I first worked with and met the amazing Whitney Houston in rehearsals for the Arsenio Hall Show. It was LA in the fall of 1990. She had just released her ‘Im your baby tonight’ album and we were preparing for her very first TV performance. The eve of that first rehearsal, I excitedly drove from West Hollywood to the valley and parked at the studio where we would be working. This was it! I was about to meet a legend.
I had auditioned for this job two weeks prior. Auditions were held by the amazing and talented Diesko Boyland Jr., and he was wonderful during that process. Funny, easy going and he just made you feel completely comfortable. (Whitney and Diesko made up this African gibberish language together that was hysterical! They would go back and forth usually before starting rehearsal and we would all bust out laughing! She could be so silly and fun too!)
I was of course beyond the moon getting the call saying I had booked this job and was going to have the opportunity to work with Whitney! I was just starting my LA career then and I had danced and performed with a few celebrities before: Prince, Gregory Hines, Paula Abdul, Debbie Gibson. (‘Electric Youth’ was my first video job ever!) This opportunity felt like I had won the lottery! I was going to dance with Whitney Houston! I was a huge fan of hers since she first came onto the music scene, and I owned her two previous albums already. I listened to them just about every day and I was just in awe of her.
Madonna UK Facebook Community Page
Excerpts from the August 16, 2015 interview
Welcome Christopher and it’s an honour to have you as a guest at Madonna United Kingdom, I am still pinching myself as remember seeing you at Wembley Stadium on the first date of the Girlie Show and it continues to be a fan favourite?
I’m so privileged to be here, thank you!
Can you tell me how you got to be an entertainer on the Girlie Show, do you remember your audition?
I remember when I saw Blond Ambition and thought: “I’m going to work for Madonna!” I just knew it somehow-blond ambition was amazing and I immediately saw myself dancing in one of her shows! We auditioned over about a week, and I kept making each cut. I was nervous! Her brother Christopher was there, sweet and cute and supportive! Madonna came on the last day and watched us dance then asked us to tell her a joke! It was awesome! Then she walked through the final 8 of us to ‘feel our vibe’.
What was your first impression of Madonna and were you nervous?
Omg! She looked amazing, but I couldn’t believe how much tinier she was in person! She was wearing her hair in small braids, it was red and longish then. I was totally nervous! She seemed nervous too, which made me like her more!
Can you tell me about the rehearsal and give us an insight into how long it took to put the show together?
The rehearsal process took about 8 weeks-it was so involved! First, she would charge us $100.00 a minute if you were late! No joke! I lived quite far from where we were rehearsing, so I had to wake up extra early to be ready to go at 8 am! We’d work all morning, then Madonna would come in about 2 pm to watch us and then talk about what she did and didn’t like. She fired the first choreographer on day 3, and we always had the wear black so she could see our bodies. I had to do a short boxing segment in Erotica, so she sent me and one of the other dancers to boxing lessons at 5 am for two weeks!! Ugh, the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life! Madonna wants every moment to be authentic, so she has you do tons of research for everything! We watched videos, movies, and had classes to learn things to make us look real and authentic. That was so impressive to me – that part of her is just mind boggling – she’s so invested in her shows its crazy.