Wendy Williams: A Porn Star With a Difference

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In recent years, with help from the Internet, transsexual performers have moved closer to the pornography mainstream. Wendy Williams, who lives as a woman but is anatomically male from the waist down, is something of a trailblazer in that evolution. Since beginning her career in 2003, she has made 50 movies and won the 2009 AVN Award for Transsexual Performer of the Year (a category that AVN, the porn equivalent of the Oscars, added only in 2004). She is the only transsexual performer with her own independent studio, HotWendy Productions. She’s signing autographs and DVDs Friday at Rainbow Video.

You’re originally from Pikeville, Ky., right?

Yeah, born and raised in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.

What was that like, growing up there?

My graduating class was 127 of us, so it’s quite small. Growing up was probably just like any normal growing up. I didn’t have any traumatic childhood experiences. I always knew that I was extremely different. But when you’re from some place as small—as small-minded, especially—as Eastern Kentucky, you don’t know any better. So I just assumed whatever feelings I was having were something attributed to religion or me just being corrupt in some way. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and went straight to college that I was able to start sorting out my sexual preference and orientation.

When did you first start identifying to yourself as transsexual?

I can remember being in first grade, being in class. The teacher left us and said for everybody to ahead and have recess. We were going to play house, and everybody started pairing up, husbands and wives. Naturally, one of the boys picked me to be the wife. And that was normal—when the girls played things, I played with the girls. As kids, we never thought anything about it. And this particular time, the teacher came back in the room and said, “So what did you guys play today?” We said, “Oh, we played house.” And she said, “And who were the mommies and the daddies?” And when it came to me and the guy in particular, she brought us in front of the room and she spanked us both. And said, “Boys don’t play with boys, and girls don’t play with girls.” I was confused, I remember going home just bawling my eyes out, I didn’t understand. My mom went down there and said, “Don’t discipline my child over such things.” I guess at that time I thought things were okay. It wasn’t until probably sixth or seventh grade that people started saying things, other kids would say things, and then immediately I started trying to cover it up.

I didn’t know what it was, I had no idea. I didn’t know what the word “gay” was, I didn’t identify myself as that. Because I wasn’t attracted to girls, but I wasn’t attracted to boys sexually either. I didn’t have sex until I was 21 years old, and I think it was due to the fact that I didn’t know what was going on. It wasn’t until I started living part-time as Wendy, and then had an experience, that things started connecting for me. I identify myself as a transsexual woman, not as a gay male.

One thing that’s fascinating about transsexuality is that it covers an awful lot of different things. It seems like everybody has to find their own place on that spectrum.

Yeah, and the spectrum is so crazy, even among transgendered individuals. Male-to-female transsexuals who now identify themselves as lesbians. Or a female-to-male. But when you grow up in a very isolated area, I never even saw anyone that wasn’t of my color and religion until I was in college. And then once I got in college, things completely opened up and it was when I could start dabbling in everything. And of course it developed even more once I moved out of Kentucky and moved to Florida and started living as Wendy full-time, and ended up in the adult industry.

What is the place of transsexual porn within the industry? Has it gained mainstream recognition?

In 2003, no. Now, most definitely. Years ago, before I got into the industry, they had to define where they were going to put it. Were they going to put it with mainstream straight porn, or were they going to put it with the gay porn? There was a big huge discussion. Obviously people who don’t understand it identify it as, “Oh, if the person has a penis, then a person who’s attracted to that is gay.” Well, that’s not even close to the way it is. Men who are attracted to feminine transsexuals identify themselves as straight. So they put us in as a “straight fetish.”

When I started, it was quite uncommon to see transsexuals at any of the [industry] events, even though transsexual porn is one of the largest-selling niches in all of straight porn. It’s a huge money-maker. Now, everybody’s jumping on that bandwagon.

So straight men are the main audience for transsexual porn?

Straight men. And I say straight in quotation marks, because where our videos are sold is on the straight side. If you go into video stores we’re not in the gay section. They’re attracted to the feminine qualities that make us transgendered women. My gay friends would say, “Oh, girl, they’re gay!” Well, no, not really. Most of the men, 95 percent that I’ve come in contact with, would never sleep with a guy. That’s just not what they’re into. It goes back to that spectrum of sexuality—I don’t care to classify them, I could care less what people do. Transsexuals have never fit into either community. We’re a source of entertainment for gay men, it’s nice to see us on stage, and “Oh my God, she’s got boobs and look how pretty.” It’s like a Barbie doll: Let’s pull her little strings and give her a dollar and she’ll dance for us, like puppets. And then on the straight side, we’re again like another zoo animal, we’re something that’s different and crazy and “Wow, look!”

And your fans are maybe more shy about identifying themselves.

Yeah, I don’t think many people have had store signings and done things because our fans, you’re not going to see them. Belladonna, for instance, can have hundreds upon hundreds of guys [show up], because that’s cool if their buddies see them standing in line to see a hot naked chick. Because that’s “masculine” and that’s what men do. But I’ve noticed in the South, though, in Bible Belt areas, I have more of a turnout than I do in big cities.

Most people are not going to, in their daily lives, encounter a transgendered person—

Not that they know of...

Right. So is porn something that heightens the visibility of transsexuality, makes people more aware of it?

Oh, most definitely. When the Internet came about, especially. You’ve got to understand, my mom said to me one time, “Well, I just don’t know that there are people that would buy that.” Well, apparently there are, Mom. Because otherwise I wouldn’t have a career. A very lucrative career. Someone’s buying thousands and thousands of DVDs, 30,000 hits a month on my website—that’s 30,000 unique hits. Porn has definitely been an outlet to fantasize, whether or not they ever act upon it. But you’d be surprised how many people recognize me in public. Especially in the South.

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