Friday, June 28, 2013
It's finally Friday, thankfully! And here to ring in the weekend is the legend that is Amanda Lear.
"Fabulous (Lover, Love Me)" was released in 1979 as the lead single from Amanda's fourth album, Diamonds for Breakfast. The lyrics, written by Amanda, address the ever-running rumours about her alleged transsexuality: "Surgeons built me so well that nobody could tell that once I was somebody else". The song became a chart success in Europe and remains one of Lear's most recognizable songs of the disco era.
The question Amanda's sex at birth has been the subject of much speculation for decades. Lear's origins are unclear, with the singer herself providing different information regarding her background and keeping her birth year a secret even from her long-term husband. Contested facts include her birth date and place, her birth sex, names and nationalities of her parents and the location of her upbringing. Most sources claim 18th of November 1939 to be her birth date, but in a 1996 interview the singer revealed her birth year was 1946. However, in 2010, during an interview with a French newspaper Libération, Lear presented her identity card to a journalist, which read: "born 18 November 1950 in Saigon".
Lear's alleged transsexual background has been commented upon in the media and in the biographies of those who knew Lear earlier in her life, including Salvador Dalí. April Ashley, a famous transsexual entertainer, has long claimed that in the 1950s and early 1960s, she and Lear, whose real name she claimed was Alain Tapp, were working together in transvestite revues in Paris. In her book, April Ashley's Odyssey, she recalls Lear performing drag acts under the stage name Peki d'Oslo.
Similar facts have been reported by Romy Haag, a transsexual artist living in Germany, who ran a popular nightclub Chez Romy in Berlin and knew Amanda closely and Bibiana Fernández, a Spanish transsexual actress and singer. Some sources even insinuate that it was Dalí himself who sponsored Lear's sex change operation in 1963. Rumours claiming that Lear was an actual man in drag or even referring to her as a hermaphrodite were circulating at the beginning of her singing career, but they cleared off after she posed nude for Playboy in the late 1970s.
Despite Lear herself contradicting transsexual rumours already in the 1970s and explaining they were a part of strategy to draw public attention, they have persisted to date. When asked by Carmen Thomas in a 1976 interview whether it was true that she was born a male, Lear replied that it was "a crazy idea from some journalist" but then immediately contradicted herself stating that the rumour was started by Salvador Dalí as a publicity stunt. She would later tell the same story in the Interview magazine, however, this time claiming that it was David Bowie who started the rumour.
She would also address these rumours in her songs "Fabulous (Lover, Love Me)" and "I'm a Mistery" (deliberately misspelled as to reference the word "mister"). Despite some sources claiming her transsexual background is an open secret, she would always flatly deny it. However, an excerpt from an article from an Italian newspaper surfaced online in November 2011, including a reproduction of a copy of Lear's birth certificate, which states that she was born Alain Maurice Louis René Tap on 18th of June 1939 in Saigon. The article also included a picture of Lear as a young man.
Either way, does it really matter if she used to be a man? I adore her (but I have always said that no woman can be THAT camp...). She is currently working on a new album, which should be out later this year. But for now, here she is with the Song Of The Day - being all fa-fa-fa-fabulous!