For the past ten months, I have been stalking transgender icon Amanda Lepore. It all started one night when my curator friend Kara Brooks and I were out on the town and Lepore walked into the Hotel Chantelle, where we were chatting at a table. Kara had asked Lepore to pose with her for selfies in the past and wanted me to sneak a photo. "I always take a photo with Amanda when I see her," she said. From there, we set out on a quest to get 100 photographs of Amanda, with the hope of one day putting together an exhibition.
Owner of the self-proclaimed " most expensive body on Earth," Lepore is a nightlife entertainer. But in many ways she's also a performance artist. She dehumanizes herself through exaggerated body alterations, making light of popular taste, consumerism, and fame. Lepore looks more like an amplified fantasy woman rather than an actual woman. She mocks female brainlessness and holds up a mirror to American capitalism, all the while selling herself.
As a side effect of following her around, I began to photograph a crew of rotating regulars as well as all the usual partygoers. Since being on the trans spectrum has become more accepted, the scene is not as underground as it once was, and that has changed the atmosphere of trans hangouts that used to be secret or illegal. While it's great that the blurring of gender lines has become acceptable, accessible, and even profitable, I worry that the purity of some forms of performance is being replaced with consumerism at a time when issues of gender still represent a deep, emotional struggle for many. These photos, I think, show that conflict and document a mixture of expression, celebration, and entertainment.
See more photos by Jacqueline Silberbush on her website.