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Under the skin of celebrities

by The Concordian September 13, 2011

In an age where rock ’n’ roll, fame, and seeing your name in flashing lights has been glorified, everyone dreams about what it would feel like to walk in their idol’s shoes for just one day. Jimmy Moore is one of the few lucky ones who is able to do so every time he goes on stage.
Moore is a professional impersonator who has embodied countless celebrities for the past 10 years. With the help of costume designers, makeup artists and backup dancers from his production company V.NUS, he is able to portray and perfect the image of music legends like Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, and Madonna—just to name a few.
Growing up in the small town of Riverfield, close to the United States border, Moore moved to Montreal a little over 10 years ago to study fashion design at LaSalle College. However, his studies always took a backseat to his hunger for fame.
“I always knew I wanted to be a star, the only thing I needed was to find an avenue to do so,” he explained.
Moore said he found his calling while watching a television program that featured a drag queen performing on stage.
“As soon as I saw that I thought, this is something I could do, and be good at.”
Upon meeting Moore and seeing his serious demeanour it is hard to believe that he transforms each night into splashy characters like Lady Gaga and Madonna. After listening to him talk however, and realizing his passion for what he does, it becomes apparent that he takes his work very seriously.
“I am not a drag queen,” specified Moore. “Let’s make that perfectly clear. I didn’t go into this because I wanted to be a woman, or because I felt like a woman inside of me. I am an artist and I knew I could make a real difference doing this and that’s why I chose to do it.”
The work he puts into each show also indicates Moore’s dedication to his job.
Preparing for each performance consists of weeks of vigorous training and dance rehearsals, creating costumes inspired by the celebrities he impersonates from scratch with a team of Montreal fashion designers, and spending hundreds of dollars on hair and makeup.
Moore’s hard work has paid off over the years, landing him gigs in many Montreal clubs, as well as in venues outside of the city and in the United States. He also had the opportunity to collaborate with Cirque du Soleil.
Despite all his hard work and success, Moore is still faced with critics who can’t comprehend why he would go to such lengths to impersonate females. However, he never let that bring him down or take from his love of what he does.
“What do I respond to people? Honestly a simple ‘f-off,’” said Moore. “Someone [who] can accept me as a Michael Jackson impersonator, but doesn’t understand why I also impersonate Madonna or Gaga is just close-minded.”
One of the reasons why Moore likes Lady Gaga so much is because she is working to eliminate judgment through her music.
“She is making a huge impact on me. We all judge others at some point. But even when I listen to her song [‘Born This Way’] I take a minute and tell myself ‘stop judging and criticizing’,” he said. “If she is making that kind of impact on me I can imagine the difference she is making to the rest of the world. She is a huge influence on the world, like Michael Jackson used to be.”
As for the rest of the celebrities he embodies, Moore says he selects the people he impersonates based on current trends in pop culture, as well as his personal preferences, and his capabilities to depict their aura and personalities.
“Some celebrities I don’t necessarily look a lot like,” explained Moore. “For example Tina Turner—I’m not black. But I am able to capture her aura and personality on stage, and create that illusion for the audience.”
For Moore, the greatest pleasure in performing on stage is the energy he gets from the audience.
“The best is when I see an audience member who gets lost in the performance, and for 15 to 20 minutes, forgets that I’m not the real Celine Dion or Madonna. I am so happy to be able to create that illusion for people.”
However, despite the fact that audience members often get lost in the show, Moore says he remains grounded, and never loses touch with himself.
“You have to take this all in with a touch of humour. I am not the real Michael Jackson nor will I ever be. I am just happy to create that illusion for people when I am on stage just as an actor would,” he said. “And in real life I never mask who I am to make others happy. I have a much too strong personality to hide.”
If Moore could deliver one message to his fans through his art it would be to never follow mediocrity. “I think mediocrity is the worst thing to live by in your life.”
And to all the sceptics, he offers the challenge of attending at least one of his shows before judging what he does.
“Come out and see me perform,” he says to all the critics. “I am sure I can win anyone over no matter how sceptical they may be at first.”

For more information on Moore, and to keep your eye on his upcoming performances, visit www.jimmymoore.ca.

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