25 Years Of Vogue

Slant Magazine reflects on today’s anniversary:

A sample of Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue” inexplicably appears two-thirds of the way through the sexually charged “Holy Water,” a track from the singer’s new album, Rebel Heart. Previously, Madonna erupted into the song’s refrain at the end of her 1992 single “Deeper and Deeper,” and it’s perhaps a testament to the euphoric spirit of “Vogue” that she seemed compelled to reference it at these climactic moments. Released 25 years ago tomorrow, “Vogue” wasn’t just a hit single; it was a cultural phenomenon. Ironically, no other song better exemplifies both Madonna’s influence on pop culture and the accusations of appropriation that have been lobbed at her over the years. The track, produced by Shep Pettibone, is at once a musical map of disco, shamelessly ripping MFSB’s “Love Is the Message” and Salsoul Orchestra’s “Ooh, I Love It (Love Break),” and an enduring prototype of its own, spawning countless copycats and spoofs in the early ’90s and inspiring covers by more contemporary acolytes like Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Like the Harlem drag balls that inspired it, “Vogue” is about presentation, and unlike, say, “Like a Virgin,” the queen of reinvention has found little need to fuss with perfection.

The late Malcolm McLaren beat Madonna to the co-opting punch by a year, of course, and his remains my preferred take on the Harlem ball scene.

  • David Walker

    By this point, I was getting away from radio music, pop music in general, but the idea of voguing fascinated me. Plus PBS had at least 2 specials on the subject. I didn’t follow it, I didn’t try it, but the idea (and watching what guys came up with) intrigued me. So, thanks, Joe. This was a fun re-visit.

  • bkmn

    Happy Madgeversary!!!!

  • Ginger Snap

    All I have to say is all the music from the 90’s club scene was just absolutely amazing.

  • TJay229

    As Joe said, Deep in Vogue was the First video to showcase Voguing. Willie Ninja, Adrain Magnifique, Aldawna Xtravaganza…Legends

    Maclom McClaren used to follow the ballroom scene very heavily… He just didn’t have the power that she did to push it.

    Also Jody Watley used to feature Voguing too.

    (shot out to my Child Aldawna who reads JMG too, “Yeah Bitch, we was young kids then baby… TRAXXs upstairs”

    • ScottJ

      Adrian Magnifique is Adrian Alicea. He still lives in Harlem, and is now a fashion designer and photographer. He lives a few blocks from me. http://www.adrianalicea.com/

      • TJay229

        I haven’t seen him in years… But I so remember him strutting in TRAXXs in a Mugler getup… He was always nice and lively.

        We battled in the Sound before!


      TJay, Aldawna and Jose was actually LaBeija’s first Jose left and became an Extrava however Aldawna didn’t. Also they are really not the ‘real’ legends that would be (ie Rodney Ebony, Stevie St Laurent, Ronald Lamay, Paris Dupree and the first Hector Extravaganza) who paved the way for them. They got exposure in media (Madonna) and was made to be they eventually earned their stripes. And correct Jody was actually first with her video ‘friends’ as far as vogueing being seen in public.

      • TJay229

        Ok I believe you meant “were” LaBejias.

        And that is not fully correct. Aldawna is one of my OLDEST and BEST friends, who I consider MY CHILD; with whom I Communicatie with several times each week. He IS A Xtravaganza. He became a Xtravaganza after The Love Ball in which he got all 10’s too over Jose, but Ian threw shade and acted like it didn’t happen, a HUGE fight was about to erupt between the Blk kids and Puerto Ricans over it blah blah blah

        I know the history of Ronald Lamay, Stevie St. Laurent, Rodney Ebony, ANDRE CHRISTIAN, BOBBY LAWONG, DENNIS ST.LAURENT & JASON INTERNATIONAL too (and one or two more).

        Jose, Willie, Aldawna , Adrian & Luis all qualify as LEGENDS because they have been immortalized in video that the world could see, people in middle america watched those videos and SAW them, if you weren’t in the ballroom in the 80’s youd never know who any others were.

        • THEBEARCUB

          Actually T Jay My ballroom career (House of Dupree) spans from 1983 to 1996. I actually introduced Jose to this scene. I took him to The Garage for the first time in his life where he met David Ian and Danny who would eventually make him an Xtrava. And Yes no doubt these guys are BALLROOM LEGENDS I’ve seen the growth of them all!

  • sisterfalconer

    Willie Ninja FOREVER !

  • AW

    I love it! Still a timeless track, and pop music is never about being first, it’s about being more popular.

  • MythicalBeast

    I never cared for this remix but good old Uncle Dave was darned good at voguing. 🙂


  • Rolf

    Somehow I always found Vogueing a bit pathetic with its desperate attempts at elegance, beauty and class by means of exaggerated, pretentious gestures and movements. They just seem to emphasize the deep feelings of low self esteem and social status.
    Madonna, with her beauty and immense self confidence, uses these gestures like an ornament, not as a means of aping a seemingly unattainable goal.

    • Campbell

      Overthinking it much?

    • Male Nurse Dave

      You seem nice.

    • Duh-David

      That was your takeaway from “Paris is Burning?”

    • CJAS

      When is a dance not a dance?

    • Octavio

      Have you ever seen the documentary Paris is Burning? It might temper your thoughts on the subject. Sometimes that’s all people have.

      The House of Le Beige forgives you. 😉

    • Joe knows who I am.

      You mean like filling her purse with cash?

    • DCJoe

      None of it means anything if you haven’t seen Paris is Burning.It should be required viewing for any young LGBT person.

    • TJay229


  • Wayne

    25 years later and she is still topping the charts! #1 top selling album. Werk, Madge!


    And I love the Vogue references on Madonna’s new song Holy Water on Rebel Heart

    • For a second there I thought I read “Years later and she’s still topping 25 year-olds! WERK, MADGE!”


      • Wayne

        That might also apply 😉

  • SHUT UP! It was NOT 25 years ago! It was only last WEEK! I AM NOT THAT FUKKIN OLD, DAMMIT!!!

    • i just had a depressing moment with my partner about the Matrix, which is now officially in “classic movie” status due to age.


      • Meh! Infant. I’m still pissed about that with The Rose.

    • fuow

      Honey, I’ve been getting the:
      You’re not getting better, just older birthday cards for going on 20 years now.

      • You know you’re in trouble when AARP is the one who sends them… I keep telling ’em to fuck off, but they insist…

    • TheManicMechanic

      I know, right? My favorite band that I discovered at the beginning of their career is now embarking on their 40th anniversary tour. I got my tix too!

  • Randy Left Brooklyn

    I like Madonna, but Malcolm McLaren made some truly breathtaking music, Deep in Vogue and Madame Butterfly among them

    • Octavio

      On the McLaren observation I have to agree.

  • Octavio

    I’m rather fond of Madge’s Vogue. Twenty five years ago I helped upset the queens who normally reigned as The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire (we’re talking WAY bad drag queens). They were so annoying. We foisted a campaign of a complete unknown. Our winning strategy included a mockup of the fashion magazine with a glam closeup of our candidate veiled in net with sequins. Of course, it was not Vogue but Vague. We recruited a bunch of students from the modern dance college at the local university to choreograph and stage our candidate’s little “show.” It was a slam dunk. And those feeble queens had to deal with a man who actually made them do something for an entire year of serious charity work in the GLBT community. Boy. Were they ever pissed. 🙂

  • Turi

    From CD’s to MP3s, it’s never left my playlists. https://youtu.be/KaCI-jwE9dQ

    • The Superbowl extravaganza was stunning, but my favorite will always be the Grammy performance.

  • I love Madge’s song despite being a total co-opt, but never understood why the lyrics were all about movie stars which isn’t what voguing was about. But her lyrics were usually a cliche salad anyway which I’ve learned forgive her for.

  • Cousin Bleh

    I like Madonna and all, but yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Violator, one of the greatest synthpop albums of all time. Let’s talk about that.

  • fuow

    Well done. This video has aged very well.