News Flash: Village People May Be Axed From Gay Fest

Gay and Lesbian Pride March and Festival organizer Linda Robertson planned on the Village

People performing at next year's annual celebration in South Carolina.

So did the Village People.

Now both are having to rethink their plans after the owner of the property on which the event is scheduled won't let the group perform there.

Best known for sending arms flailing in the '70s with their smash-hit disco tunes "YMCA" and "Macho Man," the Village People had

the May 2 gig cancelled after developers Burroughs & Chapin said they refused to let the group play at the South

Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride March and Festival if it is on Burroughs & Chapin's property. The developer explained that it was

rejecting the disco act -- whose hits were a staple of gay disco songs in the '70s -- so as not to lend its name to an organization whose values clash with their

own.

"I think this borders on censorship," said Linda Robertson, a co-chair of the event, which is sponsored by the South Carolina Gay and

Lesbian Pride Movement. She argued that the decision was outright discrimination against her organization.

While the Movement still plans to hire the Village People for the May 2 celebration in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the band -- a dance-music

group composed of six outrageously costumed singers -- won't be able to play in the Celebrity Square of the Burroughs &

Chapin-owned Broadway at the Beach complex, according to Robertson.

The conflict arose after five Broadway at the Beach nightclubs applied for a permit to bring the Village People to Myrtle Beach for a

show in the large, outdoor Celebrity Square, onto which the clubs face. Burroughs & Chapin leases the clubs but is the sole owner of

all outdoor areas on the property, including the square.

Claiming that the Village People -- whose members once portrayed themselves as a "policeman," a "cowboy," an "Indian chief," a "biker" and a

"construction worker" -- would "endanger the historic values of our nation and the cornerstone truths on which they are based," the

company exercised their right to reject the concert. This is the first band to whom [Burroughs & Chapin] have refused permission,

Robertson said, adding that "everybody from Harley bikers to Shriners have played here with no problem."

"We have decided that it is in the best interest of Broadway at the Beach not to have any special events during April 30 to May 3,

1998, which can be misinterpreted as an endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Pride March to be held during the same period," the

company wrote in an official statement.

The decision to scratch the concert falls right in line with what Robertson said is the company's policy of discrimination and

zero-tolerance of gays and lesbians. Burroughs & Chapin did not respond to these claims.

Robertson added that the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement is still actively planning to bring the Village People to an

alternate Myrtle Beach venue for the festival.

A spokesman for the Village People said that the band is not prepared to release a statement at this time. -- Colin Devenish