The «Blond Ambition World Tour» was launched in support of her fourth studio album «Like A Prayer», and the soundtrack, «I’m Breathless».
The tour reached North America, Europe and Asia.
It was a highly controversial tour, mainly for its juxtaposition of Catholic iconography and sexuality. «Rolling Stone» called it an «elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza» and proclaimed it «the best tour of 1990».
In 1991, a documentary film, «Truth or Dare» (aka «In Bed with Madonna»), was released chronicling the tour.
The tour received the «Most Creative Stage Production» at the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.
Originally to be called the «Like a Prayer World Tour», Sire Records announced the «Blond Ambition World Tour» in November 1989, following the success of Madonna's fourth studio album, Like A Prayer, and Madonna's performance of «Express Yourself» at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards - considered as a tour preview.
Initially, the tour was only to reach Japan and North America, as Madonna was considering roles in several films. By the end of 1989 plans were announced to bring the tour to Europe as well because of popularity and fan demand. In December 1989, when preparations for the tour began, Madonna herself announced during a pre-recorded interview on German TV channel ZDF, that she would tour Germany during 1990. In April 1990, additional dates in Europe were added.
Stage preparations and dress rehearsals took place at the Disney Studios (Burbank - California), before the tour kicked off in Japan.
The tour incorporated as central themes, sexuality and Catholicism, a combination which engendered controversy. The Pope called for a boycott of the show in Rome, and one of three scheduled Italian dates was eventually canceled. The show has achieved a measure of cult status, with elements such as the bullet bra and ponytail hair extensions becoming cultural icons in their own right.
Madonna herself called the concert «like musical theater» and choreographer Vincent Patterson stated she wanted to «break every rule we can... She wanted to make statements about sexuality, cross-sexuality, the church... But the biggest thing we tried to do was change the shape of concerts. Instead of just presenting songs, we wanted to combine fashion, Broadway, and performance art».
The show's explicit overtone caused problems. In Toronto, police were alerted that the show might possibly contain lewd and obscene content (particularly a masturbation scene) and threatened charges unless parts of the show were changed. The show went on unaltered, however, and no charges were made after the tour manager gave the police an ultimatum: «Cancel the show, and you'll have to tell 30,000 people why».
French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the costumes for the tour, including the now-infamous cone brassiere. Additional costume pieces were designed by Marlene Stewart, who had previously worked with Madonna on the 1987 «Who’s That Girl World Tour».
Director Alek Keshishian captured more than 250 hours of film of Madonna and her troupe during the tour. This footage was edited and released to movie theaters as «Truth or Dare» («In bed with Madonna»).
Due to ongoing throat problems, six shows had to be canceled, bringing the tour down from 63 shows to 57; altogether, some 125.000 tickets had to be refunded.