Kim Christy's Lost World

Filmmaker and performer Kim Christy talks about life in the big city in the bad old days of drag, and being outed by Life magazine.

BY Christopher Harrity

February 12 2011 4:00 AM ET

KIM CHRISTY GERTIE XSLIDE | ADVOCATE.COM

This is your mother on the right, isn’t it?
Yes, a special date with Gertie at the Persian Room at the Plaza Hotel.

The photo is dated September 27, 1969, on the back. This is after the Stonewall riots in June. Did that affect you much?
Meh. I was 19, I was being well-cared-for by an oil tycoon. I would introduce him to people as “the keeper of the flame.” They would look askance at me, and then I would smile demurely and say, “And I’m the flame.” I didn’t have to work so hard at that point. I was still performing at the Club 82 a bit.

So a lot must have changed between you and your mother between the Life magazine photo and this photo.
Yes and no. She was still very disapproving, but she was impressed by my lifestyle. I was playing the big shot then. These gypsies would come by the Club 82 and sell boosted goods. My mother has the mink stole that I bought from the gypsies for her hanging over the back of the chair. She tolerated the way I lived my life, but she feared that it would all come to a bad end. Sometimes I wish she could see how things turned out: happily married to my wife with a grown daughter and amazingly wonderful granddaughter. We are a quiet, middle-aged couple.

What did your father think?
Ahh. He was drunk in Yonkers. He saw very little of me in my female years. Once he had to get me out of jail early on. I was arrested for impersonating a woman and I still had eye makeup on. That wasn’t fun.

Um, bare feet?
I left my shoes in Philly! And most of my luggage. We had been performing there the night before in a traveling show called The Male Box Revue. We had it all: statuesque beauties, drag clowns, hot guys, and me — the cute young stripper with the big surprise! We all had to show up at Kriegsmann’s studio for marquee shots. I just put on my “Barbie feet” and made the best of it. Fortunately I remembered my gloves and boa. I had my priorities. Once again, a photo created me. I got an incredible amount of work from this image. I traveled all over Europe, spent time in Berlin, Amsterdam. I met some of the most highly paid female dominants in the world and learned my craft from them. I began making my own films. And within a few years, I was to meet the woman who would eventually become my wife.

So, forgive me for asking: You’re straight now?
I am married to my wife. I am with her. Something I learned from all my years working with clients all over the world: Men and women can both be very fluid in their sexuality. Plus things like certain sexual scenarios can engage a person deeply for a time.

Sometimes it’s same-sex activity. Some people stay attracted to one gender or another all their lives. I was with men — when I lived as a woman — who never would have called themselves gay, but they were not unhappy about my extra parts at all. Like I said, back then we did not name things so much. I never thought of any of the things I did as who I was. They were things I liked. Things I did.

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