The Lower East Side Biography Project is a thing I didn’t know existed until 10 minutes ago and now I am OB.SESSED. First up, a mini-documentary of Jayne County, drag performer and musician.
County arrived in New York City from rural Georgia in 1967 and in no time at all with Andy Warhol’s plas like Candy Darling and soon found herself a fixture on the Max’s Kansas City and The Factory art scene, as well as a trans and drag pioneer. In songs like Are You Man Enough To Be A Woman?, County told the world, "I am what I am / and I don’t give a damn!" She’s known as rock’s first transsexual singer or, as James St. James put it at World Of Wonder, County is a "trans punk LEGEND."
The full Lowest East Side Biography Project documentary is 28 minutes long, but Vimeo’s got this five-minute clip.
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Punk rock has always been for the misfits and those who don’t feel as though they fit in. Still, nobody expected that Tom Gabel of the Florida punk band Against Me! had been dealing with such strong major issues of feeling like something wasn’t right—until now.
In an issue of Rolling Stone that hits newsstands Friday, Gabel comes out as transgender and reveals that he plans to begin living life as a woman, with the name Laura Jane Grace.
"I’m going to have embarrassing moments," Gabel told the magazine, "and that won’t be fun. But that’s part of what talking to you is about – is hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind."
It seems as though this change won’t mean any major upset for the band, or for Gabel’s marriage.
"For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how [my wife] would accept the news," he said. "But she’s been super-amazing and understanding."
Luckily punk rock fans have long been just as accepting and a variety of bands featuring trans performers have become legendary or are already on their way.
From legendary rocker Jayne County, whose hits include “Man Enough To Be A Woman”…
To San Francisco’s queer circus Tribe 8, known for mutilating dildos onstage and performing songs like “Femme Bitch Top” …
To the all-Jewish trans band Schmekel, which plays songs like “I’ll Be Your Macabee”…