Blond Ambition remains probably the most
iconic of Madonna's world tours and the first images of
the Queen of Pop on stage that come to mind are all from
that amazing show. So no matter if her hair is curly or
with a ponytail, this is to many the image of The Idol touring
the world. At the same time a male face and body are instantly
tied to that show in the memories of fans...
MadonnaTribe had the chance to get in touch
with Slam, the Blond Ambition dancer who
shared with us his story, from his early days in his native
Belgium, the Vogue video, The Blond Ambition Tour, Truth
or Dare and the MTV Awards, to his most recent adventures
as an internationally acclaimed performer and award-winning
choreographer teaming up with celebrities from all over
the world. We hope you will enjoy this exclusive interview
in which you'll find out what the Real Slam
MadonnaTribe: Hi Slam,
welcome to MadonnaTribe. You started training as a dancer
in your native country, Belgium, at the Ballet of Flanders
in Antwerp. What made you decide you wanted to be a dancer?
Slam: At a very young age, I was always
very interested in performing, I loved watching gymnastics,
and dance shows anything that would move to music.
I was eight years old, and I started off choreographing
small shows at summer camp, I remember one of my first
shows was to "Born to Be Alive", I picked four
girls, taught them this routine, but I was always the
center of attention, putting myself all the way in the
front center stage, while they had to dance behind me
as my backup dancers, but they still loved it.
First I tried to be a gymnast, but I wanted to do more
of what the girls did… men's gymnastics are not
So at age 12 I decided I wanted
to be a dancer, my Mom took me to the ballet school to
audition, and they took me in.
In a way this was a blessing, because I would never be
called a "faggot", or deal with bullies anymore,
because the Ballet world is so isolated. It made me feel
safe it was very peaceful. The irony of it all is that
I was the only one out of the closet in school!
MT: At the age of seventeen you then
auditioned in Belgium for a scholarship to the prestigious
Steps Dance School and were one of the two dancers who
were awarded the scholarship.
Was that real beginning for you?
Slam: Well… when I first won the
scholarship, with one of my best friends Heidi, I was
But then when I got here it wasn't as glamorous as it sounded.
We were given brooms, and buckets and we had to clean the
studios in exchange for classes.
But I would say that moving to America was the real beginning
I wanted to get out of Belgium. But it's funny because I
am a very ambitious person, yet I never dreamed of coming
to America and make it big, it just sort of happened…
My first video, before I even started working with Madonna,
was Lisa Lisa's "Lost in Emotion".
MT: When did you move
Slam: I moved to America June
20th 1987, and I still remember looking at the stamp on
I also remember taking a cab from JFK to what was going
to be my apartment and the cabdriver kept talking about
Michael Jackson, and kept driving… and we passed
the airport like three times, and then he finally drove
me to the city.
I ended up paying 80 dollars, which at that time was much
more than what it is now! I guess that was my "Welcome
MT: So how did
you choose your stage name, was it a nickname you had?
Slam: I am really
not sure how that happened… I think it happened
during rehearsals for the tour, and it just stayed with
me ever since!
of rehearsals, how did you get to the audition for Madonna's
tour and do you have a particular memory of that day?
Slam: I saw
an ad on a dance newspaper here called Backstage, saying
that they were holding auditions for Madonna's World Tour,
and I just went to it. The ad itself was funny it said:
looking for real dancers, not wannabees.
I got to the audition and I was impressed by how many
people went, and they had flowers and presents…
and I knew who Madonna was and respected her work, but
I wasn't a die hard fan, I was more into New Wave Music.
MT: How was
meeting Madonna for the first time? Was she like you expected
her to be?
Slam: I didn't really
expect anything, I met her, and she was very sweet, and
the thing that really impressed me and I will never forget
was her work ethic.
She was so strong, disciplined, so together… I could
relate to that so I immediately connected with her there.
What I also loved and thought it was so down to earth and
laid back was that Madonna herself called us to tell us
we got the Tour. I remember getting her call and her saying:
Hi Slam, this is Madonna, would you like to come on Tour
with me? Like it wasn't a big deal. And I said: - "Yeah,
Sure" not knowing really what a big deal this was!
"Vogue" video was in a way used to introduce the
Blond Ambition cast before the tour started. Did you like
shooting the video and could you share with us some of the
memories you have from that day?
Slam: We flew down to LA to start rehearsing
for the Tour (this is where I met Jose and Luis) and while
we were rehearsing they told us that we were going to rehearse
for two weeks for this new video Madonna was going to shoot
before the Tour.
The video was shot at Burbank Studios in LA, there I met
David Fincher, and I remember being disappointed because
I wasn't in all the dance scenes! (I am a dancer so I wanted
to dance) They put me in a suit and make me look like Valentino,
and shot my part in 15 minutes… so I thought I needed
to maybe work harder to be more featured.
I never knew that they were going to feature me like that,
so when the video came out, I was like: - Oh… so that's
why I wasn't in all the other dance scenes!
Shooting the video was amazing, Madonna was amazing, and
I want to use this opportunity to set the record straight,
that most of the choreography from the vogue video was created
by Jose and Luis…
Among the many iconic moments of the Blond Ambition tour
there's the one in which Madonna does flexions on you during
Express Yourself. That pose was all over in magazine back
then. How did you feel to be suddenly very famous?
Slam: I was
very young, so you don't really get to assimilate what is
really going on, because you are going through so many transitions,
and through the process of growing up… so it's hard
to really try to explain how I felt.
I was very happy of course! I mean, who wouldn't? I am an
artist so I love the attention. It felt great!
I also felt that all those years of hard work in Ballet
School, and working by myself, for myself, was finally starting
to pay off.
In Europe we would all go to
the magazine stores and it was always a competition on who's
picture was going to be in the magazine and it always ended
up being the Express Yourself shot!
MT: We can say that in many of the Blond
Ambition numbers you were Madonna's main dance partner.
You even played Dick Tracy in the "Hanky Panky"
and "Now I'm Following You" numbers.
Is there a particular reason you were chosen to be her main
Slam: Because I was the cutest one! LOL!
I don't know why, I guess I partnered her well… and
I also believed I was good for the parts. I always worked
really hard and gave it 120%.
MT: What's your favorite number or dance
routine from the Blond Ambition Tour and why?
Slam: My favorite number was "Now
I'm Following You" number, first because I would get
introduced to crowds of 20.000 people every night, it was
also really fun to portray Dick Tracy, I got to act a bit,
and lip-sync. I will always remember Donna crying on the
side with her little handkerchief! It was so funny to me
for some reason.
MT: As a dance teacher and choreographer
today what do you think about the work Vince Paterson did
on the tour?
Slam: I think that Vince Paterson did an amazing
job. All the staging, the choreography, and the feel he
gave to the show… We were all classically trained
dancers (with the exception of Oliver) and he really used
Also he was (with Madonna) the only choreographer involved
in the project, so the vision would come across much clearer,
because these days people put shows on using three different
choreographers, and to me this is like three painters working
on one painting, it becomes confusing to the audience.
MT: What's your fondest memory of being
on tour with Madonna?
Slam: Getting to travel to all these different
countries and experience all their different cultures, and
also hanging out with Jose and Luis, I had a blast with
them. They introduced me to the gay life and I learned so
much from them. They are two amazing guys and I will always
MT: The Blond Ambition dancers had the
chance to become sort of Icons themselves thanks to the
documentary Truth or Dare.
Fans had the chance to see them behind the scenes and out
Looking back at the movie today how are you changed from
the Slam we see there?
Slam: Well… I haven't really changed
that much… I am more mature of course, but the essence
is still there. I was always very real, so I don't see myself
that different. I don't party anymore! But I am still the
MT: Do you have a favorite scene in the
My favorite scene in the movie is when we are in our dressing
room with Jose and Luis, and we were keeeking… and
reading what was being published in magazines, and Madonna
comes in kind of pissed because Oliver was missing and we
were always picking on him… telling us that "He
didn't have the survival skills that we did" keee,
keee, keee, keee, kee!
MT: Do you remember of any scene that was filmed
and then dropped from the final cut?
Slam: That is kind of a hard question,
given that we were being filmed 24/7 and so many things
happened that were not included in the movie. But guess
what…? I'll Never Tell…!
Blond Ambition was a very controversial show, how do you
feel today looking back at that cool mixture of sex and
religion that got many people infuriated?
I come from Europe, so everything there was already much
more open, but when I got to America I realized how uptight
society was, and I also would say this about the world in
general, people were so stuck up on what is right and was
is wrong, and this was so liberating!
fact that two guys were kissing in front of a camera, and
all the sex issues, and all the buttons that Madonna pushed,
it was something great! I still have people come up to me
and tell me what a great help the movie was, when they saw
me kissing another guy, so many people told me they realized
they were gay when they saw me in the movie!
I guess I am glad I could help them figure it out!
MT: Fans are dying to have Blond Ambition released
on DVD and the show it's also probably the first Madonna
tour it comes to mind to non fans.
Why do you think that show you were part of is still so
Slam: I think that one of the reasons why
the Blond Ambition Tour became so iconic is because there
was so much talent involved in that production, from the
musicians, to the stage crew, to the direction, the choreography,
Madonna's vision, the dancers, and it all came together
on one stage coming all into perfect sync and create this
Not to mention that this was the time where Madonna broke
all the "rules" and took it to the next level,
it was by far her break through.
MT: And then came the MTV Awards. Madonna
as Marie Antoinette. What do you remember of that particular
rendition of "Vogue"?
Slam: Well… it starts with me, Jose
and Luis getting our legs waxed at Madonna's house, because
we found out that we were wearing these really short pants,
so she got us a wax… and Ouch! That hurts!
And then when Madonna, Donna, and Nikki had to throw their
fan, that was so rehearsed, so when that moment came we
all kind of held our breaths and looked around to see if
the three were still holding the fans!
And it was
amazing to me how original this was, this wasn't another
"dance" number that looks like all the rest, it
had a concept, it was telling a story and it was fierce
at the same time.
MT: Did you happen to see Madonna's tour
after Blond Ambition? What do you think about them?
Well, I saw the Girlie Show, and it was "neat",
just kidding! No, I really liked it, I thought that "Justify
My Love" was a great number and her coming up on the
platform in the opening with the whip hitting that pose,
And honestly I haven't really seen her last ones…
Ooops! But I am sure she still rocked like she always does.
MT: Madonna's new upcoming album is all
about Dancing; it's called "Confession On A Dance Floor".
What do you think about dance music today? Can it still
be innovative along with bringing fun?
Slam: I think that this is a great chance
for Madonna, to again take dance music to the next level,
I mean, come on, she is the queen of innovation as far as
that, and then they all follow… And still Ray of Light
is my favorite album.
I think that William Orbit's collaboration was amazing.
Dance music today, got a bit boring… One artist comes
out with one hit and they all follow that line and try to
do the same… it became very monotonous. Every time
I see all these new female artists videos, I realize that
the concept has been completely copied from some Madonna
From "Bedtime Story", to "Express Yourself",
to "Material Girl", her looks… and they
try to be slick, but there is only one Leader. No one can
ever touch her in that field.
You danced in videos for the most famous stars in the music
industry such as George Michael, Aretha Franklin, Vanessa
Williams, BabyFace, Courtney Love and Taylor Dayne to name
just a few. Which is your favorite?
Slam: Well… I have two, Deborah Cox,
and Vanessa Williams. Vanessa is an incredible person. She
is so sweet, talented and down to earth, such a great mother.
It was so beautiful to watch her with her kids, she is so
devoted to them. Not to mention her professionalism.
In your career you also had the chance to work with great
photo-graphers such as David LaChapelle and even the late
Herb Ritts. How were those experiences?
David LaChapelle I did this Phillip Morris thing for Switzerland,
where I portrayed a Tango Dancer, but I'd rather talk about
my experience working with Herb Ritts, who was so amazingly
talented and no one ever talks about him anymore.
I shot the Versace campaign with him, but I met him at the
"Vogue" video shoot. I remember meeting this guy
with a very nasal voice, but very sweet.
After the Tour I booked the Versace Campaign, and they flew
us to Hawaii. It was so much fun! I used to go to dinner
to his house in Malibu a lot, and that is where I met Richard
Gere and Cindy Crawford. He was a great guy all around,
and an amazing artist who should maybe get more credit…
I miss him very much…
What are you currently working on?
Slam: I recently finished my run in Elton
John and Tim Rice's Aida, where I got to work with Deborah
Cox, Toni Braxton, and Michelle Williams from Destiny's
is where I got to the chance to get to know Deborah more
in depth and I have to say that she is one beautiful woman
in every sense of the word. So dedicated, talented and beautiful!
That voice would bring the Palace Theater's crowd to their
knees every night.
I am currently choreographing a new piece to be set on the
"Orlando Ballet" Company under the artistic direction
of the one and only, the amazing "Fernando Bujones",
This piece will be performed at this year's Hard Rock Live,
at Universal Studios in Florida. And at the same time working
on two other projects that haven't been confirmed yet, so
I will have to get back to you on that later!
MT: Slam, thanks so much for taking the
time to talk to us, it was really great to meet you. All
Slam: Thank you for your interview it's
been really fun to go back in time and search through memories…
Great site! Keep up the hard work, LOVE SLAM.
For more info on Slam, and updates on his projects, please
Thanks to Facundo Gabba for his precious help and assistance.
Photographs by Kelly Sane courtesy of Slam used by permission.