If you are Beyoncé fan, then this interview is for you! While it's not with Beyoncé herself, it's with the next best thing...Beyoncé impersonator Aaron Carty, who leapt onto the London scene after his audition video for Britain's Got Talent went viral.
Now Aaron brings The Beyoncé Experience, a Beyoncé dance concert, complete with an astonishing all female dance crew, to the US on May 25 in NYC at Stage 48 in Hell's Kitchen (605 West 48th Street) at a fundraiser for Hetrick-Martin Institute, presented by Open Finance. Click here for tickets!
The Hetrick-Martin Institute is the oldest and largest nonprofit agency created to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth between the ages of 13 and 24. Their After-School programs invite youth to explore the arts, culture, tutoring, job skills, and health issues—with an LGBTQ focus. Their Supportive Services staff provides help in areas from housing to HIV counseling to family therapy, all tailored to the individual.
OPEN Finance is a volunteer network that combines the expertise of almost 50 financial services firms’ employee resource groupstodriveforwardLGBTequalityanddiversityinthefinanceindustryandbeyond.
1. Already a known entity in London, this May, you are making your US debut with The Beyoncé Experience as a fundraiser for Hetrick-Martin Institute at Stage 48 in Hell's Kitchen. What is it about HMI that made you go, "This is the perfect way to be introduced to the US"? It's really important for me to contribute to organizations that work with young LGBT people. It's such a difficult time of your life and organizations like HMI really make an impact. I feel my story of growing up as an awkward and shy teen, to then become a police officer turned Media Entrepreneur...and then Beyoncé impersonator goes to show these young people that no matter what difficulties you have going on, there is always a solution; and if you can't see it - organizations like HMI are there to help guide you.
2. How do you feel an organization like this would have helped you growing up? It took me a lot longer to come to terms with who I was, what I was and what it was I wanted to be. I also felt like I didn't have people around me who understood what I was going through or the thoughts I was having. The torture you go through wondering if you'll be accepted into society really dents your confidence. I was so introverted an organization would have had to approach me to help me - and this is what HMI do. They reach out to these young people and events like this help. One photo of this event on social media itself could help a young person.
3. For 10 years you've been supporting the LGBTQ community in London and now you will be supporting us in the US. What do you get from helping LGBTQ youth as opposed to the adult community? I think I'm really relatable to young people. I'm not an adult telling them "you should do it this way." My message is all about expression of yourself - whatever that is. I have young people messaging me and coming to my performances telling me that I'm really bracing for doing what I do. The fact that they think it's brave shows that they've felt insecure about expressing themselves in some way. So we need to continue showing young people that your variety and individuality is what will really make you stand out for all the right reasons.
4. Now let's find out all about you, your love of Beyoncé, & The Beyoncé Experience. Prior to The Beyoncé Experience, you were a cop. What made you want to be an officer of the law and how do you go from cop to Beyoncé impersonator? It's a very slow and unknown process, although I wanted to become a cop because at the time, despite getting accepted to three universities it wasn't something I wanted to do. I couldn't see myself going to university not knowing what I wanted to actually do. So instead I joined the police, and it was the 'J' curve of life experience I needed to pursue anything else I wanted. It 'knocked the shy out of me' and really opened my eyes to the world.
I loved the job but quickly lost faith in the politics and bureaucracy; so I started using my days off to help media production companies. Seven years later I have my own successful company. This is what led to Beyoncé, owning your own business at 22 is hard work! It got to the point where I needed a creative relief...Beyoncé Experience was born!
5. Was Beyoncé the performer who initially inspired you to become a performer or was there someone else first and then you discovered Beyoncé? I always pretended to be Mel B whilst dancing with my sisters in our house when I was younger. But it was really Beyoncé who I look at and thought - wow - what an inspiration, what a role model. I never expected to be a Beyoncé drag impersonator. If you would have told me five years ago, this is what I would be doing, I would have laughed at you.
6. What was it about Beyoncé that made you say, "I want to spend my life traveling the world as a Beyoncé impersonator"? I've never thought that - but it has been a welcomed organic process of just taking a very mediocre talent and training at it to the point where I can show it to people. But there aren't many black artists that sing, dance and produce such an amazing show. There really wasn't anyone else I could have chosen from to impersonate.
7. What has been the hardest part about impersonating her and what's the most fun? The hardest part is dancing for 90 minutes in heels. These routines aren't easy - they're grueling to learn and really need a lot of work. I always rehearse in heels, I don't want a surprise in wearing them for the first time on stage.
Peoples reactions to the performance is definitely what makes it fun. I don't think people really know what to expect from the performance and it definitely has the shock factor. To look at me, I don't think people would say, "That's a Beyoncé impersonator." Seeing their faces and watching their reaction is priceless. It's happened all over the world - seeing it live, really is the only way to experience it.
8. Do you know if Beyoncé herself is aware of you & your experience? If so, have you heard from her? I'm not entirely sure she does - we had such a great reaction to our Britain's Got Talent performance, I just hope I'm doing it some justice.
9. What have you learned about Beyoncé from impersonating her that you feel you would not know from just being a fan? I've learned that she works so f**king hard - like, harder than you and I know. As a fan you can sit back and enjoy the amazing performances, as an impersonator you get a tiny insight into the work that goes into it. I can't imagine how much work goes into the creative mindset of an album and a performance. There aren't many artists that can take the risks that Beyoncé has in her music, her messaging and her political stance. She won't play it safe just to sell records, she's expressing herself through her art in a way that she wants to - a message we should be telling young people today.
10. Let's play with some of her song titles to find out more about you. Let's start with "Sweet Dreams." What is something that has happened to you where you went, "Is this a sweet dream or beautiful nightmare"? and then what was the result of said event? That event would be becoming a Beyoncé impersonator itself. I was a police officer at 18, I owned my first media business at 22, never would I have thought that I would be performing as Beyoncé in front of thousands of people around the world. It's a dream I think many of us have thought about - and then been terrified by. The end result is a sweet dream, I've learned more about myself and the world doing this than anything else.
11. When have you been "Crazy in Love"? Right now! I brought my boyfriend to New York only this week for his 27th birthday as a surprise and then arranged for a professional photographer (he's an actor) to take new headshots around the city. I'm so crazy in love with him that I'm actually going crazy!!!
12. Who's your "Halo"? My instant thought is my mum, she's so honest, down to earth and normal. She's the only one I've ever opened up to when I've made some terrible mistakes in my life, she's never judged me and always supported me. Even when I've been in the wrong. I'm lucky to have her.
13. Have you ever told some one, "If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it?" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA - yes I have, but I'm glad they now didn't. I might be crazy in love now, but I think we've all been stupidly in love at some point haven't we. It's funny, when those ex's see you in the public eye and begin texting you again...I could easily send back a Single Ladies GIF, and I have. Slightly arrogant - but very true!
14. Let's twist up Beyoncé's song "Irreplaceable." What is something that you lost that you felt was "Irreplaceable"? Just like the song itself. There aren't any things in my life that at the time I thought were irreplaceable (most of them boyfriends) but you soon come to your senses and realize that they were in fact "replaceable" in a minute.
15. We both live in world, you in London with Brexit & me here in the US with that orange balloon in the White House, where are political leaders and climate are in flux and causing such stress, panic, & fear. If you were to "Run The World" as "The Beyoncé Expereince," what changes would you make? (Can you use any of her songs to illustrate your plan?) I'd firstly ask everyone to "Hold Up" a minute and really think about why they vote the way they do. Don't vote in anger and fear. I'd "Ring The Alarm" and get everyone in "Formation." It's us as the people who can make a difference. Stop thinking about "Me, Myself and I" and start thinking as a whole. It could be the "End Of Time" if we'are not careful, we all live in such luxury, we're not all a "Survivor," start working harder so you can pay those "Bills, Bills, Bills" and listening to those leaders with the "SuperPower" driving a "Partition" between us all. Everyone would be responsible for their own actions and stop playing the blame game, living their lives through their "Telephone" and begin making real change through action!
International Beyonce impersonator Aaron Carty is back, with a vengeance. Having burst onto the scenes at Sitges Pride 2014, wowing the judges on Britain's Got Talent and becoming a viral smash - making Alesha Dixon get up and dance, with Simon Cowell throwing a sly smile his way to closing Pride In London, Trafalgar Square 2015. He was memorably axed before making it onto the live show. Since walking off Simon’s stage this cop-cum-drag superstar has strutted on, amassing nearly a million views for his youtube audition clip, performing to a crowd of thousands at London Pride, and then independently putting on his own show The Protest at the iconic Troxy in London. Giving a truly Beyoncé dance concert experience, complete with an astonishing all female dance crew.