Amanda Lepore. You know, the model. Performance artist. Celebutante. Ex-club kid. David LaChapelle muse. Entertainer. Blonde Bombshell. Glamourpuss. And now author! Miss Lepore’s book, Doll Parts, will be released on April 18th, 2017, co-written by Thomas Flanner, published by Regan Arts. Read our exclusive interview below! Photography Alexander Thompson http://www.reganarts.com/books/2016/doll-parts/ https://www.instagram.com/amandalepore/?hl=en
PONYBOY: Amanda! Congratulations on your book. We are ecstatic for you! We had a sneak peek – it’s beautifully done! Please tell our readers how your book came about?
AMANDA LEPORE: Well, a ghostwriter approached me, someone, who had seen me around in the clubs for years, and just had a passion for me, and we just did it. But it was also kind of hard, because I live in the moment you know, not in the past, especially the super early years. So it was hard to write, and well, I’m not a writer, so it was really good to have someone help me, even though I do have a really good memory with everything. I think it came out great!
PONYBOY: Do you have a promotional tour planned to accompany the release of this book?
AMANDA LEPORE: Yes, we’re having an initial book signing at Bookmarc here in New York, you know, the Marc Jacobs owned bookstore in the West Village. And then there will be a big after-party at the Boom Boom Room on top of the Standard Hotel. I’m sure that there will be a lot of appearances and book signings to follow, but no dates have been set as of yet. Stay tuned!
PONYBOY: Going back a bit, you moved to New York City in the late 80s. And I met you most likely at Michael Alig’s DISCO 2000 party, or some other debaucherous downtown nightclub, but got to know you more when we worked together at the legendary Patricia Field on East 8th Street in the Village. You were working at the cosmetics counter doing make-up while I was the womenswear buyer. I have so many fond memories! Tell us about those early days working at Pat’s.
AMANDA LEPORE: That was a lot of fun! I really never had a regular job. I had been a housewife first, then started out by working in downtown nightclubs when I first moved to New York City. Then all that scandal happened with Michael Alig, Limelight, Peter Gatien, and all the drugs, etc. I lost work from all that. I tried to work as a waitress because I had heard you could make a good amount of money waiting tables. But I wasn’t good at it – you know, my nails were too long! So I applied for the makeup job at Pat Fields. I was good at doing makeup, and I had done a few jobs for makeup artists. It worked out really good. I ended up working there full-time, and it was kind of like a nightclub. It was really colorful, with that leopard print carpet and those Martine paintings everywhere. And everyone was dressed up and had such strong looks. They would encourage that and they didn’t want any basic, normal people working there. So, of course, I fit right in! And Pat Field was so ahead of the trends with fashion, especially nightclub looks. I was just really comfortable working there. It was fun for me, and I could do makeovers, eyebrow shaping, and false eyelash application. And I would always spend my entire week’s paycheck there. They sold all those really fabulous hip clothes at Pat’s, you know, those neon furs and super high heels. And it was really like a family, just working with friends. We would all get dressed up and go out afterward to some super fab party. I also loved working by the front window, where the makeup counter was. I would get so many dates with cute boys coming off the street and asking me out!
PONYBOY: Ha! Yes! So many great times. We grew up in that store. Tell our readers about your old club days, when you first started going out. You’ve been in the New York City downtown nightlife scene now for well over 30 years. What was it like back then, as opposed to what you see now when you go out?
AMANDA LEPORE: Well for me, it’s a lot more fun now. I became famous and occupied, meaning that there are always people at the clubs who want to meet me and get their pictures taken with me. So, I always have things to do; whereas in the old days, I would have to just kind of circulate. I was pretty shy back then and Michael Alig would always yell, “Circulate!”. Actually, the first nightclub job I had was for Suzanne Bartsch, and they wouldn’t tell me what to do, and I didn’t know what to do. So, I would just walk around in circles constantly. So I probably looked pretty stupid – ha! ha! – air-headed, but you know it worked for me because I was blonde. Then Michael Alig actually gave me a job as a go-go dancer in a cage, which was really good because I didn’t end up having to talk to people. I could just be visual, and that I really enjoyed. Then I started hosting parties more so, that kind of thing.
I don’t see a really big difference in going out now, and going out then. The club kids are exactly the same, pretty much. There’s still the main kids who do amazing things/looks, the group that everyone looks up to. And then there’s still a crop of new young kids that move into town, you know, that don’t fit in anywhere else. I get floored by the community whenever I travel to different cities and countries, by new club kids. You find club kids everywhere! Because I work with those kids, I can’t really tell what difference there is, quite honestly. But one difference that does pop into my head actually is that underage kids used to get into clubs more easily back then. There was a guy recently who came up to me and said, “Do you remember all the good times we had back then in the clubs? You took my virginity from me.” And I asked him how old he was, and he said 21. And I asked him how old he was back then, and he said 15. I was like, Jesus Christ! So it was a lot of underage people. I was kinda stupid to it at the time. And they would never say how old they were. If someone just knew everything, and acted a certain way, and looked a certain way, you just wouldn’t know their age.
I think also with the internet now, people just don’t go out to meet people, you know to have sex or to date. That’s all done online. I guess that’s a big difference. You don’t see people going out to get laid as much anymore really. They’re just going out to have a good time. Otherwise, the people in my scene, it’s the same thing. And I’m more occupied now, and it’s just more fun for me. Ever since David LaChapelle, and even a bit before that, I became famous and people wanted to meet me. I don’t really have to circulate. I used to have to act like I was busy back then. I mean I met some really great people and had a fantastic time and all. It’s just much easier now. People come to me now. It sounds crazy, but I just always remember that thing, “Circulate! Circulate!” coming out of Michael’s mouth. Ha! Ha!
PONYBOY: We saw party pics of you in different downtown magazines back in the early 90s. However, your career really escalated when you met the legendary celebrity photographer David LaChapelle and you became his model/muse. Tell us about this meeting and your relationship with him.
AMANDA LEPORE: I met David at Bowery Bar. People told me that he wanted to meet me, but he was afraid that I would be bitchy. Ha! But everyone said, oh no, she’s really sweet. So then when he met me he was kind of forward because before we knew each other, he used to always draw these girls when he was like 15 or 16 years old. Women who looked like me. There’s one of his drawings in my book, and they look exactly like me. They would have the cheekbones and the boobs, and you know, everything. He was just obsessed with drawing these women, and I looked just like them. And then we just became friends.
The first weekend that he had me work for him, we did that famous Visionaire ‘sniffing the diamonds’ image. I had real diamonds going up my nose! And I remember that they took a break for lunch or something, and told me to stay in the same pose, don’t move, it’s perfect. And they came back an hour later, and I had stayed like that. They were amazed. Another time we did a big plastic surgery magazine shoot for Surface or Flaunt, I think? And we had a black and white model, and were switching heads, and had a boy in a room filled with boobs. I think I remember he had 4 or 6 sets of boobs on, something crazy like that. And there was the famous picture of me crying with a baby, and pregnant in a nursery. So we were doing all these things together. And David would have 4 or 5 ideas written out kinda, like how he would want everything to exactly look like. The makeup, the hair, the looks, the sets. And everything was huge, just over-the-top. We shot a lot at that old studio that he had, I think it was on East 13th Street in the East Village. And then all the pictures became super successful, and all the people just loved it. It became a thing where he would use me for everything. At one point I remember he didn’t want to use any other models, just me. But there was one advertiser that didn’t want to use me. And he said okay, then I want a model with black hair, and no boobs and no lips. I want a pie hole. It was really funny!
He was so dramatic about it, you know! It was so funny. Ha! Ha! We just became friends and we would hang out. And he loved me naked. And he would always encourage me to take off my dress, and hide it, or leave it in a cabinet. That became our thing kinda. We went all over the place naked!
PONYBOY: There was also that incident at the Azzedine Alaia exhibition that really helped to put you on the map, where you showed up nude and upstaged Naomi Campbell, which reportedly pissed her off. Ha! Is this true?
AMANDA LEPORE: That was kind of the turning point, I think, when the art world and the fashion world liked me a lot. I mean, it was a really risky thing to do, you know, show up completely naked to such a high-end art/fashion event. Because it could have backfired on me and everyone could of hated me – just gone really wrong! But it actually turned into a good thing. I was alone, when we first got there, because Naomi Campbell was there and David kind of left me alone and I was forced to talk to all these fancy editors and people. The photographers were going crazy, flashes going off constantly! And people talking to me. I think I told Azzedine that I didn’t own an Alaia dress that celebrated the female body. Ha! But it came out to all be a good thing. The next day it was all over the media and newspapers, being naked and all this stuff. It kind of shifted to where people were doing articles all over the world about me, and the art world and fashion world liked me.
As far as Naomi is concerned, well, at first I was with them, and then she said, “Oh my God! You’re naked.” I guess she didn’t realize it right away; and then she got freaked out and David left with her somewhere to another part of the party. Then I didn’t see them the rest of the night. And I was stuck with those fancy people all alone. Fortunately, I came out of there with good stuff. Ha! You know, meeting Azzedine Alaia. I’ve always loved his clothing and Thierry Mugler, as well. I just really love tight clothes. You know, anything that’s an hourglass shape and tight.
PONYBOY: You’re flown all over the world to attend high-end events and parties. Do you have a booking agent?
AMANDA LEPORE: Well, since I did music with Cazwell, I have an agent. I did book my own things in the past, even before David, I would get booked for things. I think every once in a while, they would just call me. It’s definitely much better to have an agent though. One time I got booked in Switzerland for a party, and they had me staying in this house with a shower in the living room! All these DJ’s, etc, and all this stuff, and I was like, I’m not going to take a shower in here! And they ended up getting me a hotel room somewhere, but you can really be at people’s mercy, in a strange foreign country.
PONYBOY: Your look has really evolved over the years, more so into a super glamorous, 1950s Hollywood movie star, bringing to mind Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Would you say this style is an obsession of yours?
AMANDA LEPORE: Yes. I was always obsessed with that 50s look and style. Marilyn and Jane. Hollywood blonds. When I was a dominatrix, I would dress with blond hair and do that look all the time. It got more intense over the years, when I did that song, and when I was going out naked all the time. One time when I was away working, I got a club into trouble from me being naked. Around that time I saw Dita Von Teese, and the agent that I had at that time was like, you can’t always be naked! So then I saw Dita, and she had the patent shoes and was pretty much naked, but like a little bit was covered. So I said, I’m gonna try that. And started making my own costumes and things, outfits that I could strip out of, with the zippers that come off. I think I was one of the first to do Swarovski crystals back then. I did that in the 90s, the purses, the shoes and jewelry. I thought it was really different, doing that kind of showgirl thing in the clubs. I put crystals on all my dresses, the gloves, stockings…just everything. The stuff I strip out of. I would work a lot with the jewelry designer Robert Sorrell. His jewelry was one of the first things that I spent money on, after I started making a lot of money. I was always fascinated with the Thierry Mugler jewelry, and I knew that Robert Sorrell made it. It was just fabulous! I was making good money; and I would buy just trays and trays of his jewelry and make my costumes to match his jewelry, those stones that he would use. I just loved it!
PONYBOY: Are there any designers that you wear?
AMANDA LEPORE: Sometimes. But I’m just much more into just doing my own thing. If someone makes something in my own style, then yes, I’ll do it. Like when I do shoots. For example, I just did the Dolce & Gabbana book thing. And when I got there, they just had a bra and nothing else that I liked, so I just covered myself and did it. I do a lot of things more naked. Ha! But once in a while, yes, I’ll wear a designer gown or dress for the red carpet.
PONYBOY: And your Christian Louboutin shoe obsession, just how many pairs do you own? Have you met him?
AMANDA LEPORE: Well, I used to buy stripper shoes, you know the classic high stilettos. And they were really uncomfortable to wear! They were made of leather tops and soles, but the way they were made was just so uncomfortable. If I walked around too much, my toes would just bend. I was practically crippled! I didn’t wear those platform stripper shoes, you know the super high ones that are everywhere. I wore the stilettos that were flat in the front – the five-inch heel, pointy toe, very feminine. They had more of that 1950s aesthetic.
So when I tried on my first pair of Christian Louboutins, I just fell in love and became obsessed with them. He had that “look” that I just love in a heel. He made this shoe that was almost like a really nice stripper shoe, the Pigalle pump, but so much more comfortable. They were like sneakers to me, and I was wearing them all the time. I got invited to the sample sale, and really got into them. And then they came out with the Swarovski one. I just couldn’t stop buying them and became a Louboutin freak! Yes, I do own a lot pairs. And they’re all so beautiful! I got into all the different styles. And I just can’t stop going to those sample sales all the time. I did meet Louboutin once, years ago, and he gave me a pair of boots, and gave me all these things. And he let me buy whatever I wanted for a $100 which was just so generous. I’m very thankful. I came home with boxes and boxes of Louboutins. And, of course, I always wore them when I modeled in the Heatherette shows as well.
PONYBOY: What’s an average day in the life of Amanda Lepore? How do you dress during the day? Do you go out every night?
AMANDA LEPORE: I don’t go out every night, but I do go out a good deal for work. On my days off, I do errands and do yoga, that kinda stuff. Sometimes I make outfits for 10 hours, you know, during the day. I do that a lot. If I’m caught up with all my errands and stuff, I’ll go to the gym. I’m also very into skincare as well, so a lot of the time I just do the skincare, and put my hair up, a quick messy up-do. I always wear red lipstick and dark sunglasses, and always wear low-cut tops and tight-fitting clothes. Sometimes I walk around with roller-sets, with a ‘kerchief on if I have to go out that evening. Old school glamour! Ha!
PONYBOY: Do a lot of people recognize you on the streets of Manhattan?
AMANDA LEPORE: Yes, they do, unfortunately. I mean I wish that they didn’t, me running around like that. But then I’ll see pictures online, and I’m like, oh okay, I look good. Ha! I mean I feel much more comfortable when I’m all made up, especially if someone is taking a picture of me. If I have ballerina flats on, and someone wants to take a photo of me, I’ll just get on my tippy toes, so that it looks like I’m wearing high heels. I just won’t stop.
PONYBOY: You mentioned at our shoot that you’re on the dating app Tinder. Amanda Lepore is on Tinder? Is that correct?
AMANDA LEPORE: Yes, it is. I got to the point where I was just working at all these gay clubs. I would have a lot of gorgeous boyfriends. They would be go-go dancers, bartenders or models, you know, those types. And those happen to be the worst guys to go out with! I mean they’re beautiful and everything, but it’s not really what I like. Then I went on Tinder, and I had the nerdiest boyfriend with glasses who worked an office job, you know, that type of guy. But I’ve actually had several boyfriends off of Tinder. I’ve also met guys running errands, say at the dry cleaners, that sort of thing. And on Tinder, I have to prove that it’s me, and not a fake profile. I’ll have to take a picture of myself, with their name on it and send it to them, so they know it’s me. But it really works well for me.
PONYBOY: You’re at the forefront of the transgender movement, perhaps somewhat unknowingly. You boldly helped pave the way for other superstar trans girls, including Laverne Cox, Candis Cayne and Jaime Clayton, who have entered mainstream Hollywood and media. What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever considered acting?
AMANDA LEPORE: I think it’s great that there are so many. Before it used to be, say, one every ten years? It wasn’t a big deal, and now there are so many at once. I also think it’s not just transgender. I think it’s everything, being a role model, to kids. It’s great that it’s in mainstream Hollywood. It’s very important that the parents accept young people as they are. Let them dress as a little girl when they’re young and not go through all that mix-up, and get that out of the way and it not be such a big deal. It’s kind of like a last prejudice sort of thing, you know? It’s great. I myself didn’t want to fit in and a lot of transexuals just do want to fit in, because people can be so mean. So they just want to be normal, and left alone, fit in and go to the supermarket without nasty comments. But I liked looking like Marilyn Monroe, or Jessica Rabbit or something. So it was like a more out there kind of thing for me personally, which caused a lot of attention, which is what I wanted.
But yes, I would love to do some acting. I love all that kind of stuff. I kind of just do things that are asked of me. If something comes along, and I’m approached, then, yes, I’d love to do that.
PONYBOY: Back to the book, can you give our readers an insight into what’s inside of the book?
AMANDA LEPORE: It’s about my childhood, and moving to New York, as well as the club scene. It’s about being young, transgender, my sex change and plastic surgery and going through all of that kind of stuff. It goes into when I met David LaChapelle and did all that, and then it stops at 2000 when I started doing music, traveling and doing shows.
PONYBOY: We think your second book should be a book on Amanda Lepore BEAUTY! Any thoughts on the next book?
AMANDA LEPORE: I guess from 2000 to now. Ha!
PONYBOY: Our last question to you is, what do you, Amanda Lepore, want to be remembered for?
AMANDA LEPORE: Ummm…what do I want to be remembered for? Glamour I guess! Yeah, glamour.
PONYBOY: Well, that’s a given, of course! Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for our Ponyboy shoot and interview! We love you!
AMANDA LEPORE: Of course, Maria. Thank you so much. I love you! And I love Ponyboy.