Often recalled as the “Marie Antoinette” performance, Madonna’s game-changing 1990 rendition of her hit “Vogue” was based on the film Dangerous Liaisons, with Madge donning Michelle Pfeiffer’s actual dress from the movie. Luis Camacho and Jose Gutierez, both of whom danced on Madonna’s “Blonde Ambition” tour and choreographed and danced in the original “Vogue” video and VMA number, recall that unforgettable night.
Gutierez: At first, we were going to do another song, ’cause people were already sick of us doing this. We had already vogued all year. It was between “Keep it Together” and something else.
Camacho: The idea [for the “Vogue” performance] came about during a game of charades. During the last days of the tour, we were in the South of France, in Nice, and one of the charades was Dangerous Liaisons. I was sitting next to her, and Madonna goes, “You know, that’s very ‘Vogue.’ ”
Gutierez: For the choreography, I was trying to basically keep the same stuff that was in the chorus section [of the video]. Everyone remembers those counts of eight from the chorus. Voguing is very arrogant and very aristocratic with all this attitude, so I think the theme and the costumes made us emulate it even more.
Camacho: The only thing that had us a little nervous were the fans the women [dancers] had. At one point in the choreography, they flipped the fans in the air, and they’re supposed to catch them. At almost every rehearsal, somebody would drop the fan.
Gutierez: Janet Jackson’s dancers also were performing that night, and there was always this Janet and Madonna competition throughout the years. Janet opened the show with “Black Cat” and we were closing the show, so we got to see them go on first. We were so amped because we were like, “Oh my God, they sucked! They were so bad!” We were like, “Oh, it’s in the bag!”
Camacho: We were also up for an award that night for best choreography.
Gutierez: I really wanted to win, but I knew that we weren’t going to. Madonna told us, “Don’t get your hopes up, because it’s very political in these awards ceremonies. They’re not going to give it to two young kids from the Lower East Side.” I was like, “You don’t know that!”
Camacho: By the time we went to perform, we [hadn’t won]. Standing offstage, Jose and I felt like, “We are about to show you why we should have gotten that award.” We always did a prayer circle before we went on stage. Madonna was like, “Let’s go out there and give it to them! Let’s serve it up, ladies and gentlemen!”
Gutierez: You can see our energy. It’s that moment when the curtain goes up and we are there, and everyone in the crowd just rises to their feet. I was jumping out of my skin.
Camacho: And no one dropped a fan! After they all caught it, we all clapped and breathed a sigh of relief. It was a nail-biter.
Gutierez: Talking about it now is like reliving those moments of being on stage—it gives you this rush of wanting to be the best and wanting to leave such an impression. It’s crazy because 25 years later, people still remember. I still get recognized on the street from this job that I did 25 years ago, and it feels so good.