There's funny, and then there is funny. Jackie Beat is that latter, italicized kind of funny. It's only fitting that a comedic voice (and face!) like Jackie's has worked with other comedy legends including Roseanne Barr and the all-time greatest, Joan Rivers. Jackie doesn't just write hilarious material, she performs it live. That puts Ms. Beat in a unique class of drag performers. A class that in her own words, "doesn't have to wear heels" because they, "actually have talent!"
This holiday season again brings Jackie Beat's comedy to several great cities with her "Jackie Beat On Ice" show - which began Friday, December 5th in Los Angeles and continues on to Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City. I was lucky enough to catch the self-described "world's biggest bitch" before she began the run - check out what she has to say about comedy, drag, and life as a drag legend.
First things first. You worked with Joan Rivers. Ahhhh! Is there a particular memory of working with Joan you treasure?
Jackie: My favorite memory has to be when I came up with a gag for "Fashion Police" and she loved it! I suggested she tell one of her signature zingers poking fun at her own aging genitalia and then sirens and bells would go off and balloons and confetti would fall from the ceiling. Then someone would walk out and hand her a big sign - like one of those oversized sweepstakes checks - that read "Congratulations On Your One Millionth Vagina Joke!" Joan would do anything for a laugh.
You opened for Roseanne Barr on one of her tours, including your several week run at the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas. Some might call that a "crossover" - how did you find the crowds at those shows?
Jackie: They were surprisingly conservative. Roseanne would be backstage right before the show and say, "Sing the song about the big dicks, I wanna' fuck with them tonight!" I'd look out and see some straight guy with a scowl on his face and his arms crossed and I'd say, "Sir, if you uncross your arms and crack a smile I promise not to dive into the audience and blow you!" All in all, it was great fun, but Vegas's idea of drag is a celebrity impersonator lip synching one of their hits, not a big scary clown with a mouth like a truck driver!
Who are some big comedians "of the moment" that you haven't worked with but enjoy?
Jackie: I love Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Louis CK and I would cut off my right arm to do ANYTHING with Amy Sedaris. Seriously, I would give her a pedicure with my remaining arm.
Song parody is a tenet of your live show. Is it more difficult to make parodies of contemporary songs than it used to be?
Jackie: I always tell people that a parody can only be as good as the original and, I hate to sound old, but most new music sucks. It's too repetitive and not well-structured. The other problem now is that everyone and their mother are doing song parodies. They are all over late-night TV and the Internet, so it's a little disheartening to sit down to write a parody of "All About That Bass" when there have already been a few hundred sent out into the atmosphere.
Very few performers have graced stages as long as you have. What has been the biggest change you've noticed in your audiences over the years?
Jackie: They need to be reminded that they are not watching TV, that I am actually there and they should actually respond. I am not shy to also inform people that texting during a show is unacceptable. This one girl was texting and I told her to stop and she whined, "For your information I am texting my friend about how fabulous you are!" I responded, "Thanks. That's sort of like telling a kid, 'I'm only molesting you because you're adorable.'" She put her phone away.
How have the venues where you perform changed since the beginning of your career?
Jackie: Before the Internet people had to go out to meet other people, that's the biggest difference. Now there's an app to "order in" whatever you're craving, from Mexican food to a Mexican man. And Drag Race has brought drag into people's homes and made it much more acceptable and mainstream. In a way I think that's great, but in another it's kind of sad. It's not very dangerous anymore.
You claimed the name Drag Race before another famous drag queen came along and created the show herself. Other than never agreeing to do this interview, what would have been different if you had been the one hosting the show?
Jackie: I would have liked to focus more on their group living situation, like on "America's Next Top Model." I hate to say it, but let's see a few catfights, right?
Who are your favorite drag stars to work with? Who are your least favorite drag stars to work with?
Jackie: Well, my best drag girlfriend is Sherry Vine. We have done tons of gigs and projects together - everything from short films to Off-Broadway. The New York Times called us the "Laurel and Hardy of drag." I also love Lady Bunny, Dina Martina, Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman and Ryan Landry. Then there are people like Jimmy James, Candis Cayne and Calpernia Addams whom I adore, but aren't really "drag queens" per se. As far as people I have not enjoyed working with, there are very few and I don't want to name names. I will say this: I think the less-talented a person is the more likely they are to be difficult. For them it's all smoke and mirrors and they think, "This is how a big star would act, so..." The sad thing is that they are not only no fun to work with, but they also don't deliver.
What do you make of this wave of political correctness sweeping the gay community? Is it good that we're striving to never say anything offensive?
Jackie: It's just laziness and, in most cases, a lack of intelligence. The general public no longer has any critical thinking skills. People can't deal with gray areas; everything is either black or white. You're either Mother Theresa or Hitler. And no one has the time or energy for irony, which is saying one thing to express the complete opposite. If I sing a song praising the KKK or a pedophile or a homophobe, it's because I'm actually making fun of them.
Watching other drag queens at the shows you host or perform in, what is the biggest mistake you seem them make time and time again?
Jackie: I see them trying to be bitchy and catty, but failing to make fun of themselves first. And the biggest mistake that anyone - drag queen or otherwise - can make is taking themselves too seriously. Get over yourself; you're dressed like a prostitute clown.
What is the most trouble you've ever gotten in for something you've done on stage?
Jackie: I told a story that included the N-word, but I didn't say "the N-word" I actually said THE word. It was something some straight douche bag yelled out a car window at a bunch of us outside The Cock in New York City, so I was quoting this ignorant idiot. Well someone in the audience just heard that one word, not the context, and went ballistic. They came on stage and a riot broke out. Then there was the time I sang my parody of Bryan Adams' "Heaven" called "Seven." It's about dating a 7 year-old, but the butt of the joke is not the victim, it's the delusional fool who thinks this is a valid, normal relationship. Well, some guy stood up and stormed out. He told the manager of the venue that it was illegal to sing about such things and that he was calling the police. I'm not sure what happened after that, but I was not arrested and I finished the show.
Any words of advice for those kids out there with dreams of drag stardom?
Jackie: Yeah, don't do it. The last thing I need is even more bitches out there taking jobs away from me!
Don't miss your chance to see the Jackie Beat perform live in your city! Keep up to date with her schedule HERE