The Birth of the Village People and “Y.M.C.A.”


Here’s a fascinating roundtable piece in Spin magazine which talks about the origins of the Village People and, more specifically, the anthem “Y.M.C.A.” A few choice quotes:

CONSTRUCTION WORKER DAVID HODO: “It was 1977, and we were leaving a photography session on 23rd Street. Jacques Morali saw the big pink YMCA on 23rd and asked, ‘What is this YMCA, anyway?’ And after laughing at his accent, we told him the Y was a place where you could go when you first came to New York when you didn’t have any money — you can stay there for very little. And of course, someone joked, ‘Yeah, but don’t bend over in the showers.’ And Jacques, bless his heart, said, ‘I will write a song about this!'”

COWBOY RANDY JONES: “David’s a little off. Yeah, Jacques came up with the idea. But what happened is that when I moved to New York in 1975, I joined the McBurney YMCA on 23rd Street. I took Jacques there three or four times in 1977, and he loved it. He was fascinated by a place where a person could work out with weights, play basketball, swim, take classes, and get a room. Plus, with Jacques being gay, I had a lot of friends I worked out with who were in the adult-film industry, and he was impressed by meeting people he had seen in the videos and magazines. Those visits with me planted a seed in him, and that’s how he got the idea for ‘Y.M.C.A.’ — by literally going to the YMCA.”

Much more at Spin

And incidentally, that McBurney YMCA is now David Barton, arguably the gayest gym in NYC.


  1. Scott says

    Wow…that’s astonishing. Going tot he YMCA as inspiration for the song “YMCA”. Next they’ll be telling us that Madonna got the idea for her “Sex” book by…*gasp*…having sex.

  2. says

    In 1977, I used to be a guest of the Sloane House YMCA (not far from the McBurney) where a shoe wedged in the door to your room meant that you were “receiving visitors”. The bathroom on each floor had a set of three showers. In the morning, there was invariably a line formed because of the long and lingering showers some, many, all of the guests took. The unspoken policy was that if men were getting frisky under the spray, those in line (and watching) did not ask them to hurry it up. If you were in a hurry to shower, and the facilities on your floor were “busy”, you simply took the stairs to another floor.

  3. crispy says

    I read this article on Spin yesterday. My favorite part is all the quotes from dumb ballpark managers.

    “Y.M.C.A. is about homosexuality? I had no idea until this very moment.”

  4. John in Manhattan says

    I’m going with David Hodo’s account. Randy Jones is a gay republican. Need I say more?

  5. Zeke says

    That directly contradicts the story that came out about a year ago where the policeman, or which ever one was the straight one, said that YMCA, In the Navy, and Go West had nothing to do with a gay subtext and that he was disgusted at how the homos had hijacked the songs for nefarious purposes.

  6. Derrick from Philly says

    “the straight one..”

    Zeke, you mean the “down low” one. Just because one may not have had a homosexual experience in the last few months doesn’t mean you can erase the three hundred encounters you had over the last 30 years.

    Loved your anecdote, FATHER TONY. These new gays who want us all to be respectable so we’ll be acceptable sure to make me tired. Acceptable to whom? The Policeman in the Village People?

    Father, I’m glad we have Catholic Priests like you who only mess with grown boys. Thank you.

  7. says

    Thanks for the mention in your blog, man.
    Just to set the record straight, so to speak, JeffRob is completely misinformed. I am not and I have never been a Republican.
    In this day and age, to be accused of such, is personally offensive.
    Have a nice day.

  8. JeffRob says


    The comment about your alleged Republicanism was posted by “John in Manhattan”, not me. The poster’s name is under the post on Towleroad, not over it.

    But thanks for not being a Republican!

  9. Jerry says

    So now we want to CLAIM that cokehead Victor Willis (a/k/a the former Mr. Phylicia Rashad)?

    I think not.