The actor who played Judas in a touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar that played in SF also allegedly stormed the U.S. Capitol with a group of Oath Keepers on January 6, he’s since been charged by the feds and kicked off the tour.
When the 50th anniversary production of Jesus Christ Superstar came to the Golden Gate Theater in October, we noted in our review that “James T. Justis” in the role of Judas had a “powerful and terrific voice.” KQED praised Justis’ performance, saying he “brings the most pathos to the show; you believe his inner torment over selling out Jesus to Caiaphas." And KPIX raved “Don't Miss James T. Justis As 'Judas' In Broadway SF's Jesus Christ Superstar.”
But the reviews are more mixed when you factor in his November 23 federal indictment on felony charges of obstruction of Congress and a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, as part of the January 6 insurrection. Justis, whose real name is James Beeks, was arrested in Milwaukee that day (the tour ended its run here on November 7, and had moved on to Milwaukee). According to the feds, “Beeks was part of a mob of people, including some who attacked law enforcement,” and “Half of them, including Beeks, tried to push their way through a line of law enforcement officers guarding a hallway that led to the Senate chamber.”
Listen, Jesus. I don’t like what I see.
Beeks has since been suspended from the tour, according to Variety, and he is no longer listed on the cast page. But a cached version of the cast page shows “James T. Justis” front and center as Judas, and according to his 30-page federal indictment, Beeks has been furiously changing his identity, phone number, address, and other personal information since the events of January 6.
The way law enforcement identified Beeks is frankly hilarious — it was because of his Michael Jackson “BAD” tour jacket. “Unlike the camouflage-combat attire of many individuals in the group, [Beeks] was wearing a Michael Jackson ‘BAD’ world tour jacket and a black helmet, and he was carrying what appeared to be a homemade black shield,” the Justice Department said in a release.
The indictment elaborates. “The jacket appears to be from Michael Jackson’s BAD world tour, which started in 1987,” according to the feds. “Law enforcement located open source photographs of a person who appears to be Beeks wearing this same jacket. The following photographs were posted on Instagram on April 4, 2020, by a person who included the hashtag #jesuschristsuperstar.”
The above images are pulled from Beeks’ Instagram, and the posts have since been deleted. “According to an online cast listing, the person who posted the photographs on Instagram is an actor in a traveling production of the play Jesus Christ Superstar,” the indictment says. “Beeks, under the stage name ‘James T. Justis,’ is also an actor in that same production.”
It gets better! “Beeks has an additional connection to Michael Jackson,” the indictment says. “According to his LinkedIn profile and YouTube page, Beeks regularly performs as a Michael Jackson impersonator. His YouTube page, under the name James Delisco Beeks with a username of ‘jdmoonwalker,’ describes him as 'one of the Top Michael Jackson Tribute artists in the US.'”
And, apparently, Beeks was under law endorsement surveillance during the entire SF Jesus Christ Superstar production. “Law enforcement observed him in early November 2021 at performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles,” his indictment says. “There are no performances scheduled the week of November 15, 2021. The production is scheduled to perform the week of November 23, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before heading to Toronto in December.”
Beeks was arrested in Milwaukee, but released pending that he appeared in court, which he did on Monday. It did not go well.
“I am an American standing under public law and I am here by special divine appearance,” Beeks told the judge, according to Deadline. “I’m not a sovereign citizen. There’s no such thing. That’s an oxymoron and it’s even an insult.”
"That's all gobbledygook," Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the D.C. District Court said in response, per CNN. "Mr. Beeks, you should be quiet unless spoken to."
Judge Howell nearly denied Beeks's release, because followers of the so-called "Sovereign Citizen" movement reject the legitimacy of the U.S. government and all of its branches.
"A defendant who objects to jurisdiction of the court rejects being subject to the laws of the United States," Judge Howell said, noting that such defendants would typically not be granted pretrial release.
But Beeks was released after the hearing after agreeing to wear an ankle monitor and abide by a curfew. He will appear in court again, and eventually be tried on the felony and misdemeanor charges.
But as an interesting aside, even though Beeks took down the Instagram posts cited in his indictment, his @jtjustis Instagram account is still active (and getting angry comments.) And Jesus Christ, some of the posts are, in retrospect, pretty ironic.
Image: Broadway SF