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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 06
Jimmy James, diva of a thousand voices
Arts & Entertainment
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Jimmy James, diva of a thousand voices

by Aiden Klein - Special to the SGN

Unabashed. Unashamed. Outrageous. Jimmy James' talent spans over three decades and has only gotten better with time. If his February 4 appearance at Re-Bar (1114 Howell St.) was any measure, it is safe to say his vocal ability is unlike anything you will ever witness. His ability to imitate Cher, Tina Turner, and Eartha Kitt - which only scratch the surface of his repertoire - is uncanny.

The intimate setting at Re-Bar allowed Jimmy to engage his audience in a way that made it seem as though he were talking with old friends. In many ways, he was; about half the audience has followed Jimmy's career. The other half - such as myself - were newbies. By show's end, camps were equally enthralled - there is no doubt about it, Jimmy James is an act you won't want to miss whenever he comes to town.

Much more than just a show of straight-on impersonations, Jimmy is comfortable onstage and uses his ability as a diva and comedian to entertain. A good example would be his rendition of Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis in the 1962 classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?). While the impersonation was striking, it was the song that he imagined Ms. Davis should have sung as Baby Jane Hudson that had the audience in stitches. Jimmy sang 'Feliz Navidad' as the disturbed and tormented Baby Jane in a way that only she could deliver. Flawless. Funny. Fierce!

Jimmy's audacity to sing a duet of Barbara Streisand and Judy Garland - and deliver it with such conviction - was a true highlight to an already spellbinding show. A standing ovation was in order, because not only did he deliver the performance with passion and drive, his vocals were so good the audience felt as though we were actually witnessing this duet in person. You essentially forgot it was Jimmy and began to picture Babs and Judy onstage. Simply amazing.

During intermission, Jimmy entertained the audience with a video montage of his famous Marilyn Monroe days. During the early '90s, the star was in high demand, so he appeared as Marilyn on the talk show circuit and was showcased on Geraldo Rivera, Joan Rivers, and Sally Jesse Rafael. From the mid 1980s to the late 1990s, his visual and vocal impersonation of Marilyn Monroe was considered uncanny and unrivaled by anyone else, male or female. By 1997, Jimmy had retired the Marilyn part of his act, leaving his uncanny recreation of her image forever perfect.

After wowing the crowd for close to two hours, Jimmy's final number was the smash club hit 'Fashionista.' The song has become a dance club and drag queen favorite; it was a Billboard Club Chart smash that ignited dance floors and fashion shows worldwide. In 2006 it climbed to the top of the Billboard Dance Charts with rave reviews. Jimmy's live vocals of the song at Re-Bar did not disappoint. It was the perfect ending to an already perfect show.

Jimmy James is in high demand and the management at Re-Bar took notice. Carla, the owner of Re-Bar, assured Jimmy and the crowd in attendance that she would definitely have Jimmy back very soon. To anyone who missed the first performance, I implore you not to miss him the second time. Jimmy is a force to be reckoned with. He owns the stage and the audience from the opening number until curtain call.

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