Felipe Rose was dancing in an American Indian costume in Greenwich Village 30 years ago when two Frenchmen saw him and were struck with the idea of creating the Village People.
Things haven't been the same since for Rose, now 54: "This has been half of our lives," the Lakota Sioux descendant says.
Rose and the rest of the Village People will hit the Topsfield Fair grandstand stage at 7 p.m. tomorrow, giving local folks a taste of the energy that's sustained the band for decades. After that, they're off to an overseas performance. Rose told The Salem News the dancers and flutists in his family inspired him, and nothing's come to a stop since.
How are the Village People still going?
The existence of the group is probably because the songs are still so popular. There's still a demand. If nobody had an interest in the music, we wouldn't still be doing it. But (where) there's sports stadiums and bar mitzvahs — there's "YMCA."
On Sept. 12, the group earned a Hollywood star. What was that like?
We had fans and media from all over the world. It was talked about for years. We had fans pitching it. ... (When accepted) we decided, "Let's do it and get it over with," around touring commitments. And after it was over, it ended, we went to Finland.
After 30 years, how do you find the energy to keep going?
The audience gets involved and it's a chance to be part of it. "Macho Man," it's sort of like a sing-along. They're actually taught to do "YMCA" properly because they've been doing the "C wrong" all these years — it's to your other left. It's good fun.
It's a good show. It takes you back to a simpler time. Several generations like it — 4-year-olds, I'm not kidding.
What can Topsfield Fair people expect?
A couple good surprises and a lot that people want to hear. It's a very relaxed atmosphere.
The costumes had their roots in Greenwich Village gays' outfits. How do you go from there to a family-friendly county fair?
The first album paid tribute to that lifestyle, but we were pretty much mainstream from the beginning.
What's life on the road like?
It's hard, but together we're like a family. We keep close to each other on the road. ... But if it wasn't as much fun, we wouldn't be doing it. We like it. That's what's so awesome, we're all different. We come together as one.
You just were entered into the Native American Hall of Fame and your mother's Puerto Rican.
Essentially, I'm a shadow walker, walking in two worlds. And with the Village People, it's three worlds.
Do you ever change roles?
We kid about it, but no. I'd love to be the cop one day, but no. We joke about it when we're punch-drunk tired.
When do you think this ride will come to an end?
When they quit booking us. The bookings come from all over the world. We're coming from this (Topsfield Fair) to Rome.
If you go
What: Performance by the Village People
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Topsfield Fair's grandstand stage
Cost: Free with the price of admission to the fair
More information: www.topsfieldfair.org