He may be the nice Jewish boy you’re glad to bring home to meet the parents, but maybe warn them before taking them to one of his shows. Last month, Jeremy Sherman, 25, won the Mr. Nice Jewish Boy competition with a piano medley that included some pretty raunchy numbers.
What was the inspiration for your musical performance?
I’ve been living in D.C. for about 3½ years now. And I’ve been involved with the Jewish community back home, in Michigan where I’m from, and St. Louis where I went to college, but never in a gay setting or that intersection of Jewish and LGBT.
I knew about the Nice Jewish Boys group, so I reached out to a friend helping to organize the event offering to help out in any way I could. He said you should sign up to be a contestant and so I really signed up to do it on a whim.
It’s a great way to make fun of yourself and laugh with others while also meeting new people and raising money for a great cause [Keshet, the Jewish LGBTQ advocates]. So that’s why I got involved. I’ve played the piano for about 14 years and hadn’t really had a chance to do that in a performance for a long time. So piano was the most obvious choice. I put a compilation of pop music and funny music together.
You performed parts of a pretty sexually explicit song [Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.”]. How do you overcome the nerves on stage?
It’s nerve-wracking, but I really love being on stage and getting that 15 minutes of spotlight. I’ve always taken myself and my piano pretty seriously, but this was a chance to be totally silly in front of friends and strangers and to do it for a good cause. I was more excited than I was nervous; it didn’t feel like anything serious was on the line. So I made sure not to choose any solemn or slow music. I wanted people to have fun and feel the energy I’m trying to bring to the room. So I chose those kind of songs to get the crowd going.
You work as a consultant. Is it fair to say there are two sides to you?
I do work at Deloitte, but I don’t do classic consulting work. I basically design immersive experiences for client executives. I help design a sort of custom-made workshop for them, so I’m sort of on the creative side of things. It is two sides to me, but even my boss was at the event. I’m able to be my authentic self at work and I love that and appreciate it. Obviously I’m more serious and put together at work, but the ability to make fun of yourself is really important.
Will you continue to perform?
I don’t know how many more performances I’ll do but I definitely plan to continue playing piano when I can get my hands on one. My boyfriend plays guitar so maybe there will be some duets in the future but I think more so my takeaway from the competition is I definitely plan on being more involved in the LGBT Jewish community here. I have a lot of Jewish friends and a lot of LGBT friends but not a lot at that intersection, so I want to use this opportunity to build those relationships.
Why is it important for you to build relationships in the Jewish and queer space?
I wasn’t out when I was in Michigan. I came out in school in St. Louis. There was a strong Jewish community and a visible LGBT community but not a lot at the intersection. When I got here, I’d been involved in the Jewish community for so long, I was looking for a new outlet and to not just pigeonhole myself into Jewish life. I felt a kind of gap, though. Something was missing. So now I’m taking proactive steps to build that Jewish/LGBT community around me.
It’s sort of like that intersection just gets me and the two identities that I think have shaped my life more than anything else. My Jewish upbringing was really transformative for me in my teenage years through things like BBYO, and then the coming out experience and forming relationships within the gay community, I’ve grown a lot into myself doing so. I’ve always kept them separate though and I feel mature and competent enough to try to blend them together now and see how it works.
Will you try to repeat as Mr. Nice Jewish Boy next year as well?
I don’t think I’m allowed to, but I think I’ll be emceeing though, so definitely come out for that.
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