Born in Nashville, TN, Calpernia was a child of the Eighties. Educated in the Schwartz-Metterklume method, she won medals for obedience, punctuality and good conduct at an early age before eventually attending the same high school that graduated Bettie Page (really!). She has been entertaining since she can remember, beginning as a Bluegrass gospel fiddler with her family in church, progressing to writing and theater until she became a nationally known showgirl and activist. As a member of the Navy Hospital Corps, Calpernia spent four years as a field medical combat specialist (HM 8404) in the Navy and with the Marines, one of the elite combat-trained “Devil Docs” during the first Gulf War.
“Of note is Field Medical Training Battalion (FMTB), with locations at Camp Pendleton and Camp Lejeune, where Sailors bound for service with United States Marine Corps operating forces attend to earn the NEC HM-8404, Field Medical Service Technician. This is specialized training emphasizing physical conditioning, small arms familiarity, and the fundamentals of Marine Corps life. This is some of the most rigorous training in the US Navy.”
She served in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm/Shield, worked in the only ER on remote Adak Island in the Aleutians and received notice from Congress as part of a group who assisted a downed Chinese airliner on the tiny island of Shemya.
After honorably completing her enlistment as a decorated war veteran, Calpernia returned to Nashville and set out to become one of the top showgirls in the state. Working her way up from spotlight operator to full-time headlining cast member, she spent seven years at the 44,000 square foot Connection, the largest gay owned and operated theater and nightclub in the United States, performing up to eight shows a week for up to 2,000 people in the theater’s heyday. Calpernia made many of her own costumes and remixes, to create a signature style all her own.
The tragic murder of her Army boyfriend, dramatized in the award-winning film Soldier’s Girl, caused her to reevaluate her life and seek to make a difference in the world. The tragedy forced a national spotlight on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and transgender issues, and Calpernia left behind her artistic career to attend to the trial and personal matters. After a meeting with Jane Fonda, Calpernia and business partner Andrea James were introduced to Eve Ensler, who suggested an all-trans cast performance of her play, The Vagina Monologues. Andrea and Calpernia moved to Hollywood and ran with the idea, under direct mentorship of Eve and supporter Jane Fonda, both of whom attended the sold-out V Day LA 2004 performance at Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center. They raised over $11,000 for their beneficiaries, the NGLTF and the LA Commission on Assaults Against Women. Calpernia later joined the board of directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, where she served for a number of years.
Now living in Hollywood, Calpernia has returned to her roots as an actress, appearing in television shows such as CSI and Deadwood as well as feature films such as “Transamerica” alongside Felicity Huffman. She runs Deep Stealth Productions, Inc., with business partner and noted authority Andrea James, producing media with an awareness of the truth and value of trans people’s contributions to society. Deep Stealth’s V-Day 2004 benefit production of “The Vagina Monologues” was a sold-out success in Hollywood under the direct support of playwright Eve Ensler and mentor Jane Fonda. Their first original film project, “Casting Pearls“, was a short film written, produced, directed and acted by the team depicting a series of auditions endured by a trans actress in LA. It went on to screen at festivals around the globe, being placed in the “Best of” category for Hollywood’s OutFest 2008 and winning Logo Online’s “Click List” voting competition. It was followed by “Transproofed”, a short comedy about odd-couple friends Joyce and Ava, and their struggle with issues surrounding dating and disclosure faced by trans people.
When not trying to save the universe, she can usually be found scouring the coffeehouses of LA in search of the perfect Cafe Mocha or riding her `79 Yamaha XS750 motorcycle through the Hollywood Hills. Oops, except that she crashed both her motorcycles and now drives a mom car.
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