Saturday, June 9, 2012

I Think I Know Him • The Twinn Connexion

Twinn Connexion, Jerry Hopkins, Bob Cesssna, and Jay Hopkins.
Left to right: Jerry Hopkins, Bob Cessna, and Jay Hopkins

In 1963, a handsome set of identical twins found their way from Helena, Montana, to New York City, ready to find themselves, as well as being found. Jay and Jerry Hopkins had been local stars, with their own television show on KXIH-V in Helena, a variety show featuring local talent, emceed by the stunning twins. They moved to New York, and rented an apartment on the Upper West Side for $16 a month, and had the support of a friend, Rex Reed. The twins had many odd jobs to pay the rent, including summer stock in the Adirondacks. That is where Jerry met Bob Cessna, who returned to New York in the fall of 1965 with Jerry. Soon, he was not only his partner, he was also managing the duo in a new venture, a Pop singing group. And so Twinn Connexion was born.

Twinn Connexion
Jay & Jerry at the Twinn Connexion album release party, with their sister Patty to the right.

Soon, the brothers went from hosting drag shows in Greenwich Village to headlining at clubs like Upstairs at the Duplex and The Bitter End. They had a following, making feel-good music like their favorites, the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Dean and Patti Page. By 1968, they had their own album, Twinn Connexion. The release party was held at the Playboy Club. It is likely they played "I Think I Know Him" at the show.

I discovered the music through J.D. Doyle of the Queer Music Heritage. It has been my pleasure to get to know Jerry, through writing about the twins on this blog. There has been a recent resurgence in popularity of the music, now dubbed Sunshine Pop. I could not resist purchasing the CD, and one of my favorite songs is "Sixth Avenue Stroll." And it just seemed right for this Saturday morning.

At the time, the music world did not seem ready for gay twins, handsome or not. The boys decided to go in other directions while working on their second album. Jay stayed in the city, working on Wall Street, while Jerry, in a relationship with Bob, found work in the Schubert Organization. On September 6, 2001, Jay passed away in his apartment. In 2008, Jerry lost his partner. Going through their stuff, Jerry had renewed interest in the music, including some unreleased material. You can find Jerry on FaceBook . And, you can purchase their first album on Amazon.Com - I have! You can listen to the music on Last.FM , or you can check out Songs From The Heart, a collection of songs the boys were working on for a second album, here. I love their special take on "Matchmaker" from Fiddler On The Roof.


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