The macho men of Mount Vernon are being told they can no longer perform as the Village People.
The Village People characters, including two of the originals, have continued to perform the 1970s disco act. Their management company, Sixuvus Ltd., is based in Mount Vernon.
But Can’t Stop Productions Inc. of Manhattan says it owns trademarks for the Village People records, characters and entertainment services, and it has granted an exclusive license to a new cast of characters.
Can’t Stop Productions sued Sixuvus in federal court in White Plains on Aug. 25 to stop the group from exploiting the Village People name.
Composer Jacques Morali and singer and actor Victor Willis created the Village People in the late 1970s to perform disco music in clubs. They recruited men to dress and perform as Greenwich Village gay fantasy figures: soldier, police officer, Native American, construction worker, biker and cowboy.
The group went mainstream in 1978 with two hits, “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A.”
The performers created Sixuvus in 1987 to manage their work, including two original Village People, Alex Briley (soldier) and Felipe Rose (Indian). Newer Sixuvus members include Eric Anzalone (leather man), Jim Newman (cowboy), Ray Simpson (cop) and Bill Whitfield (construction worker).
Four of them live somewhere in New York, according to the lawsuit, and two in New Jersey. Briley has two phone numbers listed in his name at Sixuvus’ Mount Vernon address. Requests for comment left on those lines were not returned.
Can’t Stop Productions says it allowed Sixuvus to provide live performances as the Village People for several years, for 5 percent of revenues. Everyone, according to the lawsuit, signed an agreement acknowledging Can’t Stop’s rights.
Can’t Stop notified Sixuvus that as of June its license was terminated and that Harlem West Entertainment – which includes the original lead singer Victor Willis (cop) – now had exclusive use of Village People rights.
Sixuvus members continue to perform worldwide as the Village People, the lawsuit states, and are making it difficult for the public to see Harlem West Entertainment as a legitimate licensee.
Can’t Stop Productions is asking the court to declare that it owns the trademarks and stop Sixuvus from exploiting the Village People.