The transgender night life diva Amanda Lepore is, to quote the filmmaker Joel Schumacher, a “moving sculpture,” a person who has made her own body her life’s work.
The night life columnist Michael Musto calls this ubiquitous carnivalesque curiosity, “the missing link between old New York and the current prominence of transgender divas.”
Famous largely for the plastic surgery that she brazenly flaunts, Ms. Lepore has been photographed by David LaChapelle while bent over a gurney, receiving a silicone injection. The fashion designer Jason Wu created a dollin her Jessica Rabbit-meets-Jocelyn-Wildenstein likeness. Swatch even put out a timepiece with Ms. Lepore’s face and blowfish red lips emblazoned across the dial.
And that’s to say nothing of the ad campaigns for Mac Cosmetics and Armani Jeans. Or the dance single she recorded with the producer Larry Tee (the title of which cannot be repeated in this newspaper).
For those who still can’t get enough of this silicone-enhanced creation, there is now, “Doll Parts,” a memoir disguised as a coffee-table book that Ms. Lepore released this spring (with her ghostwriter, Thomas Flannery Jr.) and features many of Ms. Lepore’s most iconic images with collaborators such as Mr. LaChapelle, Marco Ovando, Pierre et Gilles and Roxanne Lowit.
Not that Ms. Lepore is aiming to be the next Patti Smith. Sitting in the Gramercy Park hotel room she calls home, decked out in a fire-engine-red dress, her hair blown out like Jayne Mansfield, Ms. Lepore estimated that she’s read all of two books since 1986.
“Oh, I never read anything,” she said. “Mostly, I look at pictures.”
Certainly, Ms. Lepore’s publisher, Judith Regan, did not decide to publish “Doll Parts” because she saw her latest author as the future oracle of trans-feminism.
“I wanted it because of the plastic surgery,” said Ms. Regan. “It’s extreme.”
“And then you sit down and talk to her and it’s a lifetime of drama.”
Befitting a person who is endlessly reinventing herself, Ms. Lepore’s age can change depending on what she feels like on a given day.
In her Tinder profile, she is a 36-year-old “hourglass shape petite blond bombshell looking for tall gentleman.” In her memoir, she is 49, though friends have their doubts.
Nevertheless, Ms. Lepore (whose birth name was Armand) grew up around Cedar Grove, N.J., where her father was Herman Lepore, a chemical engineer, and her mother was Frances Lepore, a housewife who spent much of Ms. Lepore’s childhood floating in and out of mental institutions with schizophrenia.
One of Ms. Lepore’s earliest memories is of a recurring dream in which she was trapped like Rapunzel in a tower. Perhaps because she is a person who lives to be photographed, this was not a nightmare about isolation and neglect, but a fantasy about having strawberry blond hair and a mirror to spend all day in front of.
Through a nanny, Ms. Lepore learned to sew, which came in handy when she worked at a gentleman’s club in Newark while still a teenager. There she would make costumes for the strippers, one of whom was transgender, and paid Ms. Lepore with black-market estrogen.