We Got The Beat! – A Chat With The Legendary Jackie Beat
She’s rowdy and she’s outrageous, the defining queen of live comedy and satirical parodies. She’s Jackie Beat! Her musical renditions and parodies of top pop hits, both unique and hysterical, have redefined the art of drag as we know it with boundary breaking lyrics and over the top scenarios, garnering her world wide acclaim and fandom.
Alongside such drag royalty as Lady Bunny and Divine, she is an inspiring and redefining tour de force and a certified gay icon, appearing on “Sex In The City” and fronting the Electroclash band Dirty Sanchez.
I had a chat with New York City’s famously outlandish superstar drag performance artist, and we dished the dirt and lifted our skirts to reveal the buzz on melodies, madness, Madonna and more.
How long have you been doing drag?
Oh Lord! Let’s just put it this way: In my very first publicity photo you can see The Hindenburg blowing up behind me! Seriously, last year I celebrated my 25th year of Jackie Beat. Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday I put on a little lip gloss and some mascara and started singing my subtle, classy songs.
Your favourite song to perform, or favourites.
I really love my parody of Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” Mine is called “Dildos Are Forever”, and sometimes when I’m singing it I think, “Damn, girl… YOU CAN SING!”
What makes you laugh?
All sorts of weird stuff, but mostly my dogs. It’s nearly impossible to be in a bad mood around them. Sadly, as a professional comedy writer who has worked for Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Ross Mathews and more, I don’t laugh out loud that often. I think most comedians sit there and think, “THAT was funny,” but they really crack up at stuff. I’ll tell you what doesn’t make me laugh: Videos of people hurting themselves or having the shit scared out of them. So not funny to me. Someone recently posted a video online of this poor guy cracked out of his mind, really tripping, and they’re mocking him and all the comments are how hilarious it is. So sad. The guy just breaks my heart. It’s not funny. Cruelty is not funny.
What pisses you off?
Specific things like people backing into parking spaces. What the fuck? Unless you are robbing the place and need a quick getaway, DO NOT BACK INTO PARKING PLACES! It also drives me crazy when I order a burger or a sandwich with extra pickles and they put a big pile of pickle slices right in the middle of it in a lump. SPREAD THEM OUT EVENLY, DAMMIT! You know, important stuff like that.
Who are your favourite musical divas?
I adore the aforementioned Shirley Bassey. I’m old school, so ladies like Eydie Gormé, Vikki Carr and Nina Simone. But I also loves me some rock divas like Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart, Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar.
Do you watch Drag Race, do you like it?
Of course I watch it. The United States military watches North Korea, right? I don’t really “enjoy” it, but I can appreciate how hard the girls work, and I think everyone agrees that this season is really an all-time low. There are some talented queens, but the “next drag superstar?” I don’t think so.
Your essential make up must, what product must you have in your make up bag?
A meatball sub.
Do you think Madonna has seen your “Gimme All Your Blood” parody (probably) and what do you think she’s thinking?
Of course she has and I think she cackled out loud at it. Then she slit the throat of a sacrificial goat and drank the warm blood right from it’s trachea.
Best experience in drag, what surprised and delighted you, which experience?
There have been so many amazing moments it’s hard to choose. One of my favorites would be when Roseanne Barr was running for President and we did a big crazy fundraiser for her at The Abbey. She and I were onstage singing my parody of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as “Marijuana Is Fun”, because Roseanne supports legalization. Well, someone in the audience handed Roseanne a joint and she proceeded to spark it up and smoke it right on stage. Everyone went wild! It’s on YouTube.
Your most heinous experience in drag, what experience was awful or mortifying?
Singing at Madonna’s birthday a million years ago was not fun. She sat at a table, alone, staring at me while the entire room stared at her as if to ask, “Do we like this person or not?” Then she started heckling me by whining, “Sing a happy song!” I just looked at her and said, “Bitch, I don’t care who you are, shut up while I’m singing.” Well, the look on her face was priceless. She loved it! Which makes sense if you think about it. She’s surrounded by ass-kissing sycophants, and people like me are refreshing and exciting to her. That’s why she was friends with tell-it-like-it-is Sandra Bernhard, and married abusive brutes like Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie.
If you had 2 minutes on TV, through out every nation, every city in the world, what would your message be?
“Turn off your TV and go read a fucking book, you idiots!”
Click the link here Jackie Beat for updates, performances and more.
Pic courtesy of Magnus Hastings.
About the Author
The beautiful and legendary Donnarama has graced the stages of T.O with outrageous costumes and comedy skits, and there is never a dull moment! A scene queen and Canadian drag staple, her dedication, pioneering originality and uniqueness have scored her numerous awards, bar titles and visits to therapy. Visit Donnarama on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/donnarama.italiana