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An Interview with Award-winning Famed Icon Randy Jones

By Maria Esteves - January 28, 2009

Looking at life as art, actor-performing artist Randy Jones (RJ) is defined as an icon in popular culture.  RJ began performing on stage at the age of eight, is known as The Cowboy from the pop musical group Village People, has appeared in three biographical films, performed 22 interviews, 122 articles has been written about him, has taken 56 pictorials, and appeared on 24 magazines front cover. RJ has been honored with countless awards, given keys to several American cities, including a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Village People. His new classic CD TICKET TO THE WORLD is timeless! RJ's gayography, discography, and filmography of "Macho Man" released by Praeger/Greenwood Publishing is a sure documentary film to be made in the near future. You may see photos of RJ who is the most handsome man with a beautiful personality and smile in Playgirl Magazine, 35th Anniversary Collectors Edition, 2009 January/February issue. He re-created the same poses from the original photo session that appeared in the 1979 Playgirl Magazine issue.

ME: Where and what year were you born?

RJ:  I was born in Raleigh, NC, September 13, 1952.

ME: Where and what did you studied?

RJ: In 1970, I began my studies in theater, film, and television at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill.

In 1973, I became a member of The Agnus de Mille Heritage Dance Theatre while attending the prestigious conservatory UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, and graduated in 1975, with a degree in dance and choreography.

ME: Were you raised with a spiritual upbringing? 

RJ: I was raised as a Southern Baptist however, I don't adhere to Southern Baptist principals. I'm a spiritual person. I've studied many religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism) and learned to appreciate spirituality by the various ways that the one God has spoken to people.   

ME:  At what point in your life you became interested in the performing arts?

RJ:  At the age of three, I was watching actors and musical influences on television. My great uncle and grandmother were Country blues singers and performers locally in North Carolina. I loved that aspect of my life, laying down in my parents living room carpet watching from a Motorola black and white television Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Liberace, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, Clint Eastwood in "Rawhide," Richard Boone in "Paladin," or "Have Gun Will Travel," old TV series "The Rebel,"  "Wagon Train," Clint Walker in "Cheyenne," and Steve McQueen in "Wanted Dead or Alive."

ME: What was the first performance that pushed you to the public consciousness?

RJ:  I was eight years old in the fourth grade when I played Peter in "The Five Little Peppers." Then I starred in many others ("The Wizard Of Oz," " Oliver," "Music Man," "Hello Dolly," "Carousel," "Oklahoma," "Bedford in the Park"). I'm in my 4th decade (50 years) of getting on stage and performing in front of people.   

My recent interview with SWINDLE Magazine for their "Icons of the year"
December 2008 issue, the writer described me as Randy Jones took Clint Eastwood combined it with Liberace and joined Village People to become America's favorite Disco Cowboy. Now, that just sums it up! I literally combined such diverse influences from Clint Eastwood to Liberace and created a Disco Cowboy character that many people know me as. There's always a theme of western cowboy influence and of musicality in showmanship.      

ME: I recall years ago, dancing to the enchanting songs of "San Francisco and In Hollywood" from the Village People Live and Sleazy Album (1979). As Cowboy member of the pop Icon music group Village People, how did you feel to be honored with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in Hollywood Blvd, CA, September 2008?

RJ:  Clearly, out of all that I have been honored with in my life, September 12, 2008, the day before my birthday, the most impressive to me as an individual and being a part of the group is getting that Star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are only a certain number of them (2,369) given to well known names in show business from Clark Gable, to Marilyn Monroe, to Village People. Now all the wonderful music we did (Y.M.C.A., Macho Man, In the Navy, Can't Stop the Music, San Francisco, Hollywood) will be remembered with a bronze star in the sidewalk forever. We are in the most incredible coziest spot in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The bronze star is between the famous Betty Grable and Liberace, and one block north of Hollywood's Y.M.C.A.

As part of the group, we've won the American Music Award, The Radio Television Luxembourg RTL Diamond Award, Golden Lion Award, and the Bravo Award, from Germany. We've gotten 65 Gold and Platinum albums from around the world combined with my solo sales. I sold over 100 million units. We performed for the Queen of England. For the command performance I was invited separately. It was very impressive to meet Queen Elizabeth II, she said to me, "We love that song Y.M.C.A. " Then she leaned over to my ear and whispered, "And we have always loved Cowboys.              

Separate from the group, in January 2005, I performed in one of the inaugural balls for President George Bush second inauguration. In January 2008, I was made Kentucky Colonel (outstanding ambassador of goodwill and fellowship) by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States.

The song Y.M.C.A., is still being played at every Barmitzfas, weddings, birthday, and retirement parties. It's the number one song played at Christmas parties in the United Kingdom. The New York Times chose it as the top 100 pop songs of the 20th century, and actually set it in a time capsule out into space. It is played at every New York Yankees Home Games before the seventh inning for an audience of 5 to 8 thousand people in the stadium. They stand up and do the stretch and form the four letters with their arms Y.M.C.A. No one in the group could have imagined 30 years ago that people will still be playing the music and that anyone would even care. 

ME:  What inspired the song selections in your extra-ordinary dance music CD TICKET TO THE WORLD released by Pop Front Productions in 2007?

RJ:  Before I can sing a song the words have to mean something. I approach a song as a three-minute play, there has to be a story told that has a beginning, middle, and end. A beautiful melody is wonderful too but ultimately the most important thing for me about a song is the words.

I relate to every song on the music CD TICKET TO THE WORLD. In "Sleeping" the words spoke to me. Originally co-written
and recorded by Rick Astley released in 2002 (not in the U.S.), is about missing a person they lost. I'm not sleeping because you are not in my life
anymore. In "Your Disco Needs You" it's a metaphor, it says, From New York to Singapore, from the heartland to the shore, so let's dance through all of this, war is over for a bit." In I'm a Believer" I sing that song for my nephew who has Tourette syndrome. In "Rhinestone Cowboy" it's an autobiography of my life. In "New York City Boy" is all about the kids in the tri-state area (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island) who can't wait to come by himself to New York City.

My newest single remix "If I can't Have You" is played all over dance venues. In Europe, Dance Street Music released it. Every remix is available at iTunes.com. In Spring 2009, my third single remix "Your Disco Needs You" will be available.           

ME:  What inspired the making of the book "MACHO MAN: The Disco Era and America's Coming Out" released by Praeger/Greenwood Publishing, December 30, 2008?

RJ:  MACHO MAN is about the history of America's pop culture from the 1960s to 2008. It was a
time of changes in civil rights, women rights, gay & lesbian rights. The
book includes the Vietnam War, the eras of President Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush; a historical enlightenment of the worlds greatest Gay & Lesbian writers, artist, and government leaders (Alexander The Great,Frederick II of Prussia, Richard II of
England
, Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson, Elton John , Ellen DeGeneres, and Alan Turing who helped break the German enigma code), up to the changes with California Proposition 8 and marriage in Massachusetts.

MACHO MAN is available at Amazon.com
and Barnes & Noble.  This year, I'm traveling around the country
promoting the hard cover version until the paperback is released next year.

ME: Is a documentary film being considered for the book MACHO MAN?

RJ:  Yes, definitely my co-author Mark Bego and I are planning for it. It's perfect material for a documentary film.

ME: I understand you are cast in the films AGAINGST THE WIND , written/directed by Brad Batchelor; A TALE ABOUT BOOTLEGGING, directed by Phil Fox and David Cosentino; and THREE LONG YEARS, written/directed by Peter Welch.  Can you briefly describe each film? What role you play in them? When and where will the film be released?

RJ:  A TALE ABOUT BOOTLEGGING is winner of Best Feature Film award, 2008
Cinema City International Film Festival
, founded by Suzanne De Laurentiis (filmmaker Dino DeLaurentiis daughter). It's a family comedy film set in the North Carolina mountains region during the 1930s. The film is about a town sheriff played by actor Sonny Shroyer who deals with a man who makes whiskey illegally out in the woods in a still. I play the boss of a saw mill who employ the town's residents including the bootlegger.    

AGAINST THE WIND is an action feature film set in the 1920s after World War I, which I play a fictitious President. The film depicts a group of American pilots, members of the Lafayette Escadrille (a prestigious highly skilled French Air force unit) who are used covertly by the President of the United States to help fight an international drug trade. The film's anticipated release date is fall 2009.   

In THREE LONG YEARSI play the night shift (11pm - 7am) nurse named Steven in a small town hospital in Ohio. One night an accident victim arrives and I get assigned to keep him from lapsing into a coma. The patient begins to tell me his life story. My character is portrayed as an angel through the night helping him realize he has a choice to make a wonderful life. The film anticipated release is this year.
In July 2008, I played Pharaoh in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical) at Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.  I played the lawyer Billy Flynn in "Chicago," the director Julian Marsh in "42nd Street."



In front, Randy Jones as Pharaoh in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical).

ME: What goals have you yet to accomplish? 

RJ: The book MACHO MAN was a great accomplishment. I'm comfortable with my skills and certainly humbled by all of the great things that I have been honored with in this career. Life itself is like art. My life is my art! I like to live my life in the light with compassion for other people. Perhaps perform a song or a role and help anybody who's going to see it, read it, or hear it, feel better about them self.  

One of the terrific things we did as Village People we took well crafted pop songs like "Macho Man, In The Navy and Y.M.C.A." and combined it with six very healthy sweaty examples of the 1970s manhood (cowboy, Indian, construction worker, police officer, leather man, military man) inspired by R&B male and female groups (Temptations, Spinners, Four Tops, Supremes, Crystals, Ronettes) and comedians (Ritz Brothers, Marx Brothers, Three Stooges). The most important thing we did, we never crossed the line to be offensive and we always let the audience know with a wink or a wiggle we were laughing at ourselves with a good sense of humor.

I love making films.  I would love a TV series and continue doing musical theater. In 2009, I'm cast in a TV pilot "The Harmony," a comedy series on Here! TV. In the summer, I'm in the musical "Hair Spray."

For more information, please send email to:popfrontproductions@yahoo.com 

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