You’ll have to wait until April 18 to read the autobiography of Amanda Lepore, called Doll Parts (we love any sort of Courtney Love reference), but in the meantime, Lepore — the world’s most famous transsexual model and sometime-singer — has given Paper magazine an exclusive excerpt. In the memoir’s preview, Lepore tells the story of how she first encountered world-famous photographer David LaChapelle.
She would famously later become his muse, going from New York club kid to the instantly recognizable face of some of LaChapelle’s most famous shots.
Preview Amanda Lepore’s autobiography below, and read the entire thing here.
Sophia and I were hosting a party at Bowery Bar one night when Richie Rich came up to me. I hadn’t seen him in weeks; he had been touring the world with a music single, modeling for Japanese beers, and working with Susanne Bartsch.
“David LaChapelle is here,” he said, “and he’s been asking about you.” I looked around the room, trying to see him. David was the top photographer in the world. He’d just won Photographer of the Year at the VH1 Fashion Awards a few days before, and everyone was talking about him.
“What did he say?” I couldn’t spot him anywhere. Sophia tapped me on the shoulder and gestured that she needed me.
“He said you looked intimidating and asked if you’re a bitch or if you’re nice.” Richie was jumping up and down with excitement.
“What did you tell him?”
“I said you only had one mean bone in your body and you’d already had it removed.”
Sophia gestured me toward some London kids who wanted to take a picture.
“What was that about?” Sophia asked as we posed.
“I’m not sure. I think David LaChapelle wants to meet me.”
“What about me?” she asked. “You know I modeled for him once before. He’s a tyrant, but he’s the best.”
I thanked the London kids for coming to our party and felt a big, manly hand fall on my shoulder. I turned around, and there he was.
“I think I Weird Science‘d you into existence,” David LaChapelle said in my ear. He was a hunk of a man—muscular, broad—and he smelled great.
“That would’ve been nice,” I cooed. “And a lot easier on my body.”
“Can I buy you a drink, Miss Hollywood?” he asked. Goose bumps covered my body. No one had called me that since Mom died.
I looked at Sophia, as though for permission. She seemed pissed but tried to play it cool. I said, “Okay,” and went to sit down with him at a table on the outside patio.
I was nervous, and so caught off guard that I didn’t know what to say. Luckily it didn’t matter. David liked to talk.
“I worked the VIP room at Studio 54 when I was a teenager,” he told me, “hanging out with Truman Capote, Liza Minnelli, and Bruce Jenner.”
“What about high school?” I asked. We talked close, like lovers, the patio lights setting a romantic scene.
“I’d take the train in from Connecticut, then my dad would meet me at the train station in the morning. He’d take back the train pass from me and head in to work. If my eyes were too bloodshot, he’d tell me to go home. But if I looked half decent, he’d tell me to go to school.”
Just like for me, high school had very little to offer David. On the rare occasion that he did show up, still wearing his disco attire from the night before, he would sit at his desk and fill his books with drawings of a woman. The woman was all enormous cheekbones, eyelashes right off the eye, giant lips, and gianter hair. Her body was an hourglass, and her tits were always out. He’d draw this woman in every position, over and over, to the point where it became like his signature.
One day his teacher confiscated his book and asked him, “Why are you drawing this drag queen?” But it wasn’t a drag queen; it was me.
“So you see, Miss Hollywood, I conjured you into existence.”
“Why do you keep calling me that? My mom used to say that when I was a kid.”
“I don’t know,” he said, and laughed. “Sounds like fate, doesn’t it?”
The rest of the club had receded and Sophia was long gone, but we kept talking. He told me he had seen me around for a while but was always too intimidated to talk to me. Because my look was so severe, he assumed I was another bitchy party queen.
“I don’t spend this much time looking beautiful just to ruin it with an ugly personality,” I said. “I have no room in my life for rudeness.”
“I guess that’s the biggest difference between you and Sophia,” he said, laughing.
“Oh, Sophia’s not bad. She’s tough but she’s got a good heart.”
As the bar was closing down and the overhead lights came on, David took my number, kissed me good-bye, and said I’d be hearing from him.
After he left, Richie came to get the gossip from me. I told him David was very nice and that I thought we’d become friends.
“Listen, space cadet,” Richie said. “That man is going to make you famous.”
“Don’t be silly.” I gathered my coat and purse and stepped into the bathroom. There were dozens of tea light candles lit. I left the fluorescent overhead off and let the excitement course through me.
I looked at myself in the mirror and thought about Mom, and what she would think of the woman I had become.
“I miss you, Mom,” I said, and blew out all the candles.
Head here to read more from Paper’s exclusive excerpt, in which she divulges the great story about creating the image below.