Inside the world of Jackie Beat
US entertainer Jackie Beat has found international success with the drag genre by mixing it with TV, music, writing, comedy and performance. Ahead of her Sydney shows, the drag star caught up with SX.
TV, film, music, stage and writing – US entertainer Jackie Beat is among the handful of performers who have found success through the art of drag.
Jackie's one-woman show Jackie Beat Is A Whole Lotta Love ran for a record 18-months in New York while her annual award-winning holiday show plays to sold out crowds every year. Jackie's stand-up has been featured on Comedy Central, VH-1 and MTV and she has written for shows like Hype! and the Sci-Fi Channel. In TV and film, Jackie has appeared on Sex and the City, starred with Robert DeNiro in Flawless and was feature on the festival hit Wigstock: The Movie. And she's the lead singer of the electro rock band Dirty Sanchez.
Jackie is in Sydney as the special guest for the DIVA awards (October 24) and will perform for two nights at The Supper Club (October 27 & 29). Ahead of her arrival, SX caught up with Jackie to talk life, fame, performance and finding success with drag.SX:
SX: You're one of a few accomplished people in the world who have found success with drag by mixing it with TV, music, writing and performance – how does it feel to be on top of your game?
Jackie: It feels great! I am very grateful and I know that any success in show business is a rare thing. And any mainstream success as a drag queen is even more rare. I have slammed my makeup-covered face against the glass ceiling more times than I would like to remember. The truth is that 99% of the world still doesn't know who I am, but then there are people with tattoos of me! It's crazy.
Tell us about your first introduction into drag. What was your earliest drag memory?
Like most gay men, I did it for Halloween first. With my bushy eyebrows I looked like a butch Brooke Shields, but there was something about it that clicked.
At what point did it become a genuine career path for you?
I did an open mic night talent show in WeHo [West Hollywood] and won. The laughter, applause and the cash prize were all I needed to realise, "Hey, I could really do this!"
Who inspires your drag performance and aesthetic?
First, there must be some humour and or irony. Also, vulnerability. I see other drag queens trying to do what I do and they only get the bitchy part or the dirty part, but they don't realise that I make fun of myself first or that even my filthiest song has a plot twist or something important to say. I don't consciously think of this when I am writing or performing, it just comes naturally. And I really owe a big thank you to all the Disney villainesses who inspired my makeup!
Tell us about Jackie Beat Is A Whole Lotta Love, which ran for a record 18 months. Were you surprised at people's responses to the show?
I'm always surprised, but in another way I am not, if that makes sense. I always tell people that I do the kind of show that I would like to see, so if I am surprised at anything it's the fact that so many people obviously think the way I do. Thank God there are a lot of sick people out there!
And you have an annual holiday showcase – how does feel about that project's enduring success?
Well, my twisted song parodies are what people really love – so when you take beloved, sweet holiday favorites and turn them into hideous songs about sex and drugs and explosive diarrhoea, you're really spinning straw into gold!
You're also a writer with TV credits to your name. Tell us about this aspect of your career.
Well, thanks to reality TV, there isn't as much [writing] work out there as there used to be. But I love writing more than anything else. Many years ago a friend of mine had a numerologist over and she offered me a reading. She asked my name and I wasn't sure which one to give her – my real name [Kent Fuher] or my relatively new stage name. Since I wanted to know about my career, she did Jackie Beat and told me, "This name is all about the written word!" I was like, "Really?" but that has turned out to be so true.
And speaking of TV, you've appeared in a number of programs and films. What would you consider as one of the highlights?
The movie Flawless was probably the biggest budget thing I have done so I got my own little dressing room trailer, I didn't have to wear my own wigs or costumes, and the food was good. It's sad, but that makes it a highlight! I'm used to, "We have no money. Can you bring a few outfits? I hope you like pizza..."
You're the lead singer for the band Dirty Sanchez. Tell us about this project.
We started the band as a total joke and ended up getting a record deal and going on tour with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. It was strange to walk out on stage at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip and see 500 people singing a song I wrote. And they knew the words better than I did!
You're in Sydney for the DIVAs and appearing for two night at The Supper Club at the Oxford Hotel. What can we expect from your showcase?
A great show! I always say, "If you're blind then you will enjoy my singing and comedy, if you're deaf then you will enjoy my look, but if you happen to be blessed with both sight and hearing then you are really in for a treat!"
What is your advice to budding drag queens out there?
Evolve. Putting on a dress and moving your lips ain't enough anymore, honey!
Jackie Beat: Intimate and Live is on Thursday, October 27 and Saturday, October 29 at The Supper Club at Oxford Hotel. Tix $35 from www.moshtix.com.au. Jackie will also appear the DIVA awards on Monday, October 24 at Byron Kennedy Hall in Moore Park. Go to www.divaawards.com.au.