Y-M-C-Slay! ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Serves Village People Realness

Lyndsey Parker
Managing Editor

“It takes stones, it takes cojones, to sing with a straight gay face a song like ‘Macho Man,’” Randy Jones, aka the original Cowboy from LGBTQ disco sensations Village People, tells Yahoo Music with a laugh. And this week, the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race showed serious (tucked) cojones when they rocked the runway during the show’s “Village People Eleganza Extravaganza” fashion challenge — with two of the top five contestants, Peppermint and Alexis Michelle, lip-synching for their lives to Village People’s famous masculine anthem.

Related: Village People Cowboy Randy Jones on Razzie-Winning Cult Classic ‘Can’t Stop the Music’ and Co-Star Caitlyn Jenner

Jones and his fellow uniformed macho men made a major impact in the 1970s, largely through network TV exposure — much like the Emmy-winning RuPaul Charles and the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race are infiltrating the mainstream today.

“I’m not saying it was the most calculated or manipulated thing, but I think when we went into those people’s homes in 1978 and 1979, into their homes on a Bob Hope special or with Dick Clark, we may have entertained people for three and a half minutes doing a song, but we also went in with a very skillful scalpel,” Jones muses. “We made a little incision above the heart. We implanted a little bit of exposure to something, like when you get a vaccination. We inoculated hearts to homophobia or racism, even if they didn’t realize it at the time.

Related: Strike a Pose: The ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Queens Do Madonna Dress-Up

“We helped people see that, ‘Wow, this is fun and they’re silly and they look like clowns and we really like that song.’ And maybe months, years, decades later, they might realize: ‘Wow, they were gay?’ And in a way, it helps them think that maybe it’s not something they should be so afraid of. So we were a little bit of an early inoculation against some of that, and in thinking back about it, historians of pop culture will see we had a bit to do with moving progress forward. And I honor that in my legacy.”

Related: Lady Gaga Shantés, Slays on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 9 Premiere

Jones sums up Village People’s ethos, and where he’s at in his own life 40 years later, with a Ru-worthy proclamation deserving of many halleloos and amens: “I am here, I am not afraid, I am not invisible, I will not hide, I believe in good, I will not go away, I am strong, I will never give up, I believe in you, I am a witness, I am loved, I am alive, and I believe.”

See the Season 9 Drag Race queens take Jones’s legacy and cowboy couture — as well as the group’s iconic Construction Worker, Policeman, Native American, and Leatherman looks — to a sickening new level in the gallery above.

Shea Couleé: The Construction Worker

Shea, the winner of this week’s challenge, totally nailed it (heh) with a Vivienne Westwoodian plaid cape and a glittery golden hard hat that perfectly matched her 14K lipstick. Absolutely riveting!

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Sasha Velour: The Cowboy

The artsy and intellectual queen traded in her signature severe bald-headed look for adorable Strawberry Shortcake freckles and a chic “Go West” prairie frock. We would have liked to see Sasha try out a New Romantic look from Village People’s short-lived new wave phase, but she did Randy Jones proud here.

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Trinity Taylor: The Cop

Trinity went full-on bad lieutenant with this fiercely authoritative look. Arresting!

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Alexis Michelle: The Native American

The bloom was a bit off the Felipe Rose, since Alexis’s look was pretty basic from the waist down. But kudos to Alexis for not going the obvious route with a culturally appropriating Coachella feather headdress — and she should have gotten more props from Carson Kressley and company for the intricate, hand-sewn turquoise beading on her bustier. (And that bown-and-arrow hair accessory begs the question: Hey Alexis, how’s your head?)

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Peppermint: The Leatherman

Peppermint seemed to take Phi Phi O’Hara’s advice this week, since her generic pleather outfit seemed straight out the S&M section of the local Party City superstore. But Michelle Visage surely approved of Peppermint’s flawless cinching technique, and the black lipstick was a welcome departure from Pep’s usual pretty-in-pink look.

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Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

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Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

Sasha Velour: The Cowboy

The artsy and intellectual queen traded in her signature severe bald-headed look for adorable Strawberry Shortcake freckles and a chic “Go West” prairie frock. We would have liked to see Sasha try out a New Romantic look from Village People’s short-lived new wave phase, but she did Randy Jones proud here.

image

Trinity Taylor: The Cop

Trinity went full-on bad lieutenant with this fiercely authoritative look. Arresting!

image

Alexis Michelle: The Native American

The bloom was a bit off the Felipe Rose, since Alexis’s look was pretty basic from the waist down. But kudos to Alexis for not going the obvious route with a culturally appropriating Coachella feather headdress — and she should have gotten more props from Carson Kressley and company for the intricate, hand-sewn turquoise beading on her bustier. (And that bown-and-arrow hair accessory begs the question: Hey Alexis, how’s your head?)

image

Peppermint: The Leatherman

Peppermint seemed to take Phi Phi O’Hara’s advice this week, since her generic pleather outfit seemed straight out the S&M section of the local Party City superstore. But Michelle Visage surely approved of Peppermint’s flawless cinching technique, and the black lipstick was a welcome departure from Pep’s usual pretty-in-pink look.

image

Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

image

Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

Trinity Taylor: The Cop

Trinity went full-on bad lieutenant with this fiercely authoritative look. Arresting!

image

Alexis Michelle: The Native American

The bloom was a bit off the Felipe Rose, since Alexis’s look was pretty basic from the waist down. But kudos to Alexis for not going the obvious route with a culturally appropriating Coachella feather headdress — and she should have gotten more props from Carson Kressley and company for the intricate, hand-sewn turquoise beading on her bustier. (And that bown-and-arrow hair accessory begs the question: Hey Alexis, how’s your head?)

image

Peppermint: The Leatherman

Peppermint seemed to take Phi Phi O’Hara’s advice this week, since her generic pleather outfit seemed straight out the S&M section of the local Party City superstore. But Michelle Visage surely approved of Peppermint’s flawless cinching technique, and the black lipstick was a welcome departure from Pep’s usual pretty-in-pink look.

image

Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

image

Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

Alexis Michelle: The Native American

The bloom was a bit off the Felipe Rose, since Alexis’s look was pretty basic from the waist down. But kudos to Alexis for not going the obvious route with a culturally appropriating Coachella feather headdress — and she should have gotten more props from Carson Kressley and company for the intricate, hand-sewn turquoise beading on her bustier. (And that bown-and-arrow hair accessory begs the question: Hey Alexis, how’s your head?)

image

Peppermint: The Leatherman

Peppermint seemed to take Phi Phi O’Hara’s advice this week, since her generic pleather outfit seemed straight out the S&M section of the local Party City superstore. But Michelle Visage surely approved of Peppermint’s flawless cinching technique, and the black lipstick was a welcome departure from Pep’s usual pretty-in-pink look.

image

Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

image

Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

Peppermint: The Leatherman

Peppermint seemed to take Phi Phi O’Hara’s advice this week, since her generic pleather outfit seemed straight out the S&M section of the local Party City superstore. But Michelle Visage surely approved of Peppermint’s flawless cinching technique, and the black lipstick was a welcome departure from Pep’s usual pretty-in-pink look.

image

Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

image

Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

Alexis Michelle Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Alexis gave quite a hair-raising performance! This is her hair, she doesn’t wear face-wigs.

Peppermint Lip-Synchs to “Macho Man”

Body, it’s so hot, her body… Peppermint definitely had all the right macho moves.

image

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.

The Original Village People

Compare and contrast the queens’ looks to the disco kings in 1978.