The Girlie Show. He also enjoyed success as an actor and author. But in spite of his success, he was dealing with deep personal issues like the aftermath of being an abused child, sexual identity and sex addition. Carlton made a decision to seek help and to confront his demons head on by tapping into his higher consciousness though various teachings of spirituality and faith.


Carlton shifted his energy toward helping others by working as a life coach. When I caught up with him to discuss his journey, he said, “Starting my training at Kabbalah was really my first structured personal development work. It came on the heels of “M” – she knew I was going through some things. She was taking classes at the time and through her encouragement; I joined her. I ended up staying with it on my own for a couple of years. I’ve learned the importance of taking ownership of where one’s life is. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I am courageous enough to celebrate Carlton! In our lives, we are given so many tools and if you can’t take that shit and make it work – there’s a problem.”

Through his books and Danceformation teaching system, Carlton hopes to reach the young LGBT community – who he feels “culture does not lend itself to areas of self-improvement or spirituality.” http://www.mydanceformation.com


Return Of The Penns?


This week blogs, gossip sites and major news outlets published reports of Madonna and Sean Penn’s alleged re-coupling. Madonna  flirted with the idea during a fundraiser for Help Haiti Home in Beverly Hills on Jan. 9. In front of a full crowd,  she professed her love “I want to say [to] Sean that I love you, from the moment I laid eyes on you — and I still love you just the same.”


Madonna and Sean were never media darlings. In fact, they were once dubbed the “Poison Penns” – mainly due to Sean’s hot temper. Penn landed in jail for spitting and attacking photographers outside Madonna’s old Upper West Side apartment. As a young Madonna fan, I would walk by her apartment hoping to get a glimpse – the closest I came was seeing her jogging  in Central Park.


When Madonna and Sean wed at a secret location in Los Angeles on her birthday, August 16th 1985 – Andy Warhol and Cher were in attendance. The reception became a total spectacle with photographers dangling out of helicopters trying to get a shot. Madonna’s image started to change. It appeared as if Sean took Madonna away from her fans. Many kids my age stopped listening to Madonna altogether – she was no longer cool. She was a married woman devoted to Sean – his reputation rubbed off on her. Their flop of a film Shanghai Surprise put the nail in the coffin.

Rumors of abuse began to circulate. It was said, Sean had beat Madonna and tied her to a chair.  Madonna supposedly, filed a police report but never pressed charges. Madonna has since denied this ever happened. Most recently,  in a deposition in Sean’s 10 million dollar defamation lawsuit against director Lee Daniel’s who referenced Sean as an “abuser” in an Vanity Fair article.


Madonna and Sean’s marriage lasted four years. I never gave up hope on Madonna – I prayed she would find herself.  After the divorce, Madonna returned with one of the most celebrated albums of her career, Like A Prayer (1989). Her new sound was mature, empowered and self-expressive.  Madonna dancing in front of burning crosses and kissing a black Jesus in the Like A Prayer video promted Pepsi to axe a commercial starring the controversial pop star. Madonna kept the 5 Million dollar pay check. Yes, Madonna was back. And the rest is pop culture history…




RayGarciaPhotography.comPhoto:  RayGarciaPhotography.com

Over 25 years ago, 16-year old Debbie Gibson exploded onto the music scene with her debut album “Out of the Blue.” Her self-penned, infectious pop songs “Only In My Dreams” and “Shake Your Love” rose to the top of the Billboard Charts. She became the youngest artist ever to write, produce and perform a #1 hit song, “Foolish Beat.”


1989’s “Electric Youth” paved the path for the music marketing trends of today. She was the first pop star to launch a signature fragrance to support an album. Her image was plastered on the bedroom walls of kids across America.  In fact, she sold more than 16 million albums worldwide –all while keeping her clothes on and maintaining a squeaky clean image.



After conquering the pop world with three consecutive albums and world tours, Debbie set her sights on the theater and starred in 17 musicals in 17 years like “Les Miserables,” “Grease,” “Funny Girl,”  “Beauty and the Beast,”  “Gypsy,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Chicago” and the Broadway revival of “Cabaret” with Neil Patrick Harris. Debbie has also appeared in numerous television and film projects including “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Sing Your Face Off,” the SyFy hit “Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid” (opposite fellow 80’s pop star Tiffany) and most recently starring in the 2015 UP original movie, “The Music In Me.”

When I was a kid, growing up in Brooklyn, I wanted to be her best friend. She lived close by in Merrick, Long Island. I was jealous she had a recording studio above her garage. But knowing  she wrote her own songs and got her start at home inspired me. Debbie made me feel like I could make my dreams come true as well.

I had a fantasy of contacting Debbie asking her to reflect back and to find out what’s going in her world on now. My fantasy became reality – the “Original Pop Princess” agreed to talk.

Debbie, tell me what is the best part of being a pop culture icon?

It may sound cliché but getting to do what I love to do and making other people happy is fabulous!

No, not cliché at all, I think that’s great. It is an artist’s job to uplift others. We do what we do to make others happy.

Let me ask you, if you could step into a time machine and go back to 1987, what message would you deliver to your former self?

Relax and take time to enjoy what’s happening. It’s not a race.

That’s great advice!

Having reached such a high level of success at such a young age, how were you able to manage that?

It wasn’t without its ups and downs. But basically, I’m in this business to be creative and not for the fringe benefits, which tends to keep one grounded and focused.


You were always perceived as a “good girl”….perception or reality?

I’m an authentic girl! I was never into any club scene or drugs or alcohol so if that makes me “good” …then reality. But, I’m not a fan of labels and I wouldn’t say that anyone’s journey is “good” or “bad” as long as they are being themselves and not hurting anyone else.

Tell me something that would surprise people about you.

I can hula-hoop for hours on end without dropping it! Seriously. Also, I was once on CSPAN because I went and spoke to Congress on behalf of artists, and represented ASCAP, when professional caliber digital recording machines were first coming out. Much like Taylor Swift protected artist’s rights with her letter to Apple, I was out to make sure that artists got compensated for their work.

I didn’t know that, that’s cool. I would be terrified to speak to congress!

Since love is a constant theme in your songs. I’m curious, what would be your perfect date?

Well, for starters my current boyfriend would have to be there! (Laughs) And, we would go to our favorite burger joint and I would get sweet potato fries and we would leave the rest of the plan open, cause we hate plans!

Speaking of boyfriends, I heart James Franco, do you have celebrity a crush too?

I’m definitely in the James Franco admiration club too! But, back when I was a kid it was Ricky Schroeder from “Silver Spoons”! 

James Franco


Moving on, I read in Billboard you are a Madonna fan. She has been harshly criticized for being too provocative given her age.  What are your thoughts on that?

Everyone deserves to be whoever they are at any age with no regard for others’ perceptions. Madonna is living proof that you can rock it in every decade!


What advice would you give to an aspiring pop star?

Keep doing what you love to do, and look to be open to collaborating and learning and training all you can. As your career gets further and further along, technique will come in handy and so will your passion for what you do.

debbie gibson-1Photo by Troy Smith

So musically, what’s next for Debbie Gibson??

I’m sitting on a bunch of new songs and I’m dying to record and just waiting for the perfect window of time to do that, which is coming soon!

Cool – I’ll be on the lookout. In the meantime, I’m gonna throw it back to one of your classics and “Shake Your Love” – it’s one of my favorites!

Instagram & Twitter:  @DebbieGibson







Bitch You’re Madonna, Now Act Like It


Madonna, we need to talk. You are the Queen of Pop, an icon and legend. You look incredible, inspire so many to express themselves, to stay fit and live by their own set of rules. You are cool without trying, bitch your Madonna! But your latest video for “Bitch, I’m Madonna”  has me confused. The blond and pink hair, grillz are more costume then chic. There is nothing wrong with being provocative and sexy at any age, but it seems you are desperately pandering to the youth market?!? 🙁

That said, the video is a rip off from your appearance on Jimmy Fallon, nothing really new to dig into. Besides Nicki Minaj, who actually appears on the track, why on earth do Beyoncé, Kanye West, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus make cameos? In fact, they didn’t even appear live in the video; opting to film elsewhere and were edited in after.  Chris Rock, Alexander Wang and Rita Ora did show up for filming, but I ask again, why?

You’re Madonna and still know how to have a good time, we get it. However; you don’t need gimmicks, Miley Cyrus or sock puppets. Sorry, Madonna…..you lost me with this one. I still LOVE you though.