Kate Bornstein Gets a 'Village Voice' Cover

5.3.2012

By Jerry Portwood

In honor of her memoir, 'Queer Pleasant Danger,' the performance artist and trans activist gets some star treatment from the once-alterna weekly. Or does she?

We all but thought that the Village Voice had given up on the queer population—or at least the fringes of it. But this week, the Village Voice cover story is dedicated to the trans luminary Kate Bornstein, with a story by its editor in chief, Tony Ortega. The full-color comic illustration on the cover and the interior original photography (she looks amazing, so check out the slideshow) makes it appear that they really, really wanted to give the author and performance artist (unless it's also going to appear on both coasts of the media empire's publications and is really some serious cost-saving mechanism amid the turmoil that Nicholas Kristof at the NYTimes has been causing). But let's hope this does mean that VV wants Bornstein to get her due. What did the story, titled "Kate Bornstein's Amazing Voyage," and subtitled "America's gender outlaw takes us on a wild tour of trans-formation," have to say?

Well we find out about Kate's book, Queer and Pleasant Danger, which comes out this week. We hear from Yetta Kurland about what an icon she is in the "community." And we find out that Bornstein is shacked up in an apartment in East Harlem:

"with Mollyanna the pug and Calla Lily the puggle, three cats, a turtle, stacks of books (some written by her and some by her girlfriend, Barbara Carrellas), and the wall hangings, mementos, and trophies of the life of a celebrated performer on the college talk circuit. When I noticed a golden trophy of a stiff cock with wings, she swiped it off the shelf and posed with it for a photo."

But we should know that Ortega, who is OBSESSED with taking down the Scientology (more power to him!), is probably really interested in the subtitle of Kate's memoir: "The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today."

Ortega admits to having read all the recent books, articles, everything that has recently been published about Scientology, "and that's why I can say with some confidence that none of these recent narratives captures and conveys the hardcore Scientology experience quite like Bornstein's book."

And the rest of the piece—which has thousands of words—is dedicated to Kate's path living through Scientology. It's obviously a fascinating narrative, but it also means that Ortega and VV were NOT interested in Bornstein the legend as much as it was another angle to get a Scientology story into the pages of VV. Oh well, he's probably right: It's an insidious cult that needs to be exposed at every chance possible. But I was hoping that maybe Kate Bornstein was finally getting her due as an iconoclast and American treasure.

But let's give Kate the final word. In the last two paragraphs, Ortega writes: 

In the meantime, though, the church's policies keep her cut off from grandchildren she has never known. When I asked her how that made her feel, she told me something I didn't expect.
"I have kids. Tony, I have kids all over the world who read Gender Outlaw and tell me I saved their lives. You think Jerry Lewis has kids? I have kids."
Tags: Popnography
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