Whitewashing in El Paso has existed for many generations. El Paso is well over 80% Hispanic. Almost all Hispanics are of Mexican origin. In El Paso it is common to find people denigrating Mexicans and blaming the city’s ills on México. So much so that some El Pasoans feel it necessary to pretend that they are not Mexicans.

Take Jay J. Armes, for example. Jay J. Armes is known for his flamboyant lifestyle. He has been a politician and a television actor and is well-known across the globe. Armes has branded himself into a cartoon figure and successfully made a living off that.

Jay J. Armes is Mexican-American.

But Armes had a hard time admitting that and erased most of his Mexicanism while building his brand.


Jay J. Armes was born Julian Armas on August 12, 1932 in Ysleta. Armes tells people that his father’s name was Jay Sr. However, his father’s name was Pedro. His mother was Beatriz. Along with his name change, Armes was telling everyone that he was Italian, instead of Mexican-American.

The Tales of the Morgue, from the El Paso Times, on January 10, 2012 reproduced a Times article from 1946. The article, Ysleta Child Loses Both Hands In Explosion of Railroad Torpedo states that “Julian Armas, 13, of Ysleta, is in Hotel Dieu…recovering after amputation of both hands, mangled when a torpedo exploded Saturday.” Railroad torpedoes were explosive devices used to signal train conductors to stop. They are like firecrackers but much more dangerous and louder.

In a July 20, 1977 El Paso Times article, also reproduced by the Times Morgue in Local ‘celeb’ changes name article that Armes changes his name from Julian Armas to Jay J. Armes. The Times’ article says that the name change, before the 210th District Court, was because Armes argued that he was known as Jay J. Armes “in the community and throughout the world.” The article adds that Armes had attained the same name change in California “10 years ago.”

Jay J. Armes was a braggart. There are several news reports attesting to Armes making up most of what he is known for.

Armes told people that he, and his father won their lawsuit against the railroad for causing the loss of his hands. The fact is that the suit, which his father had filed on December 6, 1948, was dismissed on June 2, 1949. There was no award made to Armes or his father.

Armes has also stated that his private detective agency has been successful. According to an IRS lawsuit filed on September 3, 1969 looking into Jay J. Armes’ tax returns, Armes opened his detective agency in “1955 or 1956” and closed it two years later because the “agency lost money.” Armes went to work Goodwill Industries for a short time. After being unemployed for two years, Armes open a “small night club known as The Office Lounger,” which he operated for a few months before shutting it down.

The IRS found that Jay J. Armes had not filed tax returns for 1957, 1958 and 1959.

In February 1960, according to the IRS lawsuit, Jay J. Armes opened his private detective agency, The Investigators.

Armes elicited several family members to argue that the IRS was wrong on its tax assessment of Jay J. Armes by testifying that the unreported income was from “a pirate’s chest filled with silver dollars, and boxes stuffed with two-dollar bills,” among other sources of money.

The lawsuit also details that “there is also some evidence suggesting that Jay was involved in prostitution activites: he frequented bus stations, the rain station, and the airport looking ‘for girls that had no place to go – that were – had nothing to do.’ He rented a room in a hotel on a continuous basis, where he admittedly arranged meetings between men and women.” [Jay J. and Rose B. Armes v. Commissioner, United States Tax Court, filed September 3, 1969, Docket nos. 2034-66, 5901-66]

In 1989, Hossein Mogadam, a manager at the K-Bob’s restaurant on Viscount, filed a criminal complaint against Armes alleging that Armes had told him that the United States is a “white man’s world.” Mogadam told investigators he felt threatened by Armes. [David Crowder, “Manager says Armes threatened deporation,” El Paso Times, October 26, 1989.]

In January 1991, El Paso police officers confiscated a desk clock from Armes, city representative office because the “was designed to look like a homemade bomb.”

Jay J. Armes was not only a liar but he also spent a lifetime trying to pretend he was not Mexican, proving what whitewashing looks like in El Paso.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

One reply on “Whitewashing El Paso, The Jay J. Arms Case”

  1. My father and Jay had a physical confrontation outside Marian Manor school during election day for YISD school board. It was a mess.

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