Interview: Amanda Lepore

Published in REVS #1, 2010. Photography by Therese + Joel.

Amanda: On beauty, on dreams, on the prices we pay

“I don’t remember what I dreamed about last night. I never do. I always remember everything that happens during the day, but not my dreams. Before I drift off to sleep, people I miss might appear in my head. But they don’t come to my dreams. Not consciously at least. I’m very calm like that. I go to a yoga place and that’s where I really learned how to breathe and clear my head. I’ll think about the simplest things, like grass… I’ve been too busy caring for my waistline to think about breathing before. But I would be calm anyways. I haven’t even cried in a long time. I guess I don’t really know what would make me sad anymore. When I got my sex change, I also got a natural euphoria. Or maybe it’s just the hormones? I’m so occupied in my days that I don’t have time for sadness. And I don’t get lonely either. I choose to shut in a lot because I need my time.

As a child, I was happy when my mother was well. When she was hospitalized there was a nanny whom I remember fondly for making me feel good. She would make dresses for dolls with me. Most people would see me as the strange one but to myself I was just a girl. But at some point they just get used to the uniqueness, you know? And that’s what acceptance often is, getting used to something. No parent would ask for their child to be gay, crippled or something else out of the ordinary. At least I could tell mine didn’t. They want Miss Popularity.

I’m glad we live in this time of science and vitamins and surgery to keep us young and beautiful. Marilyn would have been with us longer with Botox. Her looks became dated so she couldn’t handle it. They all died young, the blond bombshells back in the day. But I love them anyways. Which is quite obvious, since I want to look like dead movie stars. But being so troubled? I don’t relate to being troubled. Wanting to look a certain way is more narcissistic than anything for me. I’m self-absorbed, but I’m sincere. Looking back, it could have ended really badly. But it didn’t. I know how to be my best friend.

I’m a lucky person for looking like I do. I look better now than when I was younger. Anytime I see an old picture, I will always like the new ones better. I wasn’t as perfect then as I am now. So far, growing old has been great. I will fight the saggy breasts but I don’t know how it will be. Nothing lasts forever. Maybe in 10 years I will look back and think: why can’t I look like that anymore? But who knows, right.

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When I’m walking down the street I focus on where I’m going and I don’t pay attention to people. Having had to cut through so many yards as a harassed kid made me cautious. Then again, any girl in high heels has to watch out. Walking down the street, I just filter people out. It certainly is sad to go by a homeless person, but I can’t get involved. Not then, not there. But I will donate my time and give back, like meeting trans kids and performing for free. The kids need me and it feels good to go to a town and show them diversity. I’m pretty good at what I do. Sometimes it’s their identities that need a boost. And sometimes it’s their fantasies.

I saw a picture of a dog the other night. My friend showed it to me and I thought it was cute. Maybe I’m selfish but it’s not for me, though. I once even wanted to adopt a kid, but I have too much going on now. It would be too much, and I’m not very motherly anyways. I’m enough work for myself now that I can have the things I couldn’t before. I wasn’t allowed dance classes a kid. Even when I got married, I was basically locked in a house for years. When the frustration grew too big I finally ran away to New York City with money I had been stashing away. All of a sudden I was the star of the night and people loved me. I had to get away to be me. Guys aren’t gonna change, they have their patterns. I’m very intuitive. I have a feeling about people, and I don’t think I’ve ever been wrong.

I did it all by myself, to become a glamorous woman. The first transsexual I ever met was a go go dancer. She was fascinating. Her skin was so smooth, and her nipples were so big. It was so real. I don’t think one can become materialistic about a body, though, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about being comfortable, and the changes are just something that you have to do. It’s way more serious than the material things. But I love beauty in everything. Modern art is often not beautiful to me, it’s just abstract and messy. Like some strange installation with kites I once saw. It’s not the Renaissance, is it? If I do not see beauty, I am not interested. I’ve suffered for beauty and I know it takes a lot of discipline. And it takes sacrifices of time and of money. When the hormones started kicking in, and I was getting breasts, it would hurt. But the hurting feeling was also pleasurable because I could feel I was changing.

I love to be the one to inspire. If I read bad comments on a song or performance of mine, I never dwell on it. Whatever they say, it can never be as bad as when I was a child. When I worked as a dominatrix, I would sometimes have to do things I didn’t personally enjoy. Not anymore. It’s all about me now. But do I have regrets? No, none.”

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