Five Questions With… Lisa Jackson

lisa jackson
Lisa Jackson was born in Fayetteville, Georgia, and her first
venture into rock n roll was as a Christian rocker. But at the age of 21 she followed her star to New York, where she formed the Steve Friday band. In 2000, she did her first gig in drag, and eventually began to transition in a very public kind of way. With the support of several downtown notables, like Jayne County,
Lisa has gone on to not only become a fantastic role model for the trans community but a fantastic rock n roller in her own right. Her band, Lisa Jackson + Girl Friday, regularly play gigs in New York and beyond, and her CDs rock. Her “Fabulously Done is also the endpage of My Husband Betty. If you’re in New York City during May, you can catch them on Monday nights at Arlene’s Grocery.
1) As a fellow 80s kid, which were your bands? Which band did you love that might surprise people the most? Were you Punk or New Wave?
Well the band that tops my list from that era would be Van Halen and that would be the David Lee Roth era only! But I was also a big fan of Men at Work, Till Tuesday, and even Journey.
2) There’s a certain athleticism involved in being a rock star/guitarist/singer, and there are so few examples of women rockers. How does that relate to you being trans onstage? Do you ever feel any pressure to just stand there & be pretty? Any rock chicks that you’ve styled yourself after?
When I first stared performing as a woman I did feel that being pretty was the trick but as I started to come into my own and discover who I was I quickly learned that pretty can be very boring. Now I still like to start the show looking great and feeling pretty but if my makeup hasn’t sweated off by the end of the show I know that I didn’t try hard enough. As far as my style goes I think that I always go back and forth between Deborah Harry and Chrissy Hynde.
3) As queer heterosexuals who’ve hung out in some of the same spaces & communities as you, how was it flirting with women in the gay/drag community? How does it feel now to have so many male fans (and I assume, chasers)?
Well now that I have been living as a woman for a year and a half I have found myself in several situations where I wasn’t sure if a woman was coming on to me or was she just letting down her guard and speaking to me as if I were just another girl. It’s something that I am still getting used to because the way that men and women speak to each other in a one on one situation is very different from how two women talk to each other. It’s much more free which I can sometimes confuse with flirting. I am always impressed with my straight male fans, for the most part they treat me with great respect. As far as the chasers go, I have lost my patience with them!!
4) How do you feel about being a trans musician? A woman musician? A transwoman musician? Do you ever want to just be a rock star, without all the qualifiers?
I would love to just be refered to as a Rock-n-Roller but I don’t think that it will ever happen. It seems that the press can’t mention my name without putting the word trans in front of it. I’m very open and comfortable with being trans but if I was a Doctor would people then call me ‘trans Dr Lisa Jackson’? Oh well I shouldn’t complain at least the press is talking about me!
5) Obviously there’s a long line of genderblur in rock n roll. How do you feel about where you do and don’t fit into that history? Other than Jayne County, I can’t think of anyone who was doing any version of gender variance onstage who didn’t later “affirm” their maleness and heterosexuality at a later date (like Bowie, the NY Dolls, etc). Does that history help you or hinder you?
Well as far a rock music goes people like Bowie and the New York Dolls were just great bands to me. I don’t really consider them as contributers to any kind of trans movement and I wouldn’t call them role models as either, but Jayne County is a very different thing. I have been lucky enough to develop a great friendship with Jayne over the years. I don’t think that there is enough history within the world of Rock-n-Roll to really help or harm my career but I do think that gender issues will play a huge part in the next wave of Rock-n-Roll. I mean what else can we real rebel against at this point?

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