Main > Series > Articles/Interviews > Heart-To-Heart With Hufsey
Billy Tells TEEN BEAT All About His Secret Dance Lessons, His Career As A Boxer, His Hobbies, Hopes And Dreams!
TOUGH GUY ACTOR BILLY Hufsey's pals all laughed at him when he switched his boxing gloves for dancing shoes. Nobody in their right mind would take, up dancing-not from the Brooke Park Gang! And especially not if his family all saw him as a future champ in the ring. But now, the laugh is on them. Billy has a lead role - Christopher Donlon - in TVs long running series Fame, which is a hit all over the world.
"I had to lie to my friends back in Cleveland and sneak off to the studio to take ballet lessons," recalls Billy. "Dancing was definitely for softies,people who couldn't use their fists." Now,of course, he couldn't care less if his friends see him dancing-for he is on his way to becoming a Hollywood legend with his feet, not with his fists.
In an exclusive interview at his bachelor pad in West Los Angeles, Billy said, "Both my father and my uncle dreamed of me being a boxing champ. It's all they lived for. They had both wanted to be champs themselves, but never had the opportunity. They saw that chance through me."
Billy had 36 fights-both as a light and welterweight and was undefeated. And 25 of those bouts ended in KO's! "I didn't have a shabby record," he said proudly. "I made it to the Golden Gloves tournament without too much trouble."
But tragedy struck the aspiring fighter in 1978 when he over-extended his arm during a bout in the Golden Gloves championship. "The doctor told me my days in the ring were over and that I would never fight again. I just didn't believe him - fighting was my life. And that night I was back in the local gym training as though nothing had happened. But the arm injury recurred and this time while I was down on the canvas, I couldn't move my right arm at all. It was as though it was paralyzed. I knew then that I was not going to be the boxer I wanted to be. My main ambition was to fight in the Olympics. I didn't see myself as a Sugar Ray Leonard - I just wanted to fight for my country. But it wasn't to be."
By then, the disco craze had swept America and Billy began sneaking into local dance clubs. "As Muhammad Ali would say, I wasn't a bad dancer in the ring, so dancing on the floor with a pretty girl came easy, too. Secretly, I signed on with a dance studio and took ballet lessons. My friends would have crucified me alive if they had known where I was going at nights. I had to lie to them - there was no way on earth I could tell them the truth - in our neighborhood and with the mob I was hanging around with? You must be joking. I would have been branded a real sissy."
His big break came when Billy entered a dance contest at a nearby disco. "It wasn't so much the dancing as the $1,000 first prize that attracted me," he said. "But I went religiously week after week. Eventually, just before the final when I had gathered some confidence in myself, I told some of my friends and they came along to watch. I changed clothes in the men's room and went up on the floor. All these 240-pounders laughed at me at first, but they all got very quiet when I picked up the grand!"
Later, Billy won the Mr. Disco USA title and decided to try and make a name for himself in Hollywood. But unlike many of the young hopefuls who wind up in California - and never do make it - Billy landed his first job in three days, with a dance troupe.
"Not even my parents thought I would do any good out here," he said. "They tried to discourage me when I said I was leaving home for good at 18. So I knew I just had to make a go of it. I have to admit that I have never really suffered much-like some of the others on Fame - but I have been pretty broke a few times.
"It seems to be pretty much part of the training in showbiz to be poor in the early days, I guess. Then when you do make some money, you appreciate things a lot more. I am no millionaire yet, but I like the idea of having money in the bank now. When times were hard before, I could always get a job as a d.j. or a bouncer in some joint or another." He added, "I don't smoke or drink, I save every penny I make. And I don't have a regular girlfriend, I am still looking around."
Billy drives a motorcycle and a vintage MG sports car. Said he, 'When I am not on the set, I spend most of my spare time tinkering with cars and reselling them for profit with a partner. Right now I have a beautiful Porsche I have just rebuilt."
Although much of his role in Fame involves dancing, Billy regards himself as an actor first. And, Incredibly, he has never had an acting lesson in his life! "I am one of the lucky ones, I suppose," he says, modestly.
And every now and then, he gets a hankering for the smell of the boxing ring! "When I first joined Fame, I was very much the new boy. Whenever there's a new kid on the block, they all watch you to see how you are going to shape up. I was lonely and missed boxing a lot then. But now I feel very much a part of the family. However, It doesn't stop me from watching the fights on TV or even having a little bet now and then. And if I'm really tempted, I can always sneak off to Las Vegas and see the real thing!"