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“It takes stones, it takes cojones, to sing with a straight gay face a song like ‘Macho Man,’” Randy Jones, aka the original Cowboy from LGBTQ disco sensations Village People, tells Yahoo Music with a laugh. And this week, the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race showed serious (tucked) cojones when they rocked the runway during the show’s “Village People Eleganza Extravaganza” fashion challenge — with two of the top five contestants, Peppermint and Alexis Michelle, lip-synching for their lives to Village People’s famous masculine anthem.
Jones and his fellow uniformed macho men made a major impact in the 1970s, largely through network TV exposure — much like the Emmy-winning RuPaul Charles and the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race are infiltrating the mainstream today.
“I’m not saying it was the most calculated or manipulated thing, but I think when we went into those people’s homes in 1978 and 1979, into their homes on a Bob Hope special or with Dick Clark, we may have entertained people for three and a half minutes doing a song, but we also went in with a very skillful scalpel,” Jones muses. “We made a little incision above the heart. We implanted a little bit of exposure to something, like when you get a vaccination. We inoculated hearts to homophobia or racism, even if they didn’t realize it at the time.
“We helped people see that, ‘Wow, this is fun and they’re silly and they look like clowns and we really like that song.’ And maybe months, years, decades later, they might realize: ‘Wow, they were gay?’ And in a way, it helps them think that maybe it’s not something they should be so afraid of. So we were a little bit of an early inoculation against some of that, and in thinking back about it, historians of pop culture will see we had a bit to do with moving progress forward. And I honor that in my legacy.”
Jones sums up Village People’s ethos, and where he’s at in his own life 40 years later, with a Ru-worthy proclamation deserving of many halleloos and amens: “I am here, I am not afraid, I am not invisible, I will not hide, I believe in good, I will not go away, I am strong, I will never give up, I believe in you, I am a witness, I am loved, I am alive, and I believe.”
See the Season 9 Drag Race queens take Jones’s legacy and cowboy couture — as well as the group’s iconic Construction Worker, Policeman, Native American, and Leatherman looks — to a sickening new level in the gallery above.