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HomeJimmy EmersonHow to Jimmy Vegas HOW TO JIMMY VEGAS: Take a look at my first show! 

 HOW TO JIMMY VEGAS: Take a look at my first show! 

MY FIRST GUESTS ON THE SHOW

Natalie Blaze
Chase Brown

For my first “How to Jimmy Vegas” show, I was proud to have high-drag queen Natalie Blaze/Drew and the sexy and “cute-as-a-bug” country singer Chase Brown.

Click here to see the entire show.

I have known Natalie for so many years. We got to catch up on all of her performances, including her St. Patrick’s Day show, “Old Broads, Ballads & Brews,” at the Phoenix at 3 p.m. It’s free. And, a special guest star .. Me! Everybody go out there and support Natalie and give her a big hug from WhatsUp.Vegas.

My second guest treated us all to a live performance in the studio and a heart-warming story about singing a Toby Keith song with a police officer to get out of a ticket. You HAVE to watch the video!!! (Timestamp is 25:05). Chase Brown performs at the Notoriety in downtown Las Vegas at 7 p.m. on Friday nights.

A special shout-out to John Stiles at WWDBTV.com. He made us all look so good. Can’t wait to get back in the studio. Stay tuned for our next show. We have a special time planned for you all.

A little about drag; a little about Jimmy

You can’t imagine the thrill and excitement I experienced when I was asked to do a column and internet TV show called “How to Jimmy Vegas” for the new WhatsUp.Vegas online entertainment publication. The name says it all! I am really looking forward to telling you how to unlock, or “jimmy.” the best of this town, which I am proud to have called home for more than three decades. We will meet exciting drag queens, comedians, musicians and other leading figures in the entertainment industry. It’s basically a gay Johnny Carson show. (Hold that image in your mind for a moment.) It’s gonna be fun!

I’m not known for staying quiet about anything …. good or bad. So, we will be “spilling the tea” from time to time. I plan on going behind the scenes with those in the know and getting the scoop for you. We also will talk to some old pals, share dear old memories and meet new and exciting people.

ABOUT THE DRAG

I could not personally write about entertainment without including the drag scene. I love all sorts of entertainment, and it may come as a surprise to a lot of you that I actually don’t really care for drag shows. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been performing in drag for almost 45 years and have worked and traveled all over the world. Besides a 23-year run at the Riviera in Las Vegas in “An Evening at La Cage,” I traveled with other versions of the show to Atlantic City, London, Brazil, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Wendover and Aruba, just to mention a few. I’ve made a very good living and have met many famous people including Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers, Debbie Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Carrot Top and more.

It’s just that some drag shows are better than others. Nothing bores me more than attending a female impersonator show where the performers don’t know how to do makeup, wear a shabby wig, costumes that don’t fit, shoes that don’t match, runs in tights and pantyhose, and, worst of all: DON’T KNOW THE WORDS TO THE SONGS THEY ARE LIP-SYNCING TO!

There is an old saying in the drag world that if you don’t know the words, just say “watermelon, watermelon, watermelon” over and over till the end of the song and finish with “bubble gum!”

The art of drag has been around since the beginning of time. During Shakespeare’s time, women were not allowed to appear on stage. The term DRAG actually referred to a stage direction in which a man would play the part of a woman and enter D.R.A.G., Dressed Resembling A Girl, or DRressed As Girl. In Lucas Garcia’s article for the Writers Theater, “Gender on Shakespeare’s Stage: A Brief History,” he explains that English actors in Shakespearean plays and all Elizabethan theater (in the 1500s and 1600s) were all male. Young men played female parts in drag because women were banned from performing publicly.

MY EARLY DAYS

I moved to Las Vegas in 1984 after being booked at the original Gipsy club to do the “Roxie Starr Show.” Roxie Starr is my official drag name. I invented Roxie when I was 19 years old and living in Beaumont, Texas. I was studying theater arts and taking classes in acting, dance (yes, I was a ballet dancer!!) and vocal training, along with the basic studies every college student must take. You know, boring stuff like math, science, history and all that jazz.

The name Roxie pays tribute to Roxie Hart, a main character from the musical “Chicago,” which was the top Broadway show in 1975. My friend (and drag mother) suggested I take the name and change it to Roxie Starr. The two “r’s” are because I’m a big girl and deserve the extra letter!

The first drag number I ever performed was from “Chicago,” a song called “All That Jazz.” I went to a plus-size dress shop in Beaumont called Catherine’s Stout Shop and found a fabulous (I thought) off-white gown with a single row of white fringe. That’s when I found out I was a woman’s size 22. My drag mother loaned me one of her wigs and helped me with makeup. My (real) mother owned a beautiful pair of silver fox furs she would never wear because: “They were too nice and too expensive to wear in public.” Well, of course, I borrowed her furs for my performance at Effie’s Go-Go, an all-Black nightclub that would let the drag queens perform after-hours. Mom never found out. Oh, but if she had!! Anyway, that night at Effie’s, a star was born!! They handed me the microphone and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Anyway, back to my first performance in Las Vegas at the Gipsy Club. I met the famous comedy star Breck Wall in Houston when he presented his famous show “Bottoms Up.” The show would come yearly to the Windmill Dinner Theater in Texas for a six-week run. My friends and I would never miss it, going to see it several times over three or four years. Naturally, I was drawn to the entire cast of comedians. I mean, these guys were doing EXACTLY what I wanted to be doing! Breck and his sidekick, David Harris, came to see me perform as “Roxie” at the clubs and we became good friends. One day, David called me and asked if I would be interested in bringing my show to the Gipsy. It seems that David and Breck were very good friends with the manager of the Gipsy at the time, a lady named Marge Jacque. It was to perform for a five-day run, one-hour show, all expenses paid, and the performance pay was more than I had ever gotten.

Shortly after my shows at the Gipsy, Breck and his business partner, Patrick Maes, called me in Houston and said they wanted to star me in their new show at The Mint in downtown Las Vegas titled “FlamBOYant Follies.” I couldn’t believe it! I had made it! I was starring in a Vegas show with some of the top drag queens at the time. I had my own hotel suite, full food comp and great money! Then reality set in. We were to do 13 shows a week with Sundays off. Monday through Friday at 9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., and three shows on Saturday at 9:30 p.m., 12:30 am and 2 a.m.!

THE VEGAS DRAG WARS

Kenny Kerr

This is what was known as the beginning of the “Drag Wars” in Vegas. I was the new girl on the block. Little did I know the drag scene was so fierce in Las Vegas. There were three other drag shows running at the same time: “The Lavender Follies” (also downtown), “Viva Les Boys” on the Strip, and oh, and a little drag show called “Boylesque,” starring the one-and-only Kenny Kerr at the Silver Slipper, center Strip! 

Jimmy Emerson, Breck Wall, and Kenny Kerr

In 1985, the main gay club in town was, of course, the Gipsy, where I felt very welcome because of my recent run and my new friendship with Marge Jacque. Little did I know that Kenny Kerr was the Queen of the Strip, and whatever she said went. It didn’t take long for the gossip to get going. I thank God to this day that I had the luck to have Breck Wall and the entire cast of “Bottoms Up” on my side AND that Breck and Kenny were dear friends! It wasn’t long until Kenny was coming to my show at The Mint and he would invite our cast to come see his show anytime we wanted. Kenny and I became the very best of friends, and boy, did I learn a lot from him! More about all that in a later column.

THE SCOOP: CHANGING VEGAS GAY BAR SCENE

PJ Braizer and Jimmy

Over the last couple of years, several gay clubs have been shuttered (including mine!) for all different reasons. Jimmy’s at Madison was one of the many casualties of the global pandemic. Oh, well, it had great drag shows!

The Eagle club closed after 33 years because of the death of its owner, Judy Nelson. The Spotlight Lounge closed a few months ago, giving way to a new Mexican restaurant. 

The Freezone officially closed Feb. 25 after almost 30 years. I was there with hubby Jimbo and hung out with owner PJ Braizer, manager Alisa Blue, and the staff. Many faithful patrons, including Ada Vox and Roland Soto, were on hand to say goodbye. PJ took me to the back of the club, where they have already started a total remodel. He says the club will return soon with a new name and format.

With the exception of Charlie’s, I have a very close relationship with the bar owners, and they all have a unique story to tell. It kind of reminds me of those old gossip columnists, Rona Barrett and Hedda Hopper. I believe it was Hopper who coined the phrase “Slow down for the low down!” So, in future columns, I’ll be giving the “low down” on all things Vegas.

DRAG REPORT

There is no shortage of drag shows, that’s for sure. As of now, there are about 20 different drag shows, brunches, contests, revue shows and cast shows running almost every day and night. 

The famous Toni James brought back the Lip Sync contest at the all-new Gispy. Toni used to hold the contest years ago and it was a staple as far as drag contests in town. The contest goes for six weeks with each winner receiving $1,000.  Then on the seventh week all six winners come back to compete for a grand prize of $2,500!!  The winners for the first five weeks are: NaTyana Starr, Brianna Douglas, Lexus Chandelier, Lawanda Jackson and Reecez Sexton. One more week for our sixth winner and then on to the finals! Toni James’ Lip sync FINALS are this coming Thursday March 21st at the Gipsy! Toni James’ Lip sync FINALS are this coming Thursday, March 21st, at the Gipsy! Good luck girls!

Some of my favorite drag shows now running in town include Senor Frogs Drag Brunch with amazing drag queens, some from the Ru Paul show, including Shannel, Larry Edwards, Roxy Lords-Brooks, Yara Sofia, Derrick Barry and many, many more.

The My o My show, starring good friend Stephanie Danderson, performs at the Flex Club every Thursday night with different guests each week. Over at the Phoenix Club, there are several different offerings, including Firestarter Friday with Fanny, W.A.P with Sania De La Cruize on Wednesdays, and Naughty Nights with Nadia on Tuesdays, to mention a few!

Shawn M. as Madonna

I’M IMPRESSED

I was so fortunate to see Madonna when she was in town. My good friend and longtime Las Vegas drag queen, Shawn M., took me to see her. Shawn wore a fabulous jacket with Joey Skilbred’s famous image of Madonna on it, and we were mobbed by the crowd for photos of it. Shawn has portrayed Madonna for years. Madonna is a longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, and it showed in the show. She paid tribute to people from all walks of life who have been affected and died from the AIDS crisis. She is always one to put the spotlight on others. Later in the show, she gave a tribute to Michael Jackson, who brought the house down. Can’t wait to see her again when she is back in town.  

I ALSO…

John Katsilometes and Jimmy Emerson
Photo by Dave Bassett

got to attend the media night and grand opening of Jersey Boys. This is the full Broadway production, not the abbreviated version that played on the Strip for years. I caught up with the Las Vegas Review-Journal entertainment columnist John Katsilometes at the VIP pre-show party.  The international hit musical and Tony Award-winning show Jersey Boys opened its new residency at The Orleans Hotel and Casino with the set, style and sensations that have made Jersey Boys a global musical phenomenon. The show runs from Wednesday to Monday and promises a memorable experience. I loved the music, choreography, costumes and sound and was transported to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

TONY ORLANDO DROPS IN AT MONDAYS DARK

I was able to attend a show I had wanted to see for a while now, Mondays Dark at The Space. The evening I went it was a salute to the music of “Usher.” Even though I’m not a huge Usher fan, the music was very familiar, and the performances were amazing! As an added bonus, a surprise guest appeared. None other than Mr. Tony Orlando! What a thrill to see Tony just sit with host Mark Shunock and tell stories of his amazing career and Las Vegas history. Mondays Dark is a great entertainment bargain with tickets starting at just $20. Shunock and his team invite Las Vegas entertainers every other Monday at 8 p.m. to raise money for local charities. Great show!

One of the reasons I love the entertainment community in Las Vegas is that you just never know who is going to show up. I think I’m gonna love writing for WhatsUP.Vegas! By the way if you have something to say about someone or something, come sit next to me! It will just be “our little secret.”

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