Part One of a Series

Molly…My Metamorphic Marilyn

By Fil Jessee

 If you had worked with as many Marilyn Monroe imposters as I have over a three-decade period, you might think that the real one passed through a series of post-mortem reincarnations. The likeness of some were uncanny.  But what’s really surprising is that one of the very best wasn’t even a girl or, at least, not until recently.

“Her” name is Molly Mackamer, referred to me as a special events producer by a colleague in Nevada. Molly lives in Atlanta but contacted Classique Productions in Las Vegas to find work as a Marilyn impersonator and, sight unseen, Classique suggested that she register with me for assignments closer to home.

She did, and I agreed to meet Molly at a popular outdoor café in Atlanta’s Ansley district when she mentioned that she didn’t drive. That should have been Clue Number One that something just wasn’t quite Kosher.

Clue Number Two came when I met her. She was dressed in casual women’s attire, had long platinum blonde hair, and spoke to me in a voice as deep as Lauren Bacall’s. Add to that comparatively large hands and height that approached six feet, and it was quite apparent that this particular Marilyn look-alike wanna-be would have to work some real magic with make-up and wardrobe to star in any of my shows or meet-and-greet gigs.

I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable with comments and questions.  But at the same time, I saw nothing to be gained from being coy. I had to let Molly know that I was well aware of the fact that she was not only a Marilyn imposter but a pseudo female as well.

She admitted that she was “a female trapped in a man’s body” and, with hormones, feminine attire and impending sex reassignment surgery, was well on the road to changing that.

This left the question of how well could she fake both Marilyn’s gender and feminine voice without ruining my reputation as a talent agent. And I decided to investigate further by requesting video footage of her better engagements.

Not surprisingly, Molly produced footage of recent performances at two popular gay bars in Atlanta’s Midtown district. Like other celebrity impersonators in drag, she relied entirely on costuming, movement in character and lip syncing skills to garner applause from a rollicking audience of mostly intoxicated homosexuals.

Giving credit where credit is due, her appearance was every bit as good as that of Susan Griffiths, a top-drawer Marilyn tribute artist based in Los Angeles. But could Molly please a male-dominated corporate clientele?  I wasn’t so sure.

I did, however, agree to give her a chance to dispel my hesitations by substituting for Heather Chaney, my favorite Florida-based Marilyn who wasn’t available for small private party at the time.  And even if she had been available, my budget was insufficient to cover her lodging and airfare from Orlando.

In addition, it was a one-time gig that I would never reference as a credit to gain other Marilyn bookings. So if Molly totally bombed, any negative affect on my career would be minimal.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  On the contrary, my client was delighted by Molly’s appearance and skillful lip sync of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “I Wanna Be Loved by You.”

Not long after that, I had a request for four celebrity impersonators to anchor a much larger surprise sixtieth birthday party for a prominent Atlanta physician. I booked Dolly, Elvis and Jack Nicholson tribute artists and, again, Molly as Marilyn.

Then to my horror while getting birthday roast material from the doctor’s wife, I learned that the celebrant was a gynecologist. O.M.G!  I’ve booked a male transvestite well on the road to becoming a transsexual female!  The doctor’s bound to notice extra parts and whisker stubble plastered with make-up!

On the night of the engagement, I spent the first hour helping Molly get dressed in the lady’s restroom, and listening to her bitch about the fact that a row of beads got snagged and spilled all over the floor. And as nervous perspiration dripped from my forehead and armpits, I informed her that all the rules had just changed for this gig.

You’re not to carry on a conversation with anybody who might notice your baritone voice.  You’re to wear white gloves to cover your larger fingers and wrists. And when posing for photos, you’re to stand next to the tallest person in the shot.

What did I learn from this scary incident?  Find out everything you can about your client and his guests before show time. Some people have a good enough sense of humor to be entertained by look-alikes in drag. Others might be more inclined to tar and feather their booking agent.