Amanda Lepore’s memoir, ‘Doll Parts,’ chronicles her tumultuous beginnings to becoming an LGBTQ+ icon.
Amanda Lepore’s childhood was far from the glitz and glamour that surrounds her today. Growing up, Amanda was bullied for being different from all her peers because although she was born a boy, her internal identity was female.
In her teens, Amanda started taking hormone therapy and underwent gender reassignment surgery that was paid for by her boyfriend’s father. She fled New Jersey and became a fixture on the New York City club scene in the early ’90s with the likes of Kabuki Starshine, Richie Rich, and Michael Alig (whose rise and fall was made into the feature film Party Monster). After meeting photographer David LaChapelle, Amanda Lepore became his muse, appearing in his cheeky, colorful photographs including the Amanda as Marilyn and Amanda as Andy Warhol’s Liz Taylor in his After Pop series.
Lepore has branched out from model/muse to become a singer and performer. She also has a limited-edition perfume and a line of cosmetics, and fashion designer Jason Wu designed a doll after her to benefit AIDS charities. She has had cameos in music videos for Elton John, Grace Jones and The Dandy Warhols. Lepore recently released her memoir, appropriately titled Doll Parts. In an interview for Crixeo, she told me about the book-writing experience, her artistic sensibilities and her secrets to a fulfilling life and a long-lasting career.
Before reading your book, I didn’t realize how funny you are! You have this dry sense of humor that really leaps off the page. Were you always this funny? How has your sense of humor developed over time?
Thank you! I have always loved to laugh and have fun. It is just who I am. A lot of people are always surprised. I guess it’s just not something they expect.
What was the process of writing your memoir?
I worked with a NY-based writer, Thomas Flannery, on Doll Parts. We spent months going through my life story, doing interviews, etc.
When I look at pictures that David LaChapelle and other photographers take of you, I see two artists (you and the photographer) collaborating to create a work of art. Do you see yourself as an artist? Why or why not?
Thank you! I spend a lot of time on my look, and have my own vision on what I like and what I do not like, creating my own outfits, accessories, etc. and making music and performing. I guess you could consider me an artist.
There’s the iconic photo that David took of you where he shot you to look like Andy Warhol’s silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe. You showed up on set that day with your hair and makeup done. David amplified your makeup so it was a little over-the-top. You wrote, “People ask me to redo it (Marilyn Monroe) all the time, but where’s the art in doing something you’ve already done?” Can you elaborate what you meant by this?
Sometimes when you redo something that people consider to be a “classic,” it does not always have the same effect. Sometimes it comes off as forced or unnatural.
When I used to work at Bowery Bar, I had the opportunity to talk to you a couple of times, and there are two things I always associate with you: (1) You are absolutely stunning and (2) you are one of the nicest celebrities. In your memoir you said, “I don’t spend this much time looking beautiful just to ruin it with an ugly personality.” How do you deal with everyday stress and how do you deal with difficult personalities you come across?
Thank you! I don’t really deal with negativity. It’s something I prefer to just walk away from or ignore. I try to stay positive and keep myself surrounded by positive people and influences.
Your look is very Hollywood glamour (Marilyn Monroe / Jayne Mansfield). There is so much detail in your outfits, hair and makeup. Do you feel like you are a sort of perfectionist when it comes to your appearance / art?
I love old Hollywood glamour. The look, the style. It’s something I have always been fascinated by. I do spend a lot of my time on my look, creating my outfits, accessories, etc. I guess you could say I am my own work of art! Lol!
Right now there is tons of activism surrounding the LGBTQ movement. However, there are also people across the world who are scared to come out as LGBTQ. What advice would you give them?
I think everyone should be who they are, no matter what others think. It might not be so easy for some, but it’s better to live your true life than to be someone that you are not, especially out of fear.
Are there any modern trends that influence your style?
I don’t really follow trends. I stick to things I like, what looks good to me and on me.
What’s the secret to a long-lasting career?
Having fun doing what you do. Making people happy, making sure the people you are surrounded with are always having a good time.
You’ve been a model, singer, actress and author. You have your own perfume, and fashion designer Jason Wu even made a doll in your likeness. What do you want to accomplish next?
Maybe my own lingerie or accessory line. I do a lot of my outfits and accessories myself, stoning them with Swarovski crystals, and get a lot of compliments on my work!