Former President Donald Trump was slapped with a cease-and-desist letter by 70s disco group Village People for using their songs.
Karen Willis, the wife of lead singer Victor Willis and the band’s manager, sent Trump’s lawyer a letter on Monday, demanding the 45th president stop playing their hits.
Willis claimed that Trump “allowed’ Village People impersonators to put on a show at his Mar-A-Lago resort in an “unauthorized performance” last week.
She cited a viral Twitter video of Trump shaking it to a rendition of the group’s 1978 hit “Macho Man,” while a cover band dressed in the Village People’s iconic uniforms played at an event on Thursday.
Surprised this isn’t banned in Florida. Trump dances poolside at Mar-a-Lago to performers dressed as The Village People. (Video: @MJisMAGA) pic.twitter.com/1UMzk00UrK
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) May 12, 2023
Willis said that the disco group has been “inundated with social media posts,” about the imitation performance.
Her complaint stated that many fans “mistakenly” believe that the real Village People were present at the resort, which is a violation of 1946 trademark law, the Lanham Act.
She wrote that though her husband “tolerated” Trump’s used of music by the Village People, they can’t allow him to continue because would make the public believe that the former president has the band’s endorsement.
The letter requested that Trump stop playing Village People songs personally and in association with his 2024 presidential campaign, or a lawsuit will be filed.
Willis’ threat is a change of tune for the group, who defended Trump’s use of the music in February 2020, after plenty of fans complained about it.
“We have received numerous requests demanding that we prevent or ban President Donald Trump’s use of our songs, particularly ‘Y.M.C.A.’ and ‘Macho Man,’” the Village People posted on Facebook at the time.
“Since our music is not being used for a specific endorsement, the President’s use is ‘perfect[ly]’ legal.”
The post noted that Trump has been “respectful” while using their songs and had not “crossed the line.”
The band said that if Trump or any other candidate used their music in a manner that would suggest endorsement, they would step in.
Though they noted that the former president and his supporters had “shown a genuine like” for their music.
“Our music is all-inclusive and certainly everyone is entitled to do the YMCA dance, regardless of their political affiliation,” the band concluded.
“Having said that, we certainly don’t endorse his use as we’d prefer our music be kept out of politics.”
Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, clapped back at the legal threat in a seething statement to TMZ.
“I will only deal with the attorney of the Village People, if they have one, not the wife of one of the members,” he commented.
“But they should be thankful that President Trump allowed them to get their name back in the press.”
“I haven’t heard their name in decades,” Tacopina snarked. “Glad to hear they are still around.”
Karen Willis sniped back a rebuttal on Tuesday. “Though I’m a lawyer, it is true that I’m not the Village People’s lawyer,” she began.
“However, I don’t need to be considering that I am a personal owner of the songs in question, and the personal owner of Village People rights in question.”
“Therefore, I have standing to send the cease and desist which is binding on Trump,” Willis concluded.