Randy Jones is known universally as the “Cowboy” from The Village People. I know him as a friend. His unbridled enthusiasm, wit, and charm have made me smile, laugh, and feel good about life for way too long to be possible. Randy has been a fixture in New York nightlife, a welcome guest at every opening and important event. I’d tell you more about him but he’s much better at it than I am. I’ll just say that he is one of the nicest people I have ever met and I have never heard a disparaging word about him.
What are you up to ? I’m currently starring in an Off-Broadway play, When Joey Married Bobby. I’ve got a film that was just at Cannes, My Guaranteed Student Loan, with Richard Pryor Jr., Oscar winner Celeste Holm, and Kate Luckinbill (Lucille Ball’s granddaughter). On June 4th a film in which I play an attorney, An Affirmative Act, premieres at The Hoboken Film Festival, and two others, Violet Tendencies and Bear City, premiere at NewFestNYC Festival on June 11 and 12. I have a new book, Macho Man: The Disco Era, which is in its second printing and is in nearly 20,000 libraries around the world. Later this year I have two film projects booked. One to be shot in Arizona is Cafe A-Go-Go, in which I co-star with David Bowie’s ex-wife, Angie Bowie. Another is a contemporary telling of the Edgar Allan Poe tale The Cask of Amontillado. In the moments that I get to breathe, I love to do dates out performing my music. I get to do about 30 music dates a year. My current CD is Ticket to the World and I am nearly half way through recording the material for the next one, due to drop in 2011. Of course with this beautiful weather, I get to spend time in my roofgarden and water my tomatoes.
You’re a guy who makes people smile, but you must have been through some tough times. Tell us about the times that almost stopped you and how you overcame adversity. Thanks. I’m blessed to have a lot to smile about. I’m not sure that I’ve really had much of the tough times. I’ve never had a huge health crisis, thank God. I have had a bounty of opportunities in this life, both personally and professionally. I’m financially secure for the rest of my life, I have a solid, wonderful 26-year relationship, I work when I want, I garden when I want, I go to the beach house when I want. I still get invitations to party more often than I can accept. It is a tough life, but someone has to do it!
How does it make you feel when YMCA. is used during the 7th inning stretch by grounds crews at baseball games? Ka-Ching! That’s how it makes me feel. The first time I heard YMCA at a Yankees game was overwhelming and surreal: at the top of the 7th inning, after they stopped serving beer, with all 65,000 standing to stretch and move to the music, there I am looking up at the Jumbotron, and I see myself up there sitting in the stands with Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg making the Y, the M, the C, and the A along with the rest of the stadium full of folks. And fortunately, the Yankees won! Now every time I attend a home game, they point the cameras at me when they play the song.
Your favorite cowboy moment? I think that probably my favorite cowboy moment was July 26, 2009 when Entertainment Weekly included me along with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger in the list of the great pop culture cowboys of all time! That took my breath away.
Tell me about your favorite clubs from the past and today? Studio 54 remains the Queen of all clubs for me. Nothing ever quite like it, certainly not here in America. Perhaps Le Palace came close in Paris. I had the honor to perform in both those places. Both were playgrounds for the jet-set. Just the image of the Hiltons crawling about looking for the last rock still has me in stitches. Of course all the great nightspots in NYC were memorable, like Danceteria, The Mudd Club, CBGBs, Page Six, The Palladium, Save the Robots, The Limelight, Xenon, Hurrah, LeJardin, Flamingo, 12 West, Les Mouches, Galaxy 21, Crisco Disco, and with over four decades of a career in the city, the list gets longer and longer, doesn’t it? The one rule I’ve always abided by was that I only went out to a club if I was invited. I was never one to wait in a line or try to get in. If I was not invited or welcomed with open arms and cocktails, I figured, why show up?
Did the village people fame grow tiring or was it a godsend? Having the opportunity to be the original Cowboy and a founding member of Village People is probably one of the more fortunate blessings of my life. I think that from the beginning I realized that we were embarking on something rather unique in show business. It was perhaps an early version of a boy band, although I’m not sure I would accept the responsibility of being a fairy godfather to The Backstreet Boys. When we were in the early stages, in my thoughts, we took inspiration from the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, The Ritz Bros, combining it with the moves from some of the cool soul groups of the 60’s and 70’s like the Coasters, The Temptations, and The Four Tops, tossing in the knowing wink and a wiggle from some county fair strippers and topping it off with a heavy dollop of Chippendale’s. From the beginning, I thought what we were attempting to create was essentially a comedy act with some very well crafted and deceptively simple pop songs. Nobody else gave us an ounce of credit, or thought we’d succeed, but we did, far beyond anyone’s expectations.
Has there been talk of a movie? For the greater part of the last decade, several studios and producers have been in talks with us about a film. The common thread seems to be they want to get at the real story of the VP phenomenon and ferret out the nitty-gritty parts of the sky-rocketing success of a pop group in the free-wheeling, liberated 70’s. No one has come up with the right script or formula so far. And so many personalities, egos, and rights management reps are involved. I’m sure there’s a perfect recipe out there. I’ve just not seen it so far. When Robbie Williams was offering to buy and produce the story for an outrageous sum back in the early part of the decade, he wanted to portray me.
What would you change if you could? War, poverty, and ignorance.
Tell me about developing the character of the village people cowboy. From the beginning, I realized it was the image that was the closest to the American psyche. The American Cowboy is the most representative, most reassuring, and most iconic image of what it means to be an American, not only to those of us who are American, but to everyone around the world. Hardly anyone on the planet is not familiar with the American Cowboy. So for me, from the beginning, the heavy lifting had been done. It has been a role that is an integral part of me and second nature. It fits my personality to a tee.