BWW Interview: Jim J. Bullock from KINKY BOOTS on Tour
KINKY BOOTS has been touring North America for a while now and audiences have fallen in love with its story and the music that makes it unique. Currently in the role of George, Jim Bullock recently shared with Broadway World his show business history and how he came to play George in this great show.
How did you first get interested in performing?
I think what really got me interested was singing in church. That was my first way of being able to perform. Since I was a little kid, I loved to entertain. I loved the attention I got from being silly. I had fantasies about being on TV and being a movie star when I was young but I never really acted on those because it was just so bizarre. That was just not a life that I was gonna know. When I went to high school, I went in and did a play, I did "Bye, Bye, Birdie" and I was like, "Wow, I really like this and this means something." There was a gong that went off in my soul and I pursued that. I went to college and continued in theater and then after two years of college I went, "You know, this is what I want." So, I left school and I went out to LA. Looking back, I guess my interest was television. I'd never been to New York. It scared the devil out of me. California was familiar and sunny. So, I decided to go there and fortunately, I was lucky to have something happen within a short amount of time of me getting there. Who knew, looking back that first job that I had on "Too Close for Comfort" would set the stage for the rest of my life.
Tell us more about that experience on the TV show "Too Close for Comfort."
I was so blessed to get to do that and it was a wonderful experience for me. I have nothing but wonderful memories. I have no bad memories of that. I was young and I had pride working with veterans like Ted (Knight), Audrey Meadows and Selma Diamond. You could go down the list of people that I got to work with. I knew I was really fortunate to have what I had at such an early age, but because of my youth, there was no way I could really appreciate what I had or know what I had. Now, I look back and I go, "Wow, I had this incredible success." And how hard would it be to get that now. I wouldn't know how to tell my old self how to tell my young self to go get it or if you can believe in yourself enough. The odds would be so against you. I think I would be more like my mother and more a little bit on the cynical discouraging side that she was when I told her I wanted to do this. She thought I was crazy. She has since changed her tune.
What are some of the highlights of your career that really stand out to you?
"Hollywood Squares" was the most fun job I've ever had. Getting to play Tic Tac Toe basically. You talk about getting to meet people and work with people that was like a terminal, a traveling terminal that came and went through. I got to meet legends. I got to work with Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Milton Berle; Rose Marie with the bow in the hair still. Just amazing people that I got to work with and meet because of that show. "Jim J. and Tammy Faye" was a great opportunity to work with her and forge a relationship with her not only work wise but friends. We all invested into that show and unfortunately, it was just ahead of its time. It was a very special experience and a great opportunity to be in on the ground level and build from the ground level up. HAIRSPRAY, when I got to do it on Broadway, talk about a dream come true. Talk about something that fell out of the sky. It was something that I had let go of in my life. I hadn't really pursued it (Broadway) and then all of a sudden I got to. This kind of happened and so this (KINKY BOOTS) is another fantastic opportunity that I went out for 18 months ago and I finally got it. I was turned down the first go round but they kept me in mind and they brought me in now, so I'm getting to do it now. I'm grateful I'm getting to continually work, that I'm alive and that I'm healthy now. I've had a very actor life. I've had great success and I know what the lows are like. I know what the years are like without work and I know what it's like to be a working actor and I have and have not had. For the most part, I have had a really great life. I've been able to do what I love to do for going on 40 years now.
You mentioned KINKY BOOTS and the character you play, George. Tell us how you got the role and tell us more about your character.
I live in LA. I don't want to live anywhere else. I love LA. New York has opportunities to do Broadway and to do tours, you really have to go for it usually in New York. But, they came through LA 18 months ago. I went and auditioned and I happened to know some of the people because of my HAIRSPRAY experience. I was more excited to see them than anything. When I came into the room, there was this electricity that went off because I was seeing people that I hadn't seen in so many years and I adored. And then I was like, let me do the audition here. That ended with me going to New York. They wanted me to go to New York and I didn't get it in the end. It's hard, I was crushed because it was a Broadway tour. But, that's the life. You have to deal with rejection. You go on. I let go of this a long time ago and it came back up about four months ago. Here I am. I'm playing George who is the foreman of the factory it's a lovely character. I love George. He's the older guy and he's a great spirit to have around. I love playing him. On paper, I don't have a lot of lines. I have a lot of stage time. The presence he has is very apparent. It's a great role for me. I don't want any more. I'm happy to have an easy track and not having to remember a lot of lines. Those boots, I have on just a perfect amount of time.
Is it hard to get adjusted to wearing the boots?
Let me tell you something. When I joined this tour, I broke my baby toe. Two days before I joined the tour. I came into rehearsal with a broken toe. Those boots, I would force my foot in there and it's a quick change for George. I have to run off stage, pull my clothes off, put the boots on and put my clothes back on and stuffing my foot in that boot was so against what my body's saying. Now, the toe's healed and I'm moving a little better in the boots. I'm never going to move great, I'm just not.
What advice do you have for anyone who is thinking about getting into show business?
If it's what you want, you better go for it. Don't let what anyone else says influence you. Listen but follow your heart's desire. Dreams do come true.
KINKY BOOTS opens at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio on Tuesday, January 26 and plays until Sunday, January 31. Get your tickets by going to the Majestic Theatre's website. You won't want to miss this one.