Amanda Lepore

Photo Credit: Marco OvandoAmanda Lepore is a name synonymous with glamour in nightclubs and burlesque halls around the world. "The most expensive body on Earth," as she is known, and unofficial ambassador of New York City’s nightlife scene was catapulted into the spotlight after being discovered by visionary photographer David LaChapelle. Breaking into the music scene with ease, Amanda has left a string of hits in her wake – including "My Hair Looks Fierce," "Cotton Candy," "Champagne," and her latest offering "Doin’ It My Way." Amanda continues winning over new fans every day – her recent appearance in a viral video by photographer/director Marco Ovando lip-synching Marina And The Diamond’s hit song "Primadonna" with friends in the New York City nightlife scene prompted Marina herself to exclaim "Oh my god, I died! I love Amanda Lepore so much."

Photo Credit: Marco OvandoPhoto Credit: Marco OvandoThese days, Amanda is still a jet-setter with an upcoming appearance on Here TV’s new reality show titled "Because Of An Earlier Incident," a featured role in Smart Car’s commercial for their Fortwo model airing in a majority of Europe, a stop in Vienna where she wowed crowds at Europe’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser "Life Ball" alongside The Scissor Sisters and as if that weren’t enough, she also served as host for the star-studded GLAAD fundraiser in Manhattan on August 7th. The new show, "Because Of An Earlier Incident," is a reality show shot in a documentary style that highlights NYC’s most intriguing artists as they share their insights, inspiration, creative pursuits, and personal style. It debuts on September 28th promising to be reminiscent of the early 80’s street culture and portray NYC as a place to "play," collaborate, and have fun. 

Always a hit in the high-end fashion world, Amanda served as both muse and actress for Brazilian fashion designer Sergio K’s 2012 Winter Campaign shot by noted American fashion photographer Terry Richardson.  Amanda was also part of the Grand Opening of Sephora’s new 45 East 17th Street store on Friday, August 10th where debuted her new song "Nails Done" alongside DJ Roxy Cottontail.

Cover Art by Scott EwaltWith her over-the-top lifestyle more in demand than ever before, Amanda is a star burning brighter every day. For more information on Amanda be sure to visit www.peacebisquit.com/artists/amanda-lepore and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become an entertainer? For me, it was just an evolution. I started out as a Go-Go dancer and then started hosting in nightclubs. I really enjoyed the go-go dancing because I got to dress up and lots of people would get to see me. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence back then because I was so harassed as a child, so the go-go dancing was good because I didn't have to talk to anyone since I was dancing behind a cage. I could just get up and dance.

Then I did the modeling with David LaChapelle and was asked to go away all the time and host various gigs. I didn't have to do much, but sometimes I would do a balloon act, which was silly. Then Cazwell asked me to do music and I felt better about traveling around the world singing because then I was actually doing something. I really enjoyed the music because I always wanted to be a singer growing up and now I am, I just got a later start to it.

2. Me: I love your music, especially "My Hair Looks Fierce" and "Cotton Candy."

Amanda: Thank you. Those are goodies. So many people request "Cotton Candy" when I go away for a hosting gig.

Me: Well, it has a very catchy beat to it and I like the lyrics.

Amanda: It's a very cute song...about an ex-boyfriend. 

Me: Speaking of your music, last year you released your full length album "I....Amanda Lepore," which features your hit songs "Cotton Candy," "My Hair Looks Fierce," "Champagne" as well as your latest singles "Doin' It My Way" and "Nails Done." What made you want to expand into the world of music? What do enjoy most about recording music? It's just fun to have an outlet for performing. I really like it a lot. The songs are good and people like it. I'm going to keep on doing it as long as people like it.

3. You are the most famous transsexual in the world. I think you are an inspiration for many people out there. When and how did you realize you wanted change genders? What was the feeling you first experienced after making the transition? How do you feel your life has improved from becoming the woman you are now? I definitely felt like a girl as a kid. I actually thought I was a girl and felt like I had a girl's mind. When my parents would cut my hair, I thought they were punishing me. I would see all the girls from the neighborhood get pretty dresses, take ballet lessons, and have dolls and I had no issue with wanting those things too. My father would buy me dolls and just let me be really girly, especially before I went to school, just to keep me happy. My mother was schizophrenic, so I think that took a lot of the pressure off of me. I guess my father was just really worried about so much and would just do anything for me, even if he didn't really want to do it. That kind of helped with it.

When I was younger it was sort of easier than when I moved into more of an adolescent stage when boys would do one thing and girls would do another. Becoming a woman has been a lifelong thing for me, it wasn't just a later in life event.

Photo Credit: Marco OvandoBecoming a woman made me a lot more comfortable in my skin. Before I actually made this a reality, I had a lot of anxiety because, while I was taking the female hormones, I really wanted to the surgery. To me, the surgery represented that I could go on, that there was a future for me. I really got to a point where I didn't want to live anymore because it was so torturous for me. The sex change was the first operation I had. That was the most important thing for me. As I said earlier, it allowed me to be more comfortable and I was finally able to go to the bathroom as a woman and have sex the way I wanted to have sex as a woman. If I didn't have the surgery when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn't be here right now.

Me: I'm glad you did go on and are still here.

Amanda: Yeah, me too. I feel really comfortable now. I still have my ups and downs, but the bottom line is I just want to be happy and comfortable in my own skin, with or without the success I've had. This is like a permanent euphoria!

Me: I think this is a great message to put out there for people who are feeling the same way as you. You're a big inspiration for them.

Amanda: Yeah, especially for the kids. They do get a lot stronger by listening to my story and being around me.

Me: I definitely see that.

Amanda Lepore as "Marilyn Monroe", Photo Credit: David LaChapelle4. You became known on the NYC nightlife scene and were discovered by photographer David LaChapelle. How did this discovery happen? What have you learned from David? It all happened by accident. I didn't have any aspirations to be a model, but he had seen me out and finally asked me to pose for him. When he was about 15, he used to draw these women, usually naked, but the drawings looked a lot like me. So when he saw me, he told me how much I looked like the drawings he used to do, so that is one of the reasons he wanted me to work with him.

He called me one weekend to do a Visionaire Diamond shoot and a fashion editorial on plastic surgery and it was a successful venture together. He would use me all the time for his photo shoots and eventually people told him he had to use someone other than me. Even after we were done, he always did extra photo shoots with me, just for fun. I was like his muse.

Photo Credit: Marco OvandoWe always created a scene together wherever we would go. We one time went to this restaurant opening and he took my dress off of me and hid it and I had to walk around naked the whole night. The restaurant could have gotten upset, but instead, they just embraced what was happening. Women next to me starting taking off their tops and dancing on the tables. The chef made this cake with big breasts on them; all of this was done on the spur of the moment. Then we went to this party at Azzedine Alaia Retrospective in NYC and David met Naomi Campbell there and just left me there to talk to her. She got a little freaked out that I was naked, but everyone then started interviewing me and taking pictures of me. Some of the people there were a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be a huge success. When people asked me what I was doing naked, I just told them the truth, that I was celebrating the female form. Then the art and fashion community embraced me and it turned out to be great publicity for me.

Photo Credit: Marco OvandoThat whole experience really helped bring me out of my shell. I'm very thankful to David for that. I mean, if that didn't bring me out, nothing would. I think because I was able to handle that event so well, I am now able to do anything that is presented before me. If that event didn't happen, I think it would be a lot harder for me to do things.

Me: I think when you have one moment like that; the other moments when are you thrust into the spotlight become a little easier.

Amanda: Yeah. I mean, it was quite overwhelming walking around naked.

Me: Look how well you handled it. Now you have a whole career.

Amanda: Yeah, it's awesome. I certainly owe David a lot.

Me: Do you still keep in touch with him and work together?

Amanda: He doesn't do fashion stuff as much anymore, just here and there. He does more art now. He does continue to involve me when he can. Another great thing about David is that even if I don't hear from him for a long time, when we speak or see each other, it's like no time has gone by. He's really like family to me.

Me: That's definitely the sign of a great person to have in your life.

Amanda: We'll never forget about each other.

Me: You're very lucky to have that relationship with him.

5. You are going to be on Here TV’s "Because Of An Earlier Incident," premiering September 28, which is a reality show shot in a documentary style that highlights NYC’s most intriguing artists as they share their insights, inspiration, creative pursuits, and personal style. What attracted you to this show? I didn't really know much about it, but it seemed really cool and I like that they highlighted alternative people.

6. This past spring you wowed crowds at Europe’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser ‘Life Ball’ alongside The Scissor Sisters and served as host for the star-studded GLAAD fundraiser. Out of all the charities out there, why did you choose to dedicate your time to HIV/AIDS and GLAAD? So many people are affected by HIV/AIDS, I think that it's really important cause to speak about and support.

Amanda Lepore Doll by Jason Wu, Photo Credit: David LaChapelleAmanda Lepore Perfume7. In 2006, Jason Wu, created the Amanda Lepore doll. What did it mean to you to have your very own doll created for you? That was really amazing because not only was it a doll of me, but it was the depth of quality Jason put into it. Jason is so amazing. I was able to make the doll exactly how I wanted it, bigger boobs, bigger behind...hahaha. He even put my perfume in it, so it smelled like me too. It was just a great experience; I'm very proud of that doll. Even if I didn't know me, I think it would still be my favorite doll ever...hahaha.

8. What have you learned about yourself from all of your endeavors? I think that I didn't take anything too seriously, so I think that has helped me stay grounded and true to myself. I didn't let fame get to me.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? To dilate my pussy a lot....hahahaha.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I love looking at pictures and movies of Marilyn Monroe, so I hope to dream of her.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Jewelling me down...hahaha.

12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Yoga.

13. Favorite skin care product? Retin-A and sunscreen.

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To stay made-up permanently with not a hair out of place...hahaha!

Terri Ivens

Tonya Pinkins: Ethel Waters and 54 Below Interview