Ticked-Off Actor

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 22 2010 3:30 PM ET

Dear Tran Coulter,

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.
Those five words (especially that third one) are ruining your spring. I knew everyone wouldn’t think it’s better than blow job–flavored ice cream, but you’re hating on it like it’s Catwoman. A better Halle comparison would be Monster’s Balls, especially since the girls in the film bash the bashers back below-the-belt style. Almost like a DIY sex change.

When I signed on to do Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, my agent said, “Go have fun.”

Cut to day 1 of shooting: Cast member Kelexis Davenport, who plays Pinky La’Trimm, asked if Miss Hollywood was ready. Director Israel Luna liked that she had given me a nickname already. Kelexis was quick to school him that it was no compliment and just because I was on Nip/Tuck didn’t mean I knew shit about drag. Day 2, when mentioning that the unflattering lighting from below would make me look like a tranny hobgoblin, Kelexis replied, “No one cares where that uppity, Cheeto-eating, ho-nasty bitch Willam’s light is at.” I almost told her it was poor grammar to end a sentence with a preposition the way she did, but since she’s the size of two Oprahs and a Gayle, I kept quiet.

The fear of Kelexis subsided only when she took me aside to better shade my face with her darker powder. She said she was tired of “looking at all that ugly.” It was nice to know that even though I annoyed Kelexis, she wanted me to look my best in her film.

“Bitch, it’s not all about you,” she said. Kelexis was right. It wasn’t all about me. Every letter of LGBT is represented in the production. Funding was courtesy of a good ol’ Texan bachelorette (read between the lines). Our director and a producer are gay men. The hair, makeup, and wardrobe people and even a transportation crew driver fall into the trans category. Straight people were the quiet minority. During downtime, we played the game Fuck-Marry-Kill, in which you name three people in the room and chose one for each action. I guess ending up at the bottom of a camera guy’s list for submissive prison sex is what I get for sitting next to three of Texas’s most beautiful women — who just happen to also be trans.

These trans women, Krystal Summers, Erica Andrews, and Kelexis, along with drag queen Jenna Sky, were given free range to improvise whole scenes of dialogue with the vernacular and slang that’s natural to them. It’s just like blue-people language in Avatar but with less clicking and more “guhrl” thrown in.WILLAM BELLI MAIN X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM

For example: “Ooh, Shondra needs a nurse after how that trade disrespected her face down!”

1. “Shondra” is someone busted/ugly.
2. “Nurse” refers to the assistance the “Shondra” needs.
3. “Trade” is a trick, or the type of man who definitely isn’t relationship-material.
4. “Disrespected” means something that shouldn’t happen in front of others — like after chili, you might disrespect a toilet.
5. “Down” is short for “house down boots” and can be a verb, noun, or expletive, depending on sobriety level.

This fun was forgotten when all the Tran Coulters Facebooked our fan page with hateful messages like “Just because a man gets breast implants does not make them a transsexual.” How could anyone be offended by a movie enough to say crap like that? Incorrectly stating that the movie started by mentioning a real-life hate crime confirmed suspicions that Tran Coulter most likely didn’t see the movie, only a preview available online. I’m someone who’s been known to give road head, but my taste level isn’t so low that I’d participate in the lampooning of someone who actually died.

One of your ilk is quoted in The New York Times making it clear that she is “not an entertainer who gets paid $100 to dress up and get on stage” and that you don’t “go home and take it off” — as if those who do should get their trans card revoked. I can’t imagine the Tran Coulters getting away with saying that to the faces of trans women like Calpernia Addams or Candis Cayne. These successful nightlife mavens would serve up a big old plate of hate were anyone to tell them how to make a living. They took their first steps as drag queens, and the actresses in the film still make their living onstage alongside drag queens. Does that make them lesser than those complaining?

I liked it when one Tran Coulter proved her math skills were poor, stating that director Israel Luna “paid two trans women to be in the movie ... giving them money to exploit them” and that the movie was “mainly drag queens.” By now we know three of the five leads are transgender. Plus, no one was exploited enough to merit a protest. Oh, wait — I got a reason to protest. We filmed in Dallas ... in July ... with weaves. Maybe protest the fishnet-patterned sunburn I got on my damn thighs?











WILLAM BELLI 2 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM

You persistent Tran Coulters were the reason GLAAD, who advised and supported the filmmakers for almost two months, issued a call-to-action to get Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives banned from the Tribeca Film Festival. GLAAD conveniently used this opportunity to voice concern with the word tranny.

WILLAM BELLI 3 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMMost of the transsexual women I know aren’t offended by tranny. I’ve personally heard Candis Cayne, who was cohost of the 2010 GLAAD Awards, say it during her act. Did she not read GLAAD’s media reference guide condemning words like queer, dyke, and tranny as pejorative? Or maybe Candis just has the good sense to make her own decision as to what offends her and her beautiful self.

The other side of that is transgender actress Alexandra Billings, a GLAAD honoree for her work on Grey’s Anatomy. Alexandra hates the t word but liked the movie enough to release a letter to GLAAD that stated this:

“The film is violent in both its content and its language. But it’s supposed to be. It’s an old-fashioned revenge chick flick beautifully and skillfully directed by Israel Luna, who at every moment has the transgender girls on the right track. And safe in his heart.



They win. They conquer. And they do not go gently into that good night.



Before we start silencing people, let’s get past our own prejudice, and remember where and by whom this whole movement was started: By a bunch of trans people in big wigs and sequins in a local New York bar. This is part of our gay history. It may not be the only part, but it is the truth. And that’s art. Speaking your truth and doing it loudly and clearly. You may not like it, you may not appreciate it, you may not agree with it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be heard. And it certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t art.”

Ms. Billings posted another blog entry days later about the crazies who think the Employment Non-Discrimination Act shouldn’t pass. Will I tell you Tran Coulters hating on TOTWK to follow suit and to get a sense of humor or something dismissive like that? No. But I will say that throwing protests (or “education rallies” as you say) to complain is totally lame when a better solution is to make your own movie that represents your stance on trans-whatever. Because “the opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation.”WILLAM BELLI 5 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMThat last quote is from Rent, which uses the word tranny when Angel is eulogized. I guess it’s too late to protest Rent, so maybe the Tran Coulters can fill GLAAD’s in-box with complaints about the popular club Trannyshack? Should GLAAD bring the Internet petition hammer down on the University of Kansas for presenting a panel of trans speakers billed as “Tranny Talk”? It would definitely get all Clash of the Titans should GLAAD take on The Advocate, which quoted Sarah Silverman as saying that when she tries to dress up, she looks “like a tranny,” just for printing the t word.

Do you hate all those things, Tran Coulter? If you actually think those things are harmful, I’m guessing certain episodes of Winnie-the-Pooh may offend you too. All the love that went into making TOTWK is directly juxtaposed by the vitriol the film is facing from protests. We may not win an Oscar, but the film will certainly do more good than harm. Exposure leads to education.

Words only have the power they’re given, right? If that’s true, I need to address something that can sting way more than Times New Roman font. The Tran Coulter leader said she would protest the TOTWK premiere and could be identified because she’d be the “one throwing eggs.” Classy, right? Especially for someone who organized a protest that assembled a scant 10 people.

This is just a warning. If anyone throws eggs at me or my costars, there will be a smack-down. We might have eggs in our purses too. Some hard-boiled to bruise, and others uncooked to eff up your outfit. That would definitely make the 11 o’clock news. A tranny egg fight! It’ll be like a sequel ... or maybe a Tranquel.

Sincerely,
Willam Belli