How I Accidentally Made A Documentary
In the 10 months since publishing my documentary "Blue Beat Baby", I have received so much kind feedback and enthusiastic questions about Brigitte and how I uncovered her story.
I will be real - I did not plan on doing any of this research and documentary work! But oops. I did.
My work with Brigitte all started out by me simply trying to design an updated Beat Girl pin to go alongside my other Banbury badge reproductions. I wanted the redesign to have a face that was more reminiscent of Brigitte Bond, the woman she was based on, so off to google images I went. The first photo result at the time was this photo with the description that mentions a "sex change". At that time, I had heard nothing of Brigitte being transgender, so I began to google around with frustratingly few results. Was this the truth, or was it a case of mis-matched data on a stock footage site? Miraculously, an original press photo showed up on eBay soon after I started researching. What I did not know when I purchased it is that it had an original blurb on the back that confirmed that she was trans. The rest of the blurb left me with more questions, (Engaged? Sir John Waller? Large inheritance? What?!) and it was down the rabbit hole from there.
I got "stuck" around 1965, because I did not yet know she had changed her stage surname from "Bond" to "Saint John". I texted my friend Heather Augustyn to see if she had any info on her, since I knew she was writing "Rude Girls" at that time. We traded what information we had and agreed to share what we found going forward.
I spent about two weeks looking for anyone named Brigitte that could have matched, and came across her name in an accidental way - by a misspelling of the folk singer Bridget St. John's name on Ready, Steady, Gone!. Googling "Brigitte St. John" was promising, but I did not want to get my hopes up too high since I could not confirm it was actually her. Once again, eBay miraculously delivered an original press photo from "The Billy Graham Incident" stating that she was trans. That was the smoking gun for me. It was her! From there, research opened up a lot and I was able to fill in a decade of her life performing as Brigitte Saint John.
I do often wonder if she changed her stage name again after 1976 and that is what is stopping me from finding her...but I have combed (and continue to comb) through countless vedette and "adult" ephemera from that time and place and have yet to find any that are definitely her. The closest possibility to her changing her name I have found is Brigitte Saint Jacques, but all I am going off of is name and face similarity. Nothing else can be found on this singer, so I'm not holding my breath that this is the same person.
My research is still ongoing and I do something with it nearly every single day. I really enjoy it and find it very fulfilling. This whole accidental journey has inspired me to dig even deeper into Ska and subculture history, and I plan to share more of that soon on this blog, YouTube, and Instagram. Please follow me to keep up to date with my fascinating finds.