Call Redialed: Jackie Beat: Birthday Bitch! at The Laurie Beechman Theatre
I am beyond thrilled that Jackie Beat answered my call yet again! I love interviewing Jackie Beat. She keeps me laughing the whole time with her brilliant sense of humor! In this interview we get the party started with a pre-birthday celebration by talking about her new show coming to The Laurie Beechman Theatre entitled Birthday Bitch!
Everyone knows that Jackie Beat is a big bitch. And a talented bitch. A shady bitch. A fierce bitch. A sick bitch. But this July, Jackie Beat is also a BIRTHDAY BITCH! To celebrate her birthday weekend, Miss Beat is invading New York, unwrapping some new parody songs and sharing some of her greatest hits. So here are the ground rules: Do not make eye contact. Do not ask "how old?" Laugh loudly. Drink. Gifts optional.
Birthday Bitch! will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) July 22 at 8pm & July 23 at 4pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This July, you are once again returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with your new show Birthday Bitch! What are you looking forward to about celebrating your birthday at The Laurie Beechman Theatre with your fans? Well, all joking aside, there is no place I would rather be! Except maybe in bed with my dogs watching Netflix. Or at a grand opening of a new Arby's - with unlimited free Beef & Cheddar sandwiches. But after those options, on stage in full clown singing my balls off is definitely my third choice for best place to celebrate getting one year closer to death!
2. For some people, their birthday is a time for renewal and at this bash, you will be unwrapping some new parodies. I will leave the parodies as a surprise for those who attend your show, but what I want to know is, what do you hope to unwrap for yourself either professionally or personally that you have not gotten to yet? Time to get serious kids. I would really like to unwrap some peace-of-mind. It may be hard to believe, seeing how I have been doing this for close to thirty years now, but what with Drag Race and the mainstream popularity of drag in general, it's gotten harder. I'm like everyone else and I often compare myself to others. And when those others are half my age and have been on a wildly-popular TV show, sometimes it can get to me. But then I take a deep breath and think, "Hey, you're Jackie Beat goddamn it!" Then I yell, "Snap out of it!" in my best Cher voice and slap myself across the face. So yeah, a little much-needed boost of self-confidence would be a great birthday present. And I realize it's something that only I can give to myself. And if I can't have that, maybe a $50 gift certificate for Arby's?
3. One thing attendees should know is that there are some ground rules for your Birthday Bitch! show: Do not make eye contact. Do not ask "how old?" Laugh loudly. Drink. Gifts optional. What will happen if someone breaks these rules? Are there different punishments for breaking each rule? GIFTS OPTIONAL!? Are you fucking new? Gifts are mandatory. I put the MAN in mandatory. And as far as punishment for breaking my rules, I think people are well aware of just how painful being read to filth in front of an entire roomful of fellow sodomites can be. Se be on your best behavior, kids! And bring presents.
4. What are some gifts you would like to receive this year? (Think of this as your registry). I really do love a nice gift card. You know, Starbucks, Bed Bath & Beyond, Trader Joe's. I'll avoid mentioning Arby's yet again so as not to make anyone think I'm shamelessly trying to land a lucrative endorsement deal with the deliciously trashy fast-food chain. I appreciate fan art, but - let's be honest - if it really looks like me I'm probably just going to get depressed. I also love accessories and makeup, but frankly, I have enough to last me the rest of my life. That's right, I have a 6-month supply! See what I did there? I guess if you really love me, you could start a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to have Lady Bunny brutally murdered. And not just brutally, but SLOWLY. Happy Birthday to me!
5. You have been described as a big bitch. And a talented bitch. A shady bitch. A fierce bitch. A sick bitch. Out of everything you've done in your career, was there one or two things that made you feel as though it took more talent than something else? If so, what were those things that took more talent? Well, first of all I will say this: I'm very proud of becoming a successful drag queen before it was socially acceptable. I mean, there were Gay bars - leather bars in particular - that wouldn't even let drag queens in the door! Now they all have their RuPaul's Drag Race viewing parties and every event has a drag queen hosting and/or performing. Don't get me wrong, that's progress! After all, the only difference between a drag queen and a leather queen in their choice of fabric. All I am saying is that back in the day drag only appealed to a very specific kind of drama class/glee club outcast/misfit if you will. Now it's the cool kids! Which, again, is great! And, trust me, no one became a drag queen to make money! Also, me and Sherry Vine and Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman and Lady Bunny and so many others couldn't just go onto YouTube and watch makeup tutorials.
But I guess what I most proud of is that I am a drag queen who can sing a rock song with a live band, play Bea Arthur as "Dorothy Zbornak" in a stage version of The Golden Girls, put on a 75-minute solo show and write material for people like Margaret Cho and Ross Mathews. I'm very well-rounded! But most of the credit for that goes to Arby's.
6. What is the shadiest thing you've ever done? What is the most fierce thing you've done? I'm honestly not that shady. And I'm sure there are some people who are rolling their eyes right now reading that, but it's true. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am a very loving person. Listen, we all have our moments. And I have certainly opened my big fat mouth and/or posted a Tweet before thinking that I later regretted. Unfortunately, that's the flip-side of being a comedian. What works on stage - saying the first and/or worst thing that pops into your head - doesn't always work in real life. I've had to apologize many times, trust me. That's why I feel for people like Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher. We want our comedians to be outrageous and push the envelope and then when they make a mistake or go too far, we crucify them. It's like getting mad at someone for pulling your hair or calling you a filthy whore during sex. Hey, it was done in the heat of the moment. I went too far. I'm sorry!
And as far as the fiercest thing, I'd have to say refusing to water-down my political beliefs and my unbridled hatred of Donald Trump. On the Drag Queens of Comedy Tour I sang a song that ripped him a new one and occasionally there would be someone in the audience who voted for him who would get upset. In Chicago an older drag queen dripping in rhinestones and wearing a tiara made a big scene and stormed out during my number. I mean, can you imagine?
7. I can't believe we have done two prior interviews together and I never asked you how did you come up with your persona Jackie Beat? Oh God, it's such a long fucking story! When I first moved to LA way back in the 1980's, I considered myself a serious artist and poet. I used to go to this one open mic poetry night in Hollywood week after week and sign up, but because they always gave B-List celebrities priority, I never got to read my stuff. Well, one week I got so pissed off that I got in drag. I just put on a black turtleneck, a black skirt, black boots, black wig & a black beret. I wrote a "Beatnik" poem - which was essentially just a high-concept stand-up comedy routine. Well, not only did they not let me read my poem, they wouldn't even let me in the club! So I went to WeHo, to the gay bar Rage, and it was a talent contest that night. I decided to read my poem there. They asked me my name for the sign-up list and I just thought of the most Sixties thing I could think of: Jackie Beat. It was part Jack Kerouac, part Jackie Kennedy. Anyway, to make a long story short - TOO LATE! - I won the contest and the rest is history.
8. Since you are the Birthday Bitch! what is your birthday wish for your fans who continue to support you? Just keep laughing. Don't be so touchy and easily offended. And let's please fight the real enemy, not each other. If a comedian says something, take a moment to consider the context. Is it irony? Are they perhaps portraying an ignorant "character?" Are they playing devil's advocate? Or is the only possible conclusion that they are in fact a horrible transphobic racist monster who just accidentally revealed how they truly feel? Do the math. It's NEVER that last one, people.
9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Eat 1% less Arby's!
More on Jackie:
Jackie Beat is the self-professed bastard child of "Weird" Al Yankovic and buxom Bette Midler. An award-winning drag darling, Jackie Beat has been wowing unsuspecting audiences since 1989. She has toured with Roseanne Barr -- as the comic legend’s opening act -- including a 7-week run at The New York New York in Las Vegas; written for TV (Fashion Police, Hello Ross, Hype! and others) and collaborated on special material with the like of Roseanne, Rosie O’Donnell and Jennifer Coolidge; appeared in countless TV shows (Sex and the City), Movies (Grief, Wigstock The Movie, Flawless, Adam & Steve) and Off-Broadway hits (Valley of the Dolls, Tell-Tale!). She has been named Best Drag Queen by New York Press and Best Live Performance by HX Magazine. Jackie is also a columnist, lead singer for the electro-rock band, Dirty Sanchez, and the subject of the documentary film My Name is Jackie Beat including commentary from Joan Rivers, Margaret Cho, and Roseanne.