Alexis and Matt: sooo many unsubstantiated rumors
There's no scandal like a 'straight, male celeb with a transsexual woman scandal.' There was Teddy Pendergrass getting in a car accident in 1982 (which left him paralyzed) with the passenger being a trans woman, Tenika Watson. Then there was Eddie Murphy in 1997 being stopped by police while Eddie had trans sexworker in his car. Going farther back, Grace Kelly's high society brother Kell (a four-time Olympian and budding politician) left his wife for trans woman Rachel Harlow (and star of the documentary "The Queen") back in the 1970s. And it's not just the US. In 1997, a high profile district attorney in Greece, George Sakelaropoulos left his wife for trans model and celeb Jenny Hiloudaki (supposedly while he was attempting to shut down her bordello). Most recently, one of the best known politicians in Italy, Piero Marrazzo, was involved in an affair with a Brazilian trans woman who was soon after found murdered and her corpse incinerated in an apartment fire.
And now, it seems as if NBC's Today Show host, Matt Lauer, is enmeshed in a possible scandal with a woman who may or may not be trans and may or may not be related to Whitney Houston. She was supposedly either formerly known as Wellington Houston, or Stuart Houston. Show biz media outlets are licking their chops. Whoopee, transsexual PILE ON!
The saga first broke on the New York Post's gossipy page 6. Lauer was alleged to have had an affair with a woman in 2007-9 and he frequently paid to have her flown to various cities where he was involved with producing Today Show pieces (his marriage subsequently broke up in 2010). Last Friday, the woman in question, held a press conference in New York (with superstar celeb attorney Gloria Allred by her side).
Here's a link to the press conference on E Online.
Her name is Alexis Houston. According to CelebTV, she reportedly met Matt Lauer several years ago while she was backstage with Dionne Warwick (who is Whitney Houston's aunt) at one of Warwick's Today Show appearances. Ms. Warwick evidently had some kind of squabble with some of the show's producers, Ms. Houston smoothed it out, Matt Lauer was impressed and it went on from there. They had an ongoing affair which subsequently ended, but Lauer then got back together with her while he was working in Vancouver during the Winter Olympics. Several months later, Lauer's wife demanded Matt leave their home.
Houston, we have a problem
But now, in a further twist, Page Six reported today Ms. Houston is trans, was formerly named Wellington Houston and had SRS in 2007. The Post writes:
“Wellington resurfaced in 2001 with a demo CD titled “All’s Well.” The Daily Record in Glasgow, Scotland, gushed: 'Whitney Houston’s pop crown is under threat — from her own cousin. Wellington Houston, 23, is being hailed as the next big thing in the US. But although Whitney sings on his demo CD, Wellington doesn’t want to cash in on his famous family.”
A performance photo from her website
Ms. Houston, who is also a talented singer, released a CD in 2008, is variously known in media as either Whitney's half-sister, step-sister or cousin. She has also released recordings and performed at the 2010 winter olympics. According to her website, Ms. Houston has also recorded and written numerous commercial jingles and composed for theatre performances like the acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. Page Six also claimed Whitney sued Wellington for using the supposed family connection to defraud a physician out of $100,000 with credit cards and forged checks. They then continue...
“According to one source who has known the singer for years, Wellington had sex-change surgery three years ago after a man fell in love with the cross-dressing singer and paid for the operation.”
Alexis from a few years ago
The meanest headline wins
Already, dozens of gossip sites have had a field day with the headlines:
"Matt Lauer's alleged lover a transgendered man";
"Former Man Gratuitously Denies Having Sex with Matt Lauer" (from Vanity Fair.com);
"Matt Lauer Non-Mistress Also A Former Non-Lady";
"Matt Lauer's Non-Mistress, Was A Man Named Wellington"; (Huffington Post)
"Matt Lauer's Supposed Soulfood Side Piece Used To Be A Man ..."
"Matt Lauer might have effed a dude"
The 'ultimate insult'...
The story of the Lauer affair and Ms. Houston's connection to Whitney Houston (much less her possible trans history) is so jumbled it's hard to know what to think about it. There is remarkably little proof about her being trans other than information from "a close family friend." A rumored trans-history is often pasted onto female media personalities (like Lady Gaga—before she was 'accused' of being Intersex) to denigrate their womanhood, make them seem sleazy (because that's what trans women supposedly are), or to add an aura of mystery sexual-aggressiveness to them (because all trans women supposedly have male libidos). The curious aspect to all these stories is that, once they come out, any of the Associated Press guidelines for dealing with trans-related stories get thrown in the mud and the huge pile on begins. I note how not one site which has mentioned the trans story has yet to produce a photo of Wellington/Stuart Houston, which seems highly unlikely in this day and age, but we shall see.
Or the 'ultimate secret'
On the other hand, there have been very high-profile celebs who were 'accused' of being trans and, in fact, they were. Famous French/English disco singer (and longtime tv presenter) Amanda Lear dealt with and denied such rumors for decades even though they've been substantiated by some well-known trans women who worked with her at the famous Carrousel Club in Paris during the late 50s-early 60s. Lear, by the way was, at different times, involved with Rolling Stone Brian Jones, Bryan Ferry and an already married David Bowie.
As to how this sordid news thread will turn out is anyone's guess. The NY Post isn't the most accurate news source in the world of journalism (to which it's barely an honorary member). But it does open up issues of the media's fascination of outing trans people and it's love of throwing "man" around in the headlines of such stories. How the supposed shame of being trans is introduced as the ultimate degradation of someone's identity and that accusing a man of being involved with a trans woman is the nastiest way of ridiculing a man's straight sexual orientation. Whether Ms. Huston does or doesn't have a trans history in her past almost becomes irrelevant. Once the accusation comes out, with Internet linking and the stigma transphobia bestows, her public womanhood is damaged forever. And no matter how repeatedly we hear "lady was a dude," it's the story which always sells.