Kim Christy's Lost World
BY Christopher Harrity
February 12 2011 5:00 AM ET
The Advocate:Is this the first photo of Kim Christy?
Kim Christy: Oh, yes. It was one of those life changing moments, or I should say “Life changing” moments — as the picture ended up in Life magazine.
Wow. How old were you here?
I was 14, I think. Ninth grade. We were all friends and had the whole drag thing in common. We had to be careful, though. Female impersonation was still against the law, and the cops would hassle us in the street. I remember taking the shirttails of my Catholic school uniform and tying them just above my waistline. I had clip-on curtain rings as earrings, and I used pencil lead to shape my blond eyebrows. I grew my hair as long as my father would let me and teased it all up just so.
We had all heard that Liz and Dick [Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton] were going to be staying at the Astor, so we got ourselves all up and took the subway from the Bronx [to Manhattan]. We hung out on the street shouting their names out. They tried to chase us away several times. Then I noticed this big black Lincoln Continental drive slowly by and I was sure it was them. So I called out to the car and camped and posed and whatnot. The window rolled down and there was a flash of light. Off went the car into the night.
How did you know the picture appeared in Life magazine?
Aunt Joan saw it and immediately called my mother. She said, “Gertie, go to the corner store and buy Life magazine — right now!”
I was already kind of wild by that age and my parents could not do much to control me. I came home from spending the night with friends one day a few months after the photo was taken and my mother had the magazine open on the kitchen table to that picture. The article was about teenage delinquents in Times Square — something like that.
“How could you let this happen?” she said. She was pretty enraged. But I was completely bowled over. I was famous! My parents were not as charmed. Neither were the nuns at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Another scandal broke at the same time — the brothers of Holy Cross were found to be patronizing the “workers” of Times Square and not being very discreet about it. Somehow it all got linked into the same drama. Me and the priests! I have no idea who took and sold the image to Life magazine — but I sure would love to talk to them now. The irony is that I was a little wild at the time, but this image forced the issue. I was out of the house within a year or two. In a way, the image created me. I hadn’t seen the image since 1964. Oddly enough, it appeared on a Tumblr blog recently. The past never stops happening.