Posing on the Lower East Side rooftop with his posse and their kooky pal, a diminutive Pied Piper figure known as Flaca, tough 14-year-old street kid Lamont Clarke tried to stare down the camera.
Clarke, 44, recognized his 14-year-old self in a recent Post article about Madonna’s early life in New York — he and his pals saw her as a big sister.
It was the spring of 1983, and Flaca, an up-and-coming actress, dancer and singer whose nickname was the Spanish word for skinny, had asked the teenage crew to join in a photo session at her building.
Just a few months after the shoot, she would be known all over the world as Madonna.
“You guys are my family,” she affectionately told the gang. “Did you think I’d leave you out?”
As far as the streetwise teens were concerned, Flaca was their fun older sister — a bubbly confidante who played guitar on the sidewalk and grooved to the music that blared from her beloved boombox.
They knew she had talent, but never imagined she’d become an international superstar.
Three decades on, the early portraits of the pop diva have resurfaced in photographer Richard Corman’s book “Madonna NYC 83” and were featured in a recent exhibition.
But it was only after The Post published an article about Corman’s work that Clarke, now serving a prolonged prison term for robbery, saw himself in the pictures and recalled the shoot.
(Read a letter from Clarke to Madonna.)
“I’m a humble guy and never told no one that I knew Madonna,” Clarke, 44, told The Post in an exclusive jailhouse interview at the Eastern Correctional Facility upstate in Napanoch, NY.
Madonna (in an early publicity shot) lived on the fifth floor of this tenement building at 232 E. Fourth St., where she hung out with Clarke before hitting it big.
“But fellas kept coming to me with the paper and asking if one of those kids was me. I couldn’t lie and told them the truth.”
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