13 April 2020

Blond Ambition World Tour

Blond Ambition World Tour

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour, which began in Japan on 13th April 1990. A defining moment in the history of popular culture, the tour was as much a theatrical presentation as a musical concert. The tour also marked the height of Madonna’s global celebrity, and in the intervening decades, as audiences have become increasingly fragmented, perhaps only Taylor Swift has achieved the same level of name recognition.

Blond Ambition is remembered today largely for its costumes and controversies. Jean-Paul Gaultier designed a corset with a conical bra which, of all Madonna’s many stylistic reincarnations, is arguably her most iconic image. She simulated masturbation during her performance of Like a Virgin, while being fondled by dancers dressed as hermaphrodites, in an extraordinary reinterpretation of her first hit single. When the show was broadcast live on BBC Radio 1, she used the f-word more than a dozen times: “I just wanna say that ‘fuck’ is not a bad word. ‘Fuck’ is a good word...”

The tour is not available on DVD or blu-ray, though the final concert was broadcast live on HBO and released on laserdisc. An earlier concert was filmed by the Spanish TV channel TVE and broadcast throughout Europe. Highlights from the tour, filmed in Paris with multiple 35mm cameras, were included in the groundbreaking behind-the-scenes documentary Truth or Dare (retitled In Bed with Madonna outside the US), which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991.

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