Lenora Claire shares memories of TV’s “Cirque du So-gay”

EDITOR’S NOTE: We turn over this space to the always fabulous Ms. Lenora Claire. Lenora was a big part of The Queer Edge family, as she facilitated fun and hijinks on the pioneering cable program. Here Lenora shares her memories of host Jack E. Jett and presents us with a rare artifact—a 4-page feature that was published in British “lad mag” Bizarre in June 2006. Besides being a stunning profile of Jack and Lenora and the gang, the photos feature the late great Goddess Bunny, aka Sandie Crisp, who passed just last week. This post is a tribute to Sandie and Jack. Take it away, Lenora, and thank you…

Lenora Claire Queer Edge Jack E. Jett

Lenora Claire

I first met Jack E. Jett around 2004/2005. I was a staff entertainment writer at the now defunct Frontiers magazine. Frontiers was L.A.’s oldest queer publication and I was the one straight girl on staff. I got to interview all the cult celebs I wanted and had the women’s bathroom all to myself. This lead to me doing some guest spots on Sirius radios “Out Serious Q” another place where the wonderful queer community welcomed me.

Read about Jack E. Jett & why he deserves more recognition

If I remember correctly Jack heard me on Sirius and thought I was funny so he invited me to be a guest on The Queer Edge.

When I got to the Q Television studios it was like nothing I had ever seen. It was like “Cirque du So-gay”— just a beautiful crazy mix of people. Lots of go-go boys in gold underwear.

I was supposed to only be on once but jeez, I can’t even remember how many times I came back. We were all having too much fun together!

Bizarre magazine 2006 Jack E. Jett Lenora Claire
I remember Jack squealed when he saw me because he had only heard me on the radio. He said something about me being a real girl drag queen which he really enjoyed. I remember thinking ok, this weirdo with the latex kitchen gloves has definite future BFF potential.

Jack had this incredible energy and magnetism. He was just so warm, inviting, and wonderful. You could tell he was making the most of every moment and The Queer Edge was his baby, his dream turned reality. We bonded quickly over our love of eccentric people and dark humor.

Go behind the scenes for a day on The Queer Edge

I think Queer Edge was wayyyyy ahead of its time. I think if Jack was around now and given any kind of platform, social media would have blown him up!

Bizarre magazine Jack E. Jett Lenora Claire
At the time I thought the show was really tailored for someone like myself, someone who wanted to live in a John Waters reality. Now that I’m fifteen years older I think it could have had a much broader appeal.

Jack loved to give legitimacy to the weirdos. That message resonates even more today.

Jack E. Jett Fran Baskervilles singing psychic

Meet Jack’s unusual friends on The Jack E. Jett Show

One of my favorite Jack memories was when he called me and asked what strange characters I had met recently. I told him about a trample fetishist who had contacted me on Myspace. For those who aren’t familiar, a trample fetishist is someone who derives pleasure from having people stand on top of them. The more bodies and weight crushing them, the better.

Jack was so excited and insisted I convince him to come on. Then I said “Jack, are you ready for the best part? The trample guy is named Matt!” God, we cackled until we couldn’t breathe. It’s in one of the episodes I can’t remember which one but I’m wearing a sequin gown holding James St James hand standing on top of Trample Matt.

Watch Matt Trample on The Queer Edge

After that Jack said he would pay me $50 a person to find the most quirky people possible. I guess I never made the connection before but I have been a reality TV casting director for a decade specializing in unique talent. Wow, Jack just had a way of seeing and nurturing potential in people.

On The Queer Edge we had lesbian princesses…

And Hollywood rocker cowboys too—how about that!

In 2008 I curated a rather infamous show at the World of Wonder gallery called Golden Girls Gone Wild. The show featured over 40 depictions of erotic Golden Girls art. Jack was back in Texas by then but he was always so supportive and bought the Betty White dominatrix painting by Ed Mironiuk. The painting was featured with me in The National Enquirer and L.A. Bizarro (by Tony Lovett and Matt Maranian). No idea where it is now but I hope he enjoyed displaying her in his home.

Watch the full show featuring Goddess Bunny and Lenora Claire on The Queer Edge

I was responsible for the story in Bizarre magazine happening. My friend Matt Berry wrote for Bizarre and once I told him about the show he had to cover it.

Download The Queer Edge in Bizarre magazine 2006

The Queer Edge ended because Q Television was like the gay Enron. It’s my understanding the founder got investments from many people and just embezzled the money and ran. I remember we all showed up to the studio in the Valley one day and it was just locked up. We were in shock!

Watch James St. James and Lenora Claire on The Queer Edge

I may have heard some disgruntled producers who were owed large sums of money got in and liberated some TV’s and equipment but it may have been just a rumor.

Jack E. Jett deserves to be remembered as the ringmaster of the first late night queer talk show in America. Jack was fearless! He made everyone feel special but he was the one who was truly special.

Jack always gave different answers about the gloves. I just remember they made him sweaty.

Bizarre magazine Jack E. Jett Lenora Claire

Download The Queer Edge in Bizarre magazine 2006

Explore the complete Queer Edge episode guide & watch the shows

Read about & watch The Jack E. Jett Show—a cable access classic online for the first time in 2021

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