True story. In the late 1990s after graduating college, before New York City and The Film Experience years, I was working as an artist at a company that specialized in parties and events. Every day in a big warehouse I was a hot mess of glue guns, paint rollers, foam shavings, and glitter. Glitter above all else. Three years later in New York City I was still finding glitter in the weirdest of places; that shit lasts forever.
I thought about this as soon as the opening credits of Allan Carr and Nancy Walker's Village People origin comedy, Can't Stop the Music (1980), our "HMWYBS" April Fools Selection. It was like the movie was blowing its glitter load in the first frame. Turns out there was no refractory period. The glitter just keeps on coming and not just over animated fonts. Dancers actually FLING physical glitter at each other and in the final scene it RAINS glitter. David Hodo (the construction worker) falls victim to the glitter the earliest in his introductory song, the ghastly "I Love You To Death" (pictured left). Hodo is now 66 years old and only stopped performing with the group last year. I bet you anything that he still finds glitter in the retirement home.
Surprisingly my choice for Best Shot is glitter free. But it's still really gay, don't worry. But no it's not this one...
I'm James and flame's my game!"
Burn bright, James, burn bright.
Ohmygod. James is just a tiny grain of sand in a world of absurdities that await you should you ever dare watch the film. Because I have to stay focused I can't even go on at length about one of my favorite lines in the history of 80s cinema because it requires so much context. It'd need an entire lengthy post of its own.
But herewith three shots I fussed over as "Best"
"Best" from the movie it might have been in another time
"...NOT THAT IT WOULD HAVE EXISTED IN ANOTHER TIME," he scrambles to add. But there's something both sexy and potent and super-duper defiantly counter-culture gay about the Indian (Felipe Rose, who is half Puerto Rican/half Native American) shaking his ass exuberantly wearing next to nothing in front of a rainbow backdrop while an ode to a heterosexual lust ("Samantha") makes the disco-revelers go wild. Later in the film the Village People will sing a ballad called "Liberation", the most overtly political gay song, but it's paired narratively with their failure to nail the choreography or grab an immediate record deal. The best part of this image other than the sexiest Village Person is the people looking up at him. One guy is wearing what looks like 3-D glasses which is truly overkill when the ass is that fully-dimensional to begin with. The girl in red is just staring right into his crotch. The camera will follow her lead for classy multiple shots from underneath him of crotch and ass... Sadly, none of those shots feature the rainbow background which is a true missed opportunity Nancy Walker, Nancy Walker.
The Indian shakes it so well that eventually she has to add special effects as if everyone in the club is seeing his gay ura
"Best" from the movie it's trying to be
Speaking of needing context... I was going to write at length about this scene but Coco Hits NY did a fine charitable job of it. Suffice it to say that, for me, this is the movies attempt at being all things to all people, a (strenuous) comic farce, a little gay without being too gay... more playfully pansexual than sexual at all. Roommates Guttenberg & Perrine aren't even thinking about sex but having an elaborate conversation that barely involves the man (Bruce Jenner) they're depantsing. For reasons.
"Best" from the movie it actually is
The movies obvious peak is right smack dab in the middle. It stretches from the stupid ridiculous chaos of the audition sequence for the final band member (the leatherman) to the ogling spectacle of the Village People's most famous song and this little endearingly amateurish gem is right inbetween them. In some ways it's the most ambitious of the movie's shots since there appears to be no coverage. The shot lasts almost a full minute as Bruce, adopting his own liberated look (crop tops for the win) leads his new girlfriend and her exuberant roommate to the YMCA. The Village People trail behind them laughing and smiling insanely, like nothing is more fun than being afterthoughts in your own movie. I adore this shot for so many reasons. Let me list them for you: The time capsule fashion; the gayness but not really gayness; the speed at which they're walking; Steve Guttenberg's demented puppy hop right in the middle of it... he is going to pee at any moment he loves being alive so much; the visible cheer that feels perched impossibly on the knife's edge between forced and authentic like maybe the actors were having a good day and the summer breeze was refreshing even if the shoot sucked and goddamn it how many times do we have to walk around this block?
None of these three shots contain glitter but I'm sure it was there, wedged into the camera lens, scratching at one of the Village People from inside their underwear (wait, do they wear underwear?), or perhaps falling unexpectedly from a boom mic.
The glitter is everywhere.
13 other "Bests" from participating blogs. I love them all for being such good sports about this one.