He's every woman...
August 30, 2009 7:25 PM   Subscribe

There's drag, and then there's female impersonation. Jim Bailey has been exquisitely demonstrating that difference for decades. Here are his dead-on recreations of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Phyllis Diller, Bette Davis, and Peggy Lee. He still performs.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! (28 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I’m impressed.
posted by stilist at 7:50 PM on August 30, 2009

Wow. That is awesome.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:52 PM on August 30, 2009

He's still around? He was on Here's Lucy several times 'way back when he was dating Lucie Arnaz.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:54 PM on August 30, 2009

So this is what "illusionists" do.
posted by swift at 8:09 PM on August 30, 2009

Simply glorious! *claps*
posted by carsonb at 8:22 PM on August 30, 2009

That Bette Davis so spot on it's like watching some lost movie. Some semi-famous film critic said he (or she, I can't remember) said they'd never seen Mommie Dearest except coming across it one night on TV and thought for a while it was some old Joan Crawford movie they'd never seen. There is a lot of that here, a real mastery of mimicry to the point where it stops mattering who was the real version. Spooky and entertaining and supremely talented.
posted by The Whelk at 8:41 PM on August 30, 2009

Thanks for the post! I vaguely remember seeing this guy on TV when I was a kid, either doing his Streisand or Phyllis Diller, but hadn't thought of him or seen/heard him again in the decades since. He was amazing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 PM on August 30, 2009

See also Frank Marino (flash, audio), though he only does Joan Rivers.
posted by SirOmega at 8:56 PM on August 30, 2009

Sometimes, drag artists are accused of parodying women, and doing so rather cruelly. And that criticism is often justified. But there are others who make you realize that there is no reasons impressions should be limited by gender. That some men can recreate famous women; they really can. This isn't drag without camp, precisely, but it's an adoring sort of camp, and, for my money, that's the only camp that is worth a damn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

This is fabulous. Thanks.
posted by ikahime at 9:38 PM on August 30, 2009

His Phyllis Diller is a well-observed tribute that she deserves.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:56 PM on August 30, 2009

Oh wow. He just channels them. That's fabulous!
posted by anitanita at 10:19 PM on August 30, 2009

This thread requires a mention of Joey Arias. His ability to impersonate Billy Holiday and many other jazz greats is astounding.
posted by hippybear at 10:24 PM on August 30, 2009

This one is from an actual woman, but it's worth throwing out there, as Carol Channeling does a recreation of Patti LuPone that is positively frightening in its accuracy.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 10:40 PM on August 30, 2009

Am I the only one who thinks the 'Judy' link is much more 'Liza'? Either way, thanks for the post!
posted by trip and a half at 11:02 PM on August 30, 2009

John Kelly performs a brilliant one-wo/man show called Paved Paradise in which he channels Joni Mitchell. Here he is singing "Blue".
posted by pxe2000 at 3:53 AM on August 31, 2009

Jim's great in that Barbra Streisand clip, but the guy playing Carol Burnett is terrible!
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:38 AM on August 31, 2009 [6 favorites]

Great stuff. That's a talented cat.
posted by grubi at 6:16 AM on August 31, 2009

Jimmy James [autolad music] as Marilyn Monroe.
posted by ericb at 9:36 AM on August 31, 2009

I once saw Bailey perform as Judy Garland. He closed by singing 'Somewhere Over the Ranibow' without musical accompaniment. Truly amazing!
posted by ericb at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2009

I love this story:
"When Streisand hosted that private party in Malibu, she promised her guests that she would sing. Everyone was there: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Carol Burnett, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty. After dinner, it was Bailey who performed, and only when he was accepting his final ovation did the real Babs come out to greet him. 'Afterwards,' Bailey recalls, Warren Beatty told me, 'I was completely taken in. Completely.'"
posted by ericb at 9:43 AM on August 31, 2009

Is it just me, or does none of the sound sync up with anything in Anything's youtube link? I've watched it from beginning to end, both using the time-jump Anything uses, and the entire clip. And I cannot for the life of me tell whether the man speaking on stage has anything to do with the sounds I'm listening to.
posted by hippybear at 10:22 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I seriously doubt someone like Warren Beatty would not know that was a guy. He was either being polite or he was drunk.
posted by Zambrano at 10:48 AM on August 31, 2009

That's fantastic, thank you for sharing.
posted by flatluigi at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2009

hippybear, you're not the only one for whom Anything's youtube work is wonky, though I believe it's intentional? The video is from a Letterman appearance by David Sedaris; the audio is of Sedaris singing as Billie Holiday. I can only imagine that the Letterman video is used because there was none to match the Sedaris-as-Holiday audio, which seems to have been taken from "This American Life".
posted by alynnk at 2:47 PM on August 31, 2009

Singing as Judy Garland has to be one the hardest vocal tricks I can think of. Bravo.
posted by broken wheelchair at 6:19 PM on August 31, 2009

alnnk: thanks. with the lack of a decent flash client for Mac OS, I never know whether it's a problem with the system or a problem with my computer. In this case, it sounds like it is a problem with the way the video itself was made.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on August 31, 2009

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