Tuesday’s season two premiere of Pose airing at 10 p.m. on FX sees Mj Rodriguez’s Blanca say “Madonna is shining a bright spotlight on us” in the spirit of making the most out of life and every moment. “We are on the cusp of a revolution.” she utters yet again, then encourages her kids, Angel (Indya Moore) and Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) to seriously pursue their respective passions for modeling and dance.
The cast and creators of the groundbreaking FX drama are seen in numerous scenes talking about the pop icon’s impact on New York’s LGBTQ ballroom scene in 1990.
The second installment of FX awards season breakout Pose jumps from the ’80s to 1990, the year New York’s LGBTQ ballroom scene was illuminated by the dazzling glare of Madonna’s “Vogue.”
As co-creator Steven Canals puts it, the pop icon’s intense fascination with the art of voguing and its supposed originators injected an enormous yet necessary dose of optimism into a community that was facing increased marginalization as the HIV/AIDS crisis worsened in the U.S. at such a terrible time.
In Canal’s own words;
“We introduce Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ in the premiere and I think the presence of the song is really woven throughout season two. If we’re looking at the history of ballroom and specifically that moment in time, what Madonna did was bring ballroom to the mainstream. She introduced the world to this community who, up until that point in time, had been a subculture.”
“Vogue”, although inspired by the pioneering dance moves of ballroom leaders and their underground celebrations of self-expression at a time when these were heavily lacking, Vogue achieved the status of a massive hit. This was especially because it remained No. 1 in more than 30 countries many months after its March 1990 release. The song at the time was so popular it had became inescapable in the streets of each of those 30 countries.
The success of Vogue was further elevated when Madonna included real-life ballroom luminaries in the music video and later announced a world tour. This was more than a signal that greater opportunities awaited trans and queer people of color.
Janet Mock; writer, producer and director confirmed an interest in exploring the commentary surrounding ballroom’s sudden exposure. In her words, she questioned what these people thought about the mainstreaming of something that had just been incubating for years in secret, further confirming that a lot of the ballroom community felt they were stars already. This she understood more in-depth when she observed in-house consultant and ballroom king Jose Xtravaganza, one of the lucky few chosen to be part of Madonna’s “Vogue” era. It wasn’t difficult to see that they felt like they had been preparing for years for their closeups. This finally felt like their time. It was indeed their time.
In response to Blanca’s new outlook, Rodriguez has this to say of her character:
“‘Vogue’ is affecting Blanca in a big way. The dynamic is changing. She’s seeing something really big happening, despite advancing health struggles. There’s a huge light that’s being shed on the community in a way that hasn’t been shed before. She’s very optimistic and very happy that the world is seeing her and her community in a new way. And she wants her children to take advantage of it as well.”
But not every character is invigorated by Madonna’s ubiquitous presence inside the ballroom. Awards season staple and newly minted style icon Billy Porter is one as you will see in the episodes.
As Youtube views of the Vogue rise due to the multitude traffic Pose has redirected, a new revolution of celebrating impactful music videos this way becomes more foreseeable. And although Madonna, now 60, has been a visible ally and vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community since the inception of her music career, and was one of the first notable names in entertainment to speak openly about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, critics still largely accuse her of cultural appropriation and even argue that she erased voguing’s original context as a creation of queer people of color. This argument is founded in the fact that only white folks are mentioned in “Vogue’s” spoken tally of fashionable Hollywood figures. The widespread belief of individual’s on this side of the spectrum is the firm belief that Madonna could have done more.
Still, it should be noted that the superstar’s latest music video for “Dark Ballet” from her forthcoming 14th studio album, Madame X features the black, queer and openly HIV-positive rapper Mykki Blanco playing Joan of Arc and challenging gender norms.
Similarly also, Blanco thanked the Advocate for Change honoree for making him feel “so very welcome” in the music industry at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards in New York.