Andrew Kimber Citino oral history interview

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Andrew Kimber Citino oral history interview

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Andrew Kimber Citino oral history interview
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University of South Florida -- Library. -- Special & Digital Collections. -- Oral History Program

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Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

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Full cataloging of this resource is underway and will replace this temporary record when complete.
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interviewed by Dr. Cyrana Brooks Wyker.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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L34-00010 ( USFLDC DOI )
l34.10 ( USFLDC Handle )

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LGBT Oral History Project

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subfield code a L34-000102 USFLDC DOI0 245 Andrew Kimber Citino oral history interviewh [electronic resource] /c interviewed by Dr. Cyrana Brooks Wyker.500 Full cataloging of this resource is underway and will replace this temporary record when complete.Transcription and timecoding of this interview is underway and will be added when complete. At that time the audio link will be replaced with the OHPi player link (player supporting syncronized audio and full-text transcription).7 655 Oral history.localOnline audio.local710 University of South Florida.b Library.Special & Digital Collections.Oral History Program.1 773 t LGBT Oral History Project4 856 u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?l34.10


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
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text Cyrana Wyker: This is Cyrana Wyker. I am here with Andrew Citino. This interview is part of the Tampa Bay GLBT Oral History Project under my direction. Today is November 11, 2013. Do I have your permission to record this interview?
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Andrew Citino: Yes.
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CW: Okay. So, we will start at the beginning. Where were you born? When were you born? And where did you grow up?
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AC: Okay. I was born in 1968 in Rochester, New York.
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CW: Did you grow up there?
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AC: I did. I lived in Rochester until I was around 27, yeah. And it is not a place I really want to go back to. It wasnt a good place for me.
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CW: So what was your childhood like?
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AC: Actually, growing up was great, two parents, two loving supportive parents. Im the baby of three. Yeah, I have two older brothers. Earlier on in life we lived in, kind of, the city area. My father worked very hard and we landed in suburbia. So that was kind of a culture switch for us at that age, you know, kind of going into middle school. You know, living in the city and then going to the suburbs was kind of strange.
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CW: What was different about it?
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00:01:39.7
AC: I was wearing rock and roll tee shirts and jeans, right, and everybody else was wearing Izod. So it was like this class kind of thing, I think, at that time. But then, of course, I got used to it there real young, you know, but I remember it being tough for a while. So, yeah, I mean, we grew up, family vacations down to Florida to visit grandma every year.
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It is when we moved to suburbia is when, you know, I was younger, 13, that I started to realize that I dig girls, you know. And at that time the only word/label that I could attach that to was, I must be a lesbian. You know, I am female bodied and I like girls a lot. So this is what I must be. I came out at the age of fifteen. I had my first girlfriend. I was in love. And when I told my mother she said, I know.
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Then my mother proceeded to tell the whole family that night at dinner and it blew up. And of course the whole phase, this is a phase thing and all that kind of broke out. But what took precedence after fifteen years old wasnt really an orientation or anything, it was addiction began to seep in, and not only take over my life, but my familys life.
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When one is affected, everyone is affected. And that started very, very early. I remember I just didnt feel right. I never felt right. Even if I was with a woman that was beautiful and everything I wanted, I just never felt right. So at fifteen I was drinking and taking speed or whatever, because that put me to sleep, because I have ADHD and I didnt know it then. You know, shit like that.
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00:04:0.7
But by the time I was twenty-one I had tried some harder drugs and fell in love with them and fell in love with what they did for me. I didnt have to think and I didnt have to feel. Those were two things that were a struggle for me and I didnt quite know why. I just was always in pain and I never felt right.
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So with addiction comes so many things, and for me it was so fierce. I lived on the streets for seventeen years. I mean, that was my home was the streets, that or jail. I spent a lot of time in and out of jail. I did many sentences in jail. Ive done prison time. None of those consequences, whether it be that or getting beat up was enough, wasnt a big enough bottom. It was like nothing was getting through.
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Again, I just didnt feel right and I just wanted to escape. Really, I wanted to die, I just didnt have what it took to take my own life. So I would pray, Okay, I do this, this is going to take me out. There was so many experiences in that. There were a few times guns were to my head and I am begging them, Pull the trigger, please pull the trigger. I wanted to die. And didnt know why. That was kind of a cycle.
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In and out, trying to get clean, going to rehab, in and out. I cant even tell you how many rehabs. So this stretched, you know, from the age of 15 to 35. I moved to Florida in 2002. Addiction still had my ass. I came here because my family was here. My parents had retired here. I had a brother living here, the other brother in Atlanta. And it was really nothing left for me there.
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00:06:17.7
So I moved down here and in 2002 I saw drag kings for the first time. The girls that were all involved, in the drag kings, you know, were like, Oh my god. Youve got to do this. Youve got to try this. It was something that I was totally, No way. I am not getting on no stage. Are you crazy? No. So, in this time between 2002 and 2004, there was periods of sobriety where I would try to get it together and just couldnt.
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00:06:56.9
So, still using. Then finally did give drag a go and I loved it. I loved how I felt when I got off that stage. I loved the audience. I loved it all. I cant say that I was very good the first time I did it, but I had fun. So that was something I was very interested in and wanted to do more of. Addiction still in the way. I had had a warrant, 2004. I turned myself in here in Florida.
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I did my time. I was released, and I think it was about a month after I had gotten out this last time. I met a woman, moved in together, and I hadnt messed up. I wasnt using. And I am sitting there watching TV by myself one day, and I was watching LOGO LOGO is a television channel that airs documentaries that explore different and unusual people ande experiences outside of peoples comfort zones.. It was a documentary on a trans-man, and every word he said (long pause) I felt. And transition for me, it was truly an epiphany for me.
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I mean, one moment sitting there and the next going, Holy shit, I am a dude. Thats whats up! I am a dude. And I had known trans-women in my life. I had been in bars. I knew these people, but for some reason it didnt connect in my mind. Through the cloud of addiction there wasnt much getting through. So when my girlfriend got home that night Im like, We need to talk.
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She was very loving, very accepting, very understanding. And, yes, we split up but it had nothing to do with my transition. Those were other issues thatwhatever. So, from that day on, addiction has not had my ass. They always say addiction is a symptom of something. I had been in therapy so many times, so many counselors, so many this, so many that. I had resolved that this was going to be my life.
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I am going to be a drug addict. I am going to be this not good human being. I had kind of resolved to that many times. So, it is kind of like coming out again. I have family I got to tell. I dont know how they are going to feel. Can we take a break?
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CW: Okay. So we are back again.
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AC: All right. So the next conversation that I needed to have was with my parents about this epiphany. And I remember sitting in their living room explaining as much as I could at that time. You know, all I knew was transgender. Im female bodied but Im a male. Gender is here (points to head) and not there (points to groin). I explained as best I could at that time. My father and I have an amazing relationship.
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We can talk about anything, say anything, and we are always pretty respectful to each other, but we can say anything. He was honest, he didnt quite understand. You know, as long as youre okay, was his stance. My mother is a woman thatshes awesome. She is loving. She has a huge heart. She is one that nothing is ever wrong. Everything is always all right in the world.
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And I knew, being the baby, what she had always wanted. She was going to go through some things, you know, but never really dealt with anything else. Through the years, my father, whether it be online or whatever, has educated himself on transgender issues as well as myself (laughs), check my Facebook page. (phone rings)
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CW: Do you need to get it?
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AC: They get it. Theyre totally accepting. Theyre awesome. And they meet tons of our friends, and they are amazing. I have amazing support there, in Tampa Bay. I was living in Sarasota when I began my transition. I had been performing for two years. I had started to make a name for myself in this drag world that was all new to me. My stage name was 6pak, because of my abs, not because of my drinking. (both laugh)
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00:12:33.0
That was difficult within the community. I know that the community has probably met some trans-men, perhaps. I found that many had never met a trans-man, and I am publicly on stage transitioning, you know, in front of this entire community. Where there is not understanding, sometimes there is judgment, even though trans-women have been known and loved and known about. It was different. I was somehow different.
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00:13:18.2
I was a novelty, so I dont know. You know, it was difficult within the community at first. But the cool thing was, after I was on stage, what happens after that, the mingling with the people, the show-goers. The amount of education I was able to do, in that time, was amazing. This was the platform. I didnt do it on stage. I entertained. It was afterwards, when the thousands of questions would come rushing in.
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And some I wont answer, because it is nobodys business, but that was very cool. So that kind of catapulted me into this activist kind of role. Other trans-men were calling me for guidance or just to talk to. It was like, this person before, who was a menace to society, was becoming, and is now, this pillar of a community. That still overwhelms the shit out of me, you know, it does.
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00:14:46.4
To be described like that by other people, that I am a community leader, justwow. I never thought Id be here, business owner. And since then, this was ten years ago, we are going on ten years ago now, more and more trans-men were coming out, but again, I was the first that many had encountered. I found that many were very accepting and embraced it and were so happy for me, while others generallygay men find the need somehow to remind me of who I really am.
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00:15:44.3
I dont know where this comes from, I dont know what that is, or what that problem is. I identify as a straight man. I am attracted to women. At the time I was performing I was a cute boy, and I got a lot of attention from gay men. Dont get me wrong, I love gay men. They are some of my best friends. Any of those kinds of comments, I mean, one guy came by me one day, You used to be a lesbian, and just kept walking.
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00:16:19.1
What was your purpose? What is that? You know, oh, to put me in my place. To remind me that I am really notwe all know the penis doesnt make the man. I mean, come on. We all know that. So now I am at a place, oh gosh, we are kind of a community center here at 6S Boutique. I dont have all the answers for trans-people, but I know the people that do. I can pass along information and get people help.
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00:17:3.0
I find that trans-people now are where the gay and lesbian community were twenty years ago, thirty years ago. While we are seeing a lot more, there is still a whole lot more that the trans-community deals with. If you are gay or lesbian you dont have to worry about what bathroom you are going in.
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There are certain things that are separate but certainly have to do with equality and discrimination. So those two things are the same, it just plays out differently for each group, I think. The trans community could certainly use more support from the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community as well as the straight allies.
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CW: Well, can we go backyou said between fifteen and thirty-five, you were in addiction. And this was in New York?
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AC: Any state I lived in, I visited their jails. I lived in New York originally. I moved to Virginia for three years and from Virginia I moved here. So the time in Virginia (counts) two and a half of those, that was the longest stretch of sobriety. I moved there with the girl I was with. I was a personal trainer. I had a booming business. I did very well there, but two and a half years into it, that addiction still had my ass.
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I am driving back from Virginia to Rochester, to my neighborhood, to do what I always knew. That fell apart. I went to jail in Virginia for doing bad things, you know, to get the drug. When I was released on probation, they released meFlorida had accepted me, because my parents were here, they knew I was going here. So that is how I got here from Virginia.
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CW: Do you think that your struggles with addiction have something to do with your gender identity, or at that time you had no idea that that could be what it is?
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AC: No, At first, yes. I think it has everything to do with the driving force of the addiction. No, I had no idea nor did any of the damn therapists, you know. You would think one of the therapists would have put it together. However, if I am coming into your office and I am saying I am a lesbian, youre going to take me at that, because I am a female-bodied person. So I cant blame the therapists.
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I just kind of wish somebody would have picked up on it earlier. But then again, your journey is your journey, and there are parts of me that, damn, you know, had I known I wouldnt have gone through all that. Or the experiences young men have, like my father didnt teach me how to shave. Those things, I think about those. But what is important is that I know peace today. I never knew that before. I never knew what peace felt like. It was always chaos and pain, always. I am grateful for that.
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CW: So was this in maybe the 90s?
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AC: Yes. In the 90s. Really, Jesus, started in mid-80s.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: So yeah, it started in the mid-80s, and this is up in Rochester. Yeah. It was 24/7 just trying to find that drug, get that drug, do that drug. Go, go, go.
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CW: Did you ever see or hear of any references to any sort of trans-identity, trans-women, other trans-men?
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AC: Right. The only thing I remember from those times is, unfortunately, the trans-women that were prostitutes. I saw them every day, every night they were out there working. I never heard the word transgender though, you know?
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CW: Mm-hm.
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AC: Other words, but not transgender. So I didnt know. You know, I held no judgment. There was times we would be in jail together. Of course, they are on the male side and Im on the female side, and sometimes you would see each other and we would know each other from the streets. LGBT, we are all LGBT at that time so you kind of knew each other.
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CW: Oh, wow.
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AC: But never heard the word transgender.
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CW: Until seeing the documentary on LOGO?
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AC: To my knowledgeNo, I did hear it. You just triggered a memory. I was doing a show. It was very early on before, between 2002 and 2004. I was doing a show and there was some drag kings from New York City, Mo B. Dick, one of the first, you know, real popular drag kings. We were opening for him. I was getting ready, and I was the first one to figure out how to do an open shirt by way of taping so that I could have an open shirt.
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So I was doing that, and I remember he was tying his shoe. He looked up and he said, Are you trans? And I said, No! I think about that. I think about that. So I knew what she meant by that, because I wasnt identifying, so I had an understanding of what trans was at that point. Yeah, but never for some reasonI was always a dude. I was never feminine. I was never, never, never
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CW: So you said you were doing a show, where were you doing a show at?
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AC: This was called DC Playhouse in Sarasota. Yeah, theyre closed. Theyve been closed a long time. It was a lesbian bar. Here is what changes, too. There was only one lesbian bar after a while that I would continue to work at. It was Chiq Bar in St. Pete, and we had a great two-year run there. It was awesome.
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For some reason, the clientele, the staff, everything had just worked there. It was great. Any other lesbian bar, though, I personally did not do well in. I was an FTM FTM stands for a female-to-male. performer; I am not a drag king anymore. You know, they knew I am a man. They knew Im transitioning. There was a little resistance, so my audience was gay men hands down (laughs).
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Also I saw that drag kings were kind ofwhether they were stuck themselves or an outside force was sticking them where they were, either way they werent moving in the direction queens were and that was the direction I knew I wanted to go. I wanted to perform. I wanted Vegas. I wanted to do this thing.
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So, I purposefully separated myself from drag kings and started to work solely with drag queens, which took a lot of work, because to work with them, you really need to be very good. Theyre just not playing. They dont play. I worked really, really hard, and by working with them, that made me better, because theyre better.
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So I got better, and then I got to the point where I was equal. As an entertainer on that stage I was equal. For some it was great, they loved it, fellow entertainers, queens. Others, I stole thunder and they did not like that. Because I was novel! No one had ever seen what I was presenting.
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No one. And the audience response was overwhelming. If they paid attention for just minute they wouldve seen. The tips tell the tale, as does the audience. If you are paying attention to your audience, you know if youve got them or if you dont. So there was that inside struggle again, but I certainly found many queens that looked for talent, not for another friend of theirs, but looked for talent.
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So I became show director at quite a few places. So I was holding these positions now. I was booking now. I ended up on show cast. This was before all that. My first show cast was at Detour and that is when that place and drag was really popping. We were packing the place Friday, Saturday, Sunday, you know, Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday shows. So things were going well. I had a fall out there with that cast, but I was still able to go and work other places.
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I met my wife (laughs) at Chiq Bar. Where do I want to go with this? How do I even start? It was just after, not just after, but I had broke up with the girl I was with when I realized who I was. And I was scared. Finding someone to sleep with I knew I would not have a problem with. Finding someone to love me was something I was fearful about. I am a dude, but Im a transgendered dude. So, how is this going to go? You know?
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So I met Sasha at Chiq Bar. She came up to the bar one night and she had been to other shows. We had a mutual friend. She approached me. I was blown away. I was blown away by her confidence and her beauty. She had asked me to be her personal trainer because she was going back home to Trinidad for Carnival, no for her grandmothers ninetieth birthday. She wanted to be in shape and look good.
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I hadnt been doing that in years. I couldnt say no, so I was like, Absolutely. But she also added, And Id to spend some time with you. So it was very cool. So the sessions began. I think it took three or four sessions before we kissed, after, because I did the work first. We just trulyI feel we are soul mates. She is amazing.
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We end up moving in together, falling in love. I feel so bad right now because there is a huge part of this story that is so major about Sasha. So we got together like I said. We spent New Years Eve together and then New Years Day morning. We are sitting on the couch. Were at my place. She sits next to me and she says, Ive got to talk to you about something. And my heart sank. I am like, No way.
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I found this amazing girl and shes not into me and she is going to tell me this now and oh my god. You know, right? Freaking out. She knew everything. I am an open book. She knew everything about me, my past, everything. I had not had surgery. I had only been on testosterone for two years at that time. And I had not had my surgery and she knew, you know, thats life changing. It gives you quality of life once that happens, for me, for me.
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And with my background, with my career, there is no saving money, absolutely no way. I had no idea how that was going to happen. So anyways, that morning she sat down, she said, I need to talk to you about something. And Im like, What? Thinking the worst. And she said, Id like to help you with your surgery. And I said, Define help. And she said, Pay for it.
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So, I am Italian and I am a guy and I am feeling like, I do have traditional views and maybe its kind of wrong, but theyre there. And Im like a woman should not be paying forbut I started to cry, and I said, If you were offering me a brand new Jaguar, Id tell you, Hell no right now, but there is no way I can tell you no to this. She said, Oh good, now I can tell you the whole story. And I am like, What? Theres more?
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And she had contacted the surgeon to see if she could pay for it anonymously, without me knowing, because she knew my pride. She knew. And the surgeon told her, We can do that, but if he asks, legally, I have to tell him. Shes like, Then you better wait. March, I was having my surgery. I had my surgery. After that gender marker, name change, everything legal, legally male. In 2008, we got married.
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We went to Vegas to get married. Wed been to Vegas before because for my fortieth, she took me to see Kid Rock, because I was a Kid Rock impersonator. We loved Vegas so we wanted to get married there. It was her mother, her aunt, her best lady, my best man, and my folks for the wedding. It was amazing. We came back and Sasha was looking for work other than the business she was currently working for.
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And we both really wanted Vegas. Me for my performance and, of course, we loved it there and the work came to her. In 2009 we moved to Vegas. It was an experience. Her work was great, she was doing great. We had a beautiful house, huge house for just about what you would pay here. It was that time. My dream was to be in La Cage. Well, La Cage closed and now its Frank Morenos Divas.
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My goal was to get to Frank Moreno, because I had written him about 2,400 times to see if I could get on cast. I knew I was something different. I knew I wasnt a drag queen, I knew all of that. But I thought, If he just saw me, if hed just give me the shot.
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00:33:43.8
When we moved there La Cage had just closed, Morenos wasnt opening for eight weeks or something like that. So the girls from La Cage took the show off the strip to a bar called Goodtimes. So we went out one night to see the show and of course I wanted to see if I could perform one night. I wasnt asking for money. I just wanted to perform, show them what I got. And Jimmy Emerson was the MC MC stands for the Master of Ceremonies, who is the official host of performances. The MC usually presents the performers of the show, speaks to the audience, and also performs as well. .
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He said, Absolutely, come next week and perform. I did, and that night he paid me and asked me to finish it out with them. I worked with the cast just not on that main big stage on the strip. At that time I am thinking, they know Ive got this. They know I have the talent to do this, maybe they can whisper in Franks ear.
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00:34:38.9
Maybe they can talk to Frank. So when the show finally opened at the Imperial Palace, Frank Morenos Divas, of course, we went to see the show. Frank was signing autographs. We go to get the autograph, the T-shirt, whatever, but Im going because I want to talk to him. I want to get to him. So at first I go up to him and Im like, My name is 6pak. Im an FTM entertainer.
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And he looked up and goes, I know exactly who you are. Now, he couldve been schmoozing me. It could have been true. I dont know. To this day, I still dont know. And I said, I would love to work with you. And he said, If I ever decide to go that route, youll be the first one I call.
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Okay, I take my T-shirt that he just signed and I shouldve felt pretty good about that but we get to the top of the escalator, and Im like, Sasha, I have to go back down there. I have to say something else. I felt like I had one more try. This is what I got, you know. What are we going to do? How am I going to re-approach him? What am I going to do? A picture! Lets get a picture with him. So we go back.
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So Sashas taking the picture, and Frank and I are head to head taking the photo, and Im like, How about just an audition? As she is taking the picture, and he is like, I dont have to audition you. I know what you can do. And if I decide to go there, I will call you. And I knew that wasnt going to happen. Thats not what that show is. I understand that. Much like Ru Pauls drag show. That is men that transform into women. I get it.
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I get the appeal. I get the art to that all. So I understand that. But I do believe that if Frank Moreno had given me that chance, the audience would have been accepting. Audiences love something new, something different, something theyve never seen before. In my mind I think it would have worked, but I still understand the premise. I was coming to terms with, This is really not going to happen, all right.
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However, once youve been in Vegas and you come back home, then youre something or whatever. You know what I mean, something like that. So we had been tossing around the idea of coming back home in one year rather than the two years we had originally planned. In February 2010, my wifes best friend came out for her third visit. I was doing a pageant. I was going to nationals.
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And we had talked about going skiing, and I was like, No, we cant go skiing, because I cant get hurt. Ive got a pageant to do. So, okay, Well go up to Mount Charleston. Well just go sledding and well have a good time. So Mary Lynn was her name, Sashas best friend. She brought along a friend as well. It was me and three girls. Its fine. So we went up to Mount Charleston to go sledding.
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I was the first down the hill and I hit this ice patch. I hit the tree on my thigh. I mean, it hurt. I thought something was broke. Theyre laughing having a good time. Two are at the top of the hill, dont even know what happened, the one is down here, they are laughing at that. You know, they are having a great time. Im like, I am not going be the bummer here. They are having a great time, Just suck it up, Andy, go sit in the car.
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So I told them, Im going to go sit in the car. It hurts, but Im okay. Just have fun. Whatever. Somebody stand by this tree. Its dangerous. I was in the car and I was talking to my best friend on the phone. (pause) Sasha popped up over the snow bank because you couldnt really see, screaming to call 9-1-1. Im like, Dude, I got to go. I hang up the phone. I call 9-1-1. Now, Im hurt too.
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So Im running, with the phone, calling 9-1-1. Her best friend, Mary Lynn, hit the same tree head on, died instantly. I run over there and there is blood in the snow. Im looking at my wife, freaking out, her friend, you know. And that changed us, forever. Our lives literally changed that day. The pageantwe were there so we had to handle and take care of everything. Of course, her brother had to okay everything, a family member. With the coroner and cremation and all of that.
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And the cremation was taking longer than expected and it was on the same date that the pageant was that we were going to get her remains and be able to take her home. I called. They were great. The pageant system was great with me, supportive. We had to take her home. You know how families get when people die. They get crazy.
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Some families get crazy. They say stupid things. Her brother was the guy that was supposed to take care of everything. Lets just say he is unable to do so, for whatever reasons and he wasnt the kindest man. He wouldnt even do the reading. I did the reading. A spark went out in me.
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I had already been thinking about my dream of this entertainment thing. But I knew that Mary Lynn would want me to continue. But when I got on stage after that, I had done it so many times I could put it on, but I wasnt feeling it. There was no fire in me anymore. December, this December will be three years Ive retired from the stage. And I truly dont miss it. I dont miss the stage. I am glad I bowed out when I did.
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I left working at Georgies Alibi with the greatest cast I had ever worked with before. That was okay, and then to transition from that into this business that we have today was spectacular because it kept us very connected to the community and really still involved with drag and activism. I used to ride jet skis all the time. I will not get on one, and that is still today. I am very fearful now.
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It is like I can see every potential danger around me now. I certainly dont take much for granted. So that was huge. We did move back and we opened on February 20th the very next year from the death, on the anniversary. It really gives us a happy time. Its bittersweet. I wish she couldve been here to see it, but anyway. So that was life changing.
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CW: Okay. So we are back again after our break. One of the things that came to my mind to ask you is, when you did decide to transition, you were in Sarasota at the time, right?
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AC: Yes.
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CW: Were there any organizations or groups in this area, in the central Florida area, that you could
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AC: Support groups? There may have been. I know there is now. There may have been then. I was fortunate enough to have two trans-men in my life that were further along in their transition. Well, one was and one was a researcher of researchers. So they were my go-to guys and I got pretty much all my information from them as to, what do I do? How do I do this sort of thing? There may have been. I wasnt looking for it at that time. I sought out a therapist.
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CW: How did you meet the two trans-men that helped you?
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AC: One was my best man, so we had been friends. The other was a friend of mine that I met through performing as well. He performed once in a while, but he was a professional. He was an accountant. So that is how I met him, was through doing drag and performing.
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CW: And you said you sought out a therapist, was it easy to find a therapist at that time?
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AC: I had seen this particular therapist for other issues in the past. She is LGBT-friendly. I dont know if, prior to me, shed ever had a trans-patient, a client, but she looked up what she needed to do because they need to write a letter that furthers your transition along. Letter from the therapist goes to the doctor. Then the doctor can write the prescription for testosterone. Not everyone takes hormones though, too.
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For gender marker change, you need a letter from your, now therapist, its psychiatrist or medical doctor to have your gender marker change. At the time I transitioned and changed my gender, it was you had to have SRS surgery, sex reassignment surgery. What was happening at that time, guys, female-to-males, generally the majority, its top surgery because the lower isnt really a great, viable option for us.
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So most dont do it, but some do. We would get our letters after just our top surgery. The women, however, their surgeons werent giving them their letter unless they had their lower surgeries, which is thousands and thousands of dollars. And you know what? Not everybody wants that surgery.
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Through the hard work of Trans*Action Florida Trans*Action Florida is an organization that dedicates themselves to educating and advocating on behalf of the transgender community. They are partners with Equality Florida and their work to support and encourage equal human rights policies within the State of Florida. that is here today, the state wide organization, they worked with the Florida DMV to change its policy in 2010 stating that all you need is the letter. Gender identity dysphoria, I think, is the words they are using now. No longer is surgery a prerequisite to change your gender marker. Name change, anybody can do that, it just costs money. It just costs you money to do.
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That organization, and what is very cool about that is, when I had started my transition, I was very public like I said, many videos, YouTube videos, did that whole thing and of course out in public. The executive director, Michael Keeffe, he is one of the guys that called me that wanted to sit and talk, and just talk because he didnt have too many people to talk to at that time.
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I was further along. And I can so visualize that first meeting and who would have thought? I can honestly say Michael Keeffe is my best friend and he is one of the greatest human beings I have ever met in my life. He is incredible. Now I see him just about every day. Thank god, thank god. He has done amazing work. So we did, Sasha and myself, did some fundraising events for them initially. I think it was for the first three years, three or four.
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Weve done three or four. Putting on events to raise money for the organization, which has been very difficult, very, very difficult. Still the issues arent known. I dont think people really understand the assistance that is needed for so many trans-people. And Im not talking about just going to have their surgery. I mean, just to see the doctor or you know, have a resource or an organization advocating for you on many different levels.
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I mean, theyve worked with school systems, with the jails, with health care, homeless shelters. Theyve done so much where now the gender you are presenting in some of the shelters, you can then be on the correct side. Theyve done amazing work. We are huge supporters of Trans*Action Florida and we work closely with them but we are not part of them. Im not a board member or anything like that. Just a huge supporter, but everybody thinks I am, which is cool. Fine, come to me and I will direct you there.
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CW: You earlier on made the distinction between performing as a drag king and performing as FTM? Can we talk about your performances as a drag king first, and then we will go on. So where all did you perform as a drag king?
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AC: All over the country. Oh wait, drag king. That was the first two years, all over Florida, all over Florida. Drag king, I say, because I was still identifying as female so that is what it was. Theres other drag kings that were transitioning and some of them would say to me, Dont say it. It will hurt your career. Just keep it as drag king, keep this female person that transitions herself into him.
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That is not who I am, I am not going to live that lie. You know, I am not for the sake of performance or getting a booking. Some did do that at that time because, I mean, I have been told, You took your surgery too far. Yes, and this is the drag industry telling me this, the drag industry telling me this. It is just crazy, just crazy.
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CW: So was there a group of drag kings? Was therelike how many people would you say? A dozen drag kings performing around this time?
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AC: At that time?
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CW: Yeah.
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AC: At that time there was a lot of drag kings.
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CW: Really?
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AC: Oh yeah. Yeah. There was a drag king boom time. Now it is kind of going down. Yeah, there was a lot. And the thing is: pretty much, if you know how to use the right make up and do the right thing, anybody can be a cute boy, if youre a girl, or a hot woman, if youre a guy. With the right make up you can do that. You could create that illusion. The hard part is being a performer. And that was lacking on the king side.
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Still does. There are some amazing ones out there, few and far between right now, but some amazing ones, kings. These are females. Landon Cider, amazing. I would look him up. He is amazing. And she is a beautiful woman. At that time it was drag king troupes A troupe is a group of entertainers that tour together to different venues for performances.. You would have like a troupe. It is hard to pay a troupe. It is hard to make money as a troupe and all of that.
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Women are a little different and think differently, and when theyre in groups and its ego. Because there is sense of ego, I guess it is the same for queens, but it can get catty. That wasnt me. I wanted to do my thing. I noticed I had charisma. I had charisma, and I could perform and I could tell a story. I could bring that audience in.
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To be able to form something and look out and see the audience crying with you, because you are telling a story, is so powerful and so moving. And fortunate. I am fortunate I was able to do that. I was fortunate to be good at it. And I loved it. I loved it while I was doing it. Dont get me wrong. There were times it was pain in the butt and so many challenges, but the good definitely out weighed the bad. Totally.
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CW: What kind of challenges?
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AC: The challenges within.  Trying to get work, trying to stay on that stage, get on that stage. Simply, because I am not a queen, there was many stages that people wouldnt put me on. Many right here in Florida. I have never worked in Orlando. Ever. Ever, ever worked in Orlando. Its a mindset. And yes, drag is huge. Everybody wants to see drag. Straightit doesnt matter. They love it. I do, too. I love drag.
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We go to many, many drag shows.  I love drag. But I also like variety. I just like entertainment. If you are good, if you can entertain me, thats awesome. They werent seeing that. They werent seeing the potential of having something very unique. I could have been a selling point, but they wont. When you have ego. It wasnt like I wanted to be that selling point. No, but make me that. Drum up the interest.
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The challenge was with many queens in the area and them not giving me the opportunity or the chance, many of them, regardless of what the audience did. And I would, early on for myself, so I knew I wasnt crazy, I would have one of my friends film me, one of my friends film the audience, simultaneously. And do that for the queens too. Many, many, many times, guess who made the most money?
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You know, guess who the crowd was loudest for. I did thisagain, yes I was good, but I was also something different. The queens were good too. I am not saying they were bad. They were very good. It was, We got the corner on this market. This is our market.
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CW: Huh. That is interesting.
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AC: Yes. It was interesting. Yeah, there were many nights that I was hurt or angry. But I kept on. I kept on and I made a living. I made it. I made a living.
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CW: So you were able to perform with some drag queens, right?
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AC: Some, yes, many, many. Its the people in position to book the entertainment. Some did. Many didnt.
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CW: So where all did you perform with queens?
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AC: As far as Florida?
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CW: Um-hm.
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AC: Jesus, every bar in Florida. Orlando was pretty much the only city not
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CW: Really?
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AC: Jacksonville, Gainesville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Tampa, St. Pete. You know, all the bars around here. When I moved back from VegasWhen I moved to Vegas, get this: I had tried to work at Georgies Alibi for years. I wanted to work there for years, nothing, nothing, nothing. I moved to Vegas. Guess who calls me? Georgies Alibi.
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And Im like, Oh my god, Im honored. Thank you. But I am in Vegas now. So when I move back though, I called, Im back, this, that, and the other. I think it was within a couple weeks, what I thought was, they were just adding me to an already existing show. No, they created this whole new show. So that night that we were all thereIt was Cory Stephens, myself, whatever, there was a lot of us. We all didnt know.
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We all thought it was our first night new on this cast. We didnt know we were all a new cast until later on. It was cool. There were those who paid attention to the business side. Those who paid attention to the ego side would not book me. Those that paid attention to the business, did. That is the best way I can put it.
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CW: And then you said that you were a director of some shows?
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AC: Yeah.
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CW: What all goes into that?
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AC: Just booking
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CW: Just like
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AC: Making sure they are there on time. Letting them know what time to be there, how many numbers they are doing, what type of numbers, what the crowds like, that kind of thing. You usually, by that time, you know who to book for what show.
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CW: Right, okay.
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AC: Who will work for where. Yeah. I did a Sunday tea dance in Sarasota at a place called Eska. It is closed now. An upscale restaurant. It was awesome. That is where our reception was actually. We did a Sunday tea dance there. That went on for a while. It was beautiful. I was show director there. So, I just, you know, book the great entertainment, get the budget from the company, work with the budget.
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The biggest gig I ever got, it was an event company. I cant remember the name. They called and they were looking for a celebrity impersonation show for Saab, their global operators conference. It was at Clearwater on the beach, whatever hotel, I dont know, there is probably plenty. But one of them on the beach, it was to be on the beach. And I am on the phone and I am discussing, Okay, how many would you like for this?
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And I am telling her who I have, Ive got Grace Jones. Ive got Madonna. Ive got Kid Rock. Ive got didda-da-da. Just going through all of them. I said, Okay, so what is your budget for this show? She said, twenty-seven hundred dollars. And I said, Yeah, I think I can work that out. Inside Im going, Oh my god! This is the first biggie, you know, oh my gosh. That was amazing. That was a very amazing show.
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That was the biggest one. I did that, Lounge 714 in Ybor when that was around.  If a show director didnt work out at this particular place. They got rid of her and they called me, which that was a very surprising thing to me that they called me. I was working with Emon (?) who is a very popular entertainer here.
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We worked closely together for a couple of years. When they called me and not Emon, it was surprising. I was blown away by that. Like, wow. Emon could do the job too. I was like, Wow, that is really cool. And then they shut down as that happens.
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CW: Wait, 9-7-1
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AC: 714.
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CW: 714.
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AC: Lounge 714. What is there now? There is something there now. It is right on the corner of 7th and 14th, right? It is the corner bar there.
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CW: What other places did you perform and or direct shows in Tampa?
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AC: Direct in Tampa, just the Lounge 714. But Ive performed at Honey Pot, Gbar, Flirt, when Flirt was around. What was the other one? Chambers. Not Chambers, Ive never worked at Chambers, that wasnt it. What was the girls bar? It starts with a C, right?
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CW: Um.
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AC: Back then. I cant remember the name of that. But then Darlene took it and it was Flirt or something like that.
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CW: I remember Flirt.
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AC: Yeah.
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CW: But I dont remember any before Flirt.
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AC: Flirt was cool (CW laughs). Darlene hooked me up. Darlene was very good to me.
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CW: So why not Chambers? You said you never worked at Chambers.
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AC: Never worked at Chambers. There was a certain group of performers (cell phone ringing)
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CW: Do you need to
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AC: No. In Tampa, that was the group that allowed ego rather than business.
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CW: I see.
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AC: In my opinion. Now, I have worked with those girls but it has been outside of their home, outside of their realm. Weve worked together elsewhere.
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CW: So there is like a territory to it?
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AC: Oh, yeah.
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CW: Oh. Huh.
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AC: Yeah. Yeah. (both laugh)
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CW: Thats fascinating.
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AC: Its a very interesting industry. It really is. If you dont have a thick skin youre never going to make it in it. It is what it is. Show-goers go and all they see is the glitz and the glam onstage. Thats it. That is all they are supposed to see.
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CW: Right.
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AC: Just let them see that, you know. But what happens in dressing rooms and trying to get work, and everybody trying to get the same job, and this and that. It gets
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CW: Really?
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AC: Yeah, drag is big business. If it wasnt we wouldnt be here. 6S Boutique wouldnt be here three years later, because really 60 percent of our business is LGBT.
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CW: So what goes on back stage?
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AC: (laughs)
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CW: Can you think of any interesting, funny
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AC: I am trying to think of some good fun stories. There definitely is a lot of fun that happens. That is where the real fun happens for the entertainers. Many times it is in the dressing room. The laughs, and you know, little digs. Not getting nasty with each other. You know, just the little funny things that happen. One person ends up getting very drunk one night and starts dancing and just fun stuff like that. Im not going to get into the nasty stuff.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: There are things that happen. People say things to people that II worked for one show director, and I feel guilty now, because I think about this a lot. This was my first time on cast somewhere so you kind of want to keep your mouth shut and just do your job, sort of thing. But this show director would throw the n word around like it was nothing even when there was African American performers in there.
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And at this time no one would say anything and I feel bad that I didnt. I keep going back to that thinking, Damn it, man, your booking wasnt as important as saying something about that. But that is who this person is, was, and it is funny because everybody knows it. Everybody has worked with this person. You know, and she still gets work.
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CW: Wow.
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AC: Yeah. It is strange how people holdin my opinion, if you are an entertainer, if you are a performer and you are on stage, in this LGBT community, you have a certain responsibility in what you use your voice for and what you say. You can be funny. You can push an envelope.
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But I think that because there are straight people going to these shows and some things that are said. Ill give you a for instance. A straight woman came in the other day to our store. She said something like, This looks like a tranny store. How did this straight woman know that word? How?
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CW: Yeah.
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AC: She must have been to drag show.
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CW: Right.
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AC: Now, there are people that are perfectly okay with that word. Those people you will generally find in the drag industry, which is a very small percentage of the trans-community.
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CW: Right.
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AC: And they will fight tooth and nail about owning this word, having this word, and using this word, but if they are ever called that by someone else, then its an issue. I have big issues with that word. That word does not belong in this space, it does not belong anywhere but it will not be in this store. So when she said that I said, You mean, transgender women?
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You know, trying to correct, but I was just at a show this weekend where it is being done. This is what people are hearing. For me there is some responsibility with that. If you are a guy, if you are biological male that does drag, I get some of the jokes you could tell on stage or some of the things you could say.
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If you are a transgender woman that is on that stage that is an entertainerhow do I say this? Youre not helping the cause by using yourself as the butt of a joke in how you do it. You can say things that are funny but you can also say them in a way that helps people understand.
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CW: Right.
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AC: You cant tell someone you cant have a microphone. I think there are some very good things that come out of some of the MCs to the community and to straight people and then I think there is some not so good stuff that is said and projected on stage, which gives people not a clear understanding or a skewed understanding.
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So I think with a voice comes responsibility but others will say, No, that is just entertainment. Yeah, it is. So I kind of relate it to hip hop artists that use the n word in their music they stand up for. They fight for the use of this word and all this. Yes, but, this is not a kind word in any way.
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Yeah, tranny is the new word that is out there. I know a lot of people that that word offends, a lot. But they dont see itfor some reason theyre not getting the connection to, okay, that is equal to faggot. Because its the drag community really embraces that word.
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CW: Right.
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AC: I know all things are in context. I get it. It could be used, Girl, thats tranny. That could be used as a compliment. You know, by some people, they feel thats giving a compliment. I just hope they can find a way to rephrase in the future, that word.
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CW: Do you feel that the drag community is supportive of the transgendered community?
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AC: Yes. It is funny. You will hear the boy queens bitch about the titty queens, which theyre meaning the transgender entertainers. And then some of the trans-people will bitch about the boy queens. I think some of the boy queens take issue because theyve had, you know, the girls have had these surgeries and they look like this, that, and the other.
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Again, going back tomost people dont care what you look like, but if you can entertain them that is what is important. You know, she is still a performer. She was a performer before she transitioned. She is still a performer. So, I dont know. But that is all ego, jealousy, that kind of stuff. You have to have some level of ego to get on stage. It is just how to keep that in check for yourself.
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CW: Interesting. So youve said that you performed as Kid Rock before.
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AC: Yeah, that was my main character.
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CW: What other characters did you do?
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AC: Sinatra, and towards the end I started doing Bret Michaels.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: Yeah, but Kid Rock was my main one. Theres one picture (points to the photo on the wall). And its not that good, but yeah I had him pretty spot on. I love Kid Rock.
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CW: So how do you choose these characters? Who do you decide to perform as?
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AC: It wasnt always as that. Of course you just do regular entertaining numbers, but I learned, too, early on, that if you had a celebrity that you can impersonate, there is more value. There is more booking. You can get booked at straight places that like the celebrity impersonation. Most drag entertainers love working at straight venues.
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CW: Really?
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AC: Straight venues love it. They eat it up. You know, the LGBT community theyve seen it so many, many times. Yes, they love it, but the straight show-goers, they are the best. They are the best.
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CW: Interesting.
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AC: So yeah, I found value in that. The more characters you can do, the more bookable you are. So there is an extreme. I can do a show for sixty and up, doing Sinatra and other things. And then I can do the younger show. I can pull out Eminem. I can pull out Kid Rock. You know, I really paid attention and know that you have to be versatile.
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CW: To ask you really quick about your transition. Do you feel likeI dont know how to phrase this. This area or central Florida in general, has been sort of accepting or embracing of the trans-community? Or do you find that there is a lot of discrimination in this area?
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AC: Thats funny.
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CW: I know its kind of a misshapen question.
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AC: I get where you are going. There is a huge amount. The trans-community here is large in central Florida. Large. There is a lot of trans-people. So I think when you have that many, there is more opportunity for discrimination. Another thing it is hard to tell because not a lot of trans-people will come forward. So it is really hard to get real numbers and stuff. It does happen. I have seen it getting better.
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That is what I am witnessing, thats what I am seeing. I am seeing it get a lot better. Pinellas County just passed gender identity for their HRO (Human Rights Ordinance). That was something that we got left behind in 2007. That was an amazing thing to be a part of because we went and spoke. My wife even spoke, you know, to the county commissioners. It was great. And then it passed 6 to 1.
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That is a change and that is county wide. So restaurants, hotels, they cant kick you out because you are trans. The discrimination happens mostly to the women. Trans-men once we have transitioned, we are given privilege. We dont ask for it. We are given it. Now we are a man. And trust me, that is very, very real. When we changed my gender on our car insurance it went down.
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When I went to the hospital to see my father, my mother was standing right there, his wife. The doctor came in to talk and tell us what he had gone through, everything. The doctor is talking to me, not my mother. I bought carpet the other day. My wife set it all up. She is thewhat is funny is, she still has her job because the business doesnt support us, personally, yet. Sasha does very well. She is the money maker, not me, by any stretch.
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This man called me to ask me, Was it okay for her to make these decisions? I was like stuck on the phone; Im like, Absolutely. That is what I said. There is a privilege bestowed upon on us. We are lucky. Unless we tell you, you dont know. We can walk through life and nobody knows unless of course something medical happens, or illegal and we go to jail.
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Trans-women, however, in feminization there is so much more and all of them, all of them, just want to blend in and just live their life. And for many, regardless of the surgeries sometimes people just know you were born male. You know. And people are ugly about that. Ive seen it. I witnessed it. I hear it every single day in here, what these girls go through.
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The finger pointing, the laughing, the outright disrespect that, yes, because its, to society, visible.   To society, I am what society thinks a man should look like. What? Or in their eyes they dont look like what a woman should look like. In all honesty, trans-women face more discrimination. This is my opinion, I dont have numbers on this, but I bet there are, far more discrimination than trans-men.
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Now in workplace and things like that, trans is trans. I mean, I dont know because HR has got to know. Somebody has got to know. So it might be equal on that end. Just walking through society, just walking through life, you know. There are some trans-women that transition and you would never know unless they said to you, but many unfortunately whether it be the Adams apple or some tell.
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It shouldnt matter. She is still a woman, treat her as such. You know? But society isnt there yet, but we are going in the right direction. I think we are witnessing history right now, in our lives, this whole community. There is more work to do, I do believe, on the trans side. Marriage equality is huge. Thats going to happen. I have no doubt thats going to happen. It is going to happen.
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CW: What is the sense of community within the trans-community? How does that sort of take place or develop?
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AC: I guess I am not understanding.
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CW: I guess I just mean, like, for example, do you feel that the trans-community is included in this larger umbrella GLBT, LGBT and however many other letters
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AC: Q whatever.
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CW: that have been added on. Or do you feel that there is a separateness?
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AC: There is a separateness, I believe, on the large scale. Some of it comes from the LGB, some of it comes from the T. Some T want to separate from the LGB. How do I answer this? There is a separation. There is a
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CW: My train of thought in asking that question, is that after the transition for trans-women or trans-men, is there still, sort of, aspects of daily life or groups that people come together for, or it is sort of, okay you transition and then go on to do whatever.
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AC: Understood, I got you. Some do. Some trans-people live stealth. And to me stealth equals, in the closet.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: That is my opinion of stealth, meaning youre not really part of the community. Youre not out. Youre just living your life as a man or as a woman, whoever you are, and thats not talked about. Thats not revealed. Youre not a part of it, not with it, separate. There are quite a few that I know that are stealth people that just dont want to be a part of it.
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I would love to have been born a boy with a penis. Yes, me too, but Im not and I never will be that. So, this is who I am, so I kind of struggle with that. I feel that they are not embracing really who they are. Im not saying youve got to tell your butcher that you are trans, but no matter how you come around it you are still trans. When it comes right down to it.
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You get in trouble and you go to jail, guess what? You are trans and you are going to be treated as such. Not as the dude, you know, or whatever. So there is some separation of the T from the T that want to live and not be a part of, and just live their lives, which you can do in your truth. You can still do that. There is some discourse between the LGB and the T within the community. I think both sides are to blame.
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Trans-people who have taken a lot of shit and gone through a lot of shit tend to be defensive and so youre not going to be approachable. If someone is meeting you for the first time, theyre going to think, I dont want to be around her. I dont want to be around that tranny. You know what I mean? They will take that kind of attitude, rather than think it through. Wow, what has this person been through?
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Let me go buy them a drink or sit and talk with them. So it is two-sided. Now take down your defenses. Yes, on the trans side of things, weve encountered all kinds of crap but there is still wonderful people out here and so youve got to open yourself up to that. And not close to everybody just because of your experiences.  It is not as harmonious as I would like it to be.
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Theres not as much unity as I would like to see, but from ten years ago its definitely gotten a lot better, a lot better. It also seems like within this community it is who is transitioning. If it is the right person its okay. I dont know, its just kind of crazy. I dont know. There is support and there is a lot support, and I have found a lot of support. Again, trans-women have it worse.
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CW: Um-hm.
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AC: Yeah.
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CW: You had said earlier when we were talking about your transition, you were saying about the letter from the doctor. Are there any other differences in your lifetime, how the process of transitioning has maybe changed?
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AC: Not that I am aware of.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: Not that I am aware of. Michael Keeffe would be the guy.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: Probably who would know that.
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CW: Those types of
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AC: Yep.
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CW: Cool. Well lets talk a little bit about the store.
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AC: All right. Cool.
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CW: I know you told me the exact year, but I am horrible at math so how long have you been open?
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AC: Three years. February 20th will be three years. Being an entertainerwe knew we were going to open a business. We knew that before we even left for Vegas, we knew. But at that time we were looking at a club or a bar. That thought process didnt last too long though because once we really thought it through we were like, Hell, no. No, no, no. So, in thinking more I was like, A drag store would be amazing.
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Everything they need in one place, so they arent going everywhere to find their stuff. And also comfort and safe, and not being looked at crazy and all that kind of stuff. I wasnt a drag queen so I didnt know everything they used and all the shit they need. So for a couple years before we opened I would be in the dressing room going, Hey so and so, what is that? What are you using that for?
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You know, and I would ask questions or I would email and be like, Do you use this kind, or do you use this kind? You know, trying to get the information and learning what we would need here. And quietly, because once it was said it would be all over the place. We were trying to keep it quiet. So we figured all that out. The services that we offer: custom rhinestoning, of course we can bling anything, so we do a lot of ballroom work for ballroom and pageants, the little kid pageants.
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CW: Really?
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AC: Oh yeah. We get pageant moms in here, oh yeah, because we sell the rhinestones, all the makeup. The makeup is for TV, stage, and film. It is amazing. And we sell the bling.
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CW: That is fascinating. How consumerism like
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AC: Its branched into places that I didnt even think. Like bodybuilders, the women bodybuilders, their bathing suits, they put a little bling. We do them.
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CW: Oh wow.
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AC: Yeah, yeah. And then the second service we offer is the makeover service. And that is generally for cross dressers. Although there are some trans-women that want to learn some new techniques or better ways to do their makeup, and so they will get with our artist to do that. But that is to me the most rewarding service we have. They come in timid, fearful, scared, some of them, not all of them, sometimes with their families, sometimes not. It is in there too if you want to read the article. But this past one he came in with his wife. His wife made his appointment for his makeover. And then they were going on to an event after the makeover. He was just so quiet, couldnt get a smile out of him, nothing.
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They go back with our makeup artist and he came out so beautiful and lit up smiling, talking, animated, like, an entirely different person. Not only did it affect us, his family, but even our makeup artist called us later and said, That was really amazing to see, thank you. It is just amazing. For them to walk in and be safe is everything. Yeah. Our makeup artist does the makeup. She does hair too, any wigs that need to be refreshed or styled.
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And then we have a body painter too, that if you wanted body painting done, he comes in and does that. And a lot of times people just come in have coffee, sit down, and just talk about whats on the news, just talk, or get creative. The juices flow in here. It is a store but it is kind of a community center. Its really awesome. Its really awesome. We are blessed. We are really blessed.
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CW: And I guess you order all your items and materials from other places?
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AC: From wholesalers, yes.
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CW: Have you had anyhave you run into any difficulties doing that? Bringing that in to the state of Florida?
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AC: None of our products.
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CW: Okay, good.
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AC: No. I mean, we carry Kryolan professional make up, La Femme. I am curious. Why did you ask that question?
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CW: Oh, I dont know. Just because, for example, some businesses, if they are bringing in items that perhaps are something the dominant culture might not approve of, sometimes they get held up in shipping.
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AC: Oh.
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00:00:0.0
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AC: No, no. I guess you would say the most risqu thing we carry would be packers for female-to-males or trans-men. We have them in a basket, hidden, not out where anybody can see that. So, that would be the onlybut no, Ive had no issues. All of our aerosols, of course, have to come ground so we have to wait for those.
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CW: Oh, right.
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AC: (laughs)
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CW: That is the only one, okay.
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AC: Those take a little longer.
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CW: Interesting. And what about the surrounding St. PeteI mean, it is St. Petersburg. It is very welcoming here, I think.
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AC: It is. It is.
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CW: You havent had any issues with the local community at large, like with the store?
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AC: No. Really, really have been amazing actually. This whole strip that I am in are aware of who I am, certainly see our customer base. They are awesome. We send our customers if we dont have something, Oh, go check it out down here. This is all safe right here. I think, again, this is general population we are talking about that weve given better understanding to, in a business setting, too. So it is really all positive. I have had any
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Not as far as the business, no, no, a lot of support. And non-LGBT people that come in here love this store. They are like, Oh my god! You know, some people look at the shoes and think it is a stripper store and then once they look a little furtherno, it is not a stripper store. (both laugh)
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00:48:17.9
Most of them do pick up on, the general population, again its the shoes, because theyre so big, like, Oh my god! I bet a lot of female impersonators shop here. Oh my god! I bet a lot of drag queens shop here. I am like, Yes, they do actually. You know, and its awesome. It is awesome. Yep.
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CW: Are you the only business in this area that offers these types of services?
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AC: Yes.
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CW: Okay. That is what I thought.
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AC: Yep. Yep. I think there is something in Orlando. There is something in Orlando. There is a store in Orlando that offers the service. She is a little bigger than us too. She
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Much more. Kryolan, the professional make up that we carry, was from anything from to beauty to effects. So here I want to tap into all the effects artists in the area, Tampa Bay. That would be the next step or next growth. Weve got a lot of the beauty. We will build on beauty but the effects I think will really bring us up there and open it up.
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CW: Right. Cool.
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AC: Yeah. Yeah. (laughs)
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CW: Is there anything else that you want to talk about that we didnt talk about? Sorry, that is a big question to put you on the spot. I just think, in case, you know.
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AC: I think, I guess, the last thing Imy words on this tape I want
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CW: Oh no, dont feel that kind of pressure.
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AC: Well, I just care very deeply for our community and I have a lot of hope for our community. I have a lot of hope.
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CW: Oh, here ishow to do feel that this area compares to other places? I know youve said that you traveled to many states performing. How would, say, central Florida sort of measure up, even though that sounds like a horrible way to phrase the question, in terms of, like
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AC: Community?
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CW: Yeah, do you feel that it is very similar? I know for example New York and San Francisco, those are huge sort of meccas of the LGBT community. What do you think the differences are in your experience?
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AC: I feel that the community here is pretty tight knit. Actually. Yes, we have our issues and there are challenges, but it is huge and it is tight knit. We love it here. We absolutely love it here.
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CW: Okay.
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AC: So in Vegas there was no community. It was melting pot of people.
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CW: Really?
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00:51:34.3
AC: It was just kind of weird. There was a center there, an LGBT center there. We would go there and try to meet people through there, but it was, kind of, too touristy. You know, tough to make friends. Here there is definitely a sense of community. And with St. Pete Pride, the work they have done, over the years, has been incredible. I love the community here. Yeah, I think it is pretty big and pretty fantastic.
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00:52:7.7
CW: Cool.
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AC: Yeah.
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CW: Well, thank you so much for letting me interview you.
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00:52:13.7
AC: Thank you very much. Youre awesome.



PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 201 5 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 42 02 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


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