Interview: Jackie Beat Talks New OUTtv Series

Image via OUTtv

For the last several years, legendary drag queen Jackie Beat has been entertaining the masses with hysterical song parodies and sharp-tongued comedy. Now, she has finally landed her own television show on OUTtv.

Dr. Jackie: Unlicensed Psychotherapist is a six-part series that premiered on September 19, with new episodes airing each week through October 24. Playing a failed actress, Beat finally becomes a psychotherapist. It may have taken only a few hours online, but she has a piece of paper saying she’s a “doctor,” so she’s ready to put her natural gift for helping people to use.

With methods like role-playing, primal scream therapy, ink-blot tests, and even puppets, Beat is helping her funny, famous, and fabulous friends navigate the rocky road of mental health, even though she is giving out the worst advice possible. Dr. Jackie is chock full of iconic guests including Margaret Cho, Elvira, Alec Mapa, Bianca Del Rio, Trixie Mattel, and BenDeLaCreme. Sherry Vine plays Beat’s often confused assistant.

The veteran queen took some time to talk more about Dr. Jackie with Instinct, as well as how she discovered her love for drag and her involvement with the new Huluween Dragstravaganza.

Let’s begin by talking more about Dr. Jackie: Unlicensed Psychotherapist. What can viewers expect?

I think they can expect to be entertained, and hopefully they’ll laugh. Remember when that was enough? (Laughs). That’s all you expected from a drag queen! Listen, I’m old. I remember all you had to do to have a successful drag performance was to not fall. Now, it’s all about doing the splits, a shablam, a death drop, and pulling your wig off to reveal another wig underneath. Sometimes there’s a mohawk or a family of four under there having a picnic.

So, yeah, I hope the show is not too dry for people. I think it’s pretty wacky and funny, but we have a TikTok mentality now where 15 seconds is what people are kind of accustomed to. I hope it finds an audience, and I hope people enjoy it.

Image via Jackie Beat

How did the concept and idea for the show come to fruition?

I was trying to think of a way to showcase all the hilarious people I know. Some more famous than others, the supremely talented people who have studied improv, people who make me laugh, and a bunch of my drag queen friends. I thought, maybe the funniest way would be the most inappropriate thing, which is me giving psychological advice. Of course, I make it all about myself, and I take things personally. I overreact, and I’m just very bad at my job, which is perfect for hilarity to ensue.

I was quite excited to see that the show has a stellar all-star cast that includes Alec Mapa, Katya, and Bianca Del Rio!

Yes! We started doing this show near the tail end of the really bad part of the pandemic, so there were some physical restrictions, and some of my guests get help from me via emergency phone session. I think it was amazing I could take advantage of that technology! I do have to say, and this is going to sound egotistical, but queens who started out in clubs like Bianca and Bob the Drag Queen, a lot of them cite me as an inspiration. I’m not just friends with them, but they respect me.

Look, nobody is busier than Bianca Del Rio. She plays a terrible bitch, but she really is one of the most generous people. She hates when I ruin her street cred. It’s one thing to be generous with a thing, but it’s different to be generous with your precious time. She has one day off, and she comes in to do this show, not knowing if anything’s going to come of it or if it’ll see the light of day. She doesn’t even ask questions. She plops down and we can barely get through it because we are laughing so much.

Is this your first television series?

It’s the first one where I’m the star!

Image via Magnus Hasting

What have you gained from this experience?

Like, 37 pounds! When you’re shooting a TV show, they give you free food, and free food always tastes the best (laughs). No, I have gained sort of a renewed confidence in what I do. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and the world has changed. There was a time when I was really, like, the shit. If you wanted a drag queen at your gay Pride, they called me, Varla Jean Merman, Sherry vine, Coco Peru, or Lady Bunny. There weren’t 3,000 former Drag Race contestants, and they’re all losers. I’m not even being mean. They didn’t fucking win, and that’s just a fact.

This show reminded me that comedy, inspiration, and talent doesn’t run out. You think, oh, I’ve written a million jokes, or I’ve done this and that, but when you sit down and the cameras start rolling, it all clicks into place. I was very nervous at first because I didn’t know if the concept was going to work because it’s partially scripted. The very first one that we filmed was with Katya, who is a total wildcard to begin with. I was like, is she going to go off the rails? She did just enough, but she was surprisingly controlled. After we did the Katya scene, I was like, this is going to work.

For those who don’t know, how did you discover your love and passion for drag?

First of all, I am older than dirt, so back in the 1980s, and now I’ll pause so all the young people can say ‘I wasn’t even born yet!’ Shut the fuck up! Being young is not an accomplishment. Anyways, back in the 80s, it was kind of a rite of passage for gay men to get in drag on Halloween, go to the West Hollywood Halloween carnival, and walk down the street, get drunk, have fun, and go crazy. So, a bunch of my friends and I did it, and you could tell there was a little difference in the way I did it.

There was just a level of detail. I was like, aren’t you guys going to wear fingernails? They’re like, no! How can I hold my bottle of vodka? Like, you can do both, queen. Immediately, I kind of felt like, oh my God, this is amazing. Neither male nor female, you are kind of both, you are kind of beautiful, but you’re also kind of hideous. It’s like a monster, but it’s sort of like an angel. It was literally my sweet spot, and I found my voice.

I used to joke that I painted myself into a corner, but it actually kind of freed me. Like, it’s the real me. When I’m in drag, this is my voice. It really is me. I studied at Second City and my teacher used to say, ‘Wear your character like a thin veil.’

Image via Jackie Beat

Speaking of Halloween, you are also in the new Huluween Dragstravaganza special. How much fun was that?

Oh my God, that was so much fun! I also co-wrote it. I’ve always done a lot of writing work. I’ve written for Joan Rivers, Elvira, Roseanne, Ross Mathews, Margaret Cho – tons of people, which I love because I get to sit in bed with my dogs out of drag. The Huluween special was amazing because, first of all, it’s with a lot of my really great drag friends. Lady Bunny, for example. I can’t tell you the last time I got to work with her. She can drop dead at any moment, so it’s always nice to have our special moment.

Then a few of my friends who are, again, just very talented, but don’t usually do stuff like this. Selene Luna and I have done many shows together and I’ve known her forever, and then my best friend Mario Diaz, who opened The Cock in New York and does Hot Dog out here in LA. I also got to become friends with a few people I’ve never met before or met briefly at an event. Jujubee was hilarious. Three minutes after meeting her, you’re like, oh my God, we’re best friends. Everybody was terrific.

Why do you think the LGBTQ people resonate with horror so much?

People have talked about this quite a bit, and I think it’s fairly easy to figure out. My favorite movie is Carrie, the original from 1976, and people are like, ‘why is that your favorite movie?’ I said because the message of the movie is, don’t mess with the freak because you never know who you’re dealing with! You think you have someone all figured out, and horror is all about the other and the outsider. You sometimes feel like the monster, and sometimes you feel like the victim. Horror is also about survival, vengeance, and getting back at all the people who wronged you.

What are some future goals you hope to accomplish with your career and platform?

Besides my hopes of losing those 37 pounds, I hope the show becomes a big success so I can stop doing drag brunch! The two words you never want to hear from a drag queen are ‘Good morning’ (laughs). No, I actually adore doing drag brunch, but I’m just saying at this age and after doing drag for this long, it would be nice to maybe take it to the next level and have as many social media followers as people like Miss Vanjie. Let’s be honest, she’s most famous for going home first.

Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you would like to mention or plug?

The most important message is watch Dr. Jackie! We worked so hard on it and it’s really funny, so watch Dr. Jackie. I’m also thrilled that The Sherry Vine Variety Show, which is also available on OUTtv, was just picked up for a second season, and I’m a very big part of that. I’m helping Sherry write it and I’m going to be in all the episodes. We had so much fun, so we now get to do it again!

Stay up-to-date and connect with Beat by following her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit her official website. Dr. Jackie is now streaming on OUTtv.


 

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