May 25, 2014

Why Everyone in West Hollywood Listened to Madonna

When I first moved to West Hollywood in 1985, Madonna was everywhere, part of the backdrop of everyday life, as universal and taken-for-granted as working out, drinking Perrier, and reading Frontiers magazine.

When a Norwegian conman stole my boyfriend, "Material Girl" was playing.

When Alan met Raul for the first time, we were listening to "Open Your Heart."

When we ran into Fred and the Cute Young Thing during brunch at the French Quarter, "Live to Tell" was blaring from a car stopped at a red light on Santa Monica Boulevard.


During 300 Saturday nights at Mugi, "One Night in Bangkok" was always followed by "Papa Don't Preach"

When I was teaching Gay 101 at Juvenile Hall, I went to a party, and three guys started lip-synching to "Vogue."

But in the early 1990s, the Madonna fad started dying down.

In 1992, the book Sex bombed in West Hollywood.  I knew only one guy who actually bought a copy.

By 1993, record store commercials had people complaining "I'm bored with Madonna!", and all of the cars stopped at red lights on San Vicente were blaring "I'm too sexy for my shirt!" instead of "Bad Girl."


Madonna is still expressing herself, still recording songs and performing for millions of fans, but she is no longer an inevitable part of daily life in West Hollywood.

Nearly thirty years later, I wonder why Madonna became a gay diva.  Her songs had no gay subtexts: they were all about heterosexual women being touched for the very first time, living in a material world, picking up boys on the street, and asking "Come on, girls, do you believe in love?"






Maybe her hot male backup dancers, like Victor Lopez, Jull Weber (top photo), and Mihrab (left).  Many of them were gay, and worked out next to us at the Hollywood Spa.  They were family.

Maybe because she was a gay ally, outspoken in her support of LGBT people, a rarity in the 1980s.

Maybe because she was constantly offending 1980s conservatives with her frank lyrics and suggestive dance moves.  Gay people were constantly offending 1980s conservatives just by existing.  It was a match made in heaven.

See also: Mae West, Gay Diva of the 1930s and Let's Hear it for the Boy.