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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Jerry Lane, Benidorm's Female Impersonator turns author.

One of Benidorm's most popular and well known entertainers is about to take the literary world by storm having signed a 3 book deal with a UK publisher. His first book "Beyond Repair - The Shocking Truth" is due to hit the stands in April and Jeri will be embarking on a 3 month promotional book tour of the UK to coincide with its release.I met up with Jeri over a coffee to find out more.
At Benidorm Palace with Danny La Rue
Jeri moved to Spain in January 2001 with his long term partner having worked in the major hot-spots such as Ibiza, Majorca and Benidorm over the holiday season. He had grown to love Benidorm in that time and when the opportunity came up to move here permanently he jumped at the chance. I bit the bullet and asked him straight out - as only I could "Jeri, have you always dressed in drag?" to which he laughed and replied " I don't do drag darling - Im a Female Impersonator" to which we both fell about laughing...
Jeri was bought up by his grandmother over a substantial period of his childhood. It was she that took him to the theatre back in the 70's (and back in those days not many could afford to go) to see Danny La Rue where he realised his love of the stage and it was she that encouraged him to "be himself". He trained as a dancer and was part of a mixed dance troupe called "Zoo" (which was directed by Flick Colby of Pans People) and was regularly performing on Top of the Pops in the early 80's. It was after his time with the group that he auditioned and got a part as a backing dancer on "Hello Dolly" with one of his idols in the starring role -  Danny La Rue. Following that he got a part in the chorus of  "La Cage Aux Folles" which was the first time that he actually dressed as a woman! It was during that period that someone suggested he should take up female impersonating as he was a natural - and so began his career as a female impersonator! Until then he had always danced as a man.  However, it was during the turbulent early to mid 80's  that the "AIDS epidemic" hit - with newspaper headlines such as "Gay Plague" and causing the show to literally close overnight following a backlash over "gay lifestyles". With no work on the horizon Jeri went to LA, where for 3 years he worked as a make-up artist for Max Factor.
Shoot for his record release "Overdrive" 
He has worked with a who's who of celebrities over his career including Joe Longthorn, Joan Collins, John Barrowman, Jane McDonald and was especially "close" to Freddy Mercury.
On moving to Spain Jeri embarked on many projects but his most notable must have been writing an autobiographical show about the life of the young Danny La Rue which was performed on the stage of Benidorm Palace in 2007 with the star himself ! Danny loathed impersonators but was so impressed with the script that their paths were to cross one final time before he died. Jeri is the only man to ever appear on stage with Danny ! Jeri also recorded a record album and in 2010 took to the radio waves presenting the hugely popular "Here come the Girls" show on FAB fm - a radio version of ITV's "Loose Women". The cast were so impressed that Lynda Bellingham even took part in one of Jeri's shows whilst she was visiting the area. The girls even  recorded a "congratulations" recording for him to air on the 1st year anniversary of the show - but it was on this day, 4th April 2011 that Jeri quit the show anticipating the demise of the radio station - which did in fact occur some weeks later (and sadly the recording was never aired!)
 This was a particularly dark time for Jeri having also recently split with his long term partner and being made homeless that led him to attempt to take his own life. It was only thanks to his true and loyal friends that he survived, waking up in hospital and as part of his recovery embarked on counselling with a "wonderful lady therapist". During his sessions she helped to unlock his suppressed childhood experiences and suggested to Jeri that he writes down his thoughts and feelings as part of the healing process.  Between the ages of 6 and 11 he was a "special boy" to his fathers best friend but he was adamant in telling me that he "doesn't see himself as a victim". His notes soon grew to over 300 pages and the beginnings of his soon to be published book " Beyond Repair - The Shocking Truth" took hold which charts his childhood up to the age of 15.  The book will be available to purchase in Spain and as a download on Kindle.

His second book entitled " Benidorm Bullshit, Backstabbing and Bitches" is a "faction" based on what goes on behind the scenes in Benidorm. "All names and places have been changed to protect the not so innocent" he grinned mischievously. After 11 years he has certainly seen and heard some outrageous stories and incidents which are included in his novel, due out in September. I can hardly wait to pick up my copy and see who I recognise!
Jeri is certainly a survivor and not one to sit and wait for things to come to him - he takes life by the horns and makes things happen and I wish him every success.
You can view Jeri's music video "Overdrive" at http://www.vivatv.es/jeri-lane-music-promo

1 comment:

  1. Genuinely great guy.Wish him much success.Kerry.

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