Jacqui Childs Returns to Chat Up Bluesfest Windsor in July

JacquiFormer Windsor resident Jacqui Childs is known for a couple different things – stripping down for her Naked News broadcasts  for a few years, causing a buzz on social media and for her advocacy for natural living and cannabis.

Another one of her passions is returning to Windsor for the city’s biggest festival Bluesfest Windsor, where she’s a bit of a social media advocate for the event.

Jacqui is in Windsor from July 5-13 for Bluesfest and she’s lovin’ every minute of it. She checked in with 519 ahead of the festival and had a great chat. We couldn’t fit the entire conversation in print, so we have the whole interview on our website.

I know you are a social media influencer, but can you explain exactly what that is for us?

Influencer is not exactly a positive word anymore. It’s kind of a pain in the ass word! So this is to me, my meaning of a social influencer, not only do I share all sorts of my interests, things I am passionate about. I share them as authentically and openly as possible. But I do study algorithms and time to post and trending hashtags and I really listen to what sort of is hot, happening online and also support locals. So, it’s what’s happening right in my community and share stories and thoughtfulness as well

as including a great picture, something that will catch attention and use the trending hashtags and use hashtags that will put my post where I want the people to see it.

Oh, that is a lot more work than what you’d expect.

Well yeah you know how everyone is taking pictures of their food and they take pictures of their… There is all these weight loss challenges and they are doing whatever. Just recently I took a class on it, it’s a compliance class and it’s because I am a cannabis influencer and it’s a lot of rules and regulations. I was taking that course to see where I am breaking laws and where I need to improve and it is a lot more than just posting a picture. You have to be careful. And why am I posting that picture, who is my audience and what is my message and trying to stay on brand but also being really honest and trying to stay as authentic as possible, because I am not actually selling anything other a story.

How did this start?

Six years ago I started a Facebook page with my husband just to share. We were going through a crazy divorce and some life changes and things and it was just to share sort of our story and what was going on in our life. And I got a job at Naked News in Toronto and the job was, obviously it’s Naked News, I was traveling the world doing news, weather, and sports. And we were nude and that really took off because I was probably 12 to 15 years older than all my colleagues.

For some reason, people really liked that. It was a big deal. It’s not pornography, it is 18-plus, but because it’s a naturalist thing, you are naked. People first of all they were shocked. It was like a shock and awe thing. They followed my adventures and they followed along.

Once I turned 41, I stopped working for them on camera and started doing social media. And while I was working there, my Facebook page got verified and I didn’t apply for it and the blue check mark just showed up. I was creating enough noise and enough engagement on my page for someone to notice and for it to become verified. And it was actually once that page became verified is when it became my job. Then people were reaching out to me. Still just over five years in, I have not reached out to anyone, other than Bluesfest Windsor. They all come to me.

What are some of the highlights from last year that you enjoyed?

Oh my goodness! First of all, it was pouring rain on that last Sunday, pouring rain and instead of people walking out hundreds of people were walking in! And it wasn’t just spitting, it was torrential, it was a downpour! I have a lot of health issues and I have massive anxiety and depression. And it’s sort of selfish reasons that I do what I do because I love being around the energy of the music and I sort of zone out and just connect to the music, especially outdoor music festivals. I feel great. I crash for days afterwards, but while I’m there I feel great. All the things that are actually wrong with me are not wrong.

And Windsor Bluesfest, that weekend was just amazing. The year before, I am personal friends with The Sheepdogs, so it was great to be back stage and it was great to take their pictures and it was great to hang out all night. I’ve had a love hate relationship with Windsor over the years. I did live there many years ago for a few years while I was going to school and my parents lived in Detroit. And it was really rough for me. And to go back to Windsor and to be really celebrated, Windsor treats me like VIP and I have an amazing time. I absolutely love Bluesfest! It’s good for my soul!

If you got to live here you must have some favorite spots?

Two years ago, I took my now husband, I had some drug and alcohol issues and I wrote about it in my book that became an international best seller, and that was all based in and around Windsor. I took my now husband, we went back to the spot where I lived, off of Ouellette and it was down near I believe it was Jason’s and The Million Dollars and there was the bus station, I used to live right down there. We did a little drive around and there was a restaurant called Plunkett’s, I believe, and then there was the sports bar Don Cherry’s. I used to hang out at all those places many years ago.

It was before the casino when I lived there, so it was a very different time and I love seeing Windsor succeed the way they are now. They are like the little engine that could, it’s fabulous and the entertainment that is coming to the city over the last several years. Now with the casino built up there and you have world class talent and it’s amazing. It’s really great!

It seems like you’re not afraid of being in front of the camera or having the spotlight on you. How did you become comfortable with that spotlight all the time?

Well, I will share really briefly I do suffer from extreme anxiety and depression. I stay home three or four… five months at a time. And I order my groceries in and I have adult children and my husband that sort of makes things happen. It’s funny when I tell people that, and now I speak at conventions and festivals all over the world. I introduce bands at some concerts where there’s thousands and thousands of people. When I’m in public it’s a whole other… it’s almost acting. I put on a whole other persona because I am pretty calm and quiet at home. I do a lot of writing. Our home is very quiet. I spend a lot of quiet time researching and writing whatever I’m actually into at the time. So, I don’t know, it definitely is acting. I come alive when I’m in public. And I feed off energy, positive, I mean I feed off negative too unfortunately, but positive energy when you hear the music and the people are excited and there’s fresh air. I feel fabulous!

Now, the downtime, once it’s done you get that huge crash. Every time I go to a music festival and I’m there for a couple of days it’s so exciting and one day turns into the next and then when it ends, I’m exhausted. It’s that massive let down. Ugh! It’s over!

Can you tell us how cannabis came into your life?

Just over two years ago, my in-laws who are in their 70’s, they suggested CBD for my Crohn’s. They suggested it and I never sort of looked into the conversation any further. A little while later, my father-in-law suggested it again. On a visit to Canada they brought some, he was tired of sending me the emails and the little links to check it out. And he brought some and he said “Do me this favor and just try it. It’s helping my friends. I think it can help.” And they were also like, ” Who knows maybe it will help with your anxiety”. And at the time I was on about nine pharmaceuticals a day. And I was taking more than I should, I would ask “What do you got?”. I was really, really abusing my pharmaceuticals.

I quit cold turkey, which they don’t suggest, and started with heavy doses of CBD. And while I was weaning off my pharmaceuticals, I was very sick. But I wasn’t as sick as I thought I was going to be and I was getting better, week two, week three, week four… I was not cured of anything, but I was definitely well. And, I could manage and I hadn’t had any Crohn’s flare up during this time of transition, it was just withdrawal from all the medication, I’m sure. I was on Wellbutrin, Cipralex, Ativan, Seroquel, Lithium, everything! I used the CBD instead and I started adding tiny bits of THC and it’s just over two years now and I haven’t touched a pharmaceutical since.

I got home at 4:30 in the morning last night, I was at a convention speaking about cannabis the whole weekend and I do that probably three days a week. I’m more talking about how cannabis has changed my life and I was never, like my husband is for real, a hardcore stoner. I was never ever, I tried it here and there I didn’t really like it. I’m not a very good smoker, I choke my head off, I look like Alice Cooper, when I have make-up on. I am not the cool kid; when it got passed to me, I was like “What the hell!”

Back when I lived in Windsor, remember bottle soaks or hot knives or whatever that was where you had the hash on the knife… I don’t know. It was something I was never involved in and I didn’t know much about. But then when my life changed for the better and I was getting well and I was managing all my symptoms with just cannabis, which is a plant. I got right on board this, I was like I’ve lost a lot of my life to farting around with pharmaceuticals and sleeping half my life away and feeling sick and feeling miserable and then being numb to life. For real, that dumb hashtag, living my best life, I’m definitely living my best life thanks to cannabis.

 

Photo: Drew Childs