Ken Leighton 6 p.m., Oct. 18
Sound description: Comedic pop performance art.
RIYL: El Vez, Rick Dees's "Disco Duck"
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- Blurt · Jan. 13, 2005
Inception: San Diego, 2004
Influences: Ru Paul, Paul Reubens, El Vez, Sha Na Na
Shemm got a huge head start on their career on January 3, 2005, when they appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel show as part of the program's "Future Talent Showcase." "Madonna, Bono, Sting, Cher," said Kimmel on the air, "none of them are here, but in the great tradition of one-name stars like those, there's a new one about to burst on the music scene, and you're lucky enough to witness it tonight. Please welcome from San Diego -- Shemm."
"This song is sung only for the sexy people," said Shemm just before he launched into an original dance tune called "Sexxxy" (the chorus goes, "Yeah move sexy / Yeah move sexy"). Shemm danced as well.
"America just got its first taste of Shemm," said Kimmel as he joined Shemm onstage afterward. "What do you think, America?" The audience applauded loudly.
After the break, Shemm joined Kimmel at his desk. Kimmel was gracious, but college football broadcaster Keith Jackson looked as if he smelled something offensive. Comedian Kevin Nealon made a face.
When Kimmel asked Shemm about his single-name status, Shemm explained, "It's Biblical, but I'm not religious. It means fame."
The next day Shemm described his experience on TV. "I had my hair all glittery gold and a shirt as see-through as I could get, and tight pants and makeup. I don't care in the end if people laugh at me or whatever."
Shemm said a limo came to pick him up, and he was paid $1000 for his appearance.
"I'm laughing all the way to the bank," he said. Shemm's live act has been called a cross between Pee Wee's Playhouse and an episode of Star Search. Lately, he's been called San Diego's answer to American Idol's William Hung.
Shemm was invited to appear on Kimmel because David Moye, an editor with the local Wireless Flash news service, alerted Kimmel show producers to the Shemm experience.
"I find myself attracted to eccentric personalities," said producer Rich Brown, who booked Shemm. "I was a huge fan of [the late ukulele-playing, falsetto-singing] Tiny Tim." Brown said it was Shemm's public-access TV show The Sexxxy Show (on Time Warner Cable and Cox) that sold him.
"One whole show was called 'If Madonna Calls Shemm,'" said Brown. "He and this pre-op transsexual are just sitting there. The whole half hour is them sitting around waiting for Madonna to call. She doesn't call, but they take one crank call after another."
Shemm used to appear regularly at Lestat's and Twiggs. "Artists like myself, that aren't mainstream or hardcore or alternative rock, get ignored," said Shemm. "They consider someone like me to be like a clown or that I can't sing or I'm bubblegum or maybe I'm too extroverted with my fashion and my dance. Local artists who aren't in tune with what everyone else is doing are not appreciated in San Diego."
But Moye, who said he first saw Shemm playing at a Hillcrest coffeehouse "wearing black biker shorts and fishnet stockings," thinks Shemm is getting the last laugh. "Tristan Prettyman may get more buzz, but she's not on Jimmy Kimmel. More people saw Shemm on Kimmel than the entire attendance of every single San Diego Music Awards show in the last 14 years."
-- "Blurt," 1-13-05