Frankly, for less than a year of formal training as a countertenor, I think Jacques sounds pretty damn good. Commenters on some other opera blogs--you know which ones--have said all sorts of things about Jacques, not realizing he isn't trying to present himself as a budding opera star or usurp the places of David Daniels and Brian Asawa. Maybe they did realize, but wanted to be mean anyway. You know how bullies can be. I know that my readers are the kind and gentle sort, and they think before they speak.
Do you remember the It Gets Better Project ? It began after the rash of gay teen suicides last year, and is still going strong. Jacques is doing concerts (probably fully clothed, but one never knows, does one?) in the US to raise money and awareness for the project.
I was fortunate that Jacques gladly accepted my invitation to do a profile here. So here we are:
Tell me about being a rugby star and model and singing.
Well, I am South African, so rugby is pretty much a second religion. So I started playing rugby from the age of about 5. I played in our state under-13 rugby team. Schooling in South Africa is a bit different. We have to take part in a winter and summer sport. I managed to do most sports up to state level and was part of the national team in rugby, gymnastics and track and field. I took part in numerous international events.
Another thing about schooling in South Africa, is that if the choir teacher finds you to have a good voice you have no choice in singing in the choir. I grew up in a musical family, so getting together with cousins was like the Von Trapps. Some played violins, cello, oboe, flute, and piano, and we can all sing. So, performing was an annual thing during Christmas.
The modeling thing just happened. I was seen on a beach and now I guess I am the crotch and ass on a few underpants packages!
I hardly know what to ask about your modeling and your pageant titles. We've all seen your pics [and drooled over them!]. Is there anything you want people to know about that?
I was asked to take part in the Mr. Gay South Africa. The organizers wanted to change the whole package and bad name of the pageant--away from the twink in wet white underwear on a bar counter image. Well they did a fantastic show. It took place in a theatre and a calender was done. We went on a cruise and did rehearsals for most of the cruise. I was the oldest there but it was complimentary to the others.
For me it showed how much prejudice I myself have. To be honest I felt ashamed at times. There were a few very effeminate boys and I had thought that I just would not get on with them, but listening to these guys and the shit they had and have to put up with made me feel so ashamed. I also found out afterwards that one of the camp guys thought the same of me and I changed his idea on Muscle Marys. Anyway the guy that won, also went on to win Mr. Gay World. Charl van den Berg--great guy!
Talk about your involvement in the It Gets Better Project . What do you want people to know about that?
I had stopped singing when I left university in 1996. I returned to South Africa in 2009 and joined a gay mens group. We used to get together on a Monday nights round a piano with a glass of wine. In May 2010 the choir leader asked me how high I can sing....and now I sing like this. I apprehensively approached a friend in London who is a professor of vocal studies in Lyon and London. And he thought I had talent. I have had about eight lessons with him now. I am still very very very new to this.
On returning to SA for a holiday in January 2011, I organized an impromptu concert which was for free but donations were welcomed. The money I then gave to my friend who runs an AIDS orphanage in Cape Town. As I have been traveling a lot to Fort Lauderdale I naturally wanted to do a concert here, but I was looking for a cause I can help out with. There's a great local charity that helps with GLBT youth.
Afterwards I was introduced to the It Gets Better Project . Its something I feel very strongly about. Although I was never bullied in the traditional sense of the word I was subjected to 13 years of sexual abuse by family members. That's a form of bullying. I also feel strongly about this campaign because its non exclusive. It encompasses everyone--gay, lesbian, straight, male, female, regardless of race, creed, everything.
And you know, I have been subjected to a lot of cyber bullying since people have put me on/in their blogs. Oh the irony!
What's your favorite thing to sing?
Singing...well I am not so sure...I like humming along to Madonna and Lady Gaga...to sing its anything from Vivaldi, Mozart and Handel....I'm never not singing!! It annoys most people.
What are some examples of dumb interview questions you get?
I haven't had enough interviews to have been subjected to any...remarks have been, does it hurt to sing high and do i still have my balls......and yes they are there....ALL THREE!!! Joking!! All intact.
My favorite question from "Inside the Actor's Studio": What's your favorite swear word?
In afrikaans...KAK!!! (He didn't tell me what that means, and I'm sort of afraid to ask!)
6/6/2011 Update: Here is another profile of Jacques, on a very different (and potential NSFW) blog.