Jesco White

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Jesco White
Jesco-White-2011-Cropped.jpg
BornJesco "Jesse" White
(1956-07-30) July 30, 1956 (age 58)
Bandytown, West Virginia, U.S.
Other names"The Dancing Outlaw"
OccupationMountain Dancer, Entertainer
Years active1980s –present
Spouse(s)Norma Jean White (1974–2009)
 
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Jesco White
Jesco-White-2011-Cropped.jpg
BornJesco "Jesse" White
(1956-07-30) July 30, 1956 (age 58)
Bandytown, West Virginia, U.S.
Other names"The Dancing Outlaw"
OccupationMountain Dancer, Entertainer
Years active1980s –present
Spouse(s)Norma Jean White (1974–2009)

Jesco White, also known as the "Dancing Outlaw" (born July 30, 1956) is an American mountain dancer and entertainer. He is best known as the subject of three American documentary films that detail his desire to follow in his famous father's footsteps, while trying to overcome depression, drug addiction and the poverty that afflicts rural Appalachia.

Personal life[edit]

Jesco White was born in Bandytown, a tiny community located in the Appalachian Mountains of Boone County, West Virginia, to Donald Ray White (1927–1985), also known as D. Ray White, and Bertie Mae White. White's father, D. Ray, was profiled in the Smithsonian Folkways documentary Talking Feet: Solo Southern Dance: Buck, Flatfoot and Tap (1987) as one of the greatest mountain dancers in the United States.[1] Following in the footsteps of his father, Jesco's dance style is a subtle mix of tap and clog dancing that is native to Appalachia. After the death of his father, Jesco attained D. Ray's tapping shoes which he wears while performing. Jesco White's dancing has been featured in at least three documentaries.

White was married to Norma Jean White (1939–2009)[2]

Shooting Incident[edit]

In 1985, while finalizing the film Talking Feet, D. Ray, Jesco, and his younger brother Dorsey were involved in a domestic dispute. Steve Allen Rowe used his 12-gauge shotgun to shoot D. Ray once in the chest, Jesco received one neck wound, and Dorsey a single gunshot to the eye. D. Ray was the only fatality of the disturbance, who was reportedly protecting his youngest son during a drunken disagreement.[3][4]

2009 arrest[edit]

In April 2009, White was featured in the documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, produced by Storm Taylor and MTV's Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine. The film was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. White has claimed that his portrayal in the documentary was an act and is not an accurate depiction of the White family.[5][6]

The week after the release of Wild and Wonderful, White and his sister, Sue Bob White, were arrested in West Virginia on suspicion of drug-related crimes.[7] White gave an on-camera interview while in jail and stated that he had been drug-free for 30 years. White said that he is not a bad person and that he was "embarrassed" and "hurt" by the arrest.[8] Shortly after his arrest, White was bonded out of jail by the MTV producers of the newly released documentary about the White family.[9][10] A month after his arrest, the charges against White were dismissed due to lack of evidence.[11][12]

Depictions in media[edit]

Dancing Outlaw[edit]

White was first profiled on the Public Broadcasting Service's Different Drummer series. The first of these documentaries was Dancing Outlaw (1991),[13] directed by Jacob Young, which featured him at home in West Virginia and gave audiences a glimpse into his troubled life. Young originally came to Boone County in search of D. Ray who had been murdered years prior. The TV series aimed to showcase "the unsung geniuses and charismatic madmen of Appalachian county.".[14][15] The director used this opportunity to unveil Jesco's talent and introduce America to the Dancing Outlaw. Viewers are acquainted with Jesco's three distinct personalities. "The gentle and loving Jesse, the violent and dangerous Jesco, and the extremely strange Elvis."[16] This is the first of many mentions he makes regarding his lifelong struggle with his personality disorder. His admiration of Elvis is apparent in his stage attire and Elvis room within his home which White claims "saved his life from certain doom".[17] The film won an American Film Institute Award and an Emmy for Best Documentary, was screened at the Museum of Modern Art, and was named best public television program in 1992.[18]

Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood[edit]

Dancing Outlaw II (1999)[19] (also directed by Jacob Young) chronicles White's trip to Los Angeles to appear in the episode "I Pray the Lord My Stove to Keep" of the sitcom Roseanne as the Elvis impersonating "Dan's Clog-Dancing Cousin".[20]

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia[edit]

The documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009) directed by Julien Nitzberg follows the White Family for one year and primarily consists of first person interviews detailing the poverty, crime, addiction and the ramifications of the coal-mining industry on Appalachian society.[21][22]

Grand Theft Auto V[edit]

Jesco White provides his voice as the DJ of Rebel Radio in the video game Grand Theft Auto V.[23][24][25] He also makes a cameo in-game as an Easter egg, where you can find a character depiction of Jesco doing his mountain dance. The easter egg is found in the Alamo Sea region of San Andreas, dancing to an Ozark Mountain Daredevils song being played on a small boombox behind him. Motion capture technology was used to help depict Jesco's unique style of dancing.

Other depictions[edit]

Numerous musicians have made tribute songs for Jesco White and the White family. These include:

Jesco has also been sampled or referenced by numerous musicians, including the bands Ministry, Mastodon, Live, Big & Rich, Əkoostik hookah, Jim Shelley, The Atomic Bitchwax, Headcrash and Tanner Flowers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Talking Feet:Solo Southern Dance:Buck, Flatfoot and Tap (Documentary). Smithsonian Institution: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. 1987. Event occurs at 1:12 onward. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Obituaries". Coal Valley News (Madison, West Virginia). 28 October 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Boone Resident Dies in Shooting Incident". Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood". Film Vault. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  5. ^ WSAZ News Staff (29 April 2009). "MTV Producers Bond Jesco Out of Jail". WSAZ Channel 3 News. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Jesco Out of Jail". MetroNews, The Voice of West Virginia. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Hicks, Martin (28 April 2009). "Dancing Outlaw Behind Bars". WCHS 8 Eyewitness News. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Jesco White Gives Jailhouse Interview After Arrest". WSAZ Channel 3 News, via YouTube. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  9. ^ WSAZ News Staff (29 April 2009). "MTV Producers Bond Jesco Out of Jail". WSAZ Channel 3 News. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Jesco Out of Jail". MetroNews, The Voice of West Virginia. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (22 May 2009). "'Dancing Outlaw' Jesco White Cleared of Drug Charges". WSAZ Channel 3 News. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  12. ^ Keeney, Lawrence (May 2009). "Charges Dropped against "Outlaw"". Coal Valley News. 
  13. ^ Dancing Outlaw at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ Beeson, Ed. "The Dancing Outlaw makes a run for the West Virginia border". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood". Film Vault. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Different Drumer: Dancing Outlaw". International Movie Database. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  17. ^ Beeson, Ed. "The Dancing Outlaw makes a run for the West Virginia border". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood". Film Vault. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ "I Pray the Lord My Stove to Keep". International Movie Database. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Owens, Jesi. "Interview: Wild, Wonderful, Poor, Trapped: Jesco White and Family Are Back". www.altdaily.com. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  22. ^ Jardin, Xeni. "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia". www.boingboing.net. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  23. ^ http://www.mxdwn.com/2013/10/03/news/full-tracklist-for-grand-theft-auto-v-revealed/
  24. ^ Roberts, Randall (23 August 2013). "Grand Theft Auto V music tracklist, stations revealed". LA Times. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  25. ^ Shamoon, Evan (28 August 2013). "Inside the 'Grand Theft Auto V' Soundtrack". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  26. ^ It Came from Trafalgar at the Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ White Lightnin at the Internet Movie Database
  28. ^ "White Lightnin'". Archives. Sundance Institute. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 

External links[edit]