Arguably drag’s most prolific song parodist, this unfiltered and incomparable West Coast queen has been slaying venues across the globe for over two decades. Now we New Yorkers get a new chance to live the Jackie Beat Experience this weekend. Join Thotyssey as we meet Queen Beat!
Thotyssey: Jackie, hello! It’s a privilege to speak to such a legend of drag and nightlife… and comedy, too! Let me ask you right off the bat… who’s funny these days, in your opinion? A drag queen, a standup comic, a writer, a TV show, whatevs… who or what is making you laugh?
Jackie Beat: Lady Bunny always makes me laugh. I’m spoiled, because my friends are some of the funniest people on the planet! Dina Martina, Bianca Del Rio, John “Love Connie” Cantwell, Nadya Ginsburg… I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for not mentioning everyone. I also laugh out loud while watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
And Donald Trump makes me laugh quite frequently… but then I usually end up crying.
You’re quite well-known for your song parodies over the years. I can imagine they must number in thousands by now! What stands out today as some of the favorite parodies you’ve written/sang?
Everyone’s favorite is my parody of Toto’s “Africa.” People request it all the time, and I have to remind them that it’s the last song in a 20-minute Eighties Medley.I also love my parody of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” about the ultimate minority within a minority, “Jew Coloreds.”
It’s hard to pick a favorite! Some are just fun to sing, and others have a great memory attached. Like when I sang my parody of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” and a guy in the audience got up, stormed out and told the manager of the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York that he was calling the police! My version is about dating a 7 year-old. But in my defense, you’re laughing at the sick fuck who thinks that’s a valid relationship, not the kid!
I recently re-watched the Wigstock concert doc from 1994-95, and it made me nostalgic for the punk, counterculture edge of drag at that time. Do you miss the days of a less polished, “fuck you” style of drag?
Yes! Sherry Vine and I just wrote a parody of Queen’s classic “Killer Queen” as “Stepford Queen.” It’s about how now, thanks to the popularity of Drag Race, a lot of shows and Gay Pride celebrations are all-ages. I have no problem with family-friendly entertainment, but I’m a fucking monster, not the clown at a children’s party!
Also, your weight loss from that period to now is so inspiring! You look like a completely different person! May I ask what your secret is?
Honey, I may be thinner than my Wigstock The Movie days, but I am still a big girl! I have been morbidly obese and disturbingly emaciated, so while I am by no means thin right now, I feel healthy and happy.
Were you in town for DragCon this year?
No. I bought a new house and I have been remodeling it for a months now, and so DragCon kind of snuck up on me this year. Last year, I did a meet and greet with Alaska and Courtney Act. Their lines of fans were out the door. I had a person or two occasionally wander up for a photo or an autograph. That’s the power of TV. So I’m sure it was fun, but I didn’t really miss it that much!
At one point, I was writing for Joan and Ross at the same time. It was perfect because Ross got all the cute, “I think like a 12-year old girl” jokes, and Joan got all the filthy vagina jokes (the jokes were filthy, not the vagina). Occasionally, I would pitch a particularly snarky joke to Ross and he would have to remind me, “I’m not Joan Rivers!”
We still haven’t healed as a community from the loss of Joan! What’s your favorite memory of working (or playing) with her?
I was at her house the night after Whitney Houston died. We were watching the Grammys and writing jokes. Me, Joan and her head writer, Tony Tripoli, were making the worst, most politically-incorrect, we’re-going-to-burn-in-Hell jokes about Whitney. You have to understand, comedians can’t help themselves. Anyway, at one point I made a really rotten joke, and Joan just touched my arm and said, “Get it all out, because we can’t say any of this on TV!”
What’s a mistake that you see young queens making today that bothers you the most?
I don’t want to read younger queens, but… LOL! I just think it’s strange that people are doing drag now because it’s actually a valid career choice. When I started it was because I was a total misfit, even within the gay community.
I also love to make people laugh. I am a naturally entertaining and creative person. And I feel like some of these young queens are just taking something from Column A, something from Column B and something from Column C, watching makeup tutorials online, and essentially following a safe path that other queens have paved.
But you know what? That’s fine. Things change. I don’t play an instrument, but many years ago I said to myself, “I want to be a rock star!” and I started the electroclash band Dirty Sanchez. I’m sure there were people in real bands who thought that was lame. But we did it! And the new queens are doing it. And anyone who does it deserves respect.
I love watching Dirty Sanchez’s YouTube videos! Any plans for touring or recording with them again in the near future?
We’re actually reuniting for a special performance at the club I do with my best friend and Dirty Sanchez bandmate, Mario Diaz, called BONKERZ! We thought it would be a great way to celebrate Gay Pride. It’s on Saturday, June 10 at Precinct in downtown LA. Candis Cayne is hosting and performing that night, so it’s going to be amazing!
You’ve done a few dates now on the “Drag Queens of Comedy” Tour, and you’re all bringing it to NYC’s PlayStation Theater this Saturday! Lots of hilarious queens share the bill with you. Who have you been having a grand old time with, and who’s been a pain-in-the-ass?
I get along with everyone. I really love them all. Even Heklina! All joking aside, I adore my fellow senior citizens/legends Bunny and Coco. I think Alaska, Bob and Willam are really funny and, more importantly, very professional. Peaches Christ and Lady Red Couture are the nicest gals you’ll ever meet. And I really appreciate how well Sasha takes care of us all.
God, this is no fun! I feel like Bette Davis being asked about Joan Crawford.Okay, I’ll give you what you want… HEKLINA IS A HORRIBLE CUNT!
What have you been doing for your set in the show?
I decided this time to sing, since it’s what I’m best known for. So many of the girls are doing stand-up that I thought a couple of songs would be a nice break. I do a song ripping Donald Trump a new one and then, to be fair, a scathing song about Melania.
In New York, I am doing my new song about porn star Boomer Banks instead of the one about Melania, because he’s going to be there to join me on stage! Between his cock and my ass–not to mention my wig–we take up the whole stage!
It looks like you’ll be coming back to NYC and the Beechman in late July. Is there anything you can tell us about that, yet?
Just that it’s my annual birthday show, which is always fun! Lots of classics, and some new material. And if you don’t come to the show, it means that you hate me.
Anything else you wanna discuss?
Just that I deserve more followers on Twitter and Instagram, because I give good sound bite! They’re both just JACKIEBEAT. Oh, and I have tons of hilarious songs and great merch available on my website MissJackieBeat.com.
Final question: In these crazy crazy times, what should drag performers be doing differently? Do they have a new role?
They, like all artists, should be shining a light on injustice, homophobia, racism, misogyny and other bullshit in a creative, thought-provoking and funny way. That’s why I’m doing a song about Donald Trump on this tour. I refuse to pretend like this crap is normal! FUCK TRUMP!
Werq, Queen Jackie! Thank you!
Jackie Beat performs at the PlayStation Theater as part of “The Drag Queens of Comedy Tour” on Saturday, May 13th (6 & 10pm). Follow Jackie on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, as well as her website.