A smooth clotheshorse Foothold: R&B deejay 'Big Jim' Staton gets a kick out of Western boots.

Candid Closet

September 10, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Listeners to "Big Jim" Staton's radio program, "Turning Back the Hands of Time" on WEAA 88.9-FM, know he's smooth. If they could only see him, they'd know just how smooth he is. Staton, who has retired from his job as a mechanic at a chemical company, is a clotheshorse who has turned his entire basement over to his passion. In one corner, you'll find his amazing collection of cowboy boots; in others, his cowboy hats, 80 suits, leather coats and other fancy stuff.

The 62-year-old Staton, of West Baltimore, has plenty of occasions to dress up. He's a deejay at the Arch Social Club and promotes local jazz and R&B concerts, including an Oct. 11 event featuring featuring sax player Houston Person with vocalist Etta Jones. (Call 410-664-8199.)

Talk about your penchant for Western wear.

I like to dress Western. For Halloween, I do the whole works -- six-shooter, spurs, bolo. My hats are made in Houston, Texas, by an old man and old lady at a place called the Hattery. I've never even met them.

Where do you get your boots?

Most of my boots I order from mail-order companies, Shepler's and Cheyenne Fitters, and I get a lot of stuff from Carol's Western Wear on Ritchie Highway. I have boots made of water snake, rattlesnake, python to elephant skin.

How do you take care of your boots?

I have an oil you can spray them with. It keeps them soft and from cracking. Most of my boots and shoes, I have a tree to put in them, or cardboard to keep them from falling down. I just take care of them, you know. I'm glad I'm retired -- I have time to do this stuff.

Do you have any custom-made pieces for a night at the controls?

There's a secretary down where I used to work who makes all kinds of vests, made of Kente cloth or with fabric decorated with astrological signs. Her name is Ola B. For my radio show theme, she made a beautiful vest with clocks all over it, and she always makes a necktie and bow tie to match.

It sounds like you're not one to follow fashion trends.

I don't like to follow the crowd, oh, no, no, no.

That means standout suits?

I had been looking for a royal blue suit that I could not find anywhere. Finally I found one in the Nelco Clothing Warehouse. It's nice. It stands out.

Did you get into the '60s look at the time?

Yes. Bell bottoms and an Afro and platform shoes, but mine were never too outrageous.

What musicians do you admire for their attire?

In country music, Travis Tritt is a sharp dresser. As for the oldies, all of those guys, from the Temptations to Smokey Robinson, they were dressed for the occasion, no jeans and that kind of thing.

Do you collect music the way you collect clothing?

Yes. I started collecting music when I was real young. When I go to the station on Saturday mornings, I use a hand truck to haul my collection. I tell people you never know what people are going to request.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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