A Confession About Her: Amanda Lepore

Amanda Lepore is full of feathers and pearls; she shifts in the room with a fabulous certainty of comfort. Her thin fingers and sharp red nails touching and finding everything she needs. There are shoes and thongs and a galaxy of accessories scattered around. The parts come together naked and consumed, enveloped and voluptuous. Her flesh presses everything, even if she’s 10 feet away. Absolute elegance, Amanda Lepore becomes what she applies, or rather the other way around really. She has spent her whole life learning herself and building an empire; her body, and clothes, the people around her, there is no longer a separation. Lepore allows her body to raise the platform of identity and the culture of community. Watching her prepare for our interview and to have her picture taken reveals an ounce of the majesty. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” she says to the stylist and photographer. She understands her function; she collaborates in every way she can, transforming the room and situation to her. Gravity, gratuity, gravitas she grows a collection of everyone around her.

 

Amanda Lepore by May Lin Le Goff
Art by May Lin Le Goff

“A change in appearance. Corrupter, condition, or function. A change in the form or habitat of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. A usually generative change in the structure of a particular body tissue. This process is called metamorphosis.”

Amanda Lepore by May Lin Le Goff
Art by May Lin Le Goff

My personal confession is that as a kid I grew up with her name on my lips and in my mind. Amanda Lepore. Nearly everyday — all the time — there was no escape from the obsession. I wasn’t alone. My friends and I were not alone. There are millions and millions of people who see Lepore for what she is. One word: icon. Tender in voice and full of a broad red eager smile, Amanda Lepore has an excitement in her. You may not know who she is, but you won’t forget her after this. Lepore’s legacy and demeanor will be cast in your imagination in pale oddity. She will scorch a new reflection of beauty and identity. She doesn’t leave; she stays with you. Lepore has that kind of power in presence and personality. She’s cultivated a legion of professionalism through her transformation. There’s a spectacular shroud of mystery around exactly where Lepore came from. That wonderment will remain, as she is a private per-son in regard to the past. She prefers to focus on the now, the next, new-new-new. She’s a Jersey girl, born and raised as a boy in Cedar Grove. Lepore always knew she was a woman and started taking hormones as soon as she could. The surgeries started early on as well.

Amanda Lepore by May Lin Le Goff
Art by May Lin Le Goff

She has made a career for herself as an entertainer, singer, actress, vaudevillian, and mischief. She is New York nightlife; in fact she is nightlife wherever she goes. Mouths agape, adoration adorned, the construction of her body and dress — she is the center. Lepore has been doing this since the late eighties, early nineties, and she’s not anywhere near stopping. She is an originator of self-expression and a champion to anyone who ever felt less than, or different from, uncomfortable, or yearning for more from themselves or out of their bodies. Lepore is a realization that we can be whoever we want to be. And maybe more importantly than that, because of her, we realize we shouldn’t cast doubt on the freaks and terrors of ourselves. In the end the freak show inside each of us makes us who we are. It’s to be celebrated and professed, not shunned or cast out. “I’m not such a blond girl. Except for peroxide.” She laughs. She loves to laugh; when she does it’s like looking into the face of the Centenary Diamond. Everything shines, bigger and better.

Amanda Lepore by May Lin Le Goff
Art by May Lin Le Goff

The light reflects her curves; she absorbs the echo of that glow. I wonder how Lepore has gotten to know herself so well? “Well you can’t put a wish under your pillow,” she remarks coyly. Lepore feeds the notion of herself and when she pivots everything changes, but nothing is out of control. Her transformation was an act of mind over matter in many ways. “I was panicked at first. I never felt like a boy, I needed a vagina as soon as I could. It was the first thing I had done.” The calm euphoria and sublimity of achieving that comfort settled in, her transformation became sculptural after that. Yes — she is transgendered, and she is a woman, but she has also become herself, a whole person in more ways than most of us could possibly imagine. Lepore has taken hold of her life and created herself, her identity, her humanness. The body begets the enterprise she broods. She is an international figure for many people. Queer, gay, straight, questioning, unsure or totally certain — she inspires something more than labels. She is a beacon of equality, that’s what she does. She hosts parties, she entertains troupes of houses filled with smoke and drink, but in the end she wants to love everyone and she wants them to love each other.

Amanda Lepore by May Lin Le Goff
Art by May Lin Le Goff

“It’s got to be the whole thing, head to toe. Becoming yourself is like ordering a coffee. Light and sweet please. But then when the barista hands you your drink you look into the cup and see it’s dark. So you go back up to the counter and ask for more cream and sugar.” She isn’t just looking at her nose, or her breasts, her waist, or her legs. She seeks a balance for her entire life. Lepore breaks many idealistic notions associated with elective surgery. Any form of body modification shouldn’t be about not being good enough. It’s so clear that she loves everyone no matter how they are. She wants to make everyone feel as beautiful as they are. To quote a movie she has a cameo in, “It doesn’t matter what you look like. I mean if you have a hunchback just throw a little glitter on it honey and go dancing.” If someone feels confident about being crazy then they should do more of it. That consideration has taken her to the top.

“A change in appearance. Corrupter, condition, or function. A change in the form or habitat of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. A usually generative change in the structure of a particular body tissue. This process is called metamorphosis.”

She slips into the air around her. Consumed, confounded in the confusion and curiosity of her heady construction and wonderment. Her body consumes its own flesh the way a sculpture does and she traces herself into each garment. She becomes totally fluid in this way; it’s less about labels and more about being a person. She uses her nudity as a way to connect with everyone. There’s no fear, how could there be in such a state of prodigious naturalness? The contradiction of that realization about Lepore amalgamates the reality of her effect on the world she inhabits. With all the change and adjustment she has become herself. Her disposition is inherent as it is in all people trying to understand themselves more. Lepore’s consideration of others is a dream come true. She is an entrepreneur; she is the best kind of diva.

This special collaboration with photographer and visual artist May Lin Le Goff,  was featured in our third print issue.


Photography May Lin Le Goff
Styling Phil Gomez
Makeup Esteban Martinez

Hair Lorenzo Diaz
Photo Assistance Stefany Mohebban
. . .

Posture’s third print issue — The Boss Issue — is now available for purchaseThis 168-page magazine features exclusive interviews with artists, theorists, activists, and nightlife icons. The conversations dive deep into ideas of leadership, success, and organizing in queer/trans/non-binary and WOC communities. This issue also represents a new design direction for Posture, one that reflects the mission and purpose of the publication.

Order your copy today through our online shop: shop.posturemag.com.

POSTURE Sample 03 (1)

 

Efrem Zelony-Mindell
Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Efrem Zelony-Mindell is a painter, curator, and writer. His curatorial endeavors include shows in NYC: n e w f l e s h and Are You Loathsome. He writes about art and photography for DEAR DAVE magazine, VICE, Mossless, L’Oeil de la Photographie, and aCurator. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts.

SHOWHIDE Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Posture Magazine

Posture is a queer-run art and fashion magazine that features the most brilliant and rebellious creators of our time.