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SGN Exclusive Interview: Jackie Beat
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SGN Exclusive Interview: Jackie Beat

Seattle gets one night to catch razor-sharp drag superstar

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Jackie Beat
March 24 at 9 PM
Julia's on Broadway


Drag superstar Jackie Beat has been entertaining audiences across the U.S. and in Europe for over 10 years with her razor-sharp comedy and hysterical song parodies. The TV, film, and stage drag sensation is bringing her one-woman show to Julia's on Broadway for one night only. This is a show that you don't want to miss, Seattle!

The self-described "middle-aged man dressed up like a rodeo clown whore" is one of the funniest and most talented acts to grace the stage. Besides foot-stomping comedy, Jackie Beat is best known for her knack for parodying songs with a Gay theme. She's destroyed - or improved (depending on how you look at it!) - hits by Britney Spears, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Christina Aguilera, Cher, and many others. However, unlike most of her fellow drag queens, Jackie Beat sings all her twisted versions live.

"I love all music, but really love older music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, so I have to force myself to do current hits," Jackie Beat told SGN. "Most new songs are so repetitive and over-produced that it's really difficult to do a good parody of them - but I try to do the huge hits. I am working on a Lady Gaga medley and I have to fight the urge to do really stupid stuff like turn 'Just Dance' into a song about my dream of owning a lighting fixture boutique called 'Just Lamps.'"

Jackie Beat has visited the Emerald City before, performing with the popular electroclash band she fronts, Dirty Sanchez, but has never performed her drag show here - until now. "I've visited Seattle many times," Jackie Beat told SGN. "Seattle is great fun and is, of course, the hometown of my rock idols, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart."

Like many a famous drag superstar, the transition from up-and-coming performer to pop-culture diva didn't happen overnight. The artist who appeared on Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV wasn't always the Jackie Beat the world has come to know and love. "When I first started performing, I did stand-up comedy in the form of beatnik poetry," she explained. "I wore all black and made the audience snap their fingers instead of clap. I wanted the most 1960s-sounding name, and I almost chose 'Amanda Haight' - spelled like the epicenter of the '60s subculture in San Francisco, the Haight/Ashbury. I am so glad that I did not opt for a play-on-words name, and I also appreciate that 'Jackie' is a somewhat unisex name."

These days, Jackie Beat says that living life as a known drag artist is "pretty crazy."

"Traveling is such a pain in the ass these post-9/11 days, and, sadly, I am not famous enough to demand a first-class ticket! So there I am, a huge superstar - figuratively and literally - crammed into a minuscule coach seat like common trash," joked Jackie Beat, who travels from coast-to-coast to perform. "I mean, don't they know who I think I am?"

Jackie Beat has earned the praise of Hollywood for her shows. Comedian Roseanne Barr has called Jackie Beat "the greatest drag queen on earth!"

"I adore Roseanne Barr because she came to see me and, like many celebrities, had a few drinks and loved my show and said, 'I want to work with you!' But unlike those other celebrities, she actually called me the next day and made it happen!"

"Touring with her as her opening act was amazing," she said. "She is very supportive and maternal."

"I also love Sandra Bernhardt," Jackie Beat said. "She is the reason I am a performer. She is brilliant and hilarious and poignant and gorgeous and hideous. She redefined what comedy and cabaret singing could be."

Keeping up with current and popular trends can be tiresome for anyone. Because of travel constraints, Jackie Beat says her TV exposure is limited. Still, every now and then she enjoys watching I Survived But I Should Be Dead on TLC. "It's so horrible, but when my fat ass is crammed into a tiny seat on a plane, I think about some poor bitch who has been stabbed 37 times and thrown down a ravine," she joked, "Suddenly, my life ain't so bad, you know?"

Yes, Jackie Beat's sense of humor is twisted, but that is why audiences love her. Her one-woman show, Jackie Beat Is a Whole Lotta' Love ran a record 18 months at NYC's premiere cabaret, Fez, and she returns every year with her award-winning, standing-room-only Christmas show.

Jackie Beat says she has some advice for the up-and-coming "baby" drag queens: "Shave your eyebrows off, always wear nails, and figure out who you are," she said. "In other words, are you the funny girl, the serious diva, or the trashy whore?"

"I am not a big fan of lip synching, but if you are going to do it, then please, for God's sake, choose a song that the DJ will not play," said Jackie Beat. "Do not do the biggest hit at the moment. Choose an interesting number that is somewhat unique and obscure and - please - know the motherfucking words!"

If you read that and are thinking, "Yes ma'am!" then Jackie Beat is your girl. It is a requirement that you check your attitude at the door and prepare to laugh your ass off during her 90-minute set.

"As a solo artist and a control freak, I really do love to work alone, but I have had lots of fun doing videos and shows with friends," she said. "I do lots of stuff with my best friend and Dirty Sanchez band mate Mario Diaz. He's hardworking and fun and has the same sense of humor as me."

"I adore my gal pals Nadya Ginsburg and Selene Luna," Jackie Beat said. "We are all over YouTube together in things like our commercial parodies and the fake sitcom 'Cher & Chaz.'"

So what's next for Jackie Beat, the drag queen who seems to have it all, after her Julia's on Broadway show? "I would like to do a hardcore sex scene with Collin Farrell," she quipped.

Jackie Beat at Julia's on Broadway, brought to you by Art Ruiz, is booked for March 24. Tickets are available for $20 general admission and $30 VIP (priority seating and a free gift) in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/99921. Dinner is available starting at 7 p.m., with the show opening at 9 p.m. For dinner reservations and group seating, call (206) 334-0513.

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