- Category: Feature
- Published on Thursday, 12 December 2013 02:24
- Hits: 3731
I remember the first time I learned of Amanda Lepore. I was 15 and getting my choppy short hair dyed red at a little salon on Sullivan Street during a July trip to New York City, and that's when I noticed the photos of her hanging on the wall in front of me. She was like a real life Barbie. Her breasts defied gravity, it looked as though they could fly away from her scant albeit voluptuous form. It wasn't until years later that I found out who she was. Amanda, queen of the club kids. The most expensive body on earth. Amanda was an enigma. A mystery. She was everywhere it seemed. All the best parties. All the magazines. I remember as a teen, decorating a Bend-It fashion show with the cover image from The Stranger that featured her amazing face. From far away, from staring at her photo in an NYC hair salon, Amanda doesn't seem human, but you can never judge a book by it's cover.
Amanda Lepore has every right to be an asshole. She's beautiful, famous, and fabulous. She cant make it down the street without getting recognized and she can't go 10 seconds at an event without getting photographed. Having said that, it's not Amanda's iconic appearance that will take you by surprise, but her down-to-earth attitude and generous nature that will throw you for a loop. A friend to anyone who never quite fit in, Amanda is the unofficial mother to the club kids of the world. Chatting with Amanda in her surprisingly humble living space while she proudly flipped through one of her most recent magazine spreads, I realized that Amanda is the most selfless yet completely self absorbed person I've ever met. She's a role model for her devotion to the club community, but it's her shameless devotion to her own self that makes her the icon that she is today. As they say in drag– If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna ever be as fabulous as Amanda Lepore?
I've lost track of the amount of places you've traveled to this year. What are some of your favorite places to visit?
It's always really fun to visit the glamorous places like Ibiza because the clubs and the people are so beautiful. But I especially like the little places, where the kids at the clubs like me so much. It almost feels like they need me and that feels good, you know? I can't really think of my favorite place to travel. Anywhere I visit, I like meeting new people and having new audiences to interact with. For that reason, sometimes places that seem boring turn out to be really fun. You never know.
You've seen just about every club kid scene in the world. Does anything take you by surprise anymore?
One time I agreed to meet this kid at my hotel before my show in Canada because she was too young to get into the club. I didn't know if she was a drag queen or maybe a transexual because in her photos online she wore this sort-of drag makeup, but she turned out to be this little teenage girl! She asked if we could take a picture for her blog and when I asked what blog she said it was "Fuck Yeah Amanda Lepore!" I look at that blog every day and I always imagined it was some gay guy living in Paris that ran it, but in reality it was this young girl in Canada who couldn't even get into clubs. It was really cool. she told me how much I meant to her and how I got her through so many hard times and it just felt really good. The circumstances were so weird, but I was really impressed.
You are like a mother figure to the club scene. Do you think of yourself in that way?
I know I'm a big inspiration to people. I'm a misfit that made something of myself under circumstances where my life could have gone really wrong. I felt a bond to the club world immediately after moving to New York. I had gotten my sex change when I was very young, and I and been married but it didn't work out. My first roommate in NYC was a dominatrix and I worked with her in the dungeons to make money which was a good acting experience I guess, but it wasn't really for me. They would make me hide the fact that I was a transexual and make me lie to people because they told me I would make more money if I did which I didn't like. When I discovered the club kid scene, what I really found was a circle of outcasts that had found acceptance among each other. That's the sort of energy that keeps me in the scene. We're like a family of people that are alternative and don't fit in. People ask me if I ever get sick of going out to parties but I really don't because there are constantly new crops of kids that have different things to offer the scene. I really relate to it strongly.
What environment did you grow up in?
It was kind of a weird one because my mother was schizophrenic. I didn't have any friends really, and I spent a lot of time alone with just my imagination. Thats part of why I look the way I do. I used old Hollywood movies as an escape and I would imagine that I would never want to look the way the girls at school looked because they would make fun of me so often. Growing up that way really prompted me to rebel against everything that was going on around me.
What was your first surgical procedure?
I had a nose job first and then the sex change. I was only 17 when I got my sex change operation. I had been dying to get it. Getting it gave me a natural euphoria that I still have to this day, I was so happy. I did the breasts and everything much later so I guess I kind of transitioned in reverse.
What was it like being a part of the club kid scene in the early '90s?
It felt really good to be a part of it. At first, no one was sure if I was a transexual or not, but when they found out I became Girl Of The Minute, it made me so popular. When I appeared on the Joan Rivers Show with Michael Alig and Leigh Bowery I had only been working in the clubs for a week! I felt like a movie star without having done a single movie. I just jumped in and did it. It made me nervous but I enjoyed it a lot too.
Tell me one of your wildest party stories.
Years ago when I was out with David Lachapellle we were eating at a very chic restaurant. We were kind of drunk, and David decided it would be funny to take my dress off and hide it from me. It was a really fancy place, but when the staff noticed I was naked they had the cooks make me a cake with boobs on it– everyone seemed to think it was really funny. So from there we went on to this Alaia retrospective. All these people who were really big at time were hosting like Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell and I just walked in completely naked! People started taking my picture and asking me why I arrived nude so I told them things like "Azzedine didn't lend me a dress so I had nothing to wear", and that I was "celebrating the female form". It landed me in W magazine and that's when something inside me shifted. Instead of being labeled as a freak about town, people were hailing me as an artist and saying my body was a work of art. The whole experience really shifted my attitude.
You have a unique relationship with your body. What does it feel like to show off the body that you've essentially created for yourself?
Its a comfortable feeling. Because of the body makeup and my styling, my own nudity feels ladylike to me, and sort of like I'm on set at a photo shoot. It seems to make people happy so when I perform I always take my clothes off and people seem to like it. I think it's freeing for people to see. It's something different.
Can you go anywhere without being recognized?
No. Even when I have no makeup on and a roller set with a kerchief people still recognize me. I wish they didn't. I'd rather people see me when I'm all dressed up. It's not just my face that people recognize, it's my body too. It happens all the time on my way to yoga. I'll have to buy myself a burka or something!
How do people react to you in every day situations such as the grocery store or airport?
Usually the reactions are positive and people say flattering things. Though there was this one time when I was in Ireland... I had just come from an event and the hotel room wasn't ready. I had these tiny hot pants on and this woman said to me in a heavy Irish accent "You should be ashamed of yourself, walking around like that". I thought it was really funny.
Let's talk boys. What type of guy do you generally go for?
I don't like to chase guys so I usually wait for them to come to me. I get all different types but I usually go for tall thin men. Sometimes I wish I could be more like Anna Nicole Smith and just go out with anyone– you know, anyone with lots of money. My friends tell me I should find a sugar daddy and I always think it sounds like fun idea, but it's just not in my core. I also get a lot really young guys that go after me. Every year that passes I think they're gonna stop coming around but I'm still getting them! I think they think of me as a kind of "worldly woman". I think that's part of the attraction.
Tell us your top 3 glamour tips:
- Party photos on the internet are so accessible. To make sure you always look good in your pictures you should look at lots of photos of yourself to find the best angles for your face. Repeat the poses that look good and don't repeat the ones that look bad. It's a small thing but it can make you feel your best because it's important to feel attractive.
- Lately I've been using makeup that is also good for my skin. I use foundation that's formulated with vitamin C. I like being able to get something extra out of wearing my makeup.
- I really love the red lipstick look. To make it last all day I start with a MAC Cherry lip liner and fill in with a liquid lipstick by Armani which holds it's color in place. Over that I use a Kevyn Aucoin cream lipstick. I finish with Dior gloss just in the center because it makes my lips look extra pouty.
What are you looking forward to about visiting Seattle?
I like laid back people and I always find them in Seattle. The people there are never snobby or high maintenance. They are always warm and friendly. Those are the kind of people I always have the most fun with.
Stella Rose with Amanda Lepore
Don't miss your chance to hang out with Amanda Lepore Seattle style as she hosts our VIP section of Ferocious Memories THIS FRIDAY at Neighbours! Tixx available here (VIP quantity limited) and at the door, Ferocious Memories features live performances from Rye Rye and Bright Light Bright Light, DJ's P-Play (Honey Soundsystem, SF), Ambrosia Salad (LAX), Nark, Chelsea Starr (PDX) and dancers Baby Bear, Ross Milam (Scruff) and Jason Krause (PDX), hosted by Aleksa Manila, Mama Tits and Artstar!