BEING TRANS IN THE 1980S - PAGE & PETRE

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Title

BEING TRANS IN THE 1980S - PAGE & PETRE

Date

1988, Boston

Description

Page and I were like matching bookends. We both had rebelous platinum blonde hair, slender figures, and were fond of black outfits & light foundation to contrast our heavyily winged eyes & painted lips. Difference was Page had a fashion model's photogenic stature and was ten times more fabulous than I could ever hope to be. The gay men loved her and Ts envied her. Her look, ingeniously patterned after Grace Jones, was right-on-time for the 80s and she was the center of attention at EVERY nightclub.

We met when I was 21yo in the type of seedy San Francisco trannie bar which would have mortally shocked our parents. We were both from New England, same ~age, played high school tennis, and went to prestigious private schools yet found ourselves in a recklessly dangerous, hooker infested trannie bar in SF's infamous Tenderloin. We became instant friends, oblivious to, or liking, the desperate insanity raging around us. We both lived in dodgy SF residence hotels, sleazy places where meth needles were tucked into every crevice, and lived day-to-day. She hooked and I worked at an electronics store for min wage. We hung out at each other's apartments talking fashion & makeup, when she didn't have a "client", and played competitive tennis matches against each other at a local park, which she always won.

A couple of years after I moved back to Boston, age 23ish, Page called me and wanted to move to Boston too. I set her up with a residence and showed her the city. First stop was the local T bar Jacques on Piedmont Street. I remember we were at a drag show and the spotlight randomly landed on Page. Every T and drag queen in the packed nightclub jaws dropped - they had never seen such a stunningly beautiful, exotic trans woman! For the next few years Page and I carved a trail of fashion mayhem throughout Boston with our friends Robert, Xavier, Lenny, Greg, and an African dictator's drag queen son. Sparing NO ONE from a visual onslaught of hard-edge New Wave fashion!

Eventually, after much prodding by Boston's gay men that she was TOO fabulous for Boston and MUST move to Manhattan, she migrated to NYC. I was extremely wary. I could already see a budding drug habit and I worried Page would get hooked on H in Gotham. She did, albeit after being queen of the Manhattan nightlife, a cage dancer at the Limelight, and a feature model in an Absolute Vodka campaign. In a few years, after I fully transitioned, I also moved to NYC and looked Page up. But the friendship was NOT the same.

In my very early 20s I was not passable but Page was mostly passable and utterly fabulous. In a way, I was her admiring little sister (Jan Brady to Marsha Brady as she used to kid me). Then when I moved to NYC I was say 99.9% unclockable but she was still only say 95% unclockable. Silly, but we were a bit competitive w/each other and she could not be deep stealth like myself. Seeing how I leapfrogged her caused tension. When Page heard I got my SRS she freaked and soon after booked her surgery.

Yet the surgery was tragically wrong for Page. She later told me the "only" reason she got her surgery was because I got mine! Which was obviously unfair to suggest my SRS had such a causal relationship on her SRS. But I understood Page was in the throes of H addiction and her promising life had evaporated. Reality was NEITHER of us were to blame. It was the intolerance & ignorance of the times which prevented Page from getting the care she DESERVED for both her gender dysphoria and her consequential substance abuse! Page overdosed at age 41 in 2002, death by misadventure. Even famous Village Voice columnist Michael Musto wrote about Page as a "true lady" after her passing.

I write this in memory of Page, RIP dear friend.

Creator

Petra

Contributor

Petra

Rights

Copyright restrictions may apply. Visit https://historyproject.omeka.net/rights-and-reproductions for more information and to review The History Project's takedown policy.

Is Part Of

#QueerArchivesAtHome, http://www.historyproject.org/project/QAAH

Citation

Petra, “BEING TRANS IN THE 1980S - PAGE & PETRE,” Documented | Digital Collections of The History Project, accessed November 29, 2020, https://historyproject.omeka.net/items/show/801.

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