Saturday, June 4, 2016

Who Do You Think You Are?

When I began to work in the impersonator industry by accident, I had no idea what I was getting into. As an actress who had worked primarily as myself in theatre and commercials, the tribute industry was foreign to me. When I thought of impersonators, I mostly thought of those crazy people who stand on the street on Hollywood Blvd, and in real life actually think they are the famous person they play. It really seemed like the ass end of the entertainment industry, but a step up from juggling or being a go go dancer.

After only a dozen or so gigs playing Lady Gaga at small birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs, I knew that it was important to me to build my own brand, website and business. Many of the so called agents who were contacting me were 65 year old perverted men who had websites that looked like they had not been updated since 1998. They had no clue how to represent me or my act well. After showing up to a gig where the client told me I one thousand times exceeded what the agent had sold him, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands quickly.

As I began to survey the competition, it was very obvious to me that no impersonator who did Gaga in the USA at that time really even came close to looking like her. They all seemed to have played other characters, then taken on Lady Gaga because she was hot and made them more money. I also noticed many of them wore very cheap looking synthetic wigs and Ricky's/Party City type Halloween costumes for gigs. I knew being a close lookalike would work in my favor, as well as building quality wigs and wardrobe.

As an actress first, it was very important to me to study the character I would be portraying, even if these gigs were just at small private events. It was my goal to do the most authentic portrayal of Gaga that I could & not be a parody which made fun of her. I spent hundreds of hours studying Lady Gaga and quickly became a huge fan of her message and creativity.

A few months after I had built my website and had begun to work at more gigs, word started to spread about me within the community. One evening my cell phone rang from a number I had never seen before.
The woman on the other line told me her name was Georgia, and that she was one of the best tribute artists ever to live. A true "A lister" who had photos next to many celebrities.
I spent some time listening to her tell me stories of her hey day, from Australia parties to private jets, from $1,000 tips, to Las Vegas to blowing Hugh Hefner.
When she was all done, she offered me to come to her home and look through her old costumes to maybe buy some of them so that I could "get started."

After the immense buildup of her long career as a impersonator and costume sales pitch, she also said: "I saw your website. You say you are one of the best Lady Gaga impersonators. Who do you think you are? You can't say that. You just started."

The line went quite for a moment, because I was taken aback. I collected myself and responded "I've seen what's out there and I think I am the best."
Honestly, it wouldn't have taken much.

Gerogia was flabbergasted by my response. She said "Well, I wish you luck, and i'm glad I have your info now" before hanging up.

I never heard from Georgia again, but later I found out she had recommended me to many agents and party planners. Not because she liked me, but because she was making $50 as a "referral fee" for every gig I performed, for anyone she gave my phone number to FOREVER.