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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEntertainment | April 2009 

A Beachside Chat with Jimmy James
email this pageprint this pageemail usKristopher Saint - PVNN


The fabulous 'Fashionista' Jimmy James.
Puerto Vallarta - For Semana Santa 2009, Club Mañana hosted dance singer Jimmy James, who performed several shows live taken from his hit record Jamestown, including the international hit song Fashionista. Sitting beach-side, I got a chance to sit down with Jimmy James to talk about his thoughts on the entertainment industry, taking on Los Angeles, and what it means to be a 'fashionista' today...

Kristopher Saint: Mr. James Jude Johnson from Laredo, Texas, when did Jimmy James officially appear?

Jimmy James: I was always called 'Jimmy' by my friends and family, but from '84 through '86 I worked at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City lip-sinking as Marilyn Monroe. When I left Atlantic City I moved to Provincetown and began singing. I was always a singer first, and at the same time, I was always naturally androgynous - before Boy George and Madonna began doing it - so it all started around that time.

KS: How did you come about discovering that you had such amazing voice impersonations?

JJ: I never really "discovered" it, I was just always able to since high school. From there I studied the actual nuances of each voice, I guess what we would call the essence of what makes their voice unique.


BanderasNews Videographer Laura Gelezuna talks with Drag Superstar Jackie Beat who treated Puerto Vallarta audiences to fun-filled evenings of music and laughter this past March. (Video Diva Productions)
KS: Does each new voice take a degree of study to perfect?

JJ: Oh yes, and I have to study the voice in person, in its raw form, to imitate it perfectly because in person they're voice has been untouched. The voice is in its, what I call, core sound. You don't have to have a fantastic voice, you just have to have something special in your voice.

KS: Are there any voices that are more difficult for you to recreate?

JJ: Yes, Streisand is hard, so is Billie Holiday... Karen Carpenter.

KS: How was becoming an impersonator effected with a Texas upbringing?

JJ: When I started doing drag, my parents freaked out! Especially with my strong Catholic roots. It was hard at first, but they're very supportive now. Texas was serious business. The drag queens there taught me the tricks of the trade - how to properly wear the wigs, theatrical techniques, etc.

KS: You actually started out doing drag which explains your more sexually ambiguousness onstage. We see a lot more performers becoming a bit more "blurred" within the lines of sexual identity.

JJ: In the start I wasn't sure where I fit in because I was androgynous, but it has always really been just who I am so I worked with it, made it my own.

KS: Singers/entertainers today have to present themselves differently today than they had to in the past. Who do you feel has most influenced you from both the past and present?

JJ: I would have to say Madonna, but more from a marketing perspective than an entertainment one. I like the marketing end of the business a lot, and Madonna has been so influential in marketing herself as a product really - of actually "branding" oneself.

KS: On iTunes, the first comment on the "Summer Sun" EP listing is that you are "The most underrated exceptional voice on the planet." What doors were opened for you or opportunities afforded with the huge success of Jamestown and particularly Kissing a Fraud (US Dance) and Fashionista (US Dance)?

JJ: I got to meet a lot of amazing people, I've been on Donahue, Sally Jesse Rafael, Gerardo Rivera - Donahue really took me to another level. I was on a billboard in Times Square with Linda Evangelista...

KS: Have there been any regrets?

JJ: There was never a video made for Fashionista and I always felt it was a travesty not to do so. We had several directors lined up but it just kept falling through. I think it would have given a lot of my fans a face to my music.

KS: Did you write Fashionista? And if not, who did write the song and did you come about singing it?

JJ: Yes! And it came out so fast. I felt like I wrote this 'weird' song, so I called my label and sang it over the phone to them and they said "come into the studio tomorrow morning, you have a hit."

KS: Fashionista was one of the most played and biggest dance hits of 2006, I would imagine there would be a pressure after such a song to have to produce something just as large? Do you feel a degree of pressure?

JJ: I definitely felt like I had to prove myself, especially feeling I was different. Plus Fashionista was the first song I wrote.

KS: In the song, you call out Naomi as "Such a Bitch!!" Have you ever come across Naomi Campbell since its release?

JJ: No! But I did see her once in a pet store in New York. I was standing about five feet away from her and I was thinking to myself "She has no idea this little runt sings the song that calls her a bitch!" {Laughing} It's funny too, you know that we both were born on May 22nd?

KS: Over 350,000 plugs on Google for Jimmy James, one of my favorites being a homemade tribute to Victoria Beckham with your song (which, by the way, they spelled her name wrong.) In today's world full of 15 minute fame starlets and socialites, who would you consider a true fashionista?

JJ: Oh Wow! I would have to say Madonna definitely. Gwen Stefani. Victoria Beckham. Katy Perry.

KS: So you are moving back to Los Angeles from New York, Why the move?

JJ: My move, my dream, by moving to Los Angeles is to try to get back into show business the way I intended. It's hard to focus in New York with banks replacing the theaters and dance studio's everywhere you turn. L.A. is easier because the entertainment industry as a whole is located there.

KS: Do you think L.A. is ready for you?

JJ: It is a difficult move, but it's also giving me a renewed energy. That spark to continue forward and produce my own music and develop my own style

KS: So your investing in your career future by this move?

JJ: One of the best quotes I have ever heard was by May West, "I never invest in anything I can't sit and watch grow." I invest in myself because I know I'm not going to rip myself off. {Laughing}

KS: If you could leave this world with one successful objective what would you like it to be?

JJ: I feel a have a rather non-popular stance, but I really would like to get to a point to make a difference for the poor. There is no reason for poverty to exist. Humanity allows it to happen, but there is no excuse for us not to be able to obliterate poverty. Oh, and maybe another hit record!

Since moving to Puerto Vallarta in 2007, Kristopher Saint has been working in advertising writing and publicity, as well as providing entertaining and informative articles to various print and online publications, including BanderasNews.

Click HERE for more articles by Kristopher Saint.


Located at Venustiano Carranza 290 in the Romantic Zone, Club Mañana is the single Puerto Vallarta address that seems to unite all types of revelers, even drawing its share of straight friends of the community, who appreciate the outstanding sound system and high-energy vibe.

For more information, click HERE, call (322) 222-7772 or visit ClubManana.com
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