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22 December 2008

Whatever happened to Pussy Katt (1929 - ).

Steve Clayton was born in Dayton, Ohio.

He moved to San Francisco, took the name Pussy Katt, lied about his age and started work as a female impersonator at Finocchio’s.

There was a rumor that Errol Flynn, David Niven and two others had taken Pussy Katt and friends back to a hotel suite at the Fairmont for a night of ‘debauchery’. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons heard this, but couldn’t use it.

Howard Hughes, who had first met Katt when he escorted Ava Gardner to Finocchio’s, returned for another meeting, and then he invited her to his suite at the Fairmont. Hughes had read a book that claimed that ancient Egyptian eunuchs were regarded as better sex objects after castration. In 1945, Hughes flew with Katt to Mexico City where she was castrated and was paid $50,000.

Afterwards he installed her in a villa in the new resort of Acapulco, and repeatedly visited her for almost two years. When he grew bored with her, he gave her enough money to open a local drag club, which flourished for three years before the police closed it down with charges of drugs and prostitution.

Katt was later reported as performing at Madame Arthur’s in Paris.
  • Darwin Porter. Howard Hughes, Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire, The Secret Life of the U.S. Emperor. New York: Blood Moon Productions 2005: 575-7,593-4.
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There is no mention of Steve Clayton/Pussy Katt in Joanne Meyerowitz' How Sex Changed. However she is obviously one of the very early sex changes, 7 years before Christine Jorgensen. Her operation is simply described as a castration, and therefore did not include vaginoplasty. So that is practically the same as Jorgensen had from Dr Hamburger in Copenhagen, except for hormones. One wonders if Katt later did have vaginoplasty and take hormones as they became available in the next decade.

So Katt was 16 when she had her operation. The Gender Clinics that sprang up in later decades would have rejected her on this ground alone.

Katt has certainly kept her head down as regards media exposure. I cannot find anything about her except in Porter's book.

There was nothing about any drag queens or transsexuals in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, 2004, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.

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