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From Southern Voice Atlanta: Leaders of the Pack
ADDAMS IS FAMILY
Transgender star Calpernia Addams looks forward to eating good southern cooking during her turn as an honorary Pride grand marshal.
“I miss the South so I’m going to eat as much southern food as I can,” she says.
Addams is well-known in recent years for her turns in Hollywood, starring in the Logo reality TV show “Transamerican Love Story” and appearances in “CSI,” “Deadwood” and the critically-acclaimed movie “Transamerica.” But she started her career in the South, taking the name Calpernia Addams while performing in Nashville, Tenn.
“I never thought that would become my name,” she says. “Nobody does drag like the South, and after seven years on stage in Nashville and everyone knew me as Calpernia, I slowly got comfortable with it.”
While working at clubs in Nashville, she met Army Private Barry Winchell. The two started dating, and as Winchell’s Army buddies became aware of his relationship with a trans woman, he was increasingly harassed. Eventually he was beaten and killed by fellow soldiers in 1999. The killing inspired the Showtime movie “Soldier’s Girl.”
Addams, herself a veteran of the Navy Hospital Corps, became an outspoken transgender rights activist. In 2004 she staged a sold-out run of the “Vagina Monologues” at the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood, which benefited the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
“Transamerican Love Story” on Logo reintroduced her as a household name in many gay homes. The eight-episode show, in which men competed for Addams’ affections through challenges and dates, ended in Calpernia selecting Shawn, a 33-year-old concert promoter, to be her boyfriend. But the relationship didn’t last.
“We’re still good friends, but it didn’t develop into a marriage sort of thing,” she says. “You can award your affections on a dating show, but you can’t award your emotions.”
Since the show aired, Addams has become a fixture at Pride celebrations across the country. She is appearing at prides in Las Vegas, Cleveland, Hollywood and others, but Atlanta will mark her first time as a grand marshal.