This week's Gayest Thing is also quite possibly the Worst Musical Ever Made. Thanks to my dear Stephen over at Post Apocalyptic Bohemian, who posted about producer Alan Carr's (Grease) birthday yesterday, I was flooded with memories of this 1980 stinker directed by none other than Rhoda's mom and paper-towel pitchwoman, Nancy Walker.
Can't Stop the Music tells the completely fictional story of how infamous disco group Village People came to be. Starring Valerie Perrine (Lenny; Superman: The Movie), Olympian Bruce Jenner (with his original gorgeous face), Steve Guttenberg (before he beefed up for Cocoon) and the Village People as themselves. It also featured gay icons Tammy Grimes, June Havoc and Barbara Rush.
The story is preposterous (a song writer wants to create a Disco 'Super Group') and the musical numbers are just plain ridiculous. The only reason anyone saw this movie was to ogle the literally hundreds of half-naked men in pools, gyms and various dance floors, grinding away at one another without a single mention of the words "gay," "homosexual" or "fabulous." The very closeted 19 year-old me was in awe. The very openly gay me of today is simply appalled. Just take a look at this number, called "Do the Shake:"
Giant pornstaches; belly shirts; leather vests; short-shorts; showers and locker-rooms abound, but not once is it suggested that any of these fellows might be gay. Puh-leeze!
Is it any wonder that most of the people in this movie have fallen into obscurity? Of course, reality TV has brought Jenner back into the edges of the spotlight and insanity has kept Guttenberg from falling completely out of our collective memories. Walker passed away in 1992, and while Can't Stop the Music was her only feature film, she directed several episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Rhoda" and "Alice."
If you love bad movies, half-naked men or Disco, you must add Can't Stop the Music to your Netflix queue. I only wish the folks at MST3K had been able to take a crack at this infamously bad musical, even if it actually failed to "launch the 80's."