Jackie Beat. Where do I even start?! The name itself is an institution. Few queens have led (or continue to lead) a career as diverse or of such a high calibre as Ms. Beat. Whether sending up ‘Icons’ of pop culture or putting an old spin on a classic such as ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’, Jackie oozes talent and a level of comedic timing that few contemporaries could boast to match.
Her contribution to the world of drag has been immense as she has raised the bar to a higher level through multi-disciplinary projects that have effected both the mainstream gay and alternative cultures.
Jackie Beat is one of THE greatest queens of ALL TIME!
I’m going to stop gushing now, promise, after all y’all wanna read her words, not mine. So without further ado… Please, make way, for the beautiful, the legendary… JACKIE BEAT!
D) Most recently you crowd sourced funding to undergo a double hip replacement. Were you surprised by the response, or rather, did you expect the outpouring of support you received?
Jackie) Let me tell you something, asking for help was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Seriously. Allowing yourself is to be loved is not easy. And yes, I was completely shocked at how people I have never even met stepped up and helped out. I must admit, I think I worded my plea perfectly: It was part serious, part funny and I specifically said “If I have ever made you laugh please help,” and let’s be honest, I’ve made a lot of people laugh!
D) Your parody videos and songs are INFAMOUS! Hell, even the Church of Satan love you! What particularly inspires a great parody piece and what continues to draw you to revisit songs both past and present?
J) Well, I always tell people that a song parody can only be as good as the original and these new songs are IMPOSSIBLE! They are way too repetitive and poorly-structured. That’s why when I sat down to write my new show I quickly gave up on “Blurred Lines” and rewrote the Dean Martin song “That’s Amore” to be all about date rape. I know the song is ancient, but the song ended up great and people love how cheesy and old-school it is.
D) Of course, it would be remiss of me considering the previous question to avoid the incredible Madonna ‘Gimme all your Blood!’ parody. Something tells me that you aren’t hers or Lady Gaga’s greatest fan (thank god), what is it that makes you dislike them so much?
J) I don’t want to trash Madonna or Gaga — unless it’s creatively in a song or in my show. I think the best way to express my problem with them is that I can always “see the strings,” you know? I can imagine Gaga thinking, “This is weird…” as opposed to someone like Bjork who strikes me as a REAL artist who does weird things organically. I could be 100% wrong, but that’s the best way I can describe it. Also, what pisses me off most about Gaga is that she can really sing and she is very talented, but then she dumbs it all down to write a stupid song like “Judas,” which made absolutely no sense. Is it just me or are the only people who give a flying fuck about Catholicism desperate, attention-seeking pop tarts? And Madonna should send a big Thank You muffin basket to Gaga with a card that says, “Thanks for making me look good!”
D) Recently you announced the showing of a rarely screened documentary that centres on yourself, are there any plans to release this on DVD? (Editors note: I want one!)
J) There are some problems with music rights so we cannot sell it. We have discussed maybe making it something you get for free when you join my fan club or something like that. I will let everyone know as soon as we figure it all out!
D) And what of your amazing stage show ‘Whatever Happened to Busty Jane?’, which was She-LARIOUS! I must have watched it on youtube a hundred times! You stated on your facebook account that the YT censors deemed a breach of your own copyright? Is this another project that you either plan to release on DVD or as a digital download?
J) Same problems, rights. No one really cares about a drag queen’s play in a small theater, but the moment it goes up on YouTube they notice that we used all sorts of music in between scenes and borrowed liberally from the original “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane” screenplay. And I don’t think the quality of the recording is good enough for a DVD.
D) It is worth asking at this point, about the circle of performers, writers etc. that have become synonymous with you. Mario Diaz, Selene Luna, Nadya Ginsburg, Calpernia Addams, Ross Mathews, Muffy Bolding and Austin Young. How have these relationships been cultivated and what has been their impact on your career?
J) I am blessed to be surrounded by interesting, talented people! I guess we are just drawn to each other. I am also friends with the creme de la creme of drag performers like Sherry Vine, Jimmy James, Coco Peru, Lady Bunny and Dina Martina. It’s a great support system. But people like Mario, Selene, Nadya and Muffy are what I call my “framily,” which is a family made up of friends. When you move to New York City or Hollywood to pursue your dreams, you need a circle of friends you can trust and count on.
D) You’ve been busy recently writing with Ross Mathews as well as comedy legend Joan Rivers for E!’s Fashion Police TV series, You’ve also had incredibly successful comedy solo tours and worked with the amazing Roseanne Barr – You’re career has been incredibly varied! How has your craft changed as these projects have been undertaken?
J) My goal now is to dress up in drag less and write more. And with Ross’s new show “Hello Ross” that is happening. I love performing, but at a certain age the traveling and the painting and the carrying-on is just exhausting. So now I can perform less frequently and it’s even more special that way. I have learned so much from working with legends like Roseanne and Joan. Roseanne is such a nurturing, maternal force who genuinely wants the best for her “comedy babies” like me. She was always thrilled when I did well when opening for her. Not all performers are like that, trust me. Do too well as their opening act and they get rid of you pretty quickly! Joan was like boot camp: Writing hundreds of jokes in a small amount of time, it really strengthened those muscles. I wish it had ended better with Joan. The “Fashion Police” writers are on strike right now and she says she supports us, but actions speak louder than words and it’s clear that, despite her image as a champion of the underdog, she simply cannot be bothered to get involved. Ross is amazing. His energy and positivity are infectious and I think that’s why his show will be a hit. Working with him is so much fun. We essentially get paid to laugh all day.
D) Many in the alternative scene were introduced to yourself through the electro-punk project, Dirty Sanchez. I regularly play tracks such as ‘Youth in Asia’ or ‘Fucking on the Dancefloor’ at Psychodrama (Gay alternative night club in the UK) to happy patrons. Firstly how did DS begin? Secondly, is there more to come? We’d love another album – and of course, a UK tour…
J) Like many things I do, it started out as a joke. Next thing I knew we had a record contract and were touring with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Every kid dreams of being a rock star and there is nothing better than standing on stage and the entire audience is singing every word of a song you wrote! I wrote “Really Rich Italian Satanists” as a tongue-in-cheek homage to Dario Argento, about these people who are so wealthy that they’ve seen and done it all and the only thing exciting left to do is kill people. It was a total joke, but the kids took it all so seriously and that’s great. Mario Diaz and DJ Barbeau are both super busy like me, so it’s hard to make time for Dirty Sanchez. But we do have some new music so keep your fingers crossed!
D) Complete side-note, and not everybody might be aware of this, but you’re a keen collector of vintage clothing and apparel, I loved the pictures of that glorious Yma Sumac Kaftan you posted some time ago – to DIE for! How did this obsession begin, not just with Yma Sumac of course, but with all things vintage?
J) Back in the ’80s when punk and new wave was popular, we would never have gone to a store and bought something off a rack where there was ten more items just like it. The point was to show up to a club looking original, like no one else. And we certainly wouldn’t be caught dead wearing giant logos on our clothing. As a creative person, I just love looking through old things and putting them together in interesting new ways. I feel the same way about housewares and art and knick-knacks. I want to be surrounded by beautiful things that have a past and a story to tell. It’s just like with my friends. They are all different, not just a bunch of twentysomething muscle queens. That’s a bore to me.
D) Drag is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts, how do you feel about Ms. Paul and the current wave of drag race contestants?
J) I appreciate all the Drag Race girls, but as Lady Bunny and I were discussing, they sure make it hard to get bookings. I do 90 minutes of live singing and comedy while some of these girls idea of a “show” is lip syncing one or two songs, but they pack the house because they’ve been on TV and everyone wants a photo with them. There are some genuinely talented ones like Jinkx, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot of “filler,” too.
D) As a queen who is regarded as one of the most influential in contemporary drag, what advice would you give to up and coming members of the drag scene?
J) Be an ARTIST! An artist warps and twists things. They take a song or a vision and they make it their own. Anyone can paint a face, but you know a Picasso when you see one. Anyone can lip sync a Katy Perry song, but an artist will take it further. Otherwise you may was well just be a rented clown at a children’s party. Scare people, confuse people, anger people, but please — for the love of God and the ghost of Divine — do NOT just move your lips to the latest hit song while dressed like one of the Kardashians.
D) Recently you reminisced with Sherry Vine about your stint of sleeping on her sofa for a year during the begin stages of your career. Considering all the people that you’ve worked with and what you’ve accomplished as well as (im sure) all the projects you have lined up, did you think that Drag would have opened up the doors that it did for you?
J) Never! If you had told me 20 years ago, “Guess what? You’ll be in a movie with Robert DeNiro, tour with Roseanne Barr, write jokes for Joan Rivers, travel the world and buy a big beautiful house in Los Angeles” I would have said, “You’re crazy!”
D) Finally, what is next for Jackie Beat, where can we catch you, what can we buy and what can we all be seen wearing (and where do we buy it from)?
J) Everyone should watch “Hello Ross” on E and if you want to download my world-famous sick & twisted song parodies you should visit http://www.MissJackieBeat.com
A massive thank you to Jackie for taking the time to Talk Toxic with me today, you are indeed the funniest woman in all of Hollywood and it has been an absolute pleasure!
Don’t forget, you can buy all things Jackie at her official website www.MissJackieBeat.com
Aaaaand, catch up with Jackies day to day via Frontiers magazine, here: http://www.frontiersla.com/Columns/Little-Miss-Know-It-All/home.aspx