Before he was the quintessential “construction worker” in The Village People, David Hodo (Speech, ’69) was a Sac State drama
As part of the iconic disco group, Hodo made music history during the 1970s with the performers’ campy but respected take on diverse stereotypes. With hits like “YMCA,” “Macho Man” and “In the Navy,” the group has sold millions of recordings and still performs all over the world today.
In fact, Hodo will make a
trip home to Sacramento with The Village People to perform on Thursday, April 6 in the University Union Ballroom.
Prior to becoming a popidol, Hodo acted in many Sac State productions including Oh What a Lovely War, Carnival and Richard III. Professors Gerald Larsen, Bob Smart, Herb Klein and Don Fibiger all influenced the future music star.
“(My college experience) definitely gave me a sense of security
in front of an audience,“ he says.
Hodo says Sac State was a great place to be an actor during the 1960s, noting how playwrights of the time thrived on the volatile energy emanating from controversial events like the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings. “We had the Guerilla Theatre,” he says. “I would have picked that time if I had any to choose from. Things were new at Sac State. New plays were breaking old standards. It was exciting.”
Hodo moved to New York in 1972, receiving his Actors’ Equity card on his second day in New York—relatively unheard of in a city inundated with new talent. His first gig on Broadway was as a member of the “Funny Girl” touring company chorus. He continued to sing and dance on Broadway and performed in countless summer stock tours.
Hodo actually auditioned to be the “cowboy” in The Village People when the group was being formed in 1977. Instead he
was cast as the “construction worker,” which he has developed into one of the most recognized characters in pop culture. “I wanted him to be fun,” he says. “Someone that was a good time.”
Of the group’s formation, he says, “The producers wanted it to be very serious. I knew right away that I couldn’t take itseriously. It needed to be tongue-in-cheek.”
Now in their third decade, The Village People recently toured in Australia, Canada, the Canary Islands, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Portugal. They were Cher’s opening act during her 2004 farewell tour.
“For us it’s always been about the performing,” he says. “We always make the audience have a good time. It’s a two-way show going on. We always wish people could see the audience
the way we see it.
“We just finished a European jaunt and the last show was in a track stadium,” he says. “And you just have to see 55,000 Belgians doing the ‘YMCA.’”
Along with performing, Hodo composes many of the group’s newer material. He says he knew “YMCA” would be a hit the first time he heard it. “I didn’t think ‘Macho Man’ or ‘In the Navy’ would be hits, though,” he says.
In fact, Hodo predicts that, if aliens arrive someday, instead of the musical riff used in the end of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, they’ll turn to the hook from the group’s ubiquitous anthem—“YMCA.”