It really all began in Miami.
By the mid-1980s, the Magic City had garnered a reputation as the cocaine capital of the Caribbean, with residents who partied more and slept less than their counterparts in New York. As disco gave way to synth-pop, new artists began to emerge as dance-floor ambassadors who had as much fun making their music as fans did listening to it. It was out of Miami’s club culture at this time that the popular girl group Exposé was born.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a performer for as long as I can remember," group member Ann Curless reflects. "I used to dress up even as a young child and sing along to whatever was on the radio, and then I became active in my chorus when I was in grade school and sang solos. I was absolutely passionate about it.”
Curless honed her craft in Miami Beach High School’s rock ensemble and then in cover bands while studying at the University of Miami's music school. Eventually, she crossed paths with local DJ and producer Lewis Martinée. “I believe that you have to leave yourself open to opportunities, and sometimes you get lucky,” she says of the chance encounter. “There's all kinds of planning and scheming that people can do, but sometimes it's just walking into the door that’s open in front of you.”
When Martinée put together Exposé in 1984, freestyle music had become increasingly popular as artists such as Stacey Q and Lisa Lisa got clubgoers moving to catchy choruses and four-on-the-floor beats. In 1987, the group released its debut album, Exposed, which spawned four Top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 and achieved certified double-platinum status in 1990. Smash hits such as "Point of No Return" and "Come Go With Me" dominated radio stations and dance floors across the nation, and in February of '88, the ballad "Seasons Change" became the group’s first single to top the Hot 100.
As the frenetic ’80s gave way to the more subdued ’90s, Exposé continued releasing successful singles, along with two more albums, which would become certified gold. They toured consistently — an era Curless recalls fondly. “I really enjoyed the road experience and performing nightly — that was just awesome,” she says, joking that she misses sleeping in the coffin-like beds on Exposé's tour buses.
Now Exposé is set to return to where it began. This Friday, March 13, Curless will reunite with fellow Exposé members Gioia Bruno and Jeanette Jurado at the Miami-Dade County Fair for a special homecoming concert. The trio will be joined by ’80s contemporaries Lisa Lisa and Erotic Exotic, which began as Exposé's original backing band.
“What I really love is the fact that we get such a great reaction from the audience when we perform. We all feel really blessed that people are still coming to see us after 34 years of performing as Exposé,” Curless muses. “I think we enjoy it more now than we did in the ’80s because our perspective is a little bit different. We're grown up and we’re supergrateful that we have such a great audience, so we love all the joy that our music brings to people and the ability to take people back to what I call a simpler time in their lives. And they get a chance to relive their youth! It’s awesome!”
Now that the pressure of maintaining chart success is far behind them, Exposé's members can concentrate on having fun — with their music and with one another. “We're very supportive of one another, and I think I can say that we are each other's biggest fans. That sounds so corny, but it’s true!” Curless laughs. “I love my girls, and I enjoy every show, and I think, Oh my gosh, they are so talented. I'm so lucky.’”
That same energy characterizes the group’s studio sessions as they prepare new music to reintroduce the world to Exposé. “We feel that way about each other, and we’re supersupportive of each other's talents in the studio as well,” Curless says. “We always feel good when we come back to Miami, because it really is where it all began for us. It's like getting one big hug from all our fans.”
Exposé, Lisa Lisa, and Erotic Exotic. 8 p.m. Friday, March 13, at the Miami-Dade County Fair, 10901 Coral Way, Miami; 305-223-7060; fairexpo.com. Admission to the fair costs $10 via etix.com.