THE JOHNNY LOPEZ

I am a television, web and magazine writer based in Los Angeles.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A night at ILLUSIONS

Ladies with an attitude, fellas that were in the mood.

Trannies are hot right now. From Felicity Huffman's award winning turn in TransAmerica, to LOGO's documentary series Transgeneration to the popularity of stars like Janice Dickinson and Nicollette Sheridan, transgenders are the new Hispanics.

Now I love a fabulous drag queen-who doesn't? But I have to admit, unlike Eddie Murphy, I haven't been exposed to many real live pre or post-op transsexuals in my life.
Recently this all changed when my friend, Greg, and I decided to do something different and check out the local trannie night, Illusions, at Club 7969 in West Hollywood.

We paid our $10 cover and fastened our tool belts. A lip sync show was going on stage. Miss Viva was celebrating her 13th birthday-- since becoming a woman. A birthday cake was brought out as Chardonnay serenaded her with Miss Celie's Blues from "The Color Purple". I scanned the room and saw many who could pass for Whoopi Goldberg.

The bar was packed. It looked as if everyone from your local DMV had decided to audition for La Cage Aux Folles. I ordered two Coronas and was immediately groped by the patron saint of Easter Island. I guess in an ambiguous environment like this being forward is how you differentiate the men from the, eh, boys.

I recognized one of the "girls" from my days working at Hollywood Center Studios, which is located at Highland and Santa Monica Blvd a k a trannie hooker ground zero. She was a Trans-AM. A trans-AM is what I call the few man-ladies of the night that were still up and walking the streets in the morning as I pulled into the lot everyday. The club was filled with them. I nonchalantly moved my wallet to my front pocket.

Once the performances ended, everyone took to the dance floor. This is when the show really started. These gals were working it out, dancing on the pole, exposing themselves, emptying water bottles on their flame-retardant breasts. They did anything and everything to get attention. I sat dumbfounded and in awe. It was strange to see women acting so sexually aggressive in such a public setting. Then I remembered that a) they were (and some still are) originally men and b) a good percentage of them were prostitutes. You could tell which ones were not selling their wares. They were the ones not making passes but just trying to pass. They looked more like Pam Dawber than Pam Anderson. They weren't trying to be Beyonce, just themselves.

The most shocking moment of the night had nothing to do with the trannies. It was the men who loved them. They looked like your Uncle Joe in Ohio or the Adelphia cable guy. Some were even hot. One looked like Jesse Metcalfe but hairier. He was all over this one trannie that looked more plastic than anything Mattel ever put out. I didn't get him. He could have any woman or man he desired, but he wanted more, or was it less, than either could offer. I had tons of questions. Did he like pre or post-op? Was he gay or straight? Seriously repressed or just more evolved? I would never get the answers.

These were just regular guys with regular jobs that went back to their regular homes in Van Nuys or Torrance after a night of chasing anatomically correct and incorrect Barbies in West Hollywood. I don't know what I thought these men would look like. I guess it was my own trans-phobia that just assumed they would look weird. They didn't.

Before we knew it they announced last call. Greg and I decided to leave before the sidewalk sale began. On the way home we stopped at Burger King. As I sat in the parking lot eating my Whopper and listening to the radio, I never felt so normal.

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