Do Ya Wanna Funk with Sylvester?

by Jonah Wolf

This week, Fantasy Records released (on CD, digital, and pink double-LP) Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits, a career survey of Sylvester, the so-called "Queen of Disco." Known for his androgynous dress and forceful falsetto, Sylvester (surname: James) went from being a member of drag troupe the Cockettes to being an icon in the Castro and, later, (per the Village Voice) "the first black public figure to identify himself as HIV-positive." On Sunday, as part of Pride weekend, West Village gay bar Manhattan Monster will throw a party in Sylvester's honor, deejayed by nightlife vet Bill Coleman. One of the tracks not included on Mighty Real is 1982's "Do Ya Wanna Funk," whose music video shows off Sylvester's sequins-and-lip-gloss style as well as his hi-NRG sound. (The song was also used in a party scene in Trading Places, the Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd comedy whose thirtieth anniversary occasioned this oral history yesterday in Business Insider.)

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