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Can't Stop the Music (1980)
Oh, it can be stopped, all right. Just team the Village People with champion thespians Bruce Jenner, Valerie Perrine and Steve Guttenberg. Then get Bounty commercial heroine Nancy Walker ("the quicker picker-upper" lunch-counter queen) to direct this eyesore. One of thefilm's biggest production numbers, "Milkshake," has Perrine kerplopped in an oversize champagne glass filled with milk while the Villagers try to suck out her calcium deposits with giant straws. The "YMCA" water ballet number has our gal Val naked in a hot tub with the lads oohing and aahing behind her--hell, she couldn't be safer with Allstate.

Jenner is nowhere in splashing range, as he plays this flick's on-again/offagain homophobe. Disgusted, he informs Perrine, "Your friends are a little too far out for me." This after she's already informed him, "This is the Eighties, doll, you're gonna see a lot of things you've never seen before." Like Felipe without his headdress, carrying on like a crazed Cherokee Harpo Marx. Or Construction Worker Dave, bumping and grinding like Schneider from One Day at a Time. And, worse, all the Village People in speaking roles! Years of carefully constructed mystique wantonly sailed into the Dumpster--and those few who are still wondering "are they or aren't they" can call off the bloodhounds once Leather Man makes his entrance two-thirds into the movie to lisp, "I quit my job collecting coins in the tollbooth for this?"

Renaissance (1981)
The Village People lost their golden touch two albums ago, and this LP ushers the group into the Dark Ages for good. Ditching their usual work duds, they go for an ill-advised New Romantic look that seems an ungodly marriage of Vidal Sassoon hair products and community-theatre Godspell makeup.

Side two contains far too many songs about food: "Big Mac," the nerdy, Devo-rhythmed "Food Fight" and "Diet," a Deal-a-Meal ditty that advises listeners to lose that extra tonnage or "you're gonna roll away." This from the same carefree bunch that advised everyone to take a milkshake break last time out. By 1982, Simpson bolts and is replaced by--ah, who cares? At this point, you could have a higher profile in the Witness Protection Program than fronting the Village People.

A U.K.-only 1985 album called F in the Box (featuring the single "Sex on the Phone") flopped like a flounder, and the Village People are never heard from again.

Until now.
The current tour has no "comeback" album behind it--but the Village People discography is a case where eight is more than enough. There's easily an evening's worth of entertainment crammed into those grooves, but the real thrill of seeing these morsels pulled out of the mothballs and returned to the stage is watching tough, beer-guzzling brutes in No Fear shirts pumping their fists to "YMCA." No rainbow curriculum could've spanned the gap between gays and straights any better.

The Village People are scheduled to perform on Saturday, November 25, at Party Gardens, with Boogie Knights. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic