Victor Willis of Village People performs during Riot Fest at Douglas Park on Sept. 15, 2019, in Chicago.
On Monday, Willis’ wife, Karen Willis, who is also the band’s manager, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina, accusing Trump of using Village People impersonators at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
The letter was sent in response to a video clip that went viral on Thursday and appeared to show Trump dancing to a performance of “Macho Man” by a group of costumed men, who were allegedly not connected to the actual Village People.
Willis’ ceast-and-desist letter claims that since the performance was first posted on Twitter by user @MJisMAGA, the band “has been inundated by social media posts” that suggest “many fans and the general public ... mistakenly believe” the group in the video is the actual Village People.
“Therefore, the performance has, and continues to cause public confusion as to why Village People would engage in such a performance,” the letter reads. “We did not.”
Willis then puts Trump on notice for potential violation of U.S. trademark law.
“To be certain, the use of the group’s image and the likeness at Mar-A-Lago was unauthorized,” the letter says, before hinting that a lawsuit may be forthcoming to protect the band’s trademarked image.
Willis implied the band could also prevent Trump from using Village People songs at rallies, but, she said, “we’d hate to have to do that.”
Tacopina told TMZ that he would “only deal with the attorney of the Village People, if they have one, not the wife of one of the members.” He then got a bit petty toward the group.
“They should be thankful that President Trump allowed them to get their name back in the press,” he said. “I haven’t heard their name in decades. Glad to hear they are still around.”
Tacopina’s claim that he hasn’t heard about the Village People in years seems disingenuous considering how much his client loves the band’s music, often using it at rallies.
Trump even blasted “Y.M.C.A.” while boarding Air Force One in the last moments of his presidency.
Members of the band have had different opinions about Trump’s fondness for their music, depending on the situation.
In February 2020, the Village People said they were OK with Trump playing their songs at rallies as long as the music wasn’t “being used for a specific endorsement.”
But in June that same year, amid a wave of demonstrations related to the murder of George Floyd, Willis changed his tune and asked Trump to stop playing songs like “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A.” if he planned to go through with threats to sic the military on peaceful protesters.