Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rare Footage Of Marilyn Monroe Entertaining The Troops On Stage In Korea...

JIMMY JAMES - Tribute to a Great Artist.
53 years ago today the world lost Marilyn Monroe. She was an artist and a work of art herself. She was a "brand" before anyone knew to label performers as such. People wonder why she has endured so long. I believe true art does not die - it appreciates in value. When I performed as Marilyn ('83-'97), I was only interested in recreating her LIFE - her LIGHT. I wanted to recreate her with love and respect for the artist she was. I was NOT interested in doing something where she dies tragically on the stage - that would be too morbid and sad for me. Alas, I was but a mere imitation of what she herself created. She helped me to get my start in entertainment. I owe her my deepest respect & admiration. ‪#‎grateful‬ ‪#‎MarilynMonroe‬ ‪#‎keepagoodthoughtforMarilyn‬

I worked hard to try to figure out Marilyn's enigmatic personality. Remember, there was NO INTERNET in the early 80's, NO YouTube....my god if I had these tools it would have not taken me 3 years of hard research to try to sort of figure her out. She was private. 

In my research I surmised that she was two people - #1 Norma Jeane,  #2 Marilyn Monroe. I figured out on my own that Norma Jeane would get in "drag" to become Marilyn Monroe. In everything I read and researched it dawned on me that I was basically reading about TWO PEOPLE. It was not just about what I was reading, but literally what I was feeling from what I was reading - the vibrations of her personality. 

Bert Stern's Last Sitting was my muse for how to do the makeup. The extreme closeups were key in figuring out the makeup. It also helped that I studied theatrical makeup. I was good at it.

But how was I going to present my Marilyn to the public? How was I going to do it? Scenes from her movies?... her singing with a band? How?

Again without the internet (and basically only 3 network stations to watch) I only saw short clips of her performing to the troops in Korea. I ordered my first Marilyn Monroe album through the mail from Sandy Hook Records. It seemed like they were the only ones who distributed the rare recordings (my god u can go on EBAY right now and find tons of her records, but it was hard back then in '79 & '80). 
 (I got these images of the album on EBAY....I don't know about the writing...lol)

I discovered she had quite a nice singing voice. It was sultry and sweet. Smooth and distinct. Wow! SHE HAD TALENT! Nobody ever talked much about it. Hmmm?
They were always talking or writing about her lovers, her body, her antics of being late, her boozing or pills, or whatever....but I was discovering a talented woman beyond all the crap that was being written about her after she died. Then when I got to see her movies (when they  were shown on occasion on one of those 3 networks...NO VCR's either kids) I could see she was quite a good dancer too. 

I was studying to be a dancer. I got a dance scholarship at the Kathy Marfin's Dance Studio in San Antonio, TX. I was convinced I was going to be the next Nijinsky. But Marilyn interrupted everything for me. 

I was also in community theater and it paid NO MONEY. So much hard work but NO MONEY. UGH...

It was so hard to find regular jobs back then. For one thing, I looked too young for my age. At 18, I looked like a 14 year old girl. 

I was always kind of made fun of for looking like a girl. I was made fun of for my girl voice too. I wanted to die. I did not fit in. Back then I was the ONLY boy in San Antonio taking dance classes. But NOBODY was going to stop me from that - NOBODY. I loved dance too much. I was going to be just like Nijinsky!

I went to a Marilyn Monroe film festival to finally see her films! WOW! She was STUNNING! MESMERIZING! When I watched The Seven Year Itch, she seemed a little more fuller in the face than so many of the chiseled photos I'd seen of her. I was falling in love with someone from the past who was gone.

I knew about Jim Bailey and his legendary Judy Garland recreation. But could I do that with Marilyn? I did not know. Then I was like parish the thought Jimmy!...you cannot do this. You live in po-dunk San Antonio and you're family will have a shit fit, are you crazy? 

Eventually I conjured up an act whereby I performed Marilyn Monroe in the 1st 20 or 30 minutes of the show, then changed as myself with the makeup altered to do a show of my Voice Impressions. For years my show was called JIMMY JAMES - "Marilyn & Voices." I played the gay dance clubs because this was the closest I could get to my vision of Marilyn performing for the troops in Korea. That was my muse for developing my Marilyn act. Ultimately my act mirrored what she was doing in Korea. But instead of the Korean war, we were fighting the AIDS war. In my own small way with national exposure on those 3 TV channels and my tours and benefits, I did what I could.

I'm going to stop here because this is turning out to be a book.

I discovered Marilyn Monroe to be one of our greatest treasures of America and the world. She was years ahead of her time. She was an artist. She was miss understood - a victim of her time. 
And I also think she was smarter and prettier than any of us.

To be continued....

Keep a good thought for Marilyn.