“I realized I have a four-letter secret weapon,” Randy Jones says. “It’s ‘Y-M-C-A.’”
Three decades after turning disco gold for the Village People — in which Jones portrayed the cowboy alongside a policeman, construction worker, Native American and leather man — the song continues to touch audiences and open doors for the singer.
For example, doors to the Castro Theatre, where Jones performs Saturday in the Marc Huestis-produced “A Very Merry Disco Christmas.” The event includes a special screening of the campy 1980 film “Can’t Stop the Music,” a Jones-led sing-along to “Y.M.C.A,” Arturo Galster as Disco Patsy Cline, and singer Anita Cocktail performing a “Can’t Stop the Christmas Music” medley.
Jones says the Village People’s legacy occasionally presents opportunities he never could have imagined back when the group topped the chart with “In the Navy,” “Macho Man” and “Go West.”
He was surprised to get a request to perform at the 2005 presidential inauguration.
“When I received the invitation to perform at the White House, I thought it had to be a mistake,” says the gay icon, who recently made waves sharing stories of wild parties with Paris Hilton’s parents before the frequently-troubled socialite was born. “But it wasn’t.”
While some people with liberal leanings might have declined the offer, Jones relished the chance to sing for President Bush and his Republican supporters. He dedicated his medley of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme and “Y.M.C.A.” to the president — “not the person,” Jones clarifies,to “the office” and to his partner.
“There I was, singing to the very same people who have since tried to pass a constitutional amendment to make me a second-class citizen because I’ve been married to a man for the last 24 years,” Jones says. “I decided to treat them with my sharpest, most effective weapon — my music.”
The lasting effect of the Village People’s catalog is why the American Music Award-winner, who with the group sold more than 100 million records, frequently includes those songs while performing material from his latest solo album, “Ticket to the World.”
It’s an easy fit, since the 2007 release pays homage to his roots.
“I enjoy dance music and would never do anything to denigrate that history,” says Jones, whose latest recording features favorites by the Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue and fellow disco legend Yvonne Elliman.
He spices things up with a jazz interpretation of Depeche Mode and a little-known musical theater gem by Andrew Lloyd Webber before turning Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” into a seeming autobiography.
“This music accurately reflects where I am today,” says Jones, who no longer performs with the Village People because he says it would feel like trying to recapture an era of his life which has since passed. “These are all songs I like listening to, connect with and genuinely appreciate.”
A Very Merry Disco Christmas
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 863-0611