Vp Issue 12: “Backstage with Lisa Jackson,”

[Originally published in Vp issue 7 2007, by Grace Moon and photos by Evan Schwartz]

[Originally published in Vp issue 7 2007, by Grace Moon and photos by Evan Schwartz]

“I am A O K!” the crowd chants along with rocker Lisa Jackson as she strums her power chords and belts out the chorus of her well-known closing number. Watching Lisa twist and strut across the stage at hte dingy Arlene’s Grocery on NYC’s Lower East Side brings to mind Lita Ford or Robin Zander (that cute blonde who fronted Cheap Trick). Jackson evokes an earlier era of rock ‘n’ roll, when the girls and the boys wore long hair and tight pants. When rock music was anthemic and fabulously sexy. When spandexed guitar heroes aroused the libidoes of adolescent grls and boys to strap it on, plug it in, and dream about becoming rock stars.

This is in fact how Lisa Jackson’s dreams began, playing air guitar in front of her brother’s mirror. Lisa grew up as a young boy in Fayetteville, GA, looking up to her older brother who had an electric guitar, a band, and a car. The young Steve, as she was then known, was reared on a healthy diet of Southern Rock, listening to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, and power rockers like The Who.

After a two-year stint in the theater department of Atlanta’s Dorsey Studios, Lisa made that inevitable journey to NYC in 1994 to pursue musical theater. While touring in the revival of the Buddy Holly Story, Lisa met like-minded musicians who were interested in playing rock music. Thus began the Steve Friday Band, Lisa’s first band in NYC.

Without resources and a supportive community, Lisa’s coming out was a slow and cautious process. During the years in musical theater Lisa avoided auditioning for Hedwig and the Angry Inch for fear that people would “find out.” However, it was through her rock band and playing venues in the East Village that Lisa’s true self came into clear focus. And when Lisa Jackson decided to come out in 2001, she didn’t do it quietly among close friends—she came out to a crowd of fans at a Steve Friday Band show.

Since transitioning a little over two years ago, Lisa has garnered the attention of the downtown music scene as well as the LGBT community as a talented and compelling rock-n-roller. she has been on HERE! TV’s podcasts with Josh & Sara and on Sirius Out Q’s Jeremy Hovie’s Hot 20. Her new video “AOK” is scheduled to air on LOGO and legendary producer Barb Morrison will be working with Lisa on a new single and EP. Never one to sit idly by and wait for things to happen, Jackson is making a documentary of her journey to stardom and recently parted ways with her Girl Friday band, feeling the need to reinvent herself yet again.

Lisa’s live show is an explosive and cathartic experience. Her music brings back the optimism of the 70s when boys didn’t have to be boys and girls could be what they wanted.


Velvetpark Magazine, Issue 12 (Fall/Winter 2007), 9-10.