When the AIDS crisis first came to the fore back in the '80s, Madonna was one of the first celebrities to step up and loudly demand action. This week back in 1989, the pop diva turned up in Los Angeles at a charity dance marathon to benefit people suffering from AIDS, one of whom was a close friend of hers Christopher Flynn, her first dance teacher and a very influential figure in her life.
"I'm really here for two reasons. Number one is because I really believe in AIDS Project L.A. and the services they have provided for people with AIDS and for the prevention education they support. And the second reason I'm here is because I love to dance."
And dance she did. Madonna danced and danced and danced for nearly an hour straight along with pal Sandra Bernhard and her longtime backup singer, Nikki Harris.
"They're here to make sure I don't perform too many nasty dance moves that Christopher Flynn is responsible for teaching me," she explained.
"I have to say thank you to [Christopher] because he's the man responsible for encouraging me to go after my dreams, to go to New York," she continued. "He taught me, I went to my first dance class with him. He's a great guy."
As a side note, Madonna's controversial video for "Like a Prayer" began airing on MTV that same week. MTV News' Kurt Loder described the clip this way at the time: "The video is loaded with baroque religious imagery and features Madonna cavorting in curious ways with a lot of black people. In short, it's a teeth-gnashing bonanza for bigots."
One woman who had no use for fufu videos was Joan Jett, whose uncompromising music made her a heroine on the hard rock circuit. Back in March of 1989, the down and dirty rocker went a little upscale when she and her band, the Blackhearts, brought their tour to a Broadway theater for a few nights. On that occasion, Jett weighed in on the state of rock and roll in the late '80s.
"So much of it's in the attitude, and today I just hear so many people, so many bands calling themselves rock and roll bands and realistically, they aren't," she said. "That's the thing that seems to be missing to me, is the real gut spontaneous rock and roll feeling." Amen.
Pop stardom isn't all video shoots and vast oceans of champagne, we learned from Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett back in '89.
For one thing, as Metallica had discovered, the bigger you get, the more people there are trying to scam free passes to your concerts.
"My mother called me up the other day and said, 'Well there's this CEO of the company I work for who wants to come to the concert in Baltimore,' " Hammett said. "And it's like, 'Fine mom, I'm putting him on the guest list.' "
And then when the show's over and you just want to go back your hotel and get a little sleep, some raucous pop star in the suite next door winds up keeping you awake all night.
"I saw Debbie Gibson here at the hotel," Hammett said, "and she had all this toilet paper out in the hallway. I was all, 'Wait a second, I thought heavy metal bands did stuff like that ...' "
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