In honor of Bruce Jenner officially coming out as transgender (which, for the record, I think is pretty courageous and badass), I think it's high time that I direct your eyeballs to my SPHERE essay on Jenner's greatest contribution to pop culture: His starring role (alongside Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine) in the 1980 disco-sploitation/Village People vehicle, Can't Stop The Music.
I have seen this film several times — it's currently available for streaming on Netflix — and am always left wide-eyed and dumbfounded by the carnage I've witnessed. The level of poor decision-making that went into this film surpasses even that of 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and at least that film contained the presence of the Bee Gees, Earth Win & Fire, Aerosmith and Steve Martin.
Jenner, of course, was an Olympic hero in the summer of 1976, who (as I mention in Stars and Strikes) parlayed his world decathlon record and chiseled good looks into a number of lucrative endorsement deals. But even his telegenic personality couldn't save a film that had come out about a year too late to cash in on the popularity of disco and/or the Village People.
The weird thing is, it could have been Mark Fidrych in this film instead of Jenner. During the summer of '76, Hollywood mogul Allan Carr noted the insane buzz that surrounded every one of The Bird's starts, and reasoned that a good-looking, charismatic youngster like Fidrych could draw people to movie theaters as well as ballparks. Carr offered Fidrych a role in Grease, the nostalgic 50s musical he was producing at the time (which would reach the screen in the summer of '78); but when the Tigers rookie turned him down, Carr went looking for another athletic sensation. While Bruce Jenner wasn't the right fit for Grease, Carr lined him up for his next project — a little something called Can't Stop The Music.