Misty Memories Part 500: The Time I Met Christine Jorgensen

Categories: Transsexuals

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"A lot of people who sing can't sing," Christine Jorgensen told me in 1981, "but at least I admit it!"

The groundbreaking transsexual had come in from her home in Laguna Beach, California to make her New York cabaret debut.

Her act consisted of saucy impersonations of Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead in between sincere renderings of "Welcome To My World," "You'll Never Walk Alone,' and naturally, "I Enjoy Being A Girl."

And even if she couldn't sing for shit and her act was a bit of a mess, she was pretty delightful.

In person too.

"I was the first big 'Gee whiz' story," Christine reminded me about her 1952 transitioning in Copenhagen, which sent shock waves throughout the world.

"I got more print written about me than any other single human being in the history of newspapers.

"That's pretty wild when you compare it to Roosevelt and Churchill and WWII.

"It's pretty nerve-wracking.

"At the beginning, one newspaperman said, 'If you don't like the publicity, why don't you go away and change your name?'

"I said, 'My dear, I just did'."

By any name, I loved her--especially when she told me she still was getting treated with curiosity "in the Bible Belt, where they get very religious about all kinds of things.

"They get morality issues into almost everything, from orange juice down!"

Nope, they'll never transition.


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7 comments
latenitebump
latenitebump

funny! how she went on the road and turned her transition into a nightclub act. impersonating wonderwoman. recording albums. would have love to have seen the wonder woman number.

did she spin around and say: oh! mighty isis? too bad warner communications made her stop.

gussieberger
gussieberger like.author.displayName 1 Like

I ran into Christine Jorgensen at a little bar called Main Street in Laguna Beach during 1983.  She looked like a Green Bay Packer in pale chiffon and an auburn wig.  No one seemed to recognize her, even though she'd paved the way for most of those who were there having fun.  Transgender 001 was kind enough to allow me to sit at the same table as her friends, who turned a cold shoulder, possibly because I was dressed in black leather and silver-plated chains.  I hastily scrawled a note onto a cocktail napkin, which said something to the effect of, "Thank you, for doing what you did at a time when it was not very popular. "  But Christine was a whole lot of woman, with broad shoulders and an imposing physique.  I mean, who would have crossed her, in 1956 or anytime?  She could easily have been the mother of Jackie Curtis.

 

normadesmond
normadesmond

just recently picked up her autobio....such a lady!

nostradavid
nostradavid

Nice flashback Michael.

In the Bible Belt, orange juice is all about staying regular.

Taking a big crap every day can be a religious experience.

CafeMuscato
CafeMuscato

SOOOO jealous!  Christine seems to have been a really great dame.  There's a terrif interview on YouTube from a talk show (early 80s?) and she's just charming.  The bawdy great aunt you always wish you'd had...

bethesda
bethesda topcommenter

And I would give anything to have seen her do a Dietrich impression.

bethesda
bethesda topcommenter

She was so savvy, so ahead of her time. A real star.

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