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Amanda Lepore’s life in travel: ‘I’ve lived in the same hotel since the early 90s’

Written by gaytourism

The phone rings. A shy, breathy voice speaks down the line: a cross between Marilyn Monroe and a classic character from Disney’s Golden Age.

It’s 2pm, and Amanda Lepore has just woken up.

She’s in her ‘boudoir’-style hotel room – in a negligee, I imagine, and a full face of make up – in New York City’s Hotel 17, on the Lower East Side.

Born in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, the cultural icon has lived in the hotel since the early 90s. I think of Greta Garbo, who lived in LA’s Culver Hotel, or more latterly of Lindsay Lohan, who lived at the Chateau Marmont.

Photo: Instagram/amandalepore

‘I have cheap rent!’ explains Amanda of her unconventional living arrangement. ‘I actually had a boyfriend that was the manager here. We fell in love and I moved in with him. After a while we were going to get married, but then we started fighting. To shut us up they gave me a room really cheap. And then I just never left…’

And the best part of living in a hotel?

‘You don’t have to cook!’ she laughs. ‘I’m not very domestic. You can just order. And the staff know me well, they’re really, really nice to me. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood too.’

‘I’ve had to get a few passports because I ran out of pages’

Asking Amanda about her life in travel is like opening a particularly fabulous, jewel-encrusted Pandora’s Box from a far-flung country.

‘I’m well-traveled,’ admits the muse of photographer David LaChapelle. ‘I’ve had to get a few passports because I ran out of pages.’

For example, Amanda visited Mexico for a spot of medical tourism – she is, of course, famed for her numerous plastic surgery procedures.

‘I went to Guadalajara because my friend was going to get stuff done, and she spoke Spanish,’ says Amanda. ‘I was pretty impressed. They had better medical facilities than some of the places I went in New York. I was scared to go, but was relieved when I was actually doing it, because I was very well taken care of and I loved everything that they did.’

What was that, exactly?

‘I had my boobs bigger and that waist thing, where they break the bottom rib,’ she explains. ‘They don’t actually take it out, so there are no scars or anything. They just break it and push it in. At the time it was illegal here.’

Photo: By Marco Cerrone, courtesy of Amanda Lepore

‘I’ve worked in the gay clubs in Moscow’

Amanda more commonly travels for work. She’s an occasional pop star – recently releasing fizzy and fun EP LEPORE., (containing tracks like ‘My Panties’ and ‘Too Drunk to F***’) – as well as a kind of Paris Hilton of the queer community. She gets paid to party around the world.

She’s been everywhere, from her favourite blockbuster destinations (‘London, Paris, Ibiza’) to countries not traditionally seen as LGBTI-friendly, like Russia and the Ukraine.

I ask if she’s experienced queer prejudice abroad. ’No, I’ve been lucky – I don’t get bothered much,’ she says.

Photo: Josef Jasso courtesy of Amanda Lepore

‘I’ve worked in the gay clubs in Moscow, and the big cities,’ she furthermore adds. ‘They’re much more tolerant. It’s the small cities where you get the prejudice. Kind of like America. Here in New York City, or San Francisco, it’s great. But, like, in Tennessee or down South, it gets harder. It’s that situation. But it was really bad in Russia because of law enforcing.’

She shares a story about a travel companion using Grindr to hook up while they were in Russia together.

‘I was really nervous,’ she says. ‘I’d heard people trick people. I was like “Can’t you hold on until we get back to New York?!” But nothing happened to him and he had a lot of great experiences!’

‘Tinder is amazing’

Amanda herself is more of a Tinder fan. ‘I’m on Tinder. I work mostly in gay clubs and I would have really bad relationships because I would meet aspiring models or bartenders or go-go dancers…not always the best choices!’ she laughs.

‘So I got on Tinder because one of my friends was on it. It’s amazing. I can get more of what I like. I love it. If you’re in a different city you can have dates at any time.’

And is she currently attached? ‘Yes. Nothing serious, but I do have a few boyfriends,’ she teases.

Photo: Josef Jasso courtesy of Amanda Lepore

‘Milk’s extremely handsome. If he liked women I would definitely go there…’

UK fans might soon see Amanda on Tinder for themselves. Later this month she’s heading to London, Manchester, Cardiff and beyond on ‘The Twisted Circus Tour’ alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Milk, Kim Chi and Violet Chachki.

‘I’ve worked with Violet and Milk before, I’m very friendly with them,’ she says. ‘I want to meet Kim Chi. I love her song [“Fat, Fem & Asian.”] I think she does amazing make up.’

‘Milk’s extremely handsome [out of drag],’ she furthermore adds. ‘If he liked women I would definitely go there…’

As our conversation draws to a close, I can’t resist asking for Amanda’s response to the biggest queer culture controversy of the month: RuPaul’s comments about not allowing trans women to compete on Drag Race post-transition.

‘Well, I respect RuPaul,’ is her considered reply. ‘And it’s her show, you know, so, you can do that. But I do think there should be a spin-off or something, [for] bio girls and trans girls.’

The cover of Amanda’s new EP

‘I mean, it is different, and you get ready a little differently, so I understand RuPaul. And I don’t think he meant it as a put down. I think RuPaul meant it as he considers them women, and that it wouldn’t be fair to have a woman compete because they’d have an advantage.’

‘I like “the most expensive body on Earth”’

For accuracy I ask how Amanda identifies because, like her age, I’ve read different things.

‘Well, I like “the most expensive body on Earth” the best’ she answers, in typical Amanda fashion.

‘But I like transsexual,’ she continues. ‘It sounds more dirty. I don’t like “transgender”. It got so politically correct. I like transsexual – it sounds like a 1950s scandal magazine…’

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