Cop Suing Everybody to Get Out of Village People, for Good

Victorwillis

Victor Willis, the original cop from the Village People who left the group in 1980, is suing the current group, saying they use his voice and image to promote themselves, and he wants none of it:

Willlis“The lawsuit filed last week in San Diego by Victor Willis claims companies continue to use his voice and picture to promote the new Village People. He is seeking at least $1 million and a judge’s order that they can no longer use his image or voice. Willis was the original police officer in the group and helped pen the Village People’s greatest hits, including ‘Y.M.C.A’ and ‘Macho Man.’ He is suing Sixuvus Ltd., a New York company that promotes the new Village People. He’s also suing the William Morris Agency as well as Can’t Stop Productions, which owns the trademark to the band’s name, and several venues where the new group has performed.”

In 2007, Willis claimed the the lyrics in “Y.M.C.A.” were not about gay cruising but about hanging out with your straight buddies.

Said Willis’ publicist Alice Wolf: “Victor Willis wrote about the YMCA and having fun there, but the type of fun he was talking about was straight fun. 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.'”

Wolf said Willis has nothing against gay people. The former fake cop also made news in 2005 when he was arrested after police found a loaded .45 and crack cocaine in his convertible Corvette.

Comments

  1. noah says

    Sonnie,

    How is he ungrateful? He’s suing a company that is using his image without his permission. Why shouldn’t he have the ability to control who profits by use of his likeness?

    Nothing said by this man seems anti-gay.

  2. says

    I think the issue here is simple; he’s out of money and the only way he thinks he’s going to get it is to cry that his reputation is tarnished by the people who actually own the trademark and patent to the product he was part of. Sorry, when I hear of “…arrested for possessing a loaded .45 and crack cocaine….” then suddenly “I’m HURT and I’m GONNA SUE!”… um… hello?

    This would be like Ricky Martin suing Menudo.

    I think Mr. Willis, also making the statement that “It’s NOT about cruising and gay men” is either 1) he’s in DEEP denial about his origins or 2) He’s hoping that the right-wing Ted Haggard supporters of the world will step forward to foot his (I presume mounting) legal bills.

  3. noah says

    “The lawsuit filed last week in San Diego by Victor Willis claims companies continue to use his voice and picture to promote the new Village People.”
    –Again, why shouldn’t he have the ability to control his image?

  4. Yeek says

    My guess is that Mr. Willis signed a release all those years ago, and he’s shit out of luck from a legal perspective.

    When that happens, you go public and hope they’ll pay you off to keep any more ‘bad publicity’ from making the rounds. People do it all the time, and it works all the time.

  5. says

    Noah, YEEK has it right; he signed a copyright release all those years ago the to use the persona that he created, along with the music and lyrics.

    And YEEK also has it right that there will more than likely be a payoff to make him go away.

    There is not a whole lot of recourse other than to re-invent himself as something other than the cop from “The Village People”.

    Perhaps he can come up with a catchy new tune or something?

    “Young buck… you can be a big star
    I said young buck… kick those balls in the goal
    I said young buck… marry a Spice Girl and who knows just how far… you… can… go…
    Shake your tail down at the Y-M-S-L
    Take your bod down to the Y-M-S-L
    Where all your mates full of pluck
    pat your behind for good luck…”

    Catchy…

  6. Jimmyboyo says

    Has he ever seen their own freaking movie?

    Can’t Stop the Music (the village people movie 1980)

    LOL

    Somebody was in on the gay aspect to the entire group let alone the song YMCA. The YMCA song scene sure played up the homoerotic aspect and not the bunch of straight buds just hanging out.

    Anyway; The Village People are a brand much like Mcdonald’s is. Can some schmuck who was once dolled up as ronald sue mcdonald’s? They were not some group created by the members in someone’s basement. They were a brand created by record studio execs

  7. troschne says

    Willis, when reached for comment said, “Some of my best friends are gay”–NOT! That was my editorializing, but I think I’m not the only one to whom that might have occurred.

    Whatever, Victor, if it hadn’t been for the gay community, you wouldn’t still be getting those royalty checks–get over yourself!

  8. mike says

    Hmmm. I think the problem is that the Village People that Victor was in signed away all their rights to Jacques Morali. See, it was an arrangement much like what Motown had with all its great singers from the 1960s and 1970s. They were basically contract singers or performers who got no royalties of any kind and only got paid a small salary plus expenses while on tour. YMCA was written tongue-in-cheek and, believe me, when the song was popular, there were a LOT of people out there who never caught the gentle camp and innuendo of the song. They thought it was actually about the YMCA and hanging out with your buds!

  9. john says

    It’s all about the money.
    If he was the slighest bit worried about image,voice or whatever,why has it taken him 29 years to realise it.
    He should be proud of the fact that VP have withstood the test of time & largely due to his imput.The group was promoted as camp so it’s a little late to be all coy about the song’s meaning.And who cares?It still makes you get up and dance & everyone does the letters with their arms.
    Back to the dole office bitch.

  10. says

    “Cant stop the Music” is CLASSIC!

    Bruce Jenner! Busby Berkley to disco! AMAZING!

    Btw, “Puff the Magic Dragon” is not about weed.

    “Johnny Are You Queer” has nothing to do with a boy possibly being Gay.

    “I Touch Myself” is about finding God within.

    “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is about Charlie Browns little (lesbian?) friend playing with her moms jewelry.

    Victor, uh, really?

  11. Paul R says

    He’s had more than one brush with the law, if memory serves.

    I saw the VP when they were touring in the early 90s. They totally downplayed the gay side of things and acted like they were straight, to the point of having plants in the audience throw women’s panties. After the show a friend had a party they attended, and we kept asking them why they bothered and who they were kidding (it was three or four of the original members; the party host ended up sleeping with the Indian). They said, as here, that it was all about the money, and that most of their straight fans were still clueless—and they’d figured out that gay people were a niche market who’d burnt out on them, whereas they could continue to get cash from the straights.

    It’s all business, obviously. No one considers them a serious band.

  12. Michael Bedwell says

    Can’t speak to the terms of his contracts, but having the unpleasant experience of being an unpaid extra for the muscial finale scene of “Can’t Stop the Music” [which Willis was NOT in BTW], can tell you from direct experience that denial about the origins of the group and the film go waaaay back.

    During one break in filming, that morbidly obese pile of fudge-packed pus producer/writer/fluffer Allen Carr went off on a hysterical PMS rant about how he was sick of getting asked if it was “a gay movie.”

    The second thrill of the evening was overhearing one of the female paid extras say to another that the producers wanted “boy/girl” couples only around the edge of the stage, therefore, to be more obvious than all the gay men who’d showed up after fliers inviting us saturated the Castro. I was already in such a spot and used my sharpest elbows to keep her and others from pushing me out of the way, thus ending up for a second on screen and writing a front page article for the “B.A.R” titled “At the back of the bus with the Village People.” Maybe I should sue, too.

    The other thing I remember was that a still gorgeous Rock Hudson was watching from off set with a fresh-as-dew young blond as we were showered by tons of the most expensive gold glitter I can imagine, and that, thus, what “Newsweek” called the “‘Dawn of the Dead’ of the disco era” turned out to quite literally be that.

  13. says

    Andy,
    I am so lovin’ reading all these comments by folks who have no clue about Victor, Village People, Can’t Stop Productions, or any of it. It is very entertaining.
    Randy Jones
    Author, MACHO MAN, The Disco Era and the Coming Out of Gay America

  14. says

    Andy,
    I am so lovin’ reading all these comments by folks who have no clue about Victor, Village People, Can’t Stop Productions, or any of it. It is very entertaining.
    Randy Jones
    Author, MACHO MAN, The Disco Era and the Coming Out of Gay America

  15. Anthony in Nashville says

    Not sure why, but I’m a bit surprised to see a comment from an original Village Person on this site. I’ll have to check around for a copy of your book, Mr. Jones.

    Village People were always unique to me in that they seemed to symbolize a great deal of the gay aesthetic in the 70s, yet still managed to have mainstream success that was unimaginable for, say, Sylvester.

    I guess credit for that goes to the vision of Morali, who must have had a hell of a marketing plan!

  16. Steven says

    Has this man ever listened to the lyrics of Y.M.C.A? He thinks that the song is about hanging out with your STRAIGHT buddies? He must have spent too many nights at Studio 54..because according to interviews anyone who has spent time there doesn’t remember most of the disco era…wake up and smell the poppers, Victor..

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