A couple of posts back I wrote about walking along various streets named Lexington, the one in Manhattan being mentioned by Lou Reed as a place to wait for “the man,” where it meets 125th Street in Harlem.
I said that my own wanderings along the Lexington Avenue here in Hollywood had been very tame. Now I’m not sure if I was lucky or unobservant, or just there at the wrong (or right) time.
There was a murder on Lexington last Thursday night at about ten pm, near to where it crosses Gower Street. A “sex worker” named Nathan Vickers (that's her above, also known as Cassidy or Cassie), a transgender prostitute, was shot and killed, apparently by a homeless man on a bicycle. Yep the street folks of LA may not have homes, but bikes and semi-automatic weapons they do have.
The murder was a rarity, and a shock, but according to the LA Times the Lexington/Gower area “has drawn sex workers for more than a decade, most of them transgender women from Mexico and Central America. They are often seen walking small dogs.” They found someone named Laura who’d been a streetwalker on Lexington for 20 years.
Who knew? Well plenty of people, obviously, but not me, though when I started thinking about it I realized that Lexington is only one block north of Santa Monica Boulevard which is indeed the place you’d more usually expect to see trannie hookers.
That was where, in 1997, Eddie Murphy picked up transsexual Atisone ‘Shalomar’ Seiuli before being picked up himself by the cops. His story was that he was fascinated by transsexuals and transvestites, felt bad for them, and he picked them up, talked to them, before giving them money to help them out. Who am I to doubt the word of Eddie Murphy?
The folks who live around Lexington seem to be less sympathetic. The Times found an anonymous neighbor who said, “I wish to heck that the cops would do something about it. They are parading notoriously, outrageously, and the cops don't do nothing about it. There is a good doughnut shop nearby but I am dissuaded from going over there because who wants to be around that?” You can see his or her point.
Not the least curious thing about living in Hollywood is that you soon get quite used to seeing transgender or at least transvestite prostitutes walking the streets. More than once, driving to the airport down La Brea, very early in the morning, I’ve seen one or two teetering across the road in their stripper heels. I try to imagine the night they must have had, then I reckon it might be better not to.
When I lived in New York I would occasionally be at the same parties as Veronica Vera, an interesting woman who’s CV includes being a Wall Street trader and a model for Robert Mapplethorpe. Somewhere along the line she made an abrupt and canny career move and set up Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, a self-explanatory name, though the notion is that she’s there to help out guys who want to express their feminine side, rather than become streetwalkers.
Walking apparently is the hardest part of looking convincingly feminine. Veronica Vera runs a class called “Amazing Grace: How to Walk, Sit and Pose in High Heels” which apparently is attended by some woman as well as men. She says, “Men plant their feet firmly on the ground and take control of the earth. Walking in high heels lifts us above. It fosters a dancing movement that’s a flow rather than a pounce. It’s a little more Zen, and that adds beauty.” Much needed down on Lexington right now, I imagine.
(Photo by Arkasha Stevenson, for the Los Angeles Times)