Short, Sharp Interview: Jimmy Vargas

jimmy-vargas-striptease-in-noir-book-cover-c-jimmy-vargas-2015v2aPDB: What’s going on now?

JIMMY VARGAS: At present I’m lining up an American tour for late 2016 with my crime jazz combo the BLACK DAHLIAS. Also putting the finishing touches to the sequel to SIN called STRIPTEASIA BLUES.

PDB: How did you research your latest book…STRIPTEASE IN NOIR ?

JIMMY VARGAS: I lived it. The rest was just turning the sawdust and blood back into legible ink. Kind of like Jesus and his water to wine schtick.

Writing is about transmutation.

You live it, You bleed it. You write it.

My writing is purge, confessional of a past life. I’m inhabiting the zones of 1947 and 2015. It’s not merely a matter of me going back, they are two parallel universes, that I just sand dance between. I’m an Astral Bojangles. The back streets of Hollywood is one big gazeeka box, that I mambo through, for ‘research’. My present book STRIPTEASE IN NOIR deals with Burlesque, Crime and the Occult. The Holy Trinity that bedevils my gimcrack life.

PDB: Which of your publications is the most successful?

JIMMY VARGAS: “Hmnn, success is relative, but all my relatives are dead, so that’s a tricky question!!!…..Had a major hiccup with the launch of my SHADOW BRIDE series about the BLACK DAHLIA avatar in 2011. The literary machine that I used to release it, sprang a gasket problem, and they have very generously granted me back the rights, so I can re-broadcast it as an extended E Book with 20 new chapters in Mid 2017. Sales wise? That aforementioned book, racked up a modest reception, which gave me the moxie, money and muscle to issue this new tome SIN. Out now on BEAR MANOR Media.

PDB: What’s your favourite film of 2015?

FILM(S)….BLACK MASS…with JOHNNY DEPP, and THE KRAYS with TOM HARDY, an exceptional British actor.

PDB : Your favourite book:


PDB: Your favourite song?:

JIMMY VARGAS: An old 40’s number sung by Jo Stafford called HAUNTED HEART. That one’s playing at my next funeral. This time its a big production. No more San Pedro Harbor exits for this little black duck.


I haven’t watched TV since 1991. However there’s a couple of shows I’ve seen via Netflix and web. VEGAS with Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid. Its mob, cowboys and feathered showgirls with pistol whipping dialogue. My private fetish served up in glorious kino color. There’s EDDIE BURNS’ ‘PUBLIC MORALS’ about Irish vice cops in New York in the 60s which I’m really wallowing in. Burns is a journeyman actor and writer.


JIMMY VARGAS : To quote another great Noir writer Ellroy (whom incidentally I toured with in ‘1996), it’s always about time and place.

I’m English born, but my culture is American. Los Angeles and San Francisco are the boneyards where my former self roamed, and where the ghost triggers and tarts of the 40’s still rubber lip me, trading tales and lies over poor boy tokay and Lucky Strike Cigarettes in bombed out grindhouses of Main. That’s my tribe that’s my domain.

PDB: What’s next?

JIMMY VARGAS: I’m going back into music studio to cut some additional tracks for the European release of the BLACK DAHLIAS’ LUST ANGELES album (there’s a book of mine with that title too, which I’m in the last stages of editing). I’m shooting some pick up torture scenes for my music video BLACK DAHLIA (AVATAR). I also work with another band, a cocktail collective called MACHINISO, at present woodshedding some original songs I’ve co-composed with them, in view of some hot vinyl delivery by 2017.

                           WEB SITE

                        BOOK TRAILER


                                     BOOK LINK                      


JIMMY VARGAS and Maya grind_108smallJIMMY VARGAS BIOGRAPHY: Formed by JIMMY VARGAS in San Francisco in 1993, the BLACK DAHLIAS, (so named after Hollywood’s sainted and ill-fated Madonna of Los Angeles nineteen forties folklore, one Elizabeth Short) are dark expositors of the self-coined ‘Tease, Torch, and Noir’ genre.


The BLACK DAHLIAS’ original soundtrack exploits the canon of a dream-world nineteen forties Americana, their illicit tunes birthed from the trellis of harlot parfum and the cracked shellac spinning out of a Hollywood pleasure house jukebox…

“Occupying a complete unique area – of off-kilter conceptual jazz noir for the striptease cocktail lounge set, produced with such love and authentic decadence that only a fool would fail to be entranced”



Jazz noir credentials aside, the BLACK DAHLIAS are essentially a cinematic experience trans-mutated live from a ‘Poverty Row’ B-picture reel.

While Vargas may well be the voice, it is his Argentinian exotic-sorceress Liliana Scarlatta who is the fortease fetish totem of their production.

Miss Scarlatta’s terpsichoreal glamour is said to have been channeled direct from the MGM goddesses of soundstage past, while her ecdysiac gyrations both inspire and provoke the combos live set.

“She is absolutely entrancing…Vargas’ music of sly grooves, and romantic sonnets of loss are undoubtedly created from the sexotic dna of his muse MIss Scarlatta…”


Miss Scarlatta is the consummate showgirl, whether it be vipering the pole, sinuating a saucy striptease, taunting with a torrid tango, or capricious cancan, Liliana is the spirited soubrette that divines Jimmy Vee’s Ziegfeld noir universe.

What, however separates the Black Dahlias from other contemporary combos mining the vintage skein, is Vargas’ own fresh compositions.

“There are no other writers like him…Not many musicians like him either…Vargas’ work is dark and moody, bound tightly like garters to a pair of nylons, yet ethereal like wisps of cigarette smoke”


For Vargas and his cohorts are not nor should be so regarded as merely a revival act. Theirs is what Vargas describes as a ‘parallel life production’.

Vargas has one eye locked on the 21st Century, the other orb clicking over misty visions of his deincarne self as a  racketeering sin alley Sinatra, who ungraciously expired under a fusillade of bullets in a Los Angeles bar on December 23rd 1947.

Or so the rumors around the chichi west coast boites go.

“Noir renaissance man Jimmy Vargas has answered the question, “How do you do market retro-fetishism in the 21st Century?…With his latest album. he shows how you can…Vargas is a pulp culture pimp who jazzes up the notion of nostalgia with provocative pinup art set to sensuous sax and ballsy blues. There’s nothing old-fashioned about Jimmy Vargas. His sinister style is timeless, frozen forever in a hedonistic hep-cat hell”


Jimmy Vargas and the Black Dahlias’ kill chill credibility were established early in their career when in 1995, they were taken under the wing of that esteemed demon dog of American crime fiction JAMES ELLROY (he of LA CONFIDENTIAL, BLACK DAHLIA fame), who after hearing their first album EL TORCHTURA, demanded that they join him on his first celebrated East Coast tour, as backing band / noir confidantes. Both survived the IRS and ageing Hollywood hitmen.

With seven albums to date (their new disc of neo-40s latino torch and dark swing… LUST ANGELES  being their latest), the BLACK DAHLIAS continue to spread the gospel of the tease, the torch, and the noir to Hepcats, swingers, Satanists, vamps and jazz heathens alike.

In August 2012, Jimmy Vargas signed with legendary Hollywood label DIONYSUS.

VARGAS’ literary expositions have finally found a home at New York publishing house BEAR MANOR ( with whom the crooner inked in APRIL 2015, seeing the release of his STRIPTEASE IN NOIR book trilogy, with first novel available at Amazon on September 30th 2015.