RIP James “Jamer” Lindsay, Who Had About Him All The Airs And Manners Of A Man…

by Andrew Morrison | With last night went James Lindsay, aka Jamer; one of the greatest, most naturally gifted skateboarders and artists of his generation in British Columbia.

We first met while at a summer party on Willows Beach at some point in the mid-80′s. We were both 13 or 14 years old and part of a crew of about 10 to 15 kids who were more interested in skateboarding than anything else. Jamer was the wildest among us, and the most talented by far. I can still vividly remember his skateboard being an absolute piece of chipped up, water-logged shit (he was nicknamed “Jamer” because the graphic on the bottom of it said “Jammer”), but of course it didn’t matter. He could have been riding a donkey and his style still would have eclipsed ours. He was one of a kind in that respect.

For the rest of my adolescence (and a few years beyond), I would spend most of my waking hours with him and the likes of Dave Knight, Jason Greenwood, Rennie Foster, Hanz Fear, Clay Rivard, Jake Warren, Judah Oakes, Mike Freestyle, my brother Alex, and the rest of the town’s original crop of skaters. If any group was to blame for making skateboarding a crime in Victoria, it was us, with Jamer in the lead. For him, mischief was more a way of life than a collection of misdemeanours, and with it he became legend.

photo: Jeanne Pierce | At Victoria City Hall protesting for a skatepark (l to r: Jamer, me, Hanz, Mike, Jason, Steggles)

It’s doubtful that any teenager has ever been more universally (if pettily) loathed by the Victoria Police Department before or since, and therefore more responsible for getting the city’s first skatepark (Vic West) built. And he ripped it like no other, tearing clean lines across its smooth concrete with a beautiful effortlessness that made everyone stop and watch…

It was all play and resourcefulness with Jamer, even at the worst of times (and there were some terrible times). Though I have a hundred stories about him, my favourite is a vignette that reminds me of how adept he was at making the best of a bad situation. In the summer of 1989 (when we were 17 years old), he and I ran away to Vancouver for a few days with Hanz Fear, sleeping in a tent across the river from the North Shore’s ancient skatepark (Seylynn Bowl). It was a big deal for us. A real adventure at the time.

Hanz Fear, me, Jamer circa 1989 | Douglas & View | shot courtesy of Heather Johnston

On the drive to Swartz Bay he revealed that he didn’t have any money for gas, food, or the ferry, so he hid in the trunk of my ’73 Dodge Dart to avoid the fare. Whilst on the Queen of Whatever, Hanz and I stayed below to split a banana in the car, while Jamer went upstairs to smoke. He snuck into the buffet instead, coming down a short while later with bread rolls stuffed in his pants (and not a few sausages), which he kindly shared.

He had an awful case of rot gut when we finally made it to the bowl (which was like arriving at Shangri-La to us), and he was farting, puking and projectile pooping so much that – great friends though we were – Hanz and I abandoned him outside the tent and went skating all day.

When we came back to our makeshift camp at sunset, we found him feeling better and determined that we should all go back and skate before the light failed completely. But it was already pitch dark when we arrived across the river, and we could barely make out the lines of the transitions. Sensing our disappointment at the waste of time but not wallowing in his own, Jamer raided the newspaper box nearby, returning with 50 copies of the North Shore News (sorry Deana). He crumpled these up in the flat spots and hip tops until there were a dozen or so piles going down the snake run and into the bowl. Hanz and I watched as he loped up from the bowl, stooping to light each one on fire as he went. “Let’s go!” he said, the park before us now alight with flame. And so we went, cruising fast over the hips in a blurry chain of three, carving around the bowl tight and then pumping up over the embers of the quickly dying fires until we got to the top again leaving a cloud of smoke and sparks in our wake. The fires were out, but we’d gotten the run in, and Jamer was the happiest I would ever see him. The next morning, all the local skaters were understandably super pissed at all the debris and scorch marks in their prized park. “Whoever did this is a fucking dead man,” they said. “Totally,” Jamer deadpanned back with that face of his, holding it for a second while Hanz and I tried not to burst out laughing. By far and large, it was the most exhilarating 20 seconds of my life. I still look back on it more fondly than I do of any memory of skateboarding, with the darkness lit by fire and the sound of the river over our wheels still spinning as we walked back to the bridge. I had left beers sitting in the cold water of the river by our camp, and I was very glad to share them.

But Jamer was much more than just a skateboarder. He was also a gifted artist, as well known in Vancouver as he was in Victoria. It is through his art that I think most people will remember him, and remember him they will. While the old school will always think of him as the first to boardslide the handrails at the Library and the guy who could bust the hugest, most jaw-dropping frontside tucked-knee airs, many of his other, more recent friends have the greater fortune of being able to permanently remember him through the ink that he tattooed under their flesh. From paper to canvas and wall to skin, Jamer’s artistic abilities came as naturally as backside tailslides.

He also had a wicked sense of humour fronted by an infectious smile. It would be impossible to be in a room with him and not want to share in whatever secret was making his eyes go so wide. His laugh was one of his best qualities, right up there with his rare sincerity as a listener (every girl who was lucky enough to count him as a friend will happily attest to that). Truly, I can’t compare him to anyone else I’ve ever known. It’s as if he was conjured by Charles Dickens, like a modern day stand-in for the “Artful Dodger” in Oliver Twist:

He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. His hat was stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened to fall off every moment–and would have done so, very often, if the wearer had not had a knack of every now and then giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought it back to its old place again [...] He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six.

That was Jamer – if a little taller, and a friend to all. If his Facebook account is any measure (it has been flooded today with condolences), he had thousands of friends.

For my part, I lost track of him after I went away to University. I’d heard that he was having trouble battling drug addiction. It was around that time that Hanz took his own life, which was as tragic a loss as the one today. I think he righted himself as 2000 approached, swearing off all the drugs, save nicotine (he still owes me about 10000 smokes). I’ve heard tell that he helped others with their addictions, too, which I don’t doubt on account of his incredibly generous nature. A chance meeting on Bloor St. in Toronto during the winter of 2002 found him happy and seemingly clean. I couldn’t linger long, as the birth of my first son was a week overdue, and I was hurrying home from some shopping. “Good luck, asshole! Make sure you call him James,” he called after me as I trudged westward in the snow. The next morning, James Morrison was born.

Busy with family and living in another city, I didn’t stay in touch with him after that except through the internet. I was very relieved to see him doing so well. Whenever I was in Victoria, I made sure to pop by Sailor Jerry’s on Government St. where he’d become even more of a local legend as a tattoo artist. We’d share a smoke outside and talk about old times. The last time I saw him was 11 months ago on Main St. at Antisocial, where he was putting on an art show. He looked well and pleased with himself (which seemed always to be the case in public situations), and as my wife and I finally made to leave, he gave me a big hug and pinched my ass. It was as good a final parting as I could have hoped for.

From what I’ve pieced together from old friends today (some of whom I hadn’t spoken to in years), Jamer went off everyone’s radar shortly before Christmas. He was found last night, his addiction having caught up and overtaken him. This morning was a rush of emotion. It’s hard to believe that someone so talented, so endowed with natural grace, is gone. It’s still too soon to think of Victoria without Hanz Fear, let alone Jamer. It’s as if a whole section of the city has fallen into the sea with a resounding crash, and it’s all I can do not to yell at the noise: “Not you, too!”

My condolences to his family and his home town. I can’t imagine either ever being the same again.


  • Jake Hamilton

    Me and Jamer didnt know each other that well..more that we knew OF each other..he was a skater and I was a didnt care about labels or cliques…he was a genuine dude..always cool no matter what..Not sure Andrew if we ever crossed paths at Central or wherever..but it is abundantly clear..that no matter where you are from…or whom you hung out with..skater …rapper…headbanger…everyone is talented in their own right..and so it is true by your writing…I confess I hadn’t thought of Jamer in brother Johnson idolized him however…and I dont live in Victoria anymore… But now when I think of Victoria and all of the freinds we have lost..Jamer,,, Hanz,,,Loni Wright,,Adan Merino,,,it breaks my heart…but they all made an impression on me…and it will one that last forever…Thank you Andrew..take brother…

  • Melissa Sauder

    My heart goes out to those that knew him and loved him. I first met Jamer in 1996, and always thought he was great. I have lots of fond memories of him. My daughter adored him. I know I speak for all the Sauders when I say we’ll all miss him terribly.

  • Mike Belgue

    My introduction to Jamer. It’s 1986, perhaps 1987 and I’m 10 years old. The skate store on Blanshard (Island Surf and Snow?? or something like that?) decides to have a competition with juniors and an adult open category and one of my friend’s moms takes us down to watch. There is a kid sitting on his board, smoking, hanging with a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds, who doesn’t look much older than us but is probably 14. The announcer calls out James Lindsay and the kid that looks like he’s our age jumps up and proceeds to rip the shit out of a crappy booster ramp, a quarter pipe and a fun box, boosting 3 feet higher than anyone else, and blowing away not only all of the other juniors but also all of the adult competitors too. I loose my mind watching him and my 10 year old self is completely in awe. Through some travesty of skate comp politics he doesn’t win, but he and the crowd know who was best. I’m cheering and clapping and yelling, and he skates over, has a big smile on his face, sits back down on his board, sees I’m stoked and offers me a smoke. 10 years old, in front of my friend’s mom. Hilarious. I vividly remember him skating a Tracker GSD deck that day, which was super obscure and beat to shit. I spent all of 1987 trying to find a GSD deck, to emulate my local skateboard idol.

  • jef diesel

    Andrew, thank you for sharing and saying what needs to be said. I can’t imagine how all of our lives would have turned out without jamer leading us in such ridiculous happiness, and non-stop adventure.
    I havent seen him since I moved away, but we did have a few great laughs the last time I was in Vic. Jamer could always make you smile, and make you shake your head in disbelief.


  • Thomasv

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Andrew.

    Regards to your friend’s family.

  • danner wise

    Gone beyond beyond ……. So proud of Jamer for getting clean years ago… Here we are , left to remember and learn. I will never forget the first time hanner and i ran into James…. We found this scrappy little freak trying to figure out how to Ollie in a parkade near island surf. We were immediately blown away by what an obnoxious little Shit he was decided to help. One of us asked ” what’s your name kid” ….. “james” he said with that grin. Hans and i looked from him to his capsized deck with the words jammer accross it and cracked two grins to match… Jamer. It stuck. Everyone who met him for the first time back then hit on that ….and jamers parents fed us! King solomons was a haven”hey guys let’s go see my mom n dad, I’m starving”…. We were all inventing a language. Some kook sprayed “do the bid” on the ogden banks….. We yanked our pants down and carved the bank yelling “do the butt!” All that was excellent became that which was butt. Jamer was everywhere at once like a fricking hummingbird. So much mischief , enough to sink ships. Constantly “trying to hold” giving everyone a name….. Turbo-hangers became turbs… Ping couldn’t figure which side of Douglas to hang on….. Jellick had a dumb-fae…. wally got hazed til he came back to kick ass… there was brow…and this kid showed up from Hungary so we called him hungry-boy, then just hung.. 4-Q….spelled y-que? Put the first colours on ….. Hans found a can of spray…. Stopped eating garbage and got into bread an pean……always Jamer everywhere at once….. Causing Shit and giggling. Could go on and on….. Love you Jamer, give the devil some ink….. Drugs are non-pard.

  • Schwizzy pop

    Jamer was an inspiration to all the next generation skaters and one of the funniest and wildest persons i ve ever met! Sk8 ing with alex jamer quinno jef holladay judah syd and many others was the best of my teen years ! Hanner and jamer’s spirit live forever in ours.. V DUB Turbo Hang forevs peace one L….

  • Scout Magazine

    Thanks for that, Danner.

  • chris steggles

    Andrew,I was shocked and apauled to see this article today as its my first news of Jamers death.He was nothing short of a fucking enigma.A rare and beautiful human being.Hanner and Jamer took me in as a brother when i first came to Vic. as a 13 year old skate rat from winnipeg.Those guys introduced me to everyone,and every thing including the shifty style ollies that only us Vic locs did,because we all wanted to do them like Jamer.I’ll never forget knocking on Jamers door and his mom came out and I go “Mrs Lindsay,can Jamer come out and skate?” and she closes the door and says to me in her scottish accent”Chris,you look like a nice wee laddie,what do you want tay hang aboot wi Jamer for?He’s a terrible wee lad!” .Priceless.I will miss him more than words can express,as i do Hans,………………Stegs.

  • Olivia I

    I have missed Jamers smile and laugh for years and wondered what happened to him. Sad to read this article but it is beautifully written and made me smile as memories flooded back.
    Everyone should “do the butt” more often!!! And I hope he’s still doin it where ever he may be.

  • lisa

    well said lost contact with him after hi-school always remember him laughing and carrying that board around. Lots of memories forgotten and found throu ur writing thank-u althou bitter sweet. :**(

  • Amanda Thompson

    R.I.P Jamer. We all miss you already.

  • Crystal Marini

    RIP Jamer… The best memories of my life are of rolling through the streets in the 80′s with my bros….. We were all one heart back then. Our spirits were loose and wild. We were free in those moments from all the pressures and pain in life. I’m so sorry that life happened and somehow many of us ended up struggling with addiction.
    I am working on a project that is a free drug and alcohol rehab program online. It is a condensed version of a complete 90 day rehab program. I have been a part of the facility that created it for over 7 years, and it does work. I will post a link here when it goes live.
    Peace…. Love….. Take heart…. Reach out….

  • Roberta Livingstone

    Great tribute! Speaking as the mom of a skater from that Victoria skater group (you may recall Dan Peon — now known as blues musician Dan Livingstone) I recall Jamer. At the time, I was a journalist for the Victoria Star writing about local youth: “All they want to do is skate” came out of my interviews with Jamer, Hans Fear and several others. Andrew, your quote from Dickens was perfect — and may I add, an observation as well about the kind of society that simply doesn’t understand the artful “contrariness” and sass that is the essence of the Artful Dodger character. Godspeed, Jamer. And to all of you who mourn a good man’s passing: long may you run.

  • P

    Many moons ago, I was a teenage waitress at a little joint in Vic called Overtime. Many cute little hoodlum skate rats went there, I loved them. Jamer was one of them. Cute and sass as a button. One day at work I caught him givinge a good long stare. I was ” what???” he said ” you know, yer kinda funny looking but the more I stare at you the more I realize how pretty you are” I probably gave him some stink eye but I’ve never forgotten.
    Sadnneas on the island and a shame to lose such a gem.

  • Jay Flett

    Jamer was someone I felt truly blessed to call my friend.He was a founding member of our crew Tha Allmighty Eraflewz,a brillant man,unreal skateboarder,great artist,and had the biggest heart ever.He taught me how to do kickflips,and was patient and understanding when i could not seem to get my feet to land square and was total stinkbug.He defined what it is to be Victorian and was someone I admired as I have stuggled with my own demons in addiction.Iam grateful he got to see me get sober and was someone who never judged me even at my worst.He has left a hole in my heart and a crater in Victoria and all of British Columbia.I know he is killing it in the giant skatepark in the sky.Thanks Andrew for the articulate and soundly written article it made me smile even in great sadness…….I miss you James….EWZ 4 LIFE.

  • Dan Peters

    Very well said Andrew, Rest in Peace Jamer!!

  • Gerry Jobe

    Thanks for this Andrew.
    I met Jamer at my Brother’s Tattoo studio. He was a dear friend of my Brother Rob and a guest artist at Pinz on and off for many years. I will always remember him being the happiest guy at our after-work bashes, even though he was the sober one. His jumping at any opportunity to strip down to his underwear to incite laughter, and his big heart and smile. Plus, the guy could tattoo his ass off. Great man, great artist. RIP.

  • Barbara Sauder Pecze

    Dear Andrew,

    I was stunned to hear of Jamer’s death. My son, Keegan Sauder, was friends with him from 1997 on, and I remember hearing Keegan yelling at him to get of those bloody drugs, or should I say screaming. They still remained friends, and I found him very likeable, but I felt that he was, deep down, looking for something, which sadly, he never found. He did a nice tat on Keegan’s arm, which I know will be treasured.I found out the other day, when I phoned Keeg in California; he was very upset. I guess we’d all thought Jamer had beaten the demon drugs. Jamer was an awesome person and a gifted artist; he will be missed by many. Keegan’s brother, Will, was friends with him as well, so he’ll be bummed and angry. This just makes me and others hate recreation drugs all the more. R.I.P. Jamer, I was planning on getting my first tat from you when I returned to Canada for a visit, alas. I really wish this was just a bad dream.

  • tony goluza

    Beautifully written, Andrew. Jamer was one of those guys that even if you hadn’t seen him in months, the conversation would be like you saw and hung out with him every day. Sarcastic, goofy, intelligent, I really respected him. And I don’t respect too many folks out there. He will be remembered at the Jay Brown Memorial Show, along with all of the other fallen comrades over the years. The special ones go out too fucking soon. It’s too bad it takes something like this to bring us all together again. Take care. Keep up the good work.

  • lindsay

    an incredibly moving tribute to an incredibly talented guy. growing up in vic, watched this guy influence three decades of skateboarders. he had style. he had charisma. he made it look effortless. he is legendary.

  • danner wise

    Really good and somehow strange to run into all you guys last night, this page seems to be my only way to know what’s happening as this all unfolds. If there is anything happening as a memorial Give me a shout. This one really hurts, let it change us all. Dan weisenburger…. 250 514 4594

  • Karen

    It was probably 1986. We were the girls that had to race every weekend to be on the last bus out of town. We would often end up hanging out with Jamer, Andrew & Judah. We would walk around town for hours with you guys, watch you skate, smoke way too many cigarettes, drink buckets of coffee & eat fries & gravy if we were lucky enough to have enough money left after buying smokes. We never got in any real trouble. I do remember occasionally evading police but mostly I remember laughing with all of you and in particular Jamers infectious, mischievious grin. I have a huge smile on my face as I write this & remember what are still very vivid & fond memories of a time that I don’t remember often enough. RIP Jamer.

  • Jennifer June

    Thank you so much Andrew…
    so touching to read such a heartfelt tribute to somebody who holds such a huge piece of my heart.

  • Leroy Haynes

    This is a great piece, Andrew. I’m only sorry you had to write it. I sure am going to miss him.

  • Jimmy Miller

    Andrew. I, like many others, appreciate what you’ve written.
    You’ve given us the start of a voice to sing Jamer’s praises. No easy task to accomplish. I still feel winded, at a loss for words and numb now days after the news broke.

    It’s still hard to believe that one of the most uniquely precious people I have ever known is now gone, if only in the physical sense. People gravitated to Jamer regardless of crowd, age or beliefs. James, you were a crazy-funny beyond-gifted skater (and artist) and simply fun to be around.

    Too many stories to share, but if I hadn’t had Jamer and the Victoria scene of 1988 onward to take me under their wing it’s a wonder where this (very) small skater kid without many role models may’ve strayed.

    R.I.P. James Lindsay XO

  • Dan Scharf

    I didn’t really get to “know” Jamer, but being new to the scene of townies back in the mid-late 80′s, I sure got to hear the name and watch the legend that he obviously is. I looked up to him as a skater back in the day when the only safe place to skate was a pad of concrete where the Songhese project now lies. Reading all these posts about the crazy lingo “do the butt”, lol..”give me a quard so I can catch the bu to go to the pard” or don’t be a Brow(Andrew)” was a favourite expression of mine….seeing that picture with Mike(free) and Jamer and everyone protesting all brought back memories of some really good times in a really crappy time of my life. Thanks for being part of my history Jamer and everyone else on here that was in the parkade running from six. RIP

  • Zor Rah

    In the summer of 89 I went back to Vic, from Montreal. The Dayglo’s lived in some houses on Mason St. There was a group of skaters kids that hung out there. That is where I first met Jamer. I remember being sooo hung over one day (many days that summer, so we just kept drinking) that Jamer had me sit on his skate and using my shoulders for support, road me into town.
    When I saw him later that afternoon, he said that the cops had chased him down & confiscated his skate for riding downtown. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last…that was Jamer, just wanting to do what he wanted to do! Sorry to see you go Babe :(

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  • Deana

    What a beautiful tribute Andrew. Despite his sacrilegious use of the NSN, he sounds like someone I would have loved knowing. To you and all who loved him, I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Nigel David

    Unfortunately I never got to know Jamer, other than as a local legend. Thanks for this Tribute Andrew. My heart goes out to those who lost a friend. I’ll never forget though, how fast and hard he skated when I would go to Vic West as a grom in the early nineties. At that time, skateboarding was getting all slow and tech, with tiny wheels, but he clearly didn’t care about that, and did what felt right. He would be ripping on a beat up oversized Skull Skates deck with such natural skill, style and flow. That is hard to do! His approach to skating, and life for that matter, will be remembered and passed on.

  • http://Yahoo g

    Thanks Andrew, for those of us touched by Jamer and lucky enough to watch him skate this was a great homage.
    I sit here in Toronto mad at myself for squandering what was my last chance to see him and get a tat… Too. Now that the news of his passing has sunk in I am deeply saddened.I’m going outside to chain-smoke a pack of darts in my nugs and remember my old friend peace out Jamer JJGJ forever.

  • JIm Illes

    Rip Jamer..
    One of my biggest inspirations ever.

  • angvo

    Andrew, that was beautiful, and perfect, if not for the loss of Jamer threaded thru it all. He’s taken a whole dimension of being with him, bcz really there’s no one quite as shiny, charming & roguish as Jamer always was- The world is flat- RIP

  • Vicki Vain

    This article was really written well-from the heart,and true to life-my prayers are with his family,and friends…..respect for Jammer. He’s laughing and having a blast somewhere else,trust me!

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  • amanda b

    This is a beautiful piece, Andrew, and a fine tribute to Jamer. Infectious smile, indeed. One of the greatest artist of his generation, yes, yes. I remember him coming into art class many years ago, late, smelling of liquor, and turning out paintings that were truly a cut above anything else in the room. He had an extra sparkle in his eye that was a delight to encounter. My heart goes out to his family and all who loved him.

  • Scout Magazine

    A nice service today. Very sad, but nice to see so many old friends gathered.

  • Iain O”

    Three hearty cheers for our man:live fast die young and leave a good looking corpse I guess …
    pretty tragic when solid people can’t get off their sinking boat of a dope trip…hard not to feel heavy about this kind of thing.Learn and Live smarter,.. stand tall ,,peace to all

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  • Dano

    Thanks Andrew for the fitting tribute. It truly seems the end of an era.

  • Cherry

    Thanks for writing this, Andrew, so eloquent and heartfelt. I was very moved. I only just heard today thatJamer had passed, and it’s really too much to take in.
    ” It’s hard to believe that someone so talented, so endowed with natural grace, is gone. It’s still too soon to think of Victoria without Hanz Fear, let alone Jamer. It’s as if a whole section of the city has fallen into the sea with a resounding crash, and it’s all I can do not to yell at the noise: “Not you, too!”
    Says it for me. I remember them both at their best, and always will.
    Love and hugs

  • Alison Brown

    Lovely article. A very sad loss. I’ve just moved back to the island and I walk down Quadra Street to work every morning. The Wildfire Cafe has a nice tribute to him on the one side of the cafe that faces the church. I took a few pics of it. RIP.

  • Sincro77

    one of my favourite bros , who inspired the shit out of me as a kid growing up skateboarding,,One of the reasons I ever had passion and a fire inside me,, has died. I hope he’s Skating with Hanz. I hope I see them both again.


    Thank’s for being a friend and all the good times. If it wasn’t for you I never would have learned to kickflip. R.I.P. Jamer………..Your bro SPACE.
    P.S. You can crash on my couch anytime.



  • Anna Lindsay

    Hi Andrew,
    I am James’ eldest sister. I don’t believe we have ever met, however, I met your brother Alex well over twenty years ago. I just wanted to let you know that your article was the first I read after James’ death and I have read it numerous times. Of course, nothing but having James back could make me, my parents or my sister Catherine happy, but reading about him from his various friends’ perspectives is comforting although it makes me cry too.

    Thank you

  • Scout Magazine

    Glad to hear you’re finding comfort.

  • Kirstie Somers

    Well said Andrew….R.I.P ass is still bruised (pinching) You always made me worry…Barbie xx