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Liz Smith: 'This is stardom. Please stand back'

She came, she saw, she wore red, and she stayed for the whole movie! I do mean our girl Madonna. The iconic M put in a totally surprise appearance at the special screening of director Alek Keshishian’s classic documentary, 'Truth or Dare' at The Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday night. (Alek, choreographer Vince Paterson and two of Madonna’s dancers, Salim Gauwloos and Jose Guitierez, stayed for a Q & A after.)

MoMA’s Joseph A. Berger, who had put together the event - along with other Madonna-themed tributes this month - was totally flabbergasted by La Ciccone’s presence. But that stop didn’t stop him from sticking to his original remarks, which were funny, fierce, personal - he was a 12-year-old gay boy struggling, in 1991, when 'Truth or Dare' hit screens; the daring glimpse into Madonna’s life - her matter-of-fact embrace of her gay dancers lives and issues - altered his own life and perceptions.

AIDS was still pretty much a death sentence in 1991. There wasn’t much positivity for gay youth. The freewheeling, vibrantly liberated 1970s and early 80s had devolved into fear, loathing and religiously sanctioned indifference. Madonna brazenly danced, sang, spoke up and finger-snapped away a great deal of that darkness.

As for the great star, she looked gorgeous, and upon leaving, she appeared pleased, having watched herself at the white hot pinnacle of her fame. The movie is as political, powerful, funny, cringe-inducing, sexy, gritty, without vanity, totally self-obsessed, artful, artificial, genuine and as awkwardly practiced as ever. It’s a genius slice of life. And not just her life, or her particular career.

'Truth or Dare' is fashioned as a vehicle to display fame at its most intense, pleasurable, invading and isolating.

A hundred years from now, the 'Vogue' segment alone - Madonna onstage performing, interspersed with scenes of her being mobbed and adored - will be introduced thus: 'This is stardom. Please stand back.'

From www.newyorksocialdiary.com/liz-smith

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S Candy

There was and will always be something MaDgical about this woman. She wasn't about right or wrong, but rather about looking at things from different perspectives. For better or for worse (I would say mostly for better) she will always be the ultimate postmodern all round cultural icon. Not just gay or straight, but the Ultimate Postmodern Cultural Icon. She made the odd contrasts seem okay. It is the contrasts, learning to put them in perspective and learning to deal with them that makes life interesting.

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