Village Vagrants

Truth is less danceable than fiction

In 1977, the Village People burst onto the disco scene, and by 1978, thanks to the success of their single "YMCA," the homoerotic disco singers had become infamous for their costumes and "American man" personas: police officer, American Indian chief, construction worker, biker, cowboy, and military man. What you might not be aware of (since what follows is fictitious) is the rigorous audition process that preceded the Village People's debut and the personalities that just missed the cut.

White-collar desk jockey: Sam Bernstein, a bookish, lapsed Christian with a husky voice who nonetheless acted and stammered like Woody Allen, seems like he should've been a sure thing, but his coffee-loving persona actually represented an emasculated American man whose hands smelled more like typewriter ink and Wite-Out than oil, paint fumes, and gunpowder (some of the most American smells in existence). He currently works as an accountant out of his sister's basement in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Seasonal worker: Victor Ramirez believed his audition was a long shot, especially because he was Mexican instead of Puerto Rican (this was New York, after all), and he refused to admit he was gay to anybody (including his boyfriend, Sascha) and could perform with the group only during the six months of the year that he wasn't working on fruit farms. However, he insisted — and rightly so — that his seasonal profession for sub-standard wages kept fruit and vegetable prices low for Americans so that they could afford to buy important things like swimming pools and televisions for their kids. Currently, Ramirez is awaiting extradition back to Mexico for overstaying his worker's visa by 29 years.

Mike Gorman

Details

Village People, Thelma Houston, A Taste of Honey, Peaches & Herb, and more are scheduled to perform at the Solid Gold Dance Party on Friday, August 10.
Dodge Theatre

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