Last Collector Standing: Jaime Lees on Cyndi Lauper, Music Blogs and the Rarest Vinyl LP She Covets
The number of chain record stores nationwide has dwindled. However, St. Louis has become an unlikely safe haven for indie record shops as well as for DJs who prefer to spin the black circle instead of scrolling their iPods. In this weekly column, we'll focus on personal portraits of St. Louis' record aficionados and the rooms where they store their treasures. Meet the last collectors standing. (Know a collector who deserves the spotlight? E-mail us. Miss any previous ones? Read 'em all here!)
Visual artist, music blogger and former RFT freelancer Jaime Lees (a.k.a. Jaime Sleaze) is a lifelong music fan. In fact, she's been listening to Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual on vinyl since she was two years old. We caught up with Jaime at the Bleeding Deacon, detouring from her home because of a sick poodle. There we discussed her retail record display rack, the practice of hugging her records and her ongoing love for Cyndi Lauper.
courtesy of Jaime Lees
Last Collector Standing: Since your blog alias is Jaime Sleaze, what do you think is the sleaziest record you own?
Jaime Lees: Probably something by the Cramps. That's proper sleaze, right? (Laughs) My friend has this thing where she always says, "Take it Sleazy." I love that. I wish it was mine.
How did you first get into music?
My dad. Apparently, my first word was radio. My first musical memories were driving around in the car with him and listening to the Beach Boys. [He would] explain songs to me and history I wouldn't understand. Songs that kids don't get, like "American Pie," that had a story. That was daddy-daughter time; always [listening to] the Beach Boys.
My dad would buy me Wilson Phillips, because that was [one of] the Beach Boy's daughter and I'm his daughter. Mostly I would just play his records. The first time I remember buying [music] was Violent Femmes' self-titled [album]. That's the first CD I remember going to get. I had to plan a trip to get there. Then I had to sing a song to the guy at the record store for him to know which song I was talking about.
I always had vinyl around. My first real record I had when I was a kid, I have no idea how I got it because I was two, was Cyndi Lauper She's So Unusual. That's my favorite record still. I would play it on my Fisher Price record player. It broke after a while and was playing too fast. I figured out that if I put my finger under the record on the wheel I could slow it down to the right speed. So I would have to sit there with my finger on it, which is awkward because Cyndi Lauper is fast and high anyway.
Do you have a favorite record in your collection now?
(Short pause) It's gotta be the Cyndi. I've been listening to her since I was two. I still listen to the whole album at least once a month. That's my record.
I have a decent amount [of local bands]. The new Sex Robots album came out on vinyl. I love it. Bunnygrunt. The Humanoids. I like that local bands are [releasing vinyl]. It's not like they have a lot of money, but they figure out a way to do it. I get really happy when I see it around. I'm like, "Yeah, it's my big Humanoids record. I love you!" I spend a lot of time hugging them.
As a music blogger, how do you think music blogs have affected music journalism?
I'm sort of punk rock in thinking about things like that. I don't think that it's important that things are always good but that you do them. I read a lot of music blogs that are crappy and I like them because they're crappy. I like that everyone can say something without having to find a publisher.
Do you think independent music blogs have helped create a renewed interest in vinyl?
Definitely. I love what's happening with vinyl. For me, I'd rather buy the vinyl. I've tried to avoid being a vinyl collector my whole life, but it's catching up to me. I buy a little bit here and there. I got a really awesome record rack about a year and a half ago. Now I have a place to put my new records. I really like the vinyl records that you can buy with a digital download. That's optimal. I just don't care about CDs. They just sit there.