Holding a Village People Album
My, the interesting things Randy Shilts stuffed into his voluminous and disheveled files, now stored at the San Francisco Public Library's main library in their rich LGBT collection.
Today I was poring over the Shilts file on Frank Kameny (more of what was in there tomorrow), and the box with that file also contained one on the Village People. Shilts apparently wrote two articles on the Village People; one for the defunct New West magazine and another for Rolling Stone.
Among his drafts and hand-written notes were assorted news clippings on the group's rise, press releases from their record company and a photo that stood out even though none of the Village People performers themselves are in it.
The photo was taken in 1978 by Michael Rock, a New York based photographer, and on the back the inscription read, "Lady Bird Johnson accepting a Village People album." That's was it. No info on where she was when given the record, who gave it to her or why.
Yeah, I marveled and chuckled at the image and underlying readings of it - former First Lady and straight Texan icon having a link to the famous gay disco group pushing cultural boundaries - and made the librarians, all gay and of a certain age, come over and cast their gimlet eyes upon the photo. They loved it! "Who knew?" they asked, and I promised to shared it with more queens via my blog.
Googling for more info turned up these details from her 2007 funeral service, as reported by the Washington Post, which may explain the photo here and maybe not:
Harry Middleton, the retired director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, told of a breakfast meeting at New York's Plaza Hotel when he and Johnson were seated near the Village People, who were dressed in full costume.
One of the band members came over and expressed his admiration of Johnson, then asked if she would have her picture taken with her. She graciously agreed, Middleton recalled, although she didn't know who the people were. Told later that they were a singing group, Johnson smiled and said, "Well, I wonder if we just made the cover of their next album."
If there are photos on the web of her and the group together, I couldn't locate them. Maybe the First Lady was caught on film only with the album? Middleton's memory could be playing tricks. No matter. Hope the pic makes you smile!
Credit for the original photograph belongs to Michael Rock, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library and the reproduction below was snapped by yours truly.