This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

28 June 2009

1969 – a year of much activity

++ = added later.

1969 was the year of the Woodstock and Altamont Music Festivals, of the first US men on the moon and a Soviet probe on Venus, of Richard Nixon as US president, Golda Meir as Israeli PM, Yasser Arafat leader of the PLO, Georges Pompidou as President of France, Gaddafi as president of Libya, Olaf Palme as PM of Sweden and Willy Brandt as Chancellor of West Germany, of escalating troubles in Northern Ireland, of the US forces expanding the Vietnam War into Cambodia, withdrawing the first troops, starting secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese in Paris and the My Lai massacre, of the last Beatles performance and John & Yoko’s bed-in in Montreal, of the FLQ bombings and martial law in Montreal, of the first Concorde test flights, of the Football War between Honduras & El Salvador, of the Manson murders, of the first ATM machine, of the Beijing Metro, of the first Monty Python and Sesame Street series, of the first ARPANET (precursor of the Internet) link.

Stonewall was not the only trans event of interest in 1969. Corbett v Corbett was a legal disaster for trans and intersex persons. The biggest soap-opera of the year was Dawn Langley Hall’s marriage.

Legislation, court rulings & protests

Canada (albeit with an age of consent for anal sex of 21) and West Germany (partially) decriminalize homosexuality,. Similar decriminalizations had been passed in Iceland (1940), Switzerland (1942) Sweden (1944), Surinam (1944), Portugal (1945), Poland (1948), Greece (1951), Thailand (1956), Czechoslovakia (1961), Hungary (1961), Israel (1963), Chad (1967), England & Wales (1967), East Germany (1968), Bulgaria (1968). In the US, only Illinois (1962) has decriminalized homosexuality. It will not achieve nation-wide decriminalization until Lawrence v. Texas which went to the Supreme Court in 2003.

Arthur Corbett applies for an annulment of his marriage to April Ashley and is granted his prayer. The judge, Lord Justice Ormrod, also rules that a person born male is legally male in perpetuity. Corbett v Corbett becomes case law in the UK and in Australia. The correcting of birth certificates for intersex and transgender persons ceases, and such persons lose the legal right to be treated as their new gender – in particular to marry a person of the now opposite gender. This situation will continue in the UK until the Gender Recognition Act of 2004.

The Stonewall Riots.

Persons having already completed transition

British celebrity biographer Dawn Langley Hall, now resident in Charleston, South Carolina, follows up her transition with marriage to a black artist, John-Paul Simmons. Two years later they would have a baby girl. This did not go well with other residents of Charleston.

Reed Erickson sells his family business for $5 million and goes on to amass over $40 million, mainly from investments in oil-rich real estate. Some of this was used to finance the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF) which placed some its money in transsexual research.

Jeanette Schmid, has moved to Vienna, and is now a professional whistler.

Billy Tipton is living with his last wife and three adopted sons. As his arthritis worsened, he quit playing piano a few years later.

Amanda Lear is in London.

Marie-Pierre Pruvot, previously a star at La Carrousel, is studying at Sorbonne University.

Mario Martino, the author of the first FTM autobiography has organized the Labyrinth Foundation Counseling Service in New York.

Terry Rogers is well employed as a ventriloquist and designer of magical tricks.

Terry Noel, previously a performer with The Jewel Box Revue and at the 82 Club, working as a typist, moves to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she would find her husband.

Christine Jorgensen had published her autobiography two years earlier. It is now being turned into a film.

Aleshia Brevard is in her first Hollywood film, The Love God.

---------- and the non-ops -------------

Perry Desmond is running a beauty salon and working as an astrologer in New Orleans.

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf is curator of her Gründerzeit Museum.

Persons starting transition or living full time

Angela Douglas, who would shortly found the Transsexual Action Organization, starts to transition.

Della Aleksander is transitioning. She will go to Dr Burou the next year.

Previously a female impersonator, Liz Lyons was in transition. She would later put out x-rated LPs.

Erik Schinegger the champion female skier, having been told by the International Olympic Committee that he was chromosomally male, starts to transition.

Daniel van Oosterwijck, who will appeal to the European Court in 1980, starts transition.

---------------- and the non-ops ----------------------

Virginia Prince, after a second divorce, has had electrolysis and is taking female hormones again. She starts to live full time as female.

Charlotte Bach is starting to live fulltime as female.

Persons who will transition later

The soon-to-be Paula Grossman is still a music teacher in New Jersey.

The future Joanna Clark is still a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy.

Susanna Valenti is writing for Transvestia, and hosting social events at Casa Susanna.

The future Renée Richards is a New York ophthalmologist and is playing men’s tennis.

The future Leslie Elaine Perez is in prison in Texas, but no longer on death row. After being released she will transition.

The future Carol Riddell is at Lancaster University. She will be in Dr Burou’s clinic at the same time as Jan Morris.

The future Michelle Duff, who had won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1964 at a record average speed, returns to motorcycle racing and wins the Eastern Canadian Championship.

The future Sandy Stone is a recording engineer. She will transition in the mid 1970s.

The soon-to-be Jan Morris has completed her Pax Britannica, the first part of three on the history of the British Empire.

The future Maria Starace is working as an agony aunt.

Persons who never do transition

Bunny Breckinridge opens his San Francisco home as a hippy drop-in.

Vaughn Bodé starts his Deadbone comic strip in Galaxy Magazine, and wins a Hugo as best fanzine artist.

Herman Slater, drag queen and future publisher of the Necronomicon, is crippled with tuberculosis and in convalescence.

Criminals

Ottis Toole, a sometimes transvestite, has left his child bride and is living by prostitution.

Transvestite Jerry Brudos murders four young women. He will die in prison.

Gerard Schaefer avoids the draft because he was a transvestite. He will later become a cop and a murderer. He will be killed by a cellmate.

Female impersonators

Rae Bourbon, aged 75, is convicted in Texas of being an accomplice to murder and sentenced to 99 years. He dies in prison.

The Cockettes are founded.

Minette is working with Avery Willard’s Ava Graph films.

Chris Shaw had moved to Southern Rhodesia, but as the Zimbabwean independence struggle intensifies, he moves to South Africa, and then to Australia.

Michelle DuBarry, adopts that name, and does a first Canadian National Tour.

David Raven and James Court found the Trollettes.

José Sarria is working as a restaurateur at the World Fairs.

Frederick Ashton, the artistic director of the Royal Ballet, does his dame performance in the film Cinderella.

Tommy Dorsey, the future Zen priest, has stopped doing drag shows and is exploring Buddhism at the San Francisco Zen Center.

Danny La Rue appears in a film version of Charley’s Aunt, and did a Royal Command Performance.

Pudgy Roberts, publishes his second novel, Seafood, and appears in Avery Willard’s 6 minute film, Camp Burlesque. He is still editor of the monthly The great female mimics.

Jean Fredericks and Ron Storme organize the first drag balls at the Porchester Hall, which would become a major part of London’s drag scene.

David Alba, at 21, first comes to US national attention for his impersonations, his hairdressing and his cosmetics.

Writers on transsexual issues

Mary Daly acquires tenure at Boston College after demonstrations by the then all-male students. She would later mentor Janice Raymond, and ban male students from her classes.

H Taylor Buckner presents a paper to the American Sociological Association that concludes that heterosexual transvestism is a pathology.

Surgeons and sexologists

Harry Benjamin had published The Transsexual Phenomenon three years earlier, and is considered the world expert on the subject.

John Randell, of the Charing Cross Hospital, is mentioned several times in press reports about the First International Symposium on Gender Identity, and he testifies at the Corbett vs Corbett trial that he ‘considered that the respondent (ie April Ashley) is properly classified as a male homosexual transsexualist'.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Gender Identity Clinic is active at this time. David Reimer had been surgically reassigned two years earlier, and Dawn Langly Hall had her surgery there in 1968. Surgery is done by Howard Jones, endocrinology by Milton Edgerton, and John Money is the director.

The Gender Identity Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto opens for the first time.  ++Betty Steiner, psychiatrist, was appointed as its first head.  ++The first patient to have surgery is Dianna Boileau.

Kurt Freund, the phallometricist, has fled Czechoslovakia after the failed uprising in 1968, and will find employment at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto.

Georges Burou had been doing genital surgery, using his own technique, for 10 years.

In Trinidad, Colorado, Dr Stanley Biber has performed his first male-to-female operation the previous year. He would do thousands of operations before he retires in 2003.

John Brown, the future ‘Butcher Brown’, after twenty years of general practice, is taking a program in plastic surgery. He fails the oral.

Milton Diamond is a new professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawai’i.

++ Richard Green,  with encouragement from Robert Stoller, Green arranged the first transsexual operation at UCLA, only a year after Stoller had retracted his conclusions in the Agnes case.

++ At the First International Symposium on Gender Identity in London arguments arose between the team from Chelsea Women's who regarded transsexuals as a form of intersex, and the team from Charing Cross Hospital who regarded them as having a psychological disorder.

Theatre & Cinema

Rachel Harlow is still riding on her fame from being in The Queen the previous year. She would transition shortly after.

Jack Doroshaw, who made The Queen, is a special advisor on John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy.

The 1969 film, Dinah East, tells of a female film star (Jeremy Stockwell in his first role) who is found to be male-bodied after she dies.

Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis, who had been in the Andy Warhol film, Flesh, the year before, and Holly Woodlawn who would be in Warhol’s Trash in 1970, appear in Curtis’off-Broadway play, Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit.

Edward Wood writes and acts in The Photographer/The Love Feast, a tale of forced femininity.

Francis Francine played the transvestite sheriff in the Andy Warhol western, Lonesome Cowboys.

Divine is in The Diane Linkletter Story and Mondo Trasho.

Luchino Visconti’s La caduta degli dei (The Damned) about Germany in the early 1930s features Helmut Berger doing a Marlene Dietrich impersonation on the night of the Reichstag fire and miscellaneous SA queens in drag on the Night of the Long Knives.

The Japanese drag star, Peter, is in Bara no soretsu (Funeral Parade of Roses), a gender-reversed Oedipus Rex set in a Tokyo drag bar.

Another Japanese drag star, Akihiro Miwa, is in Kuro bara no yakata(Black Rose).

The Magic Christian, written by Terry Southern, has Peter Sellers briefly in nun-drag, but is most memorable for the uncredited Yul Brynner drag scene.

Federico Fellini’s Satyricon, based on the ancient novel by Petronius, has Tanya Lopert as the male Nero and an albino intersex,

The films Myra Breckenridge, The Christine Jorgensen Story are in pre-production.

Music

Lou Reed records ‘Candy Says’, about Candy Darling.

Books

  • Richard Green & John Money (ed). Transsexualism and Sex-Reassignment. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press,. 1969.
  • E. C Crowder, with a forward by Alfredo Rathermann. The Transsexuals. Libertyville, Ill.: Oligarch 192 pp 1969.
A new science fiction writer, James Tiptree Jr, almost wins the coveted Nebula prize. It will not be revealed for another eight years that he is a woman, Alice Sheldon.

Penelope Ashe’s Naked Came the Stranger becomes a runaway best seller. Shortly afterwards it is revealed that Penelope was not a woman, but a team of 19 men and 5 women.

21 June 2009

Joe Tish (1924 - ) female impersonator.

Joe was a well-known drag performer in New York from the early 1950s when he worked at the Moroccan Village on Eighth Street.

In the late 1960s he had a long-running show at the Crazy Horse.

He was refused admission to the Stonewall Tavern when in costume, although he was so admitted at some uptown straight clubs, where his artistry was recognized.

It was to Joe’s apartment that Tammy Novak ran after escaping from a police paddy wagon on the first night of the Stonewall riots.

Joe continued doing drag shows into his seventies, even performing at retirement homes.
  • Martin B Duberman. Stonewall. New York : Dutton, c1993. New York: Plume, 1994: 188,197, 290n.

20 June 2009

Tammy Novak (1951 - ) performer.

Tammy was one of only a few favored patron who were permitted into the Stonewall Tavern in female clothing, having lived with Fat Tony and Chuck Shaheen who ran the place.

She persuaded Sylvia Rivera to come down to the Stonewall on June 28, 1969. During that night’s riot, she was arrested and put in the paddy wagon, but escaped in the confusion, and ran to Joe Tish’s apartment where she holed up for the weekend.

*Not the gynecologist, and not the performer at the 82 Club.
  • Martin B Duberman. Stonewall.  Dutton, 1993.  Plume, 1994: 188,191,192,196,197.
  • Jayne County with Rupert Smith. Man Enough to be a Woman.  Serpent's Tail, 1995: 46.
  • David Carter. Stonewall : the riots that sparked the gay revolution. St. Martin's Press 2004.  Griffin 2005: 75, 149, 293n54.
_________________________________________________________________

Nothing seems to be recorded about what happened to this Tammy after 1969.

16 June 2009

Sylvia Rae Rivera (1951-2002) activist.

Rey Rivera Mendoza, an orphaned New Yorker of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent, lived on and off the streets from age 11. She became Sylvia and was mentored in her early days by Marsha P. Johnson.

Both were prominent participants in the Stonewall Riots, 1969, the iconic origin of Gay Lib. Sylvia was only 17 at that time. She was a founding member of both the New York Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, and helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Marsha for homeless street queens.

She organized with Lee Brewster. At the 1973 Stonewall rally, a feminist leader objected to the trans and drag persons as mocking women. Sylvia and Lee jumped on stage and shouted: “You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!”.

Sylvia fought long against the assimilationist gay leaders and the New York Human Rights Campaign (HRC) who would ignore transgender issues. She fought for homeless queers.

She was also involved with Puerto Rican and black youth activism with the Young Lords and the Black Panthers.

She mentored Chelsea Godwin. She was an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. She was married to a fellow trans woman Julia Murray.

From 1997 she lived at Transy House, the home of Rusty Mae Moore and Chelsea Godwin. She was an alcoholic at this time, but after discussions with Rusty and Chelsea, she went cold turkey.

She renewed her political activism, giving speeches concerning the need for unity among trans persons, and their position at the forefront of the GLBT movement.

In 2000 she went to Italy for the Millennium March, and was acclaimed as the Mother of all gay people.

In 2001 she revived STAR and they fought for the New York City Transgender Rights Bill and for a trans-inclusive New York State Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act. They also agitated for justice for Amanda Milan a trans woman who had been murdered the previous year. She still had to fight with the HRC and the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) who were neglecting trans issues. She was still negotiating with ESPA on her deathbed.

She died, with Julia at her side, of complications from cancer of the liver at age 50.

In her honor: MCC New York's queer youth shelter is called Sylvia's Place; In 2005, the corner of Christopher and Hudson Streets was renamed Rivera Way.  The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is dedicated "to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence".

*Not known to be related to Birdy Rivera.
  • Martin B Duberman. Stonewall. New York : Dutton, 1993. New York: Plume, 1994. xix,330 pp. 1993: 20-24,65-71, 117,122-8, 190-3,195-6,198,201,202-3,235-9, 246,251, 259, 262-5,282.
  • David Isay, with photographs by Harvey Wang. Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics and Other American Heroes. New York : W.W. Norton, 210 pp 1995. Contains a chapter on Sylvia.
  • Leslie Feinberg. Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. Boston: Beacon Press. 147 pp. 1998. Contains a section on Sylvia.
  • David Isay, with a photograph by Harvey Wang. “Sylvia Rivera”. New York Times Magazine. June 27. Online at www.soundportraits.org/in-print/magazine_articles/sylvia_rivera.
  • Michael Bronski. “Sylvia Rivera: 1951-2002: No longer on the back of the bumper”. ZMag. April. 2002. www.zmag.org/Zmag/articles/april02bronski.htm
  • Sylvia Rivera. “Queens in Exile, The Forgotten Ones”. In Joan Nestle, Clare Howell & Riki Wilchins (eds). GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary. Alyson Books 297 pp 2002.
  • Dora Francese (dir). Sylvia, rimembri ancora? Scr: Adi Gianuario, with Sylvia Rivera. Italy 21 mins 2001.
  • “Sylvia Rae Rivera”. Stonewall Veterans. www.stonewallvets.org/Sylvia_Rivera.htm.
  • Victoria I. Muñoz. "Fabulous Resistance: Carmen Miranda, Sylvia Rivera, and Queer Latinidad" National Women's Studies Association Conference. 2005.
EN.WIKIPEDIA   WORKERS WORLD    GLBTQ   



Watch SYLVIA RIVERA TRANS LIFE STORY in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

____________________________________________________________________

Sylvia is, of course, a major character in Duberman's 1993 book on Stonewall.

Of course Charles Kaiser's The Gay Metropolis, 1997, ignores her in his account of Stonewall. His book ignores all trans women. It is a de-transification of gay history.

But what is going on in David Carter's Stonewall, 2004? He does not appear to be transphobic. He tells of transies and drags who are not told of in Duberman's book, and he tells us further details of Marsha P. Johnson not in Duberman's book. So where is Sylvia Rivera in his book? She is not mentioned at all. There is not even a footnote saying that he disagrees with Duberman re Sylvia. Surely if he thinks that Sylvia was not at Stonewall - he is permitted to disagree with what the rest of us think - it behooves him to explain that he thinks that Sylvia was not there, and that every other account of Stonewall (except Kaiser's) is wrong on this point.

Allyson Allante (1955 - ) performer.

Raised in Long Beach, Long Island, New York, Allyson Anderson was 14 when she was at the Stonewall Tavern on June 27, 1969, and apprehended on the first night of the riots.


She took her name from two Lana Turner films: the daughter Allison in Peyton Place, 1957, and Holly Anderson in Madame X, 1966. She became Mrs Allante by marriage. She has been married to men three times.

In more recent years she has been active in the Stonewall Veterans Association, and has been elected Queen and president of the Imperial Queens and Kings of New York.

She was the only real Stonewall transgender person to appear in the 1996 Stonewall film.

In 1997 she was the only trans person to speak before the New York City Council on Domestic Partnership Law.
  • Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. Beacon Press, 1996: 92-3.
  • Jean Marie Stein. “From Stonewall the Rebellion to Stonewall the Movie & All Parts in Between”. Transgender Tapestry. Summer 1997. Online at www.stonewallvets.org/QueenAllyson.htm
StonewallVeterans
______________________________________________________________________

She is not mentioned in either Martin Duberman’s nor David Carter’s book on Stonewall.

15 June 2009

Vaughn Bodé (1941 - 1975) artist.

Vaughn Bodé was born in Syracuse, New York. His father was an unpublished poet and frequently drunk, and his mother worked at General Electric. From the age of five, Vaughn was drawing. At the age of 16 he first drew what would become his major creation, Cheech Wizard.

He served one year in the US army, and then ran away but received a honorable discharge on a psychiatric basis. He married Barbara at 20.

His self-published Das Kampf, 1963, was one of the first underground comics. He was editor of Gothic Blimp Works, the first weekly underground comic in the 1960s. His Deadbone was featured in Galaxy Magazine 1969-71, his Cheech Wizard in National Lampoon 1971-5, and his Junkwaffle comics were published by Last Gasp 1971-4. In 1969 he won a Hugo Award as best fanzine artist, and in 1975 a Yellow Kid Award.

Much graffiti art is based on templates pioneered by Vaughn. He pioneered putting sexual content in comics and cartoons, and inspired others such as Ralph Bakshi.

He was a heterosexual swinger, participating in group sex. He boasted how he had had sex with four women in four different cities in four days. He made Barbara submit to S&M practices such as being locked in a trunk for six hours.

By 1970 his interest in transvestity had developed from looking at pictures to dressing in private. As he continued to desire women, he believed that he must be a unique ‘unisexual’, a forerunner of humans to come. He started wearing female slacks, blouses and boots, grew his nails long, and began carrying a shoulder bag. He was encouraged by fellow cartoonist, Jeff, later Catherine, Jones, to move on to skirts and shaving his body. In 1971 they shared a studio in Woodstock, New York, and did transvestity together.

He met Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) in New York in 1971, and felt that he had received his holiness. He chose to attain full enlightenment by the fast track of using autoerotic asphyxiation to induce mystical experiences.


Barbara was granted a divorce in 1972 on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. He responded by saying that he loved her.

Bodé and Jones continued to dress femme together. He found a female partner with whom he could be submissive. He started a relationship with a male drag performer. He took female hormones for six weeks but stopped because he still wanted his erections.

In his last work, Schizophrenia, he included a confessional running below a collection of Cheech Wizard strips. He describes himself as “auto-sexual, heterosexual homosexual, mano-sexual, sado-sexual, trans-sexual, uni-sexual, omni-sexual..”. In 1974 Vaughn moved to San Francisco. He did lots of drugs. It was said that he was looking for a woman who would kill him, who would sacrifice herself to a life in prison by doing a ritual murder.

He had found god by means of autoerotic asphyxiation successfully four times, but on the fifth, the strap became entangled with some necklaces.

His son Mark, who was twelve when his father died, has continued drawing in the style of his father.
EN.Wikipedia.
____________________________________________________________________

Some online sites describe Vaughn Bodé as homosexual. This is odd as he was obsessively heterosexual. If we use the Kinsey Scale, he would probably be a 1.

Note that he thought that being a heterosexual transvestite made him unique. Many histories of Virginia Prince and her movement exaggerate its importance. In the late 1960s/early 1970s both Vaughn Bodé and Charlotte Bach had not heard of it.

The obvious speculation is how Vaughn Bodé would have moved if he had not died at 33. He may have moved to a Kinsey 3. Would he have restarted hormones? I have known trans persons who also said that erections were too important, but who, a few years later, did complete a transition. However this is but speculation.

Birdy Rivera (194? - ) street queen.

Robert Rivera came from a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx.

While his Jewish father had a male lover, Robert’s parents did not want him around. At age eleven, he became the lover of Joe, a police officer. Joe, who became his legal guardian, insisted that Birdy wear dresses, and also beat him.

Birdy and other gays at school formed a gang, the Commando Queens. They staked a claim to Riker’s, a restaurant at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue, which they took over from the winos.

He was at Stonewall.

*Not the DJ.
*No known relation to Sylvia Rivera

  • David Carter. Stonewall : the riots that sparked the gay revolution. New York : St. Martin's Press 2004. New York: Griffin 2005: 59-60,167,177,179.
  • David Isay & Michael Schirker (producer). “Remembering Stonewall”. Weekend All Things Considered. July 1, 1989. Radio. Partial transcript at: http://queertoday.ning.com/profiles/blogs/remembering-stonewall-40-years.
______________________________________________________________________

In the 1989 radio documentary, Birdy says that he has been cross-dressing all of his life.

Apart from the 1989 documentary, I cannot find anything about him after 1969.

06 June 2009

Edward D. Wood, Jr (1924 - 1978) film-maker, pornographer

++ added later

Ed was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York. After tentative jobs as a cinema usher, and in musical groups, he joined the US Marines at age 17 just after the US entered the Second World War, and served until 1946.


He claimed that he was in combat in the Marshall Islands, Naumea and Tarawa, that he had his front teeth knocked out by a Japanese soldier, and was later machine-gunned in one of his legs. That he was awarded several medals and honorably discharged, and that he had fought in battle with a bra and panties under his uniform. However he completed his service as an office typist.

He also claimed that after discharge he worked in a carnival as the geek and as the half-man-half-woman. He also worked in San Francisco as a female impersonator. His trick at parties was to disappear and reappear en femme, sometimes even shaving off his moustache to do so. Often he used the name, Lily.

In 1950 he worked as a drag stunt double for Ellen Drew in The Baron of Arizona. He had a special thing for angora sweaters, and would borrow one from his then girlfriend, Dolores Fuller (who would later write songs recorded by Elvis Presley). She put up with his cross-dressing for a while, but could not really handle it, and so would not marry him.

In the early fifties he was trying to break into Hollywood as a director. Exploitation producer, George Weiss, was seeking to take advantage of the media fuss surrounding Christine Jorgensen, and Wood talked himself into the film. Jorgensen, quite sensibly, wanted nothing to do with the project, so Wood rewrote the script drawing on his own experiences, and starred himself (under the name of Daniel Davis) and Delores Fuller.  ++As the film was being made, there were newspaper reports in Los Angeles of an admitted transvestite, Arnold Lowman, who was attempting to alter the terms of his divorce.  Wood made an announcement to the press that the film would not be based on that newspaper story. ++ The film was released under various names, but is best known as Glen or Glenda, 1953. It is actually a plea for tolerance of transvestites and transsexuals.

While it is made in the format of psychiatric case studies it does not have the attitude of condemnation common to the genre. However Glen or Glenda is also camp with a surreal narrator, played by Béla Lugosi completely separated from all the other characters and situated in a laboratory with smoking test tubes and human skulls, more suitable to a cheap horror film or exploitation movie, and it includes passionate psychodramas involving sex changes, bondage and flagellation.

In 1955 Ed married Norma McCarthy, but she kicked him out when she found that he was wearing female underwear. The marriage was annulled six months later. He then married Kathy O’Hara who remained his wife until his death.

Bela Lugosi starred again in Wood’s Bride of the Monster, 1955, and then died after shooting only a few seconds for Plan 9 from Outer Space, 1959 (which also features Bunny Breckinridge). It was largely financed by the local Southern Baptist Church, which retained the rights to the film.


Wood’s films were quickly and cheaply made, up to 30 scenes per day as compared to only one in Hollywood A-movies. Retakes were rarely done even when they were obviously needed. Wood’s films rarely made money. Other actors in his stock company included the Swedish wrestler, Tor Johnson, the psychic Criswell and television horror hostess Vampira (Maila Nurmi).

Ed’s wife Kathy reports that that when Ed and Tony Curtis were both at Universal Studios, they would borrow dresses from the wardrobe there and try them on.

Wood expanded the adventures of Glen Marker, the protagonist of the Glen or Glenda, in two of his porno-thrillers: Killer in Drag, 1965, and Death of a Transvestite, 1967, where Glen is doing contract killings to pay for a sex-change, and then, on death row, will tell all if he can die in drag.

His writing of pornography became his major source of income, although he worked with Steven Apostolof in making soft-core films.

In the 1970s he became acquainted with the science fiction writer who would later become Jean Marie Stine. Jean later wrote of his early life.

He died in poverty, of a heart attack, while watching television.

Two years after Wood’s death, he was the winner in the Medved Brothers’ Golden Turkey Awards as the worst director ever. This started his cult, that culminated in the film of his life made by Tim Burton in 1994, and in founding in 1996 of the Church of Ed Wood which has over 3,500 baptized members.

*Not the British Foreign Secretary, nor the Canadian philanthropist.




  • Harry and Michael Medved. The Golden Turkey Awards: the Worst Achievements in Hollywood History. Berkeley Books. 1980:252-61, 308-16. Includes a short but unreliable biography.
  • Michael Copner (dir). On the Trail of Ed Wood. US 1990. A biography of Edward D. Wood Jr, with clips from the films, interviews with cast and crew members, and a tour of his home.
  • Mark Patrick Carducci (dir & scr). Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion. Scr: Lee Harris, with narration by Lee Harris, and interviews with Rudolph Grey, Stephen C. Apostolof, Harry Medved. US 11 mins 1992. A documentary about the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space, that is also a film about Edward D. Wood Jr.
  • Rudolph Grey. Nightmare of Ecstasy: the Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Feral House 380 pp1992. A collage of interviews with friends, colleagues and fellow transvestites.
  • Ted Newsom (dir & scr). Ed Wood: Look Back In Angora. Narration by Gary Owens, with interviews with Stephen C. Apostolof. US 51 mins 1994. A documentary about Ed Wood's life and films with clever re-editing of clips from Wood's films to illustrate his life.
  • Tim Burton (dir). Ed Wood. Scr: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, based on the book, Nightmare of Ecstacy, by Rudolph Grey, with Johnny Depp as Ed wood, Marton Landau as Bela Lugosi, Sarah Jessica Parker as Dolores Fuller, Bill Murray as Bunny Breckinridge. US 127 mins 1994.
  • David C. Hayes and Hayden Davis. Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Ramble House 168 pp 2001.
  • Jean Marie Stine. Ed Wood – The Early Years. Renaissance E Books. 112 pp 2001.
EN.Wikipedia      IMDB     
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Glen or Glenda uses the word “transsexual” the same year that Harry Benjamin is supposed to have coined it.

Glen or Glenda is in effect the first cinematic defence of queer lifestyles, eight years before Basil Dearden's Victim, 1961.

Ed was active in heterosexual transvestite groups in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s. So was Virginia Prince. But neither appears in the books about the other.

Glen or Glenda is not Bela Lugosi’s only drag movie. The year before, 1952, he had gone to England to star against Arthur Lucan in Mother Riley Meets the Vampire.

04 June 2009

Désirée (194? – 196?) housewife.

Désirée became involved with Petey, a freelance gangster who hung around the Stonewall Tavern in Manhattan in the late 1960s. They were both Italian-Americans.

Désirée was a natural beauty who passed as a beautiful woman with no problem. They moved to the suburbs to live as a heterosexual couple, until Petey, in a fit of jealousy, shot and killed Désirée.
  • Martin B Duberman. Stonewall. New York: Dutton, 1993. New York: Plume, 1994: 185-6.

02 June 2009

Sally Mursi (1966 - ) medical student, dancer.

Sayed 'Abd Allah Mursi was raised in Cairo. He was a student at Al-Azhar’s Medical School for Boys in Cairo, one year from graduation, when she transitioned to Sally with surgery in 1988.

Her doctor was Dr Ezzat Ashamallah, a Copt. They were both summoned to the State Prosecuter’s office and investigated for public disorder. However no charges resulted, although Ashamallah was expelled for a time from the Physician’s Syndicate, and they were both featured in almost every Egyptian newspaper and magazine.

Sally approached a sheik, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, then mufti and now Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, and he issued a fatwa that her change was necessary for her health but that before the operation she should for one year dress, behave and comply with all obligations of Islam for women, except for marital obligations. This fatwa was the first Sunni ruling about sex changes.

Sally was refused a transfer to Al-Azhar’s Medical School for Girls, and she has won two legal rulings against the school, but it has ignored them, and also blacklisted her at other medical schools.

She was accused of trying to get out of military service, and was ordered to report for induction into the army. Army doctors examined her, and finding that she was a woman, concluded that Sayed was not medically fit for military service.

Sally worked as belly dancer in nightclubs under the name of Rahma, where she was out as transgender, and this drew the customers, although she had to battle the Ministry of Culture which refused to issue her a dancing permit. Her show was raided twice by the vice squad.

She has completed a degree in literature at Cairo University. She has been married twice to men.
NL.Wikipedia 
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The Transgender Egypt article says that Sally was intersex, and the Egypt Today article implies that she wasn’t. I first went with the former, but then reversed after Jasmine's comment.

Dr Ashamallah says that sex changes have been done in Egypt since 1920, but gives no details.

01 June 2009

Danny La Rue (1927 - 2009) drag star.

Daniel Patrick Carroll was born in Cork. Although Irish, he served in the Royal Navy at the end of the Second World War where he first started doing drag shows.

He had a brief career as an actor of male roles after service in the Navy, but achieved success as Danny La Rue in impersonation. He progressed from repertory theatre to cabaret in London’s West End. He became a star appearing in smart London nightclubs, and in 1964 opened his own club.

He was the most successful drag artiste in Britain, and among Britain’s highest paid performers in the 1960s, although hardly known in the States. His act emphasises that he is a man in drag with giveaway comments, and, in the old tradition, his wig comes off at the end.

More at home in pantomime and revue, La Rue is not really an actor, and his attempts at film, Every Day’s an Holiday, 1965, Charley’s Aunt, 1969, Our Miss Fred, 1972, Come Spy with Me, 1977, have been failures.

He appeared before the Queen in 1969, 1972 and 1978. A notable success was the live version of Hello Dolly, which opened in Birmingham in 1982 and then transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End. This was the first time that Dolly had been played by a man, and also the first time that a man played the female lead in a major musical.

He was awarded an OBE in 2002.

He spent most of his career emphasizing that he was a “normal heterosexual”, but in recent years has been more candid that he was in fact gay. He lived many years with his manager, Jack Hanson, until Jack died of a stroke.

‘La rue’ has been absorbed into Cockney rhyming slang to mean ‘a clue’.

In 2006 he suffered a mild stroke, and he died in 2009 at age 81 after suffering from cancer.
  • Peter Underwood. Life's a drag!: Danny la Rue & the drag scene. London: Frewin 192 pp 1974. London: Star Books 160 pp 1975.
  • “Danny La Rue”. This is Your Life. 18 Apr1984. Thames Television.
  • Danny La Rue & Howard Elson, with a foreword by Donald Sinden. From Drags to Riches: My Autobiography. London: Viking 360 pp 1987. Bath: Chivers 1988. Penguin Books 1988.
  • Jimmy Tarbuck. “Biography” www.dannylarue.com. 2006
  • David de Alba. De Alba on La Rue. http://members.cox.net/portabello/La-rue.htm.