“Never try to be the big fish. The little fish is always the color,” Jimmy says. As the face of the legendary Trash & Vaudeville, he brings a little color to the world every day, dressing rock and movie stars and all of the interesting edge-seekers in between. But Jimmy humbly and undoubtedly outshines most with his own insatiable passion for the purist of rock-n-roll, one-of-a-kind custom-made clothes and jewelry (there are no doubles) that would send even the most conservative of us into a trance. When he first came to New York City in the 1970s with not a penny in his pocket, leaving behind a hometown he describes as “too white” (the kind of place, he says, that Freddy Kreuger and Jason might be from), the sudden introduction to rock stars, transsexuals, businessmen, squatters, the Blaxploitation style of Shaft and Super Fly and the gay culture of the ’70s made the idea of never fitting into a town where hunters hang the latest caught-deer from trees, make sense. Suddenly, fishing clothes out of garbage cans and using safety pins to literally hold your clothing together stopped connotating poverty for Jimmy, and became symbols of power and ingenuity. Those days gave birth to one of the most humble style icons in NYC– Jimmy Webb, whose handmade, low-waisted leather pants that sport the one-and-only lace-up “Jimmy Crotch,” infamous, long before Christina Aquilera.
Jimmy’s first punk rock hero was Grandma Webb, who raised three children through the Depression by scrubbing floors, lived to be a hundred and six, and, despite being “blind as a bat” always told her grandson he looked great whenever he walked into the room. “She could see within, to the spirit,” he says. Grandma Webb not only accepted Jimmy’s passionate universe, she ate the whites of his eggs– when Jimmy would only eat the yolks. “Waste not, want not” was her motto. What gets Jimmy going is “the real deal,” like the picture of Debbie Harry on his wall in a man’s shirt, cut-offs, and hooker heels walking down the street in an age before it took “ten people to get you dressed” or even how sexy and down-to-Earth Jesus is. Jimmy’s arms are loaded with silver bangles and tattoos in the shape of thorns, his neck, fingers and home are covered with crosses and other Christian iconography, and heavy chains are basically everywhere including his boots. When he kicked an especially intense dope habit, he carried a picture of Iggy Pop as his rosary and Bible, because of the raw power and truthful energy that the singer represented to him. One of Jimmy’s most stand-out portraits, by Bruce Weber, shows Iggy wearing a pair of Jimmy’s zebra pants by Agatha Blois around his neck, “like a shroud,” beneath a picture of the Virgin Mary– with a single dirty tear running down her cheek. “That’s rock and roll,” he explains.
To Jimmy, rock and roll is here to stay as long as he keeps giving back to the world. “It’s awesome to go do something you love everyday, and make dreams come true,” a privilege he feels he owes to his long-time boss, Ray Goodman, who took a chance on Jimmy when he applied years ago. Along with rock luminaries like Slash and Sebastian Bach, Jimmy has worked with the Make-a-Wish Foundation several times, helping kids live their wildest fantasies of meeting and dressing like rock stars. Jimmy keeps a box of socks around that he gives out, so that nobody has to ever go without them if he has anything to say about it– as he once did. He loves stars; the kind you put on the wall and wear as in chunky rings, not “celebrities.” When you danced at Studio and CBGB’s in their heyday like Jimmy did, everybody glowed in the dark– equally.