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Madonna + bar mitzvah = viral video!

  • Shaun Sperling is the guy in the photo, Vogue-ing!
  • The video of his bar mitzvah from 1992 went viral in August
  • Did the viral video change his life? Keep reading!
Madonna + bar mitzvah = viral video!
Shaun Sperling

Editor’s note: Shaun Sperling is a litigation attorney in Chicago, where he lives with his partner, Matt. He is also a writer and a lifelong Madonna fan. He is on Twitter.

Who knew as I stepped onto the bar mitzvah dance floor on March 14, 1992, the world would watch me strike a pose 20 years later!

Back then, I didn’t really think about my actions. I was just me -- flamboyant, outgoing, ridiculous me. So when I casually suggested a Madonna-themed bar mitzvah to my mom, it did not come as a surprise to her. 

Her immediate approval, however, surprised me. I thought it would take weeks to make my case of why I should dedicate my becoming a man to my God: Madonna. 

As soon as the theme was decided, the plans were under way-- Madonna busts were made for each table and each table was named for a Madonna song. We found a life-size poster of Madonna laying on a bed that would become the back drop behind the DJ. We also made a T-shirt that said “I Vogued with Shaun at Shaun’s Bar Mitzvah”. I gave them out to all my friends. We made a sign-in board with a picture of Madonna touching my face. And, of course, the piece de resistance -- my grand entrance…

Her song “Vogue” had recently been released, and I felt like the lyrics were written for me: “When all else fails and you long to be, something better than you are today…”  Hearing that song today brings me right back to that time and place when I knew I could be a “superstar.” 

I practiced every day after school with my sister, who barked orders at me to have stronger arms and sharper poses. I practiced every day, until the day of the big event. If my rabbi only knew that I practiced vogue-ing more than my Torah portion, I may not have been allowed to make the Jewish rite of passage. 

The morning of my bar mitzvah, my mom surprised me with the now-legendary shirt to be revealed during the dance. It was so comforting to know that as I was called to the Torah to become a man, Madonna had my back the entire time.

Even today, as an attorney at a law firm in Chicago, I am still just me -- flamboyant, outgoing, ridiculous me. I am thrilled that the video is all over the place making people smile and laugh. I hope that as people watch the video, they can see that being authentic and true to one’s self -- no matter how outside the box -- is the only real path to success and happiness. 

I couldn’t be happier today.

Now strike a pose and let’s get to it…

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