LGBT icon Jimmy James headlines Fall Diversity Weekend, Nov. 1-3
f you’re looking to celebrate diversity, stop by Eureka Springs Nov. 1-3 for Fall Diversity Weekend.
This year, LGBT icon Jimmy James performs his headlining act in the Eureka Springs City Auditorium. James is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in The Auditorium. The doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $25 to $40.
Jay Wilks, who helps organize the event, said he’s ecstatic to bring James to Eureka Springs.
“Jimmy James is an international icon. This is his first time in the Midwest performing,” Wilks said. “It’s really exciting to be able to bring another great performer of this caliber to Eureka Springs.”
Wilks said James is a legend, starting his career as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator in 1986. James became well-known as an impersonator, Wilks said, and was featured on talks shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Donahue Show. His impersonations include Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra, Wilks said. James hit it big in 2006 with the song “Fashionista,” which is still played in dance clubs and runway shows around the world.
“He’s no longer an impersonator,” Wilks said. “He’s now an impressionist, so Jimmy sings in his own voice that mimics that of Frank Sinatra or Liza Minnelli or Prince.”
James plans to stay in town the whole weekend, Wilks said, and will attend other events like Diversity in the Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Drag Queen Bingo from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m, both on Saturday, Nov. 3. It’s exciting for performers like James to get involved in the weekend, Wilks said.
“It’s great, because we always give the entertainer the option of staying the weekend,” Wilks said. “He opted to stay, and he’s going to see everything we have to offer that weekend.”
Having an icon like James in town, Wilks said, makes for a successful diversity weekend.
“Jimmy started doing what he was doing back in a time where there was still that stigma associated with the LGBT community … the AIDS crisis came out of that stigma,” Wilks said. “He’s stood strong. He’s carried his career through good times and bad times, through much adversity, just to be there to be a spokesperson for the LGBT community. Jimmy has built an entire career behind who he is.”
Wilks said he’s looking forward to Diversity in the Park, an event where various organizations get together in Basin Spring Park to hear live performances. This year, Wilks said, Free Mom Hugs will come to the celebration. Free Mom Hugs is a group of affirming parents who love their LGBT kids unconditionally and take hugs of love and acceptance to others. The more organizations like that get involved with diversity weekend, Wilks said, the better the weekend is overall.
“Everyone can come to the park and enjoy the live music. People can bring their kids,” Wilks said. “We’re even working with a few hotels that are offering discounts to those coming in for diversity weekend.”
Another part of the weekend, Wilks said, allows participants to wear a wristband for discounts at local shops and restaurants. That program has been a major success, Wilks said, because it shows how dedicated Eureka Springs merchants are to the city’s diversity.
“Because of who we are as a city, a lot of us don’t get along politically with certain things, but we always make sure our tourists are very taken care of,” Wilks said. “To have this event is very important to us. We do it three times a year. Other places do it once a year. The city is LGBT-friendly, and it’s a good thing.”
The best time to come out here will be early in the morning, because traffic will be backed up for miles,” Wing said. “It’s going to be a lot of crowd, but come out here and you’ll get just about anything to eat in the whole wide world, with ample parking in the fields.”