Last fall, I profiled a small slice of the life and career of late LGBT TV broadcaster, Jack E. Jett. Jack was a former high fashion model, Hollywood talent exec, AIDS activist, off-the-wall Texas cable access TV host and the very first out gay person to host a nationally or internationally broadcast television program.
He was also an all-around sweet guy who encouraged those of us who walk on the edgy side of life.
With my chronicles, I had hoped to jog memories and make new friends among the vast social network Jack had, being a pioneer on so many fronts.
Celebrities, bizarre stunts, heaps of gayness, behind the scenes drama–Jack’s story is so juicy. I wanted people to share this with.
I’m happy to report that my plan worked—I’ve reconnected with old colleagues and even met some friends of Jack I had never encountered before.
Like Mimi Snow, L.A.-based editor, Texan and associate of Jack from his early broadcast days.
Mimi has been a ray of light in my life these past two weeks. She contacted me out of the blue, and was generous enough to share some incredible, rarely scene celebrity interviews she edited for Jack in 2004-5. These have never been on the internet before.
Mimi came to Los Angeles at Jack Jett’s behest, and now she reveals how it all went down. I am posting Mimi’s story below without embellishment—Mimi is a skilled storyteller.
Take it away, Mimi Snow:
I loved entertainment and TV growing up. My mom loved MTV and music videos are pretty much all we watched at home. I was a professional child model with the Kim Dawson Agency from eleven months old to 14-years-old so I had a very different life than the other kids. I was auditioning for commercials, movies and shows for most of my childhood. I only booked a few little things for TV but I had an idea of what it was like behind the scenes in the entertainment world and I knew it was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. I had dreams of moving to Los Angeles and doing something in the industry, whether it was acting or directing or producing… something.
I was drawn to the bizarre and outrageous. Queer lifestyles peaked my interests; drag queens and kings, dykes on bikes, tattoos, body piercings and bears, “oh my!” I went to college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. There, I studied film and learned about editing.
After I graduated in 2001, I got a job at Bobby Goldstein Productions editing the reality show Cheaters. I learned a lot about my craft there.
This is also when I met Jack E Jett. I don’t recall how we met, but I know I really liked him. He had a public access show called The Jack E Jett Show and I would edit segments for that between Cheaters seasons.
During my time working at Cheaters, the host Joey Greco, got stabbed in the side by a guy on one of the busts. While Joey was on the mend, Jack stepped in to host the show. I worked on this episode.
Jack wore a yellow glove and called himself an “aging gasbag”. He reminded me of Max Headroom with spiky blonde hair and geometric neon Warhol-esque backgrounds. The guests on his show were very outlandish characters who were 95% tattooed or wore giant wigs and spoke backwards. I remember loving the creative freedom with editing. They encouraged us to get weird.
While working with Jack, I don’t really remember our conversations, but he knew I had a girlfriend. She thought he was eccentric and progressive and she had never met anyone like him before.
I had a night job as princess at a dinner and tournament show and he came to see me a few times. I think the idea of a show where knights are fighting for the hand of a lesbian princess amused him.
One day in 2004, he contacted me and asked if I wanted to work for a new LGBT TV network called Q Television Network. I was ecstatic! Of course I do—it sounded like a playground of queerness.
He said all the editors they currently had were straight men and they needed someone with a “queer eye.”
At 25 years old, I took the job as the lead (and in most cases, only) editor. Since it was a “live” network, I was mostly editing packages that aired on the live TV shows. Producers would go out and shoot footage and bring the tapes back to me.
As I was digitizing the footage into my computer, I’d watch it, then edit something together, throw some music under it, put it on a tape and give it to an assistant who would run it to the tape room and put it in the system to air immediately, all done in about an hour. It was insane.
Jack was one of three hosts on a live show called On Q Live. He was perfect for live TV, he always knew what to say and he was hilarious. In the summer of 2005, QTN aired live gay pride celebrations in two days from six different US cities with bonus pre-taped pride celebrations from Berlin. Jack and I were both based in San Francisco, which was the broadcasting hub. This was probably the most exhausting 48-hours of my life.
After this, QTN decided to move from Dallas to L.A. because it offered them more opportunities as a celebrity guest driven live network. They told me I had three days to decide whether I was going and get there. I packed a bag and my two cats, booked a flight, and told my mom I was moving (much to her dismay). My dream had come true. I was going to be working in L.A.
I think about ten of us moved with the company. The second our feet hit the west coast we were working to keep the shows live without missing a beat. I don’t remember a lot from this time because I was working 16-20 hour days and partying in my spare hours. They hired so many new people and created so many new shows. It was all pretty overwhelming.
Jack got his own talk show called The Queer Edge. It was reminiscent of The Jack E. Jett Show but this time it was live. He had some really great guests and since we were in Los Angeles, a lot of celebrities; TV stars, movies stars, porn stars, rock stars, drunk stars, clowns, comedians, gossips, sword swallowers, fire breathers, Sandra Bernhard.
Everyone was welcome and encouraged to be themselves and be raw and have fun. He once told me that if he ever had a guest I wanted to meet, just come down to the set and he would introduce me. I would watch a live feed of the show in my office while I was working. So, on occasion, I would pop in after his show was done and he would grab me and take me to meet the guest. He introduced me to Alan Cumming, Lucy Lawless, Jane Weidlin, Jerri Manthey, most of the cast of MadTV, and tons of others. I thought that was lovely of him. This was a very exciting time for me.
In 2006, the Q Television Network went bankrupt. Everyone lost their jobs except for a skeleton crew that was trying to keep the shows going and save the network. I was part of that skeleton crew and, of course, Jack was also. It was almost like we were back in the early Dallas days of QTN; a handful of people working their asses off trying to get the network off the ground. We didn’t succeed, there was no money, and the company was gone.
Most of the people who moved to L.A. from Dallas went back home. I think Jack and his husband still had a home in Dallas so he went back. I didn’t really stay in touch with Jack except for a little back and forth on Facebook.
In Feb 2015, my mom passed away. I was at her house in Dallas organizing for her estate sale when I read that Jack E. Jett died. I was completely in shock. It was really hard for me since I was already in a bad place emotionally, but I really did love him and everything he did for me.
Jack was more than just an “aging gasbag”, he was a thoughtful, fun, caring man that helped a girl follow her dreams.