Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Randy Jones!

One of the most beloved entertainers and pop icons from the Disco era, multi-Platinum recording artist and American Music Award winner Randy Jones came to embody The Cowboy in Village People in a way that has captured the public imagination for decades.

Happy Friday the 13th,
I hope you're having a productive and LUCKY day! Most people get nervous about Friday the 13th.
This year, this Friday the 13th also falls in the year 2013!
Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition.I, however embrace it. This year, it also coincides with Randy Jones' (the ORIGINAL Cowboy in the Vallage People) birthday.
This day will also go down as Randy's wedding day! He proposed to his partner last night! They are getting married today, followed by a brunch, and a party tonight to celebrate all of the above. I consider myself LUCKY to be invited to the party tonight to celebrate Randy!
 “Calling NYC home for four decades, and seeking marriage equality for nearly as long, we could not have chosen to be married in any other city in the world,” Randy said in a statement.
 “I'm thrilled! The benefits are great. I now have a lifetime membership to the YMCA!” joked Grega referring to one of the Village People’s biggest hits.
The celebration started night with a “romantic marriage proposal” on The Ride, a tour bus with stadium seating that acts as a mobile theater.My friend, Bobbie Horowitz, was part of last night and raved about the whole lovely night. 
Derek Storm / Splash News/Derek Storm / Splash News
Randy Jones of the Village People has married his longtime partner Will Grega.

Randy is an actor, author, American Music Award winner and multi-platinum recording artist. He is also the original Cowboy and a founding member of Village People. In his career spanning four decades before, with and since Village People, he has sold 100 million units.
Randy and me
My paternal grandparents loved westerns.
So did my father. Today, we have reality TV.
In the 60s, we had westerns.
I grew up watching those westerns.

My baby brother was named after Steve McQueen's character on Wanted: Dead or Alive on TV. When my mom was expecting, my other brother was obsessed with that show, thus my brother John (Joshua Randall) Skipper got his name!
I liked another cowboy! His name was/is Randy Jones!
He was part of the original Village People. These six men with their individual personae captured an era in which people were starting to come out and be proud of who they were. They also had a driving beat that helped to define the disco era. I was a kid in South Carolina as the disco era was in full swing, but I LOVED that music.
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
Jones (l.) is a founding member of legendary disco group The Village People, which also includes David Hodo (the construction worker); Felipe Rose (the American Indian); Victor Willis (the cop); Glenn Hughes (the leatherman) and Alexander Briley (the G.I.).

It was fun to dance to AND you could sing along with it.
Even the older established stars like Ethel Merman and Fred Astaire were embracing. It proliferated every aspect of our culture. I can only imagine what it would have been like if I had been part of that Studio 54 era.
It was on its way out when I arrived in New York in 1979 at the tender age of 18. Interestingly enough, Randy and I are both Carolina boys.
He came from North Carolina, I came from South. When I arrined in New York in August of 1979, New York was a much different New York than the world we know today. There was a sleaze element that you don't see anymore.
I secretly miss it! It added a character to New York that I strangely long for!!
Harold Cook/FilmMagic
Jones and Gregatied the knot in New York City today!
When I see movies like Taxi Driver that capture that, I get nostalgic.It immediate brings me back to the bright eyed 18 year old with huge dreams and empty pockets. (I'm STILL that person!)
Also when I arrived in New York, a film celebrating the Village People was being shot all over New York. It was being directed by, of all people, Nancy Walker!

It is a pseudo-biography of the Village People which bears only a vague resemblance to the actual story of the group's formation. It was produced by Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment (formerly EMI Films), and distributed by independent distributor Associated Film Distribution (AFD).
This film captured that excitement of that world, pre-AIDS. AIDS and 9/11 both changed the world THEN and forever.
The film came out in the summer of 1980. I remember going home to Myrtle Beach to spend two weeks with my family that July. I was now 19. My baby brother was 9. Even though I had lived in New York for almost a year at this point, I was still green and naive! I wanted to take my baby brother to this new musical that had been filmed in New York.

God only knows what was going through his 9 year old eyes and mind. For me, I had the inner feelings that did NOT make sense to me. I had no idea I was gay at the time (believe it or not), but I was strangely attracted to the cowboy in the film!
It would be another three years before those feelings made sense!

Perhaps best known for his hits with the group, like Macho Man, In the Navy, and Y.M.C.A, Randy has earned 65 Gold and Platinum record certificates, toured worldwide, made the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and in 2008, garnered a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
I was chatting with Donna McKechnie this am and told her I was writing this blog. She said she met Randy through Mitch Weiss who managed them for a while.

Donna is in London right now but says Randy is a great guy and to wish him a happy birthday from her.So, I decided to reach out to others who know Randy! Randy, today we ALL celebrate you! THIS is my birthday gift to you! Here's to at least 830 more healthy happy years! Congrats on your wedding day, as well!
He attended Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated in 1970. While there, he was a founder of Enloe's Drama Club, which was then called "Amicus Scaena"; Latin for "friend of scene" or "friend of theatre". He then studied at North Carolina School of the Arts before moving to New York.
 Randy originally had a marriage ceremony with his boyfriend of 20 years, Will Grega, at a New York club on May 7, 2004. Although the marriage was not legally binding, as gay marriage was still illegal in New York state, Jones commented then that: "It's only a matter of time before the courts rule in favor of what's morally right and humanly decent. They published a book together in 1996, titled Out Sounds: The Gay and Lesbian Music Alternative.
TODAY, they are legally wed!
He released in 2007 a disco and pop solo album Ticket to the World. In 2009, He was featured in HBO's hit comedy series, Flight of the Conchords directed by Oscar winner Michel Gondry.
Morimoto dinner crew, featuring: Scott Barnes, Emir Pehilj, Scott Barnes, Tyree Dillingham, Ricky Anderson, Randy Jones of the Village People, celeb stylist Phillip Bloch, Jimmy Floyd, and Tyler Burrows down front. Now THAT'S a dinner party! (Courtsey: Scott Barnes)

Randy Jones appears as himself in the 2011 video game Postal III.Continuing a career as an actor, singer and dancer, he has released solo CDs (Ticket to the World), performs internationally his own solo concerts and has appeared onstage in musicals and plays in New York City and elsewhere, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Music Man, Chicago, The Madonna Whore: Confessions of a Dirty Mind, Applause, Barefoot in the Park, Camelot, and 42nd Street, among many others.
Dinner at Morimoto — with Jaime Krause Hess and Scott Barnes.(Courtesy: Scott Barnes)
  Included in the motion pictures he has starred in are Against the Wind (in which he portrays the American President), The Gentleman, Three Long Years, Beyond the Facade, A Tale About Bootlegging, and My Guaranteed Student Loan.
GLAAD Media Party — with Jaime Krause Hess and Scott Barnes.(Courtesy: Scott Barnes)
Randy has appeared in various documentaries such as the History Channel's 70's FEVER!, Roxy: The Last Dance, When Ocean Meets Sky, Disco: Spinning the Story, VH-1's RockDoc NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell, The Godfather of Disco, Behind the Music, Sex: The Revolution and others as narrator and interview subject.
He has appeared on the covers and in the pages of countless magazines and publications around the globe in every language. He was currently featured in SWINDLE Magazine as one of the ICONS of 2008 as well as the 35th Anniversary of PLAYGIRL Magazine. He is the author of Macho Man,  published by Greenwood/Prager Publishers January 2009.

Thank you to ALL that are mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!


Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Richard Skipper   

This Blog is dedicated to The Disco Era and The Village People! Thanks for the Memories!

No comments:

Post a Comment