When Yvonne B. commented on my post about Ivy Brown and the Triangle Building, I wrote to her and asked if she might share some of her memories of life as a young transgender woman in the Meatpacking District in the 1980s. Very generously, she sent along not only her memories, but also a group of wonderful photos. The following is all Yvonne.
I didn't live in the Meatpacking area. I just went there cause of the Vault club. I wasn't one of the regular street walkers, I was mostly a loner who at times would get picked up by passing guys who cruised looking for transsexual hookers. I wasn't dressed sexy like the other girls. I was a punk t-girl, but some guys thought it was a cute style, so they took me. I needed money to live.
I looked quite young for my age and I believe I attracted a maybe more perv type of guy, maybe pedophile type. They were nasty. I met them in Times Square, as well. One night a guy drove up to me and he looked just like a teacher I had in school. It felt strange so I walked away.
As I said, I was mostly a loner. I went to the Vault club quite a few times in the mid eighties. I had two friends that I went with, Jimmy and Linda. I would like to know what happened to them, maybe just to know if they are doing OK. I met a few strange characters at the club. One was a guy dressed in rags crawling around the floor. There was also the horse guy with a saddle on his back. It was a bizarre club but it seemed like the men outnumbered the girls in a big way, and single girls seemed kinda rare.
I do remember one night a bunch of street girls ran into the bagel store when a police car cruised by, as if the police would never think to look for anyone in the only store open in the area.
I don't remember the bone trucks. But I do remember the bone trucks where I grew up in the Bronx. People called them the glue trucks cause they thought the bones were used for making glue.
I did go to the Meatpacking area in the daytime when I sometimes went to Lee's Mardi gras store. I knew that Lee Brewster was an influential figure on the rights of the transgender, so I thought that buying things there was the least I could do to say thanks. The building that housed Lee's had an elevator that opened right onto the street. There was no lobby or entrance way, just an elevator door. Someone from Lee's would come down with the elevator to sort of escort one to the store. I kinda knew two people that worked at Lee's, Shannon and Robbie. Shannon was in the movie Wigstock. She was in the scene fitting Joey Arias with a wig that was like putting on a helmet.
I was told through the rumor mill that Raquel Welch would shop at Lee's, but I don't know for sure. The store had its mix of people, from transsexuals to hairy suburban crossdressers. I heard that some of the crossdressers were truck drivers shopping after they unloaded their goods and had spare time to shop for frilly clothing.