Morali and Belolo had recently relocated from France to New York in
hopes of making their entry into the American music scene. Morali (who
was openly gay) and Belolo (who was straight) started hanging out at
Manhattan’s hot nightclubs, and they noticed that many patrons showed
up dressed in character — as cowboys, or Indians, or what have you.
They hit upon the idea of creating a band comprised entirely of such
characters; they were so taken with Americana that they wanted each
band member to represent some aspect of the American dream — or, at
least, the American dream as interpreted by two Frenchmen living in
Greenwich Village. They figured that the act would have a built-in
audience in gay nightclubs. But where to place them?

The two had picked up on Casablanca’s maverick approach to the music biz, and they were impressed that we’d developed KISS and Parliament, two fairly out-there acts that many of the major labels wouldn’t have looked at twice (remember that the Warner execs had initially hated KISS, telling us that the band should lose the makeup to be more palatable to the music-buying public). Morali and Belolo knew their vision for the Village People was likely to be met with ambivalence or derision if they pitched it to the likes of Capitol or Columbia. But with Neil they felt they’d found the perfect match. It didn’t hurt that we’d broken the disco genre wide open with Donna Summer, either.

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