If Jackie Hell were a train, she'd be a high-speed train filled with drugs, abducted babies, Southern Comfort, lube, wigs, rouge, and dental dams. And maybe a herd of bison. The impact of that train wrecking into the side of an adult-diaper factory would send debris arching high into the sky, landing back down on earth perfectly in the form of a petting zoo/disco for necrophiliac knife-throwing chanteuses. Jackie Hell (David Latimer) is Seattle's most world-famous pillow-stuffing, sequin-flashing drag entertainer. Her trash-cabaret of song and chance is offensive, wrong, sordid, and utterly beautiful. She got her start performing in the late '90s with Ursula Android at the Cabaret of Despair. Then there was a five-year run of Pho Bang. Then the glorious Snackhole. If it were not for the likes of Jackie Hell, our planet would cease its rotation, and we would all immediately float off into the brain-imploding vacuum of space. Jackie spoke. There were no bison.
Not many people know that Dale Chihuly is your older brother. Are you two close?
We're close, yes. We go to steak houses and do ecstasy. I call him Boofoo, always have. Boofoo has a problem with the ecstasy. When I was 5, in Stanwood where we grew up, I was about to cook a corn dog in the FryDaddy. Boofoo came out of the bathroom in his pink bathrobe and flashed me. It startled me, and I dropped the corn dog into the fryer, and it splashed the grease into his eye. It serves him right for showing me his bitch tits and cock. That scarred me. I blame him for the boozed-up pill-popping mess that I am today.
What was it like growing up with him? Was he just blowing glass all the time?
I used to dress up like Wonder Woman a lot and use tuna-fish cans as my bracelets, and he would decorate them with glass jewels. That's how he got his start. He helped me be the best little faggot Wonder Woman in Stanwood.
What do you want people to know about you?
Are you calling me fat? Don't fuck with me, bitch. I'll stab your baby in the face with a fork.
What started the long-standing rift between you and weatherman Steve Pool?
In 1992, I was working the room at the Duke Yacht Club, and I was hanging all over Wayne Cody, who introduced me to Steve. Steve took me back to a suite at the Hilton. When we were finished, he fell madly in love and proposed to me. I laughed at him and told him I was just working. He was upset I made him pay. He's still not over it.
Do you believe in love?
I believe I'd love to see Antonio Banderas pulling up in my driveway in a white Fiero filled with cash, wearing nothing but a silver bow tie.
What's the smartest thing you've ever done in your life?
Getting rid of all those goddamn babies. So I can spend more money on myself [laughs].
What are your thoughts on suspension bondage?
It's not really my thing, not really the trick I prefer to turn, but whatever it takes to put food on the table. It can also come in handy when you're barbecuing your unwanted babies. You know, dangling them over the coals.
What are your thoughts on professional bass fishermen?
Professional fishermen are totally into suspension bondage. I took 10 of 'em out in a dinghy and came back with a red snapper.
What do you think about that devout Mormon gay guy Josh Weed who is married to a woman and has a healthy, active sex life with her?
I want a video of them doing it, with actual penetration. Video or it didn't happen. They should throw a Great Dane in the mix. Oh wait, he's Mormon, they only like horses.
Could you have sex with a woman?
Only if I could connect vulnerably with her pierced uvula, and if the price is right, I'll intimately connect with anyone's soul. Maybe we could suspend a Great Dane. If you like suspending Great Danes, that's an aqua camouflage bandanna.
What do you do to get into character? What motivates you to perform?
When I'm getting into drag, what makes me get into the Jackie character is when I can't see myself anymore in the mirror. I really work at covering up me. I don't want anyone to see that it's David. I want them to see Jackie, not me. Once I get the makeup on and the wig, the character kind of just kicks in. Jackie is in there; it's just a matter of putting her together. What motivates me is the desire to fuck with people's heads. That's what got me doing drag in the first place—I just wanted to go out and fuck with people. Not like, walk over to people's tables and knock their stuff over or anything like that. I like to convince people that Jackie is totally real. I want a good reaction from the crowd. You get kind of addicted to it, an audience cheering for you. I'd like to get my name more out there, and be an entertainer full time. I have another job, I do apartment managing. But I'd rather be an entertainer full time.
I like to push the envelope a little. I like teetering on the edge of totally offending people and pushing it too far, without going completely over the edge. Jackie Hell really thinks she's the shit. She thinks she's a classy dame, but she's really just completely trashy.
What's an example of a time when you pushed it too far?
One was a performance up in Canada. I was just saying too many things about Canadians. And pissing 'em off. I was calling it Canadia instead of Canada. What really made them mad was my daughter Debbie. Jackie has a recurring character who's her daughter, played by my friend Tara. Debbie creeps people out, and I'm abusive toward her. People don't seem to have much of a tolerance for that anymore. Depending on the crowd and where you are. Obviously, I'm not really going to abuse anybody. I don't think abuse is funny at all, but I'm going to portray that sometimes onstage. Jackie is mean to Debbie, she wears a mask, and there have been times when I've burned Debbie on her face with a lighter. I can be cruel to her. It was too much for the Canadians to handle. They were saying, "This isn't funny." I was also asking the audience where a good place in Canada was to abduct babies. Because what I came up there for was to get some babies, and then I said I would hollow 'em out and fill 'em with cocaine and take 'em back into the United States. I carry them like I'm nursing a baby, but it's really a dead baby filled with coke.
People got mad when I said that. It didn't go over well at all. Halfway through the act, people were throwing beer bottles up onstage, and they ended up having to stop the show. It was Ursula Android and I. The guy that ran it said we started a riot. It spread through the audience like a virus. It started with a few people up front flipping us off and spread through the entire club. Some people liked it, though, and came backstage and were apologetic for the stupidity of the crowd. That's the harshest reaction I've ever gotten. It made me feel like shit. I tend to take that stuff personally. I felt like I wasn't good enough for them.
But isn't that just a testament to how effective your performance was? I see you getting kicked out of that club as a victory.
It is. You're right. Because that night will stick out in their heads. It was fun. It's weird; sometimes people take things so literally when it's not meant to be that way at all. We're being horrible, you're not supposed to take it seriously.
Do you ever have wardrobe malfunctions?
Jackie Hell wears padding. I'm not really that big around. Sometimes there's mild chafing. I haven't really had a lot of malfunctions. I wear a Nerf football cut in half for my boobs, so I get the real pointy boobs. One time I was leaning over a wall during a performance, and my boobs fell out and down into the crowd. I was flat-chested and had to go grab my tits at the end of the show.