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17 July 2007

Whatever happened to ... Lanah Pelley

Hands up those who remember the 1987 film called Eat the Rich, or more obscurely, the 1985 film The Supergrass. Eat the Rich, a comedy that did not quite work, was a comedy, in the English tradition and about the horrors of life under Thatcherism, that had an unusual selling point: the actor(ess) playing the male lead Alex was a recent MTF transsexual. IMDB credits the part to 'Alan Pellay as Lanah Pelley'. The video box image shows Alex as a maternal female feeding the other actors - a scene that is not only not in the film, but has nothing to do with the plot of the film. The Wikipedia article on Eat the Rich, on the other hand mentions only Alan, and says nothing about his sex change.

Alan/Lanah, originally from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, a graduate of London's drag scene, had been a gender-bender punk in the band Spit Like Paint and part of the alternate comedy troop, The Comic Strip in the 1980s, sometimes playing female characters. 'Lana Pelley' played the part of 'Mary' in Supergrass.

In the late 1980s it seems that Lanah was presenting as a completed transsexual, or at least that the press releases that film reviewers get implied or said so. Here is an 80s website called The Blitz Kids which has photographs and publicity material for Lana Pelley, pushing her then new single 'Pistol in Your Pocket' which describes her as 'Alan Pelley, now known as Lanah', and as a transsexual superstar.


I had wondered what had happened to Lanah Pelley. Transsexuals in show biz sometimes lose their careers and disappear completely from view, for example Canary Conn, and I thought that maybe that was what had happened to her. However I have now been pointed in the direction of Al Pillay, (note the surname has now been altered also), a rising performer who is moving from successes in London's West End to a stint in Las Vegas. Al is also from Grimsby, was in Eat The Rich and had a successful single called 'Pistol in Your Pocket'. In fact it is the same person. The bio on Al's web page describes him as 'one time transexual disco diva', but that is all on that topic. In an interview on Positive Nation, the interviewer asks:
What happened to Lana and the sex change?
As far as a sex change operation, it was not even on the menu. Transsexuality for me, was more my protest against a macho, posturing gay world, and my subversion of society’s restrictive gender norms. Some of us have to go right out on a limb and overboard to find out who we are as people.
Such are the realities in show biz!

PS IMDB has a separate entry for Al Pillay, and treats him as a separate person from Alan Pellay.

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