It takes a Village Person: Band was too gay for Victor Willis

Ready for today's blast-from the past shocker? According to the publicist of scandal-dogged former Village People frontman and lyricist Victor Willis, "Y.M.C.A." was "about straight fun."

Gentlemen, pack your towels and headbands and proceed in a quiet and orderly fashion out of the aerobics room.

Yes, the former "policeman" and lead vocalist for the camp yet enduring disco band is working on a tell-all in which he details how he left the band because it was "too gay." According to a recent interview with Willis' publicist:

"When he says, 'Hang out with all the boys'… he's talking about the boys, the fellas…. But it's one of those ambiguous songs that was taken that way because of the gay association with Village People."

"Y.M.C.A." and its infectious refrain went on to become one the biggest hits of the era, but for Willis it came to represent one of the biggest insults to his career, Wolf says in a phone interview from San Diego.

As the main lyricist and vocalist, Willis was responsible for classics including "In the Navy," "Macho Man" and "Go West," but was appalled by the homosexual subtext they took on, fearing that catering to a "niche" market would doom the group to failure, she says.

Here's my question: were it not for the "appalling homosexual subtext" in these dance classics, would they have even registered a blip on the RADAR screens of disco dancers? They're okay songs and all, but their real staying power lies in the pageantry and image that the iconic Village People boasted. Willis was upset because he felt that "In the Navy" was rejected as a theme for the U.S. military because of the group's gay image and fanbase (which is probably true). But what's going to nab you more staying power and cultural cache in the longrun: being on some Navy commercials or being embraced as a gay anthem for decades?

Straight Willis — who was actually married to Phylicia Ayers-Alle (soon to become Phylicia Rashad and Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show) at the band's peak — exited the group in 1980 during prep for notorious bomb Can't Stop the Music and has since been dogged by drug-related arrests. But due to royalties for the songs that he wrote, Willis is still one of the top-earning People. Royalties that likely would not have materialized were it not for the gay image of the band, mind you — and yet Willis doesn't seem to see that.

Eh — I always liked the biker better anyway. Now HE was ALL "about straight fun."

 

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.