Perhaps the most recognizable face, body and personality in New York nightlife, this host and entertainer is revealing more about her fabulous life (and it’s not-always-so-fabulous early perils) in her new co-authored memoir “Doll Parts.” Filled with anecdotes, beauty tips and gorgeous shots from some of the scene’s greatest photographers, the living exhibit Amanda Lepore is an experience we always want more of… in person or on the page.
Thotyssey: Amanda, hello! I was watching a fun Italian interview with you just now on YouTube, and it reminded me of how international your star power is. What is your favorite country to party in, outside of the U.S.?
Amanda Lepore: Spain, Italy, Paris. I love the big cities.
You appeared at Ladyfag’s “Battle Hymn” the other night, which is a regular gig for you. What makes that party special and fun?
I am friends with everyone who works “Battle Hymn”; it’s like a weekly family reunion. The music is always amazing, and it’s hard not to have a good time there!
It’s always such a treat to see you out… when Amanda is at a party, you know the party is gonna be fun and special. Are you always able to have fun at whatever party you’re working at, or do you sometimes have to pretend that you’re having a good time?
No. I always have a good time, and am happy to be out.
What is the secret to being a successful party host?
Working on your look – being friendly, and making sure everyone is having a good time.
So much has changed in New York nightlife since you first came into fame in that scene, during the Club Era of the 90’s. Is the scene as fun or as rich as it used to be?
I think it’s more fun now. I am famous and more occupied now.
I’ve always loved watching you and the other 90’s club kids in clips from the talk shows in the ‘90s. You all did so many of those shows, and that’s how we came to know you all! My favorite appearance you made was on the Joan Rivers Show with Michael Alig, Leigh Bowery, Ernie Glam and James St. James, where you’re talking about getting thrown out of Disneyland! What was your favorite talk show appearance from that time?
The Joan Rivers Show. I was only working for about a week at Disco 2000 when we were asked to appear. It was all new to me. I just came from being a New Jersey housewife, and you could see how shy I was.
Alig took things to a dark place with the manslaughter and the drugs, and now that he’s out he seems to be up to some of his old tricks. Have you distanced yourself from him and that scene?
Rather than dwell on your nightlife career, your new memoir Doll Parts, co-authored with Thomas Flannery Jr., details a lot of your early life growing up in New Jersey, your relationship with your schizophrenic mother, coming to terms with your transgender identity, and your cosmetic surgeries. What made you decide to tell these rarely-detailed chapters of your life now?
I was actually approached. It was not something I was seeking, as I enjoy living in the moment, not dwelling on my past.
You’ve been the muse for so many amazing photographers, and many great shots appear in the book. David LaChapelle in particular is a someone you’ve worked with quite a lot, and his work is well represented in Doll Parts. Do you have creative input in a lot of these shoots, or do you completely trust your photographers?
I am very particular, so I usually do have input with regard to my look and what I am comfortable with. When I work with David, I let him call the shots.
You “lived” in a public art installation as part of LaChapelle’s Artists and Prostitutes back in 2005. What was that experience like?
It was fun. I love working with David.
Did you ever think you’d be considered a sort of “living piece of art” yourself? Are you pleased when people refer to you as that?
It’s not something I thought about. Yes, I think it’s flattering.
I love a pic I saw of you looking fabulous in Pizza Hut Express! What did you eat there?
Pizza. We were at the airport in Miami. I am a vegetarian, and there are not many options when it comes to airport cuisine.
What do you think is “in” this season, in regards to fashion?
I have no idea – I don’t follow fashion trends. Though, I heard ripped jeans are in, that’s kind of scary! [Laughs]
Trinity Taylor just played you in an impersonation challenge in the current season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Did you see it?
I loved it. I thought it was sweet.
Let’s talk about music. You’ve collaborated with DJ Cazwell a few times, you released an album in 2011, and I understand that you’re working on a new album. What’s that gonna be like?
Fun. I am also doing a David Bowie cover (”The Jean Genie”) – I have always been a huge fan of his.
Who do you like listening to right now?
I listen to all different kinds of music on Pandora. Particularly music from the ‘30s and burlesque style.
Aside from regular appearances at Battle Hymn, I know you’re set to host this week’s debut (and each summer week going forward) of Susanne Bartsch’s Tuesday night “On Top” at The Standard.
Where else can we see you the city?
I’ll be at the Leslie Lohman Gallery on Thursday, May 18th [for a book signing and Q & A].
And final question: Who is you all-time favorite cartoon character, and why?
Jessica Rabbit. She’s curvy and glamorous, with big lips.
Thank you, Amanda!
This summer, Amanda Lepore will host at Susanne Bartsch’s “On Top” at The Standard on Tuesdays (10pm) and Ladyfag’s “Battle Hymn” on Fridays (10pm). Click here for a list of other upcoming appearances. Follow Amanda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, as well as her website.