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David de Alba — Gypsy Interview

| Sep 2, 2013
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David’s Gypsy Interview



I saw Gypsy on stage for the first time in the L. A. version of La Cage many years ago when I was visiting Southern California. He was one of the best emcees I had ever seen. In April of 2000 I saw him again at The Carnival Cabaret at The Horizon Casino in Lake Tahoe. Just as sassy as ever on stage with ageless gams and wearing his trademark outrageous outfits, even in one entrance sans-wig with a somehow appropriate looking pendant necklace decorating his bald pate. When he found out that I was in the audience, he acknowledged my presence as he started his monologue. He announced that I had worked at the world famous Finocchio Club in San Francisco and asked me to stand up while he descended the runway to shake my hand. This demonstrates the kind of Star he really is. Gypsy is no stranger to the movie or television industry. James “Gypsy” Haake has been performing for over 25 years and is truly a talented actor and a luminary figure in the field of Female Impersonation. (Gypsy retired from the stage on 2009.) It is an honor indeed to present to all of you in Cyberspace, the one and only Gypsy!

David: My dear Gypsy, where were you born an raised? Were you from a Showbiz family, and did you know at an early age that you were destined to be a STAR?

Gypsy: I was born in Montclair, New Jersey. My mother was in the medical field. And yes, I always knew my stage destiny.

David:How did you come about the name Gypsy?

Gypsy: As a dancer on Broadway; dancers are known in the Biz as “Gypsies”.

David: Were you influenced theatrically by any famous impersonators of the past, or by any Lady Stars from the Golden Days of Hollywood?

Gypsy: I always loved Danny LaRue from London, Lavern Cummings, Charles Pierce, and Lana Turner, a close friend.

David: Who makes the outrageous wardrobe you wear in your cabaret appearances?

GYPSY2Gypsy: Various designers, including Bob Mackie, Steven Urlok, Valentino, Oleg Cassini, James Galanos, and many more.

David: What was your favorite movie role, and which do you feel was your best work?

Gypsy: My best film work was in the 1983 remake of Lubitsch’s 1942 classic To Be or Not to Be, where I played Saçha, Anna Bronski’s dresser. (Anna was played by Anne Bancroft).

David: You had a number of appearances on Broadway. What roles did you play?

Gypsy: I was a dancer in Wish You Were Here and Kismet.

David: You seem very comfortable performing on stage for live audiences. Do you find the lack of interaction makes working in television and movies more difficult?

Gypsy: Yes, I do.

David: Many celebrities have come to see your performances and even visited you backstage. Are there any that really stand out in your memory?

Gypsy: Many, but especially Joan Collins, Lana Turner, Milton Berle, Lee Remick, Nancy and Frank Sinatra, Sr. & Jr.

David: I heard that at one time you were the host of your own popular New York nightclub. Was it named after you, and why did you leave the club to move to California?

Gypsy: The club was called “Gypsy’s” and was at 58th & 1st St. in New York City for many years. I retired in 1978 and moved to California, but came out of retirement to do La Cage Aux Folles.

gypsy3David: Do you have any good or bad memories of any of the towns and cities you have played?

Gypsy: I loved Helsinki, Finland; Río de Janeiro, Brazil; and especially London, England.

David: To all of us Dynasty fans, how did it feel to be on the hottest show on television, rubbing elbows with the Carringtons and Colbys? Do you have any back stage “tidbits” you can share with us?

Gypsy: Joan Collins herself gave me the Dynasty roles, and I’ll always be grateful to her for many reasons.

James "Gypsy" Haake

James “Gypsy” Haake

David: You have had such an interesting life and varied career. Is there an autobiography in the works?

Gypsy: Yes. Next year, titled Mr. Gypsy. Look for it in your local book store, or at

David: Do you have any hobbies or interests that occupy your time when you are not performing?

Gypsy: Yes. Just trying to stay vertical at my age! 🙂

David: For those of us that only know you from what we see on stage and screen, what is the essence of the “real you”?

Gypsy: To remain standing tall when many want to pull you down. Many thanks for your interest in me as a person, and as a character you find of interest for your Web Site. Life on the stage has a way of making us happy, but cynical. It is a real tribute to you as a great performer to care for another actor.
Love, Gypsy.

Interview and video courtesy of David de Alba.

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Category: Drag Queen, Impersonation, Transgender History

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About the Author ()

David de Alba is one of the last survivors of the golden era of female impersonation. Unlike most female impersonators, Mr. de Alba uses his own femme voice on stage. He is known for his outstanding live impersonations of Judy Garland at the world famous Finocchio Club and on countless TV appearances. He is also a celebrity Interviewer and recording artist.

Comments (2)

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  1. says:

    What a fabulous interview, David. You not only can perform, you can interview. Gypsy should have interviewed you in return since I know you have a lot to say about your wonderful career too. Way to go! Love, Carollyn

  2. David! What a precious recollection! Thanks so much for sharing this with the Forum. The history of the craft must be preserved! Well done! Love, Michelle, Chantilly, VA

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