Heel the World: Interview with Ceyenne Doroshow
PQ: You know, I was talking to someone the other day about how rampant transphobia is, and they said, “Yeah, you’d think that people would be more accepting, with shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race on TV,” which further illustrates the point.
CD: I’m annoyed by RuPaul’s Drag Race, by its cattiness. These are the sides I don’t want seen– these tender areas, like something like this show. It leads to discrimination. Many female impersonators are not drag queens.
PQ: Right, well it seems evident that some of the people on the show are not drag queens.
CD: Yeah. There’s one on the show who looks like Cher, and I know deep in my soul that she’s more of a lady than most of the ladies I know. I always tell the girls that I mentor, don’t strive to be a drag queen, strive to be a lady. Becoming a trans advocate has put me on the fence about a lot of issues. If you think these women choose this, that they choose to be ridiculed, you’re an asshole.
PQ: It’s so much more simple than people make it out to be. It’s just trying to live honestly.
CD: Exactly. You know, I have many clients who are trans women who are in the female role with dominant lesbians, these lesbians who pretend to be men– they’re called FTMs. I am confused by them, I say, “Girls, you’re gonna have to explain this to me,” and they– I don’t know how to put this– have traditional roles of men and women in the bedroom– but if it makes them happy, then ok. People are so hung up on the exterior– there’s so much more to us. The reason most trans women turn to street work because no one takes them seriously.
PQ: Can you tell me about why you decided to write this book?
CD: When I was in jail, I had a cellmate who was there for attempted murder. I asked him, ‘Did you do it?’ he said “Yes.” I saw some terrible things in jail. I saw a nurse kick the inmates’ medicine under the door with her foot every night, even though there’s a slot for her to put it through. I kicked it right back at her. I said, ‘I’m not a dog, don’t touch my medicine with your foot.”
I was in touch with Melissa at the Urban Justice Center– she was one of the people responsible for me being put in protective custody. It was a blessing they put me in protective custody. In jail, if they find out that you’re in a gang, they put you in protective custody, so I was there with a bunch of gang members. As it turned out, my uncle’s drug dealer was one of the guys in there, and my uncle told him to watch out for me and protect me, so he did.
He’d let me pick out stuff I wanted from the commissary, and I’d get these ziplock bags. Then we’d have people microwave things for us. I’d teach guys how they could survive in jail when what they’re getting to eat is garbage. I’d come up with recipes for things to microwave in those ziplock bags. Tuna casserole, all sorts of things. They would talk about what they wanted and I’d help them make what they wanted to eat. I even had them singing gospel! I was there for 28 days– these were killers!– but they also taught me a lot.
Being incarcerated taught me a lot about who my real friends are. My picture and address was put in the newspaper when I got out of jail. They put me down for being a Madam with a big fetish line. They pretended it was a whole business I was running. It was just me! It wasn’t some big thing. And because they put my address in the paper, I had every kind of perv at my building when I got out. Audacia Ray, with the Red Umbrella project, read about my story and reached out to me.
To support and learn more about Cooking in Heels, visit Ceyenne’s kickstarter