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The 'Village People' Play Not My Job

Village People

Village People: Ray Simpson (front), and, (from left), Felipe Rose, Alex Briley, Eric Anzalone, G. Jeff Olson and David Hodo. Aaron Cobbet hide caption

itoggle caption Aaron Cobbet

Felipe Rose and David Hodo are two of the founding members of the Village People (and, before you ask, because we know you're about to: they are "The Indian" and "The Construction Worker.")

Even if you don't dance, you've busted a move to "Y.M.C.A." and maybe even "Macho Man" and "In the Navy" when you thought no one was looking. The band is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of their classic pseudo-biographical film Can't Stop The Music.

We've invited Felipe and David to play a game called "Really, really not your job" — three questions about the other jobs in the Village People.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

And now the game where we invite people we know and ask them about things they don't know. It's called "Not My Job." Felipe Rose and David Hodo are two of the founding members, the original members of the Village People. Namely, they're the Indian and the construction worker in the famous band. Even if you don't dance, you have danced to "YMCA" and maybe even "Macho Man," or "In the Navy" when no one was looking.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It is now the 30th anniversary of their classic, pseudo-biographical film, "Can't Stop the Music," and the Village People are heading out on their next tour next week. Felipe Rose and David Hodo, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! So glad to have you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: Thank you, thank you.

M: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Now let's go back to the beginning, 30 years ago, in the '70s. Tell us about how you guys - well, I'm assuming, Felipe, are you an Indian?

M: My dad, my dad is American Indian, Lakota.

SAGAL: OK. So you are and you can make that claim. And David, are you an actual construction worker?

M: No, I'm just kind of an American mutt.

SAGAL: All right. My question is, how did you and the other guys in the band - because as everybody knows, you appeared as Indian, construction worker, cop, soldier - how did you guys pick your jobs? Were they assigned to you? How did you work that out?

M: No, I was dancing in clubs in New York City in my native gear and then a French producer was like, looking for the next big thing. And he approached me in the club and said, you know, I want to do something with you. And I said, get lost, buddy.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: And then, you know, he kept popping up. And then finally he said, no, seriously, you know, I want to put a group together, and everyone that auditioned is pretty much by the stereotype.

SAGAL: Right. And how did you know that your band was taking off? Was there a moment where you looked at each other and said, oh my God, this is going to be huge?

M: From the very first performance we had at a club in Brooklyn called 2001 Disco Odyssey, where they filmed "Saturday Night Fever," it was all Italian, and they all had the Farrah Fawcett hair and the John Travolta pompadour, and they'd heard our music but they'd never seen us. The lights came on; it was like the parting of the Red Sea.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Hey, what is going on here?

M: But we ended up having an outstanding reception from them. And the next time we came to Brooklyn, they had to turn away hundreds of people, they couldn't even get in the club.

SAGAL: So it started right away.

M: Absolutely right away.

SAGAL: Tell me about your biggest hit you remember - but clearly, the biggest one is "YMCA." And did you guys come up with the iconic, you know, make the letters dance; was that you guys?

M: No, that was the dancers on "American Bandstand."

SAGAL: Oh, really, you're doing it on "American Bandstand," and they started doing the letters with their arms?

M: Yeah, Dick Clark stopped - we had just sung the song and Dick Clark said, the dancers have something they want to show you. And so, the dancers showed us these steps and we thought, well that's pretty stupid.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Let's do it.

M: We've made a 30-year career out of it.

SAGAL: All right. Now, and you do the dance now. Now whenever you perform it, you do it. The rest of it is you.

M: Oh yeah, they'd kill us.

SAGAL: Who does the C? Because I have a question, do you ever worry about like, you're doing a dance...

M: Well...

SAGAL: ...or singing, are you afraid of doing the C facing the wrong way?

M: Well, no.

M: David spells it out to the audience.

M: Yeah, we have a lesson where we teach the audience how...

SAGAL: You teach the audience?

M: ...to do it correctly. And they do it the same direction we do it. So we have to turn around.

M: Oh.

SAGAL: Oh, like a mirror image?

M: Yeah.

M: Oh, the other way.

M: This is why we didn't record the Hokie Pokie.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's like they're Y-M-D-A, what's that? I don't know what that is.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I have to - one of the great things about disco in general, and you guys, is you have this stuff coming out of the gay culture in New York City, and it was being embraced by all these people. Kansas City housewives, everybody - were doing these songs and doing these dances. And did that give you guys any sort of sly satisfaction, that they were singing this happy song about going down to the YMCA and...

M: Well, you know, the Studio 54, I mean, when it became so huge and disco went mainstream, that's pretty much when the crossover happened. So now they're grandmothers, and they're bringing their grandchildren.

SAGAL: I know. It's just - it's fabulous, if I could coin your...

M: It's awesome, yes.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Oh, he got fabulous from us.

SAGAL: Yeah, I did. Let me ask you what you've been doing since then. It's been 30 years. You guys are still performing, still touring...

M: Thirty-three.

SAGAL: Thirty-three.

M: Thirty-three years.

SAGAL: So you still - where have you been performing? You're still playing clubs? Where are you playing?

M: Well, we play all over the world...

M: We do like, festivals in Europe, the big festivals...

M: Yeah.

M: ...the big festivals in Italy. And we're heading back to Australia in October for a month and that's going to be, I think, our 34th trip.

SAGAL: I heard - tell me if it's true, I hope it's true, that you've played bar mitzvahs.

M: Oh, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs...

SAGAL: Are you kidding?

M: ...you name them.

SAGAL: Man. You've played...

M: They pay good, let me tell you.

SAGAL: I feel so bad about mine because you weren't there.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But do you customize your act for your bar mitzvahs?

M: You know, it's funny...

SAGAL: You know, do like Hebrew letters when you're spelling...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Do you do the four letters of the Shema; what do you do?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: We'd have to be drunk or something.

M: We've found that with bar mitzvahs, it's the parents that are hiring us themselves because the little kids sit and look at us like what the...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: We did a bar mitzvah where the dad rented out the Intrepid.

SAGAL: You're kidding me. Somebody had a bar mitzvah for their kid on an aircraft carrier, with the Village People?

M: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: And they had West Point cadets. They had West Point cadets - I mean, this guy went all out.

SAGAL: Yeah.

M: That kid is definitely going to be gay.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I'm assuming you did "In the Navy," right?

M: Oh, on the ship, yeah.

M: Oh, yeah, well, absolutely.

SAGAL: Did the...

M: Well, you know, we've done bar mitzvahs like, with Barry White and Jessica Simpson at the...

SAGAL: No.

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: Some kid got you and Jessica Simpson at his bar mitzvah?

M: And Barry White, yeah.

SAGAL: And Barry White?

M: Tell me about it.

M: Barry White's like, today, you are a man.

SAGAL: I am jealous, I am jealous. That is - I have to call my parents now.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Tell them that you want the Village People to do your bar mitzvah all over again.

SAGAL: I'll mention you right after Jessica Simpson, if you don't mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But I'll bring you up. One last question: I do not begrudge you an instant of your success and happiness. But doing the same act in those costumes for 33 years, do you ever think to yourself, man I'd like to do something else. Yeah, I'd like to play ballads. Yeah, I'd like to do something.

M: No.

SAGAL: Just as variety?

M: We change the act a bit, we change it around.

M: Oh, I'd like to play golf.

SAGAL: Funny, not a single one of them was the golfer. Felipe and David, we are delighted to have you with us. And we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KASELL: "Really, Really Not Your Job."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So, you two were the construction worker and the Indian, right? So we're going to ask you about the ones that weren't your jobs, the other three guys, or three of the other guys in the Village People. Answer two out of three questions about the other fake jobs in the band, and you'll win our prize for one our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine or voicemail. Carl, who are Felipe and David from the Village People playing for?

KASELL: Deborah Heiligman of New York, New York.

SAGAL: All right, first up...

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Ready to play, guys?

M: Yup.

M: Let's go.

SAGAL: And you are allowed to consult, you are allowed to answer in unison, you are allowed to act out the letters as you answer, whatever you like. First up, of course, cowboy, cowboy. Real cowboys, back in the olden days on the open range, still needed some entertainment out there. Which of these was a real cowboy pastime in the Old West: A, having weeks-long flea-catching contests, keeping their prey in special jars; B, holding elaborate quote, stag dances at which the cowboy and/or his friends dressed up as dancing girls; or C, cow pat bingo?

M: I guess cow pat bingo.

SAGAL: You're going to go for cow pat bingo?

M: I grew up on a farm, and we used to throw cow patties at each other like Frisbees.

SAGAL: Sure, why not?

M: So I can see making a game out of it.

SAGAL: Well, there is a game called cow pat bingo, but it's a recent invention. The cowboys used to have stag parties because cowboys were seen as so disreputable and filthy that no real woman would associate with them. So some of them would dress up as women and dance to these...

M: So that's cow drag.

SAGAL: Cow drag.

M: All right.

SAGAL: They did cow drag. All right, the next question, the next job in the band other than yours, the biker. It turns out they have biker gangs in Australia as well. But there's an important difference down under. What is it: A, Australian outlaw bikers prefer to ride those big, motorized tricycles so they don't tip; B, in Australia they're called bikie gangs - bikie gangs; or C, they're all animal activists - part of their culture, so they never wear leather or eat meat?

M: They're B.

SAGAL: You're going with bikie gangs? You know that? You've been there? Well, you're right. It is, in fact, bikie gangs.

M: Yeah, we were actually dealing with a bike gang, you know, in Melbourne.

SAGAL: In Melbourne? It's like, oh no, our Australian town is being terrorized by the bikie gangs.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, this is great. You've gotten one right with one to go. Get this one right, you win. Lastly, of course, the cop. The first official city police force was, of course, the London Police, known as the bobbies, formed in 1829. But things did not go well at the start. What happened to the very first bobby hired? He was badge Number One. What happened to the guy who had badge number one: A, he came across a robbery in progress and immediately offered to help steal the loot; B, he gave up a foot chase because he said he had only agreed to work until dinner and he was hungry; or C, he was fired for drunkenness four hours after being hired?

M: I would say he was fired for drunkenness.

SAGAL: That's your choice? Do you agree?

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: You guys are right. That's exactly what happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The first bobby hired was the first bobby fired. The first police force did not attract the most upstanding people back then, and the first hired turned out to be a poor choice.

M: How can you take someone called a bobby seriously?

SAGAL: Exactly right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Carl, how did our guests do?

KASELL: They had two correct answers, so they win for Deborah Heiligman of New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done. Congratulations.

M: Hey,Peter?

SAGAL: Yes, sir.

M: Just so that my people don't come after you, it's Native Americans.

SAGAL: Oh, we wanted to know about that. No, seriously.

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: Because you were - I mean, when we talked about the Village People growing up, it was like, oh there's the construction worker, and the Indian...

M: Right, back then but not anymore.

SAGAL: I'm sorry, I should have asked.

M: No, don't be.

SAGAL: You've changed that. So now it's...

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...the Native American and the construction worker.

M: And we call each other - when we see each other face to face, we go yo skin.

SAGAL: Oh, really? All right. Well, anyway, whatever they're playing, Felipe Rose and David Hodo are two of the founding members of the immortal disco group the Village People. Thank you so much for being with us today.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Bye-bye, guys.

M: Thank you.

M: Bye-bye, thank you.

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