Scream Queen Superstar: Jackie Beat Gets Gruesome at the Cavern Club
Any dude can throw on a dress, spew sassy one-liners, lip-sync the pop diva hit of the moment, and call themselves a queen. But real drag royalty, those who take performing to its most provocative and entertaining heights, are much fewer and further between. L.A.-based bitch goddess, Jackie Beat is definitely in the exclusive cross-dressin’ crew of drag performers as clever as they are camp and she’s got years under her waist-cincher to prove it, performing around the world (stand-up and music shows seen on Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV, tours with the likes of Roseanne Barr) and right here in L.A. at WeHo faves Hamburger Mary’s and Here.
This week, she the brings her vampy vox and skewering song stylings to the stage in Gruesome Twosome, a spooktacular Halloween show -with equally talented, dance-rock art tart Jer Ber Jones- at another of her haunts, Silver Lake’s Cavern Club. If it’s anywhere near the Holiday hi-jinx and hilarity we enjoyed at her X-mas show last year, prepare to laugh up a lung or two. We had a heart-warming chat with the witty/witchy wo(man) this week, and she spilled and thrilled us with everything from cheap makeup tips to Halloween costume ideas to her most shocking anthems to why dressing your kids up like KISS can turn ‘em into transvestites, sweet or otherwise. Read on, if you dare….
SC: Tell us about your new Gruesome Twosome Halloween show.
JB: Well, it’s part variety show and part creepy ABC Movie of the Week from the 1970s with just a little bit of Disneyland Haunted Mansion thrown in! Jer Ber and I play sisters -- one’s a bitch and the other’s a witch (guess what I play!?) and we are forced to live in an eerie old house together when I lose my house on account of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Our first night together under the same roof just happens to be Halloween! We have to sing, dance and wisecrack our way through the night! [It] was originally Robbie D.’s show -he plays Jer Ber Jones- and he asked me to be involved and we decided to just split the show right down the middle!
SC: What's great about Cavern versus other spots where you perform?
JB: The neighborhood feel. It really is one of the last art-for-art’s-sake places left in town. And the fact that people can get all liquored-up on muy delicioso margaritas sure helps when you’re trying to get laughs!
SC: You are the queen of song parodies. Tell us about a couple of your favorites, how you go about writing them and the reactions from the either the artists themselves or fans. Isn’t Madonna a fan by the way?
JB: I don’t know if Madonna is a fan -- after all, years ago when I performed at her birthday party and she kept heckling me with, “Sing a happy song!” I finally snapped, “Look bitch, I don’t care who you are, shut the fuck up while I’m singing!” She actually looked at me with awe and respect after that! My latest song parodies are “Back to Crack” (Back to Black) by Amy Winehouse, “I Kissed a Squirrel” (I Kissed A Girl) by Katy Perry and “Breathalyzer” (Womanizer) by Britney Spears. I really hate doing current pops songs because they are so poorly written and it’s hard to rewrite something when you’re starting with crap. I just rewrote Cole Porter’s “Night & Day” as “White & Gay” as an indictment to flip flop-wearing young queens who know nothing about anything other than Paris Hilton and porn -- and seem to be so damn proud of it!
SC: Is anything sacred when it comes to the subject matter of your shows/songs?
JB: I make fun of myself first and I am smart -- I think that’s the difference. I’ve seen queens try to do what I do and they are just nasty and bitchy to the audience -- no intelligence, no self-deprecating humor, no vulnerability. It’s my job to offend people and it’s so hard in 2008, especially when you are playing to the homosexual community who invented double fisting, but I manage to do it! I redid the Elvis classic “All Shook Up” recently as “All Torn Up” about how much damage anal sex can cause and the line “It looks like a shark without any teeth, that just threw up a pound of ground beef” shocked even me!
SC: Yikes…. Let’s uh, change gears okay? Your makeup always looks flawless. What brands/colors do you like to use onstage? We've seen you out at lunch and at the supermarket completely bare. Are you always un-dragged/au natural by day, and if yes, why?
JB: I use a lot of MAC, but not for base. I use old school Max Factor PanStik -- which was invented to reflect light. It’s like flesh-colored butter and relatively inexpensive. You have to beware of most drugstore makeup, with the exception of Maybelline mascara -- a classic! As my pal Jimmy James says, “Covergirl don’t cover boy!” I also shave off my eyebrows which is really the only way to do drag properly. And I never do drag unless I am making money so that’s why you never see me out and about lunching in West Hollywood all gussied up!
SC: Tell us about some of your favorite Halloween costume ideas… Any ideas for creative and or pop culture apropos looks this year?
JB: I have gone as Shelley Winters in the Poseidon Adventure, that’s always fun and good for a big-boned gal like myself. I always love to see a good Tippi Hedren from The Birds -- a nice retro skirt suit, a few well-placed prop seagulls and a just a touch of stage blood -- not too much, this is Hitchcock not DePalma. And speaking of DePalma, a bloody Carrie White in her all her prom finery is always a Halloween hit! I dressed like Ace Frehley of Kiss when I was a kid. I got to wear tons of makeup, a wig and platform boots. Needless to say, I was in heaven! They talk about gateway drugs, well for me, Kiss was a gateway drag!
SC: Okay, we're totally taking the Carrie idea! We definitely have the long '70's prom dresses in our closet! Speaking of closets, what is it about Halloween that brings out the freak -or tranny- in people?
JB: No offense, but as most drag queens will tell you, Halloween is for amateurs! Dress in full rodeo clown/whore drag at 12 noon on Flag Day and get back to me. Seriously, Halloween is obviously the one day when people can live out their sick & twisted fantasies.
SC: Your band with [club promoter] Mario Diaz always features fierce costumes. What’s the latest on Dirty Sanchez?
JB: Dirty Sanchez has new music coming out. Some of it’s very different, very ethereal and dare I say it, downright spiritual. We have to evolve. Everyone has done the nasty electro thing -- some of them not very well -- and we really feel like expressing something more human now. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still a party band! One of our new songs is called “Give Head and Be Beautiful”. It’s about how it doesn’t matter what you look like or how much you weigh -- when you are between someone’s legs making them very happy, you are the most beautiful person in the world to them at that very moment!
SC: You’re a big Obama supporter. Tell us something about that.
JB: It’s just plain common sense, people! Who do you want dealing with foreign heads of state: an eloquent, levelheaded, thoughtful man like Obama or the eye-rolling, disrespectful, doddering old “maverick” McSame? And don’t even get me started on Sarah Palin! She is to women what Jeffrey Dahmer was to gay men!
GET TIX TO GRUESOME TWOSOME NOW (THEY'RE GOIN' FAST!) AT www.Acteva.com/go/JackieBeat.