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"The Village People on USO Tour"

Antoine Bel Verdure

As official painter for the United Service Organization (USO), Bel Verdure got to accompany many top acts on their tours to military outposts around the world. Here he records the grand finale of the flamboyantly gay group as they perform "In the Navy" aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz.

Bel Verdure's subsequent series of 5 paintings done later that same evening, tentatively entitled "After the Show," were confiscated under the War Secrets Act, especially the one of the Admiral playing "grease the cannon" with two midshipmen and a tub of cosmoline. The painter himself did not escape censure; his brushes were decommissioned and his requests for canvas were forwarded to the USN Sailing Vessel Outfitter in Newport News from that point on. A month or so later, due to a paperwork mixup, he was reassigned to painting ships — the hard way — until his medical discharge for "rusty lung" in 1987.


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