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John Marrs is a freelance journalist in London England - and a huge Madonna fan: Marss spoke to the Madonna co-stars in her "Like A Prayer" and "Vogue" videos for a feature in music magazine "Q" about the unknown stars of 12 iconic music videoclips.
Their converstions were quite longer than the ones published on the June 2009 issue of the magazine and John got in touch with MadonnaTribe to share many other interesting things he heard from Leon Robinson, "Like A Prayer"s Black Jesus and Salim 'Slam' Gauwloos from the "Vogue" video (and much more).
Here is what Slam told him...

Was Vogue your first music video?

No, the first videos I did before Vogue were for Lisa Lisa & the Cult Jam, and for Jennifer Rush, the original singer of “The Power of Love”.

How did you get the part?

I first auditioned for her tour; it was in March 1990. It was a regular audition; I found the ad posted in the newspaper. The only thing that wasn't regular was that there were close to 2000 people for the audition. People with gifts and flowers, I don't know, it was kind of weird to me. I auditioned, had a couple callbacks. At that time I wasn't really a Madonna fan. Then after a week I got a personal call from M, asking me if I wanted to go on tour with her. I said sure! I left to Los Angeles, and we started rehearsing for the tour. At the same time we were rehearsing for the Vogue video. Two weeks into rehearsal we started shooting Vogue.

How long did it take to film?

It just took 2 days!

Was filming an enjoyable process or very hard work?

Shooting a video in 2 days, 16 hours a day, requires a lot of focus. But we were all so young and full of energy. I remember being kind of frustrated, because I just wasn't dancing that much during the shoot. I was very ambitious at that time and I thought: great! you're not even going to see me in this video. But at the same time, we were all starting to know each other. And we were also starting to know Madonna and Christopher. But in general it was pretty enjoyable.

David Fincher directed it and went on to become a much-admired director - could you describe your experience of working with him?

He was amazing to work with, so relaxed. I remember they put me in a suit; David put me in front of the camera, and just started rolling. I was so frustrated again because, I wanted to dance, but I couldn't. He told me just stand there, and hit different poses with your body and face, he started to direct me. But in a really nice way, he made me feel really relaxed. The whole thing took like 15 minutes.

Working on Vogue, Truth Or Dare and Blonde Ambition meant you got to know Madonna a lot better than many other people - what was your relationship with her like?

At the audition we were kind of distant, I think her brother Christopher was more into me, ha-ha! But once we started rehearsing for the tour, we started loosening up a little. I know she is a proud person, so am I. I think I was the last dancer to kind of open up to her. And then once we were partnered together a lot. We started to click more, but I think it was first more in a working way. She was very private, so was I. But I think she liked that about me. I was trained strict as a ballet dancer, so I was trained to just focus on my job. She was extreme and so was I; we had a lot in common. By know I was her dance partner in Express Yourself, my favorite. I was dick Tracy, where I lip-synched to Warren Beatty’s voice, and I was her partner in Get into the groove. But that later got changed by the choreographer Vince Patterson, he thought I was pulling to much attention. Madonna never said anything to me about that. But once we started performing I was called a lot to the side, by Vince, he would tell me to “tone it down, you're pulling too much attention”. I never listened to him, so long M didn't have a problem, I didn’t care.

What surprised you about her?

I always say this about her, her work ethic! I've worked with a lot of different kind of artists. But I’d never seen anybody push him or herself so much. Her discipline is out of this world. I had it through my ballet training, but Madonna taught me mind over matter. I was so fascinated, that I started running with her in the hills. We would run sideways, backwards, ugh! every kind of way; and then lifting weights. It was a great time for me. I’ve learned so much from Madonna that I still apply until this day. Mind over matter was her motto. And she also started as a dancer, which even inspired me more.

Where were you when you first saw the completed Vogue video?

The first time we saw Vogue, was on our lunch break, during one of the rehearsals for the tour. They showed it to us, before it aired for the first time on MTV.

What did you think of it and why?

I thought it was beautiful, Madonna looked beautiful. We all did! I was also amazed by David Fincher’s work, He made it a piece of art, we all looked so sophisticated. I was so surprised that I got so much play, in the video, I was really happy about it. But at that time we still didn't realize how groundbreaking and timeless this whole experience was going to be.

Did you appreciate during the making of it that it would be one of the greatest videos of all time?

I appreciated the fact that I was working with Madonna. But I think that none of us knew it was going to be so groundbreaking and timeless.

Why has it stood the test of time?

I think first of all, we all had such passion for what we did, from Madonna, to the dancers, to hair people, make- up, etc. It was a great combination everybody together. And of course the way it was directed and shot was amazing. This proves that when Madonna is directed the right way she's timeless. It's a shame these days, you don't see that many good videos anymore. I think it's a lack of passion and creativity, it’s all been copied or it’s “inspired by”. Videos like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, my favorite Madonna video “Bedtime Story” directed by Mark Romanek, or Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” those were groundbreaking and amazing videos.

When was the last time you watched the video?

I'm watching it right now, ha ha! I don't know, I just catch it when they play it on TV I guess.

What do you think now when you see it?

It just makes me happy that I was part of such a great journey. You have to understand that for dancers to get so much recognition, and for so many people to know your name, it's pretty rare. It feels great to have been given that opportunity. I also think we opened the doors for a lot of dancers. We had a voice, like you can see in Truth or Dare. Ha ha!

Where is the most unusual place you have seen it?

Ha ha, In the countryside of Argentina at some local bar.

Where is the strangest place you have been recognized? Are you still recognized for the video today?

Not really at strange places! Yes still til these days, people recognize me.

When the tour ended, what did you do immediately afterwards work-wise?

Immediately after the tour Herb Ritts and Versace asked me, to be part of the new Versace campaign. We shot it in Hawaii. And also Jose and I did the Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris.

Was working on Vogue and with Madonna a help or hindrance to your career? In what way?

Definitely a help! Like I said before, it kind of made me a household name. These days, I couldn't give you one dancers name. I guess besides those shows like dancing with the Stars, but I don't watch that.

Do you have any regrets about appearing in Vogue?

Absolutely Not!

Can you tell me about some of the highlights of it and what have been your greatest achievements?

I think highlights of my career, of course working with Madonna, also being in videos with George Michael, Aretha Franklyn. Doing Elton john's Aida on Broadway, 8 times a week for 2 years, singing and dancing with Toni Braxton, Michelle Williams and Deborah Cox. And also for my work as a choreographer to be recognized. My biggest achievement, I think be able to stay true to myself, and always having a voice. To Have inspired so many dancers. To have helped so many guys come out of the closet. :-)

What have been your lows?

Ugh! Too many cigarettes!

Do you stay in touch with any of the Vogue dancers?

No, but I miss Jose and Luis very much.

When was the last time you saw or spoke to Madonna?

At a Dance Studio in New York in 2001.

What are your future career plans?

To keep being successful as an artist, to keep growing. and to rule the world! :-) (As quoted by Madonna)

Interview by John Marrs - used by permission.

For more info on Slam, and updates on his projects, please visit
To read the MadonnaTribe Interview with Slam please click here.
Portrait by Rose Barling courtesy of Special thanks to John Marss.

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