In 2007, at Scoil Iosa in Malahide, James Patrice sang Hey Big Spender as 'Jacinta' for his Sixth Year graduation. Jacinta was a character he created in school. She had six kids "and zero inhibitions". Zero inhibitions incarnate, James performed the song in a red sequinned jumpsuit in front of the parish priest. He smiles now at the memory.
"I don't think he was ever the same again after my vivacious thrusting."
Some of us will perhaps never be the same again after watching James bring Albert Square in London's East End to his home in Malahide, Co Dublin, in the last month on the internet.
In his own imitable style, he played EastEnders' legends Sharon Watts and Peggy Mitchell, "while my mum does a mean Pat Butcher. Dad is the inimitable Dot Cotton of course". James laughs adding that he "nearly collapsed" a few weeks ago when Minister for Health Simon Harris tweeted James and said his videos with his mum "were keeping a lot of people going. I made sure to keep the wigs flying as a result".
"I've always loved EastEnders," he says of the iconic BBC soap opera. "It's provided us with some of the most dominant matriarchs in television that will do anything to protect their families and their reputation," he says referring to Sharon Watts, Peggy Mitchell, Kat Slater et al.
"I grew up on all the soaps really. My sister Veronica (five years his senior and his only sibling) and I would sit with Mum at home in Malahide and watch them while Dad was in work," he says of his father Jim who was a barman for 50 years until he retired. "We had so much fun as a family watching the soaps."
He was born James Butler on February 1, 1989 in the Rotunda Hospital. His middle name is Patrick.
"When I did a bit of drag back in Trinity College [he studied French and drama] for a student fundraiser my drag name was 'Patrice'. I was 22. It was a one-off. Then when I was setting up my social media accounts I used James Patrice as my username for the craic - and lo and behold it stuck," James laughs.
Asked about his earliest childhood memory, James says: "As odd as it may sound, it's probably having fake My Little Pony weddings with Vanessa, where she'd marry me off to her ponies, as one does! Of course, I was always the bride, complete with pillow case wedding veil." His mother and father were the witnesses.
James's first crush growing up was when he was 13 was Lee Latchford-Evans from Steps.
"All those dance moves in colour-coordinated outfits was fierce alluring altogether." Whatever about a boy crush on Lee from the 1990s pop troupe, James says he fell in love for the first time when he was in his late 20s. "Well now, at the time I thought it was love, but it turns out it was really just a wreck-the-head. I was 27 actually, which might be considered quite late.
"We were only together a few months and I was heartbroken at the time, but not for very long. My friends always admire my resilience at bouncing back after a fella. But as I say, 'Why would I be crying over an eejit?,'" laughs James who came out in France in the summer of 2009. "And it felt absolutely mighty. I came out in a bar in Paris. Fierce continental altogether."
James believes that because he was abroad it made him not care what anyone else thought..."and that sense of liberation allowed me to finally confront who I was with myself, and then let others in on the secret. Not that it was that much of a secret of course - my friends and family did a fantastic act at being relatively shocked". (Though James thinks that his obsessive devotion to Louis Walsh's girl-band Girls Aloud "let the cat out of the bag a long time before that".)
As for his current love life, James kind of jokes that if he was "anymore single right now" he would "be minus one, never mind plus one".
"To be honest," he continues, "I'm not actively seeking anything at the moment. Between work [reporting for RTE's Today show and being the king of social media as an influencer] and this fabulous quarantine, my schedule does be all over the place, and I've often had to cut a date short if I have a job the next day.
"Of course I'm on Tinder, which really only offers nothing more than a repetitive strain injury on my thumb from swiping left," he explains. "But sure if you're not in ya can't win. A lot of the time if I do match with someone they don't believe it's actually me and think they're being cat-fished, or they'll say, 'there's your man off the telly'.
"I shouldn't really care but it automatically makes me think that they may have a preconceived notion of me. I guess I might need to work on my trust issues with men a little more. I mean, all I really want from a bloke is a pulse. Is that too much to ask for?"
James was bullied between the ages of 13 and 16 at school. "It wasn't physical, thankfully, mainly slagging and being called 'gay' or 'a girl'," he recalls, "not the most original."
Does he think the bullying was because of his sexuality? "I'd say I was bullied because I wasn't the stereotypical young lad - whatever in the name of Jaysus that might be. I did school plays, was a goody two shoes and used to actually run away from the ball during PE. Sometimes when you don't fit a typical mould of what society dictates at the time that you should be, I guess it can make you a bit of a target for bullying.
"But my parents always made me feel so confident in myself and encouraged me to enjoy the activities that I did, so I ultimately never let it get me down."
When James went to Trinity, he really came into his own. "To study what I loved in the city centre with a group of like-minded people was absolute heaven."
After graduating from Trinity James had visions of becoming an actor and falling straight into work. Instead, he worked in retail for four years, and despite enjoying the social aspects of work, he was "feckin' miserable."
He can remember being off work sick in 2015 "with an ulcer on my leg, I felt particularly sh**e. I was in a retail job I hated, and my health was going against me too. I started doing skits on Snapchat out of sheer boredom, and that got the ball rolling for me."
"After I started doing social media bits in RTE and was getting more work on my own social media channels, I then became backstage reporter for The Rose of Tralee [in 2016] and then Dancing with the Stars [in 2016], and a reporter on RTÉ Today. I absolutely love doing them - they give me an incredible buzz, there's nothing like it."
He was also one of the stand-outs of Celebrity Operation Transformation on RTE 1 in 2017. "I cried every week. It was such an emotional and vulnerable experience for me - and they really threw everything at you. One minute you'd be riding a horse and the next you'd have a camera in your face eating your dinner. Ultimately it made me confront my own body and build a better relationship with it," says James - who lost 10kgs on the show.
"I've had a bit of a mad oul' journey to get where I am now," he continues, "and I wouldn't change any of it. I do a few different things, and I love all of them. I'm a presenter, an MC, an influencer and a gobsh*te. Isn't it great to have the variety?"
Whatever happened to Jacinta? "I didn't really hear from Jacinta again to be honest."
Would James like to get married one day? Not a My Little Pony wedding but a real one. Does he believe in marriage? Would he like to have six kids like Jacinta?
"I'd absolutely love to get married one day, and have kids hopefully too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not of the opinion that a husband and a family would 'complete' me as such, but I believe that finding and sharing love can be a wonderful thing. I'd like a piece of the action!"
Have the producers or the EastEnders cast seen his online performances?
"They haven't - but I'm determined that one day my mum and I will have a wander around the Queen Vic. I think I'd collapse!" As, I imagine, would they.
You can follow James on Instagram @james_patrice