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Jim as Judy GarlandInterview With Jim Bailey
-By Andy Warhol (taken from Interview Magazine)

NEW YORK — Jim Bailey, “The impressionist’s impressionist”, has rocketed to international fame based on the strength of his incredibly realistic recreations of such showbiz legends as Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Phyllis Diller and Barbra Streisand. He is also a talented singer in his own right, wooing audiences in London, Paris, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York, with his special brand of sincerity and enthusiasm. As one female fan put it after his recent Carnegie Hall concert: “Jim Bailey really loves to entertain. There aren’t many left like that.” Ed.

Andy: Gee, you’re so tall.

Jim: Yeah, I am a little taller than I Look on stage. Everybody says that.

You are so tall. You look so small for the people you play on stage.

Yeah, I do. It’s all illusion. It’s all done with mirrors. (laughs)

Because when you come out as a boy you have such big shoulders and I don’t understand how you could have such big shoulders.

They crush them, they crush them.

The show was so great. I think you’re great as a boy. I just think you should forget the other stuff and go on as a boy.

Can I quote you?

You really should. I mean you must get bored with the girls.

Well, I’m not bored but I think eventually I’d like to evolve out of that and do my own thing as an actor and a singer.

Oh, yeah, I really think as a boy you’re just great. I think it’s new and different.

Thank you very much. I enjoy it. That’s my favorite part of the show.

All these people tell me years ago you used to do all girls in one show. Did you?

Yeah, in a mental hospital. No, it’s just impossible, because I go through the whole thing.

Oh, on the Ed Sullivan show you did them all.

No, I did Judy on one and Peggy on another. On the Carol Burnett show I did all four, but it was pre-taped. The thing that I really get bored with is putting on the make-up. It takes me two hours to do that. I’m always in the dressing room. You know for the eight thirty show I have to get there by six-thirty. As soon as the first show is over I have to go back to the dressing room and start all over for the next show, so I’m working from six-thirty to one o’clock, and that’s sort of boring. I never see anybody till after my last show, then I’m so tired. That’s the only thing, the time involved. It takes me so much time to become somebody else. And then getting out of that is just a short twenty-five minutes to get back on as me. Then I run off and I have to get back on as somebody else. So I’m constantly on a treadmill. But I don’t knock it. I enjoy my work. As long as other people enjoy it and I can please an audience. That’s why I do it.

Opening night at the Waldorf you said you worked in New York. Where did you do that? When did you do that?

Oh, God. Well, I lived in New York for about four years. And I did an obscure show that I’m sure you never heard of called FLY BACKBIRD at the Mayfair Theater. And I did summer stock. And I worked down in the Village at Trude Hellers, the Duplex . . .

I used to go to all those places but . . .

You were probably there the night I was off.

What was the act?

I just sang. Joanne Beretta was around then.

I think Joanne is so great too. It’s so hard though. It takes years to really get work.

I know. I struggled and starved and ate dog food. I did. Whenever I get in a mood I scream I used to eat Gainsburgers. I fried them. They were really delicious.

With ketchup?

How did you know with ketchup? Who told you? Yes Gainsburgers, ketchup and lots of Kool-Aid, that’s all I had. But they were fun days and I enjoyed them. I’m glad I went through all of that because now I’m at a point in my life where I don’t take it for granted. Tomorrow it could all go.

How did you meet Lucie Arnaz?

How did I meet her? I met her actually at a concert that I gave at the Pavilion in Los Angeles, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Her mother, she and her husband at the time, came, and I met them backstage briefly. Then I had a party and invited Lucille and Gary Morton and Lucie came too and that’s how I started to get to know her. Then shortly after, they separated. Not that I broke them up. I wouldn’t want to say that. They were having a rough time when I met them. It was destined to happen.

I think Lucie is such a beautiful looking girl.

She is. She’s terrific. She dresses well.

Such a great face.

Yeah. And she’s very intelligent too.

Desi is so great too.

Yeah. It’s really strange though, because she and I, everyone says, we could be brother and sister.

You could.

It’s really strange.

But you don’t look like Desi.

No.

The father I mean. Lorna and Lucie look alike too.

Oh, God. That’s pretty weird when you start thinking about it. And nobody looks like Lucille Ball.

Maybe it’s the red hair. Did she always have red hair?

She was blonde in the early days. I remember seeing a movie . . .

Well, she and you are our favorite personalities. Thank you Jim for your time and your talent.


Copyright 2005 Jim Bailey. All rights reserved.