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Village People's "Indian" Moves to River City

"I wish people would stop putting it down," Rose says. He first visited last August, when the Village People, now in its 25th year, performed in Innsbrook. "That's when I made up my mind," he says. "I just fell in love."

The local climate's great, he says, there's a lively music scene, and Rose is convinced Richmond is the next Southern town on the rise. He even adores the state slogan. "It's really true — Virginia is for lovers," he says, grinning.

Rose enjoys the slower pace. Back in New York City and New Jersey, where he lived most recently, he "was too wired," he says. "I was too plugged in. I was like this." He stiffens his body as if electrified.

So in August he closed his production company, packed up his two Yorkshire terriers and American Music Awards, and moved to a house near Byrd Park.

Rose, now 48, is rarely home, as he still tours frequently with the Village People. The group, known for such hits as "Macho Man" and "YMCA," formed in 1977. Record producer Jacques Morali discovered Rose, who is part Sioux, performing in a New York nightclub in Native American attire and was inspired to create a band of costumed performers portraying american archetypes.

In Richmond, Rose's life is almost serene. He's eager for the bulbs in his garden to sprout and spends his mornings with a cup of Starbucks, catching up with old friends via e-mail and phone. "I haven't been doing anything yet," he says. "I've been keeping a low profile."

That's about to change. Rose is involved in two upcoming projects he vows he can't yet describe in detail. One is a new band he's heading, which will release its first CD in June.

The second he's even more mysterious about — "it's what Richmond has been dying for," he says elliptically. "A new playground."

Is Studio 54 going to be reborn in Virginia's capital? We'll find out. — M.S.S.

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