We were lucky to interview legendary dancer Carlton Wilborn during the record fair in Utrecht in November 2014. He shares his thoughts on his life, work and projects. Of course there are also some very interesting bits regarding Madonna to read!
After a nice introduction and a brief conversation about Carlton’s incredible cologne….
MU: So I’ve seen you act, are you planning on doing some more acting?
Carlton: Yes I have, yes I am. There is a play that I am about to do in Los Angeles, starring with Wayne Brady and it’s a three-person play, so I have to back in LA to start that. Then I have a feature film that I’m producing called ‘Breakout’, which is a piece that I wrote. So there are quite a few things that are starting
MU: Because I have seen you in NCIS and I have seen you as ‘Glenda’ (The Mentalist)
MU: and I absolutely loved both, you were very convincing in NCIS I loved that, you should do a lot more acting
Carlton: thank you
MU: You have also written a book and received an award for it
Carlton: I did, yeah I got 2007 best autobiography by a company called USA Book News. It was a big deal. There were eight nominees under me so that was fantastic
MU: I read some reviews and people absolutely loved it, they thought it was a very courageous book
Carlton: oh great
MU: Did receiving the award motivate you to write more?
Carlton: It did well yes, a second book came out in 2011 it’s called ‘I am empowered’
MU: yes that is available on Amazon
Carlton: the first book and the confidence that I got from that, and the people telling me what they want to know, I got to put that into the second book. Now I do workshops off of them, it’s been good
MU: a lot of talents, a man of many talents
Carlton: thank you
MU: the other thing that I was wondering about, when you were rehearsing for the Blond Ambition Tour and The Girlie Show were there songs rehearsed that never made the final setlist? Do you remember?
Carlton: No….it depends on how early because we did have some songs in the first weeks of course that we thought were going to be part of the show, but I don’t know which songs were taken off
MU: I know why you don’t remember the songs, because you told me, you weren’t aware of most of her music
Carlton: I wasn’t…you know, I’ve respected her work but I had to do a bit of research once I got cast. And I am a bigger fan now (smiles)
MU: But you got to know her as a person
MU: she’s a very humble person, I think there was a very good connection between the two of you
Carlton: yeah definitely but I think part of it is a mutual respect there, I had already done things that she’d heard about and I think because I wasn’t a fan and didn’t take her too seriously, I think it was a comfort for her and yeah when you get to spend some time with her she is really a regular chick like you that just happens to have a big team of people that work for her and gets some extra dollars. She’s a normal girl just doing her thing
MU: from what I’ve seen between the two of you, you had quite a big role in The Girlie Show as well, you did The Beast Within a whole number which was amazing
Carlton: yes, I know (smiles)
MU: and Why’s It So Hard and Fever you were a big part of, if I name the songs you do know which ones I am talking about right?
Carlton: (laughs) haha absolutely
MU: But you were absolutely incredible, still are of course
Carlton: thank you
MU: I think you were a very big part of The Girlie Show, as well as Oh Father in the Blond Ambition Tour
Carlton: I loved doing Oh Father, I loved doing that number
MU: We watched Truth Or Dare (In Bed With Madonna) again last night, hilarious movie….
Carlton: (starts laughing)
MU: some quotes that I won’t repeat here….
Carlton: Oh good, smart of you (laughs)
MU: I might ask you privately sometime, but not here
MU: but there’s one thing that I am wondering about. Throughout the entire movie, you keep talking about boots, that you smell boots. Everyone is talking about boots.
Carlton: (looks confused and then it hits him) aaaaaaaahhhh……boots. Boots is another word for ‘big’ So that smells ‘boots’ means that smells ‘a lot’, that smells ‘too much’ that’s what ‘boots’ is. So boots is not a thing, it’s a descriptive.
MU: haha, that’s good because a lot of people were wondering about that. Why are they going on about boots?? (laughing) But what do you think about the infamous bed scene in Truth Or Dare
Carlton: What bed scene? What bed scene? I don’t know about a bed scene (smiling)
MU: oh come on Carlton, you do know!
Carlton: (laughing) the bed scene was one of those moments inside the documentary that we did not know about. So it wasn’t like ‘tomorrow we’re going to shoot this and that..’ no
MU: because it seems a bit scripted
Carlton: getting in bed with her was not something waking up that morning knowing that was going to happen. But there are several moments like that. And I was smelly and I didn’t shower so….forgive me
MU + Carlton: (laughing)
MU: you’re sweating and you smell!! (Madonna quote from Truth Or Dare)
Carlton: not now!! you said you liked what I smelled like
MU: yeah that’s true, I just told you that you smell wonderful
MU: how do you feel about the fact that people still speak to you and know you as THE Madonna dancer
Carlton: It’s incredible, I mean being here today. This mega event and the music and all of that. Someone just came up who flew here from Belgium specifically to meet me. It’s amazing to realize the impact that you get to have without you having to orchestrate or convincing someone to do something. It’s an honour you know. I mean I am basically here to do what I do which is my art and being creative and the fact that it leaves a lasting impact on anybody aside from the people that send me messages through Facebook and things like that. It’s an incredible honour. I am very grateful.
MU: it’s an honour for a lot of people to meet you, because a lot of people basically grew up with you. They saw Blond Ambition, Truth Or Dare, The Girlie Show. You Carlton has always been a big name among Madonna fans. You are one her greatest dancers and still are. That is how people look at you
Carlton: thank you
MU: were there any projects discussed to do with Madonna after The Girlie Show?
Carlton: I had a film project as I write a lot. So there was a script that we talked about for a while unfortunately it didn’t get to happen
MU: do you still speak to her?
Carlton: ehm…we have our special way of talking, yeah….
MU: special way of talking? ehm….well let me know about this
Carlton: (laughs) but it’s good though. She’s really good people I mean I think most people would be really excited to realize how human she is you know because her persona is a whole different thing. It has a lot of razzle dazzle about her. And I think that while a lot of people like that it also pushes you back a little bit. So I think that they would be really quite amazed that they can really just drop their shoulders and have a cheeseburger with her
MU: she does come across very differently when she’s with fans than when she’s with people that interview her
Carlton: well you guys can be tricky we gotta watch out for you…..aaaah but you’re being very friendly that’s true. But one never knows the bag of tricks that come out
MU: is there one funny thing you can tell about her, something that people don’t know. Without really giving anything away, just the one thing that is fun to know
Carlton: gosh there’s several. She did an interview with David Letterman and there was an inside joke between us and her on the show….Vicks Vaporub that’s all I will say. That’s all I’m saying, so you can go and look at that and figure it out
MU: well thank you for the cryptic message
MU: the thing that struck me about you is on TV you are such a big beautiful man and then when I met you
Carlton: you thought I was ugly…
MU: haha no, that you were much smaller in person than I expected, when you’re on stage with Madonna you seem huge next to her (she’s small)
Carlton: She’s 5’5 and I’m 6’2 so there’s quite a difference
MU: I was impressed when I first met you, friendly, generous, beautiful
Carlton: the reality is people in my world, it’s a great life that we have. We get to travel the world, meet people and leave an impact on people. Why be ugly? Why not be kind to people? I’ve been given such an incredible life and gift from my own opportunity it would be blasphemy to not continue to spread goodness on to somebody else, pass the baton. If it’s given to you, give it to somebody else. It’s a fun world, it’s fun
MU: like what we spoke about yesterday, when you want something you speak it out loud and then it might get to you, but you do have to work for it
Carlton: absolutely! yeah…like Christian Bale (inside joke)
MU: yeah, send him to me
Carlton: I might hook you up but you gotta fly to LA
MU: if I can stay with you, I will
Carlton: you can stay with me
MU: in the same bed?
Carlton: (laughs) see what happens? See what happens? This is why people like Madonna get nervous when they do interviews. It’s all good!!
MU: you just make me feel at ease…that’s it
Carlton: (laughs) thank you for that, so great to finally get to meet you and doing this and the lunch yesterday
MU: well thank you Carlton