The thoughts and Prayers are with AJ Perelli and his family. AJ, the cowboy of Village People either fell or was attacked and sustained significant brain damage and injury to the back of his head, and is in a coma. AJ is 24 years old.
Astoria Native Hopes To Follow In The Steps Of Other Local Greats
For as long as he can remember, Anthony Joseph (A.J.) Perrelli, has been a performer.
The Astoria native spoke with the Queens Gazette on his dancing and acting career and current role as a member of the famous disco group, the Village People.
Born in Flushing Hospital, Perrelli’s family has been established in Western Queens for more than a century. Perrelli, currently living near 14th Street, began performing at a young age, when he took up the trumpet.
The biggest inspiration in his life, said Perrelli, was his grandfather who was known as the “Mayor of Astoria”.
Perrelli’s run in show business extends itself well into his family’s timeline. His grandparents recall shopping at the Walken Bakery owned by the parents of Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Walken. Other Queens natives also influenced Perrelli including Adrian Brody (another Oscar winner), Lucy Liu and singer Tony Bennett.
Dancing is Perrelli’s first love in the world of performing. After a car accident in Florida landed him in a wheelchair for several months, he was more determined than ever to get back on his feet.
He learned to walk on stilts and landed a job with Disney Live, which sent him on performances around the world. He lived in Asia for 18 months and spent nine months in Europe.
“It was an incredible experience,” Perrelli remembered. “I would wake up in Shanghai and then be on a flight to Tokyo and then next thing I knew I would be in Rome.”
After the experience, Perrelli wanted to hone his acting skills. He was accepted into the prestigious William Esper Acting Studio and is currently in a Webisode series called Psychodrama.
One of his biggest achievements to date came several months ago when he landed the gig in the role of the Cowboy (originally played by Jeff Olson) in the Village People.
“It was a total fluke but so far it’s been a great experience,” Perrelli said.
He made his debut with the Village People last week when they performed at the Resorts World Casino New York City.
So far, the serendipitous relationship between Perrelli and the world of acting is still going strong. Famous Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men) is filming in his grandmother’s home as a location for his latest film.
“I didn’t waste any time,” Perrelli admitted. “I gave Alfonso Cuaron my headshot and resume and maybe it will turn into something.”
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