Joni Dreams of Drag

drag queen

I love my trannies! Let’s just throw PC-ness out the window for a minute – or maybe longer, depending on how long you stay on this blog. Basic lingo 101: “Tranny” is the politically incorrect name for a transexual, someone who has undergone a sex-change operation, or a transvestite, someone who dresses as the opposite sex. While all drag queens are not trannies and all trannies are not drag queens, the two are often wrongly lumped together in the general public’s eye as trannies.

Tranny has also become a casual slang term for flamboyant. This is inherently bad for society because it spreads ignorance, but a very large part of the population has caught onto something: phonetically, it’s really fun to say. Tranny. Tranny! TRANNY! Can you argue? As far as my circles go, it’s used as a term of endearment. I didn’t invent this stuff, I’m just telling you how it is. Nothing on earth is a greater compliment than when my gay bestie Michael calls me a tranny. “Awww, that’s my tranny!” Music to my God-given vagina.

What’s in a name? Sometimes Anna Conda, sometimes Wilma Fingerdu. But in the end… it’s not what you call it, it’s how you feel about it.

Markko Donto birthday party le souk

I have the utmost respect and undying love for anyone, EVERYONE in the LGBTQ community, by default. I probably have more gay friends than straight friends, which I hereby declare does not make me an expert on the subject. While there is such a broad range in sexuality that exists on the spectrum of LGBTQ, there is one strong, unifying factor: Society says they should be one way, but they know they’re another. And they live it. I stand in absolute awe of anyone courageous enough to recognize a desire burning so deeply inside that they actually go and surgically change their body parts. It is beyond my comprehension what that experience must be like. Mad respect.

Michelle Joni birthday

Truth be told, sexual identity aside, I think I’m just a big ol’ tranny at heart. Someone who loves dress-up, flamboyancy and changing appearance to suit the ego. Living la tranny loca… Make your own rules, forget what society says is right… just have fun, love one another, and love your damn self.

michelle joni drag

I have been really thrown for a loop lately, and like I said, I stopped wearing my fro for a while. I didn’t – and still don’t – know which way is up. I’ve been getting a serious education beyond my wildest imagination, and have been feeling so awful and confused about the whole thing that I let both my black AND blond fros collect dust in the corner for seven full days. It was a sad, sad, week.

But my birthday was coming up, and I knew in my heart I would not be complete without my fro.

Now, I respect your words and comments beyond measure. Please realize they are very mixed in sentiment and concern, so forgive me if I have not addressed your particular feelings about it just yet. One of the opinions made very clear, though, is that context is everything. So, I needed to change the context.

Birthday tranny

In a world of political uncertainty, on my birthday I knew there was at least one safe haven where I’d be free to fro it out without any shame. A place where YOU DO YOU couldn’t be truer. A place where everyone’s making a political statement, so nobody is: Markko Donto’s Wolf Night at Le Souk.

And guess who shares my birthday? Markko Donto.

Markko Donto Wolf Party

Happy birfday to me.

Every Tuesday night Le Souk is off the handle for Wolf Night, but for Markko’s big night it was EXTRA glossy. Oh man. Endless champagne and sparklers. Dancers popping up for mini-shows throughout the night, pushing erotic boundaries with flexibility and class. A performance by Markko Donto herself. A camera crew to catch the entire night on film.


Wolf night

The night started out with a delicious Le Souk middle eastern dinner with twenty of my closest friends… at the same tables that would later be covered in bottles, birthday cake and beautiful dancers.

Le Souk Markko Donto Michelle Joni Birthday

“It’s your birthday,” the manager said to me when the party got bumping around one AM. “You should dance.”

Michelle Joni SCOWL

I smiled, and he cleared off half the bar. I’m no stranger to dancing on bars, but as he wiped down my stage, I started to look at this invitation a bit differently. I’m no longer some intoxicated 21-year-old who hops up, wiggles around, and jumps back down. This was going to be a performance.

No, better yet, an audition!

michelle joni dancing on the bar

And so, I auditioned for the part of Michelle Joni.

michelle joni wolf night

Yoga and stretching are always my guiding dancing forces. In order to nab the role, I knew I had to incorporate all of this.

Michelle joni dancer

Feeeeel that slight stretching sensation.

Wolf night le souk dancer

I took this opportunity of having a private elevated stage to dance horizontally. To strengthen my core, and to do the occasional down dog. After an hour or so of this, I felt stretched and rejuvenated. And I had a few fans.

Blonde fro le souk

My sister Jessica joined me after a little while, the Pepa to my Salt. We both learned the hard way, through years and years of dance classes and musicals, that neither of us are particularly good at choreographed numbers. Eight-count, what? But… what we do know, we know how to feel liberated.

Michelle and Jessica dancing

This brought back memories of when we used to choreograph our own “shows” and perform them for our parents in the living room. Oh, how proud they were! I’m sure we’re making mommy and daddy pretty proud right now too.

Wolf night

So tranny me up, I think I got the part! And darling, don’t you dare say a word about my hair.

michelle joni blonde fro

55 thoughts on “Joni Dreams of Drag

  1. You’ve obviously learned nothing about privilege from this experience, despite what you say, as you declare yourself a “tranny at heart.” Of course, with your stupid wig you already basically declared yourself a “nigger at heart,” so you might as well just go right along appropriating other people’s experiences. What’s next, donning a wheelchair and claiming to be a “retard at heart”? Eating a taco because you’re really just a “spic at heart”? You’re ridiculous.

      • My point exactly. A non-trans person calling herself a “tranny at heart” is just as repulsive as if she had used any of those other phrases to describe herself; it reeks of unrecognized privilege and entitlement to use other people’s real life experiences–for which many, many people have been discriminated against, had violence perpetrated against them, and even been killed–as some “funny” party trick.

      • Liza, thank you for articulating this. Michelle, your finalizing “don’t you dare say a word about my hair” just demonstrates (once again) that you’re failing to acknowledge and internalize your race, class, sexual, and cisgender privilege. Just saying that you “understand” that you are privileged doesn’t get you off the hook, and also claiming that you shouldn’t be criticized because its your birthday is willful ignorance; as a woman of color, I can’t just tell people “it’s my birthday so stop exoticizing me today, please.” If you insist on continuing this blog, please start by getting rid of the afro. Attend serious dialogues. Follow more of the imploring suggestions of other people who have posted on this blog about ways for you to educate yourself and stop marginalizing the pain that targeted groups experience. But seriously, stop wearing the afro. I don’t know how many more ways people can put that for you.

    • +1, Liza and Susila.

      “Tranny! Tranny! Tranny!” + “Don’t you dare say a word about my hair?” + “I’m an equal opportunity offender for Halloween”? WOW.

    • I refuse to believe she doesn’t get it. I’m thinking more an Ann Coulter performance piece. No adult can maintain this cheerful, blissful level of ignorance in the face of repeated social reality checks.

  2. “Tranny” is a word that is written on broken bodies during hate crimes. It is a slur. Some people may wish to reclaim it, but as a cisgendered person that is NOT your place. It is also not the place of your cis gay friends.

    Stop trying to push the envelope by playing with the symbols of minorities.

  3. fuck you just fuck you you obviously don’t understand what a terrible person you are PCness??? More like kindness and decency. Take that ridiculous :”””””afro”””(it’s not an afro if you are white) off and stop calling yourself and tranny???pLease I’m begging you we don’t WANT you or your heart (don’t pull the tranny-friend card bullshit, it just means your friends are more tolerant of your bigotry than i am, not that you are a good person)

  4. oh my god baby. just oh my god. you say you read all of these? i’ve been watching this horror show the last week, and i’ve been so angry i’ve wanted to strangle you, while simultaneously wanting to give you a huge hug because i don’t believe you are hurting us all on purpose. i could be wrong admittedly, but i really truly from the depths of my fucking soul believe you sincerly just don’t know what’s right or wrong in this situation you find yourself in. honeybear i understand you like the afro. honestly if i ignore the incredible offensiveness, i admit you look adorable in the afro, and you seem like someone i’d love to hang out with. you remind me of alot of my white friends which is why i can kind of see both sides of this. that being said, YOU NEED TO BURN THE GOTDAMN FRO. okay, burn it, both of them. YOU WEARING IT AT THIS POINT WILL NOT HELP YOUR CASE!! from this point on everytime you are photographed with that thing on your head it reads as a big, fat FUCK YOU BLACK WOMEN and i sincerly think this is not your intent. but babydoll, INTENT MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. zip. zelch. nada. as my mom use to say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” people in this world go to prison everyday, even though they didn’t intend for anything bad to happen. So please, go out with your friends, have a graet big bonfire/party and throw in both afros. but that being said, please keep the blog up, i actually like you and am enjoying reading your posts. you can just change the topic from “watch me party in a fro, ya’ll” to “look ya’ll i was real ignant. not even ignorant, i was ignant. watch em grow and learn and change my ways.” i’d really love to see that michelle. and happy belated birthday, i was really worried about how quiet you’ve been the last few days.

      • nope, baltimore. but i do think you seem otherwise like a nice girl. again i i must say, just to drive it home YOU MUST GET RID OF THE AFRO.

      • I think I must add another “wow” here. Wow. You have completely convinced me that you always do a page search for the phrases “I love you”, “you’re awesome”, and “I understand you”, and read just those parts. I wasn’t sure before and only guessed at it, but now I have irrefutable proof. HOW could you completely miss everything Shannon said?

        It must be nice living in a bubble.

      • Your whole blog really is THE absolute worst, not to mention crap, wik wak, depressing, uninspiring, unimpressive, nauseating and fake. You are a complete effing ding dong Michelle, jeepers mother effiing creepers!

    • Michelle, I also second what Shannon says. I have become interested in your life, and I hope I am not the only one here hoping to see an evolution in you, but it’s not happening yet. The blond wig looks buffonish, and I cringed seeing you dancing on the bar, wondering how much longer you are going to humiliate yourself. Why don’t you crimp your own hair? It’s unique and your own, has fullness and texture. My advice: Leave New York, for god’s sake lay off the booze, follow the above advice, and get a good shrink to help you get to the bottom of your spiritual unrest. There is a profound naiveté here that I am sure affects your romantic life, your family, career etc. How the fuck can you say you never felt white guilt in your life? Didn’t you learn anything in history class? Don’t you notice when you go to your fancy hotel parties who is cleaning up after you and how uncanny it is that people with shades of brown skin disproportionately are in service industry jobs, etc? Life can unfair and cruel, in large part because of people who purposely blind themselves, and you can continue to insist on living in denial, but reality is where true growth and love and maturity lie. You only go around once…think about your actions and I stress, I don’t think
      your NYC lifestyle is doing you any favors.

  5. I’m really growing disinterested at this point. I’m not sure what this post was trying to say in the context of your blog. I heard, “Forget all of the feedback, I’ll insult any marginalized group of people I want!” When I thought you were just misguided but open to analyzing your actions, I felt invested in your story and compelled to share my experiences in the hopes they’d help you gain a deeper understanding of what you’re doing. But post after post, you’ve half-apologized and continued to justify, and even outdo, your ignorance.

    The only reason I’m posting now – because continuously trying to articulate my thoughts about what you’re doing feels redundant at this point – is to let you know about another PISAB Undoing Racism training in New York coming up at the end of January. I mentioned these trainings in my first comment, and I very highly recommend them. They have been the foundation of my understanding of race in the US. This upcoming training is particularly meaningful because it’s being hosted by Urban Bush Women, a New York-based dance company comprised of WOC that is deeply invested in community organizing. They’ve also addressed the topic of black women’s hair in Hair Stories (Google the case study they published about it). I’ll forward you the email with all of the details, and if you’re interested I’d be happy to attend the training with you.

    I don’t want to give up hope that you are willing to learn, because our exchanges represent something larger to me. But genuine learning will most likely come at the expense of your uninhibited freedom to disregard others in the name of “self-discovery” and “doing you”.

    Michelle, I genuinely, from the bottom of my optimistic heart, hope you will attend this workshop.

    • Kelly, I also attended this workshop during graduate school in NYC. Michelle, I second Kelly’s suggestion for sure. It’s a minimal investment of time for a really eye-opening and important experience. Please consider it.

  6. Unbelievable. So far we’ve had, “trannies”, “the gays” and your afro wearing “I’m-so-learning!” bullshit. Keep appropriating. Michelle, have you ever been diagnosed with histronic personality disorder? You seem to have no sense of yourself whatsoever- with your mythical vagueries, seemingly changing your personality based on who you’re with and your rampant attention seeking- I wouldn’t be surprised.


    Your definition of what a Trans* person is – – is WRONG. It is an oversimplified and completely idiotic explanation. I hope perhaps you take a moment to educate yourself on actual trans issues instead of appropriating it as a way to embrace your quirky-racist-bullshit. You still don’t get anything anyone said to you. This is abhorrent. Trans* people are not there for your inspiration and motivation to embrace your inner wild child. They face discrimination, harrasment, abuse, and MURDER! Do you get that? So you can take your “god-given-vagina” and just fuck right the hell of. Your blog is a train wreck and you clearly have no depth or sense of introspectiveness..

  8. Just stop. You are offensive, self indulgent, and ignorant. You are not trying to learn or use this experience for good or for open conversation. This is abundantly clear by your twitter pics. Equal opportunity offender indeed. At this point I really worry about your personal safety. You are angering so many people. Just please stop. No more.

  9. Ok, so basically your message here is: “I know tranny is an offensive and terrible slur to many in the transgendered community, but hey, it’s fun to say! And MY friends and I like saying it, so it’s TOTALLY OK for me to say it!” Um, no. No, it is not. You and I actually have a lot in common. We’re both cisgender, straight, white girls. But the difference between us (and it is pretty huge)? I strive VERY hard to be aware of the privilege that being born with white skin, being attracted to women, and being born in a sexually normalized body gives me. When a POC, gay person, or transperson explains their oppression and experience to me, I listen to them and learn from them.


    You say “Now, I respect your words and comments beyond measure.” but continue to prove that you IN NO WAY do. Because you know what this post says? “Hey, I respect your struggle, trans* people, but I, a cisgender woman, just LOVE the word TRANNY so much that even though it’s the word hateful people hurl at you when they spit on you or beat you, I’m going to use it and dismiss all criticisms as ‘p.c. police.'” I love to dress up and change my identity too. I call that being a theatrical person who loves clothes, not a tranny. Because I am not an asshole. At this point I honestly cannot tell if you are trolling. I am actually starting to hope you are, because otherwise you are truly one of the most appallingly ignorant, selfish and self-centered people I have ever had the displeasure to know of through the Internet.

  10. stooooooooooooooooooooooooop. stop stop stop stop stop. you’re dumber than i could have ever imagined and hellbent on offending everyone and everything. you look like a coked out weirdo – doing yoga poses? for an HOUR? at a party with REAL performances from professionals? in that outfit? just delete the damn blog like a normal person who has the capacity to feel shame would have done a week ago.

  11. I’m thoroughly convinced that you really don’t care anymore. You’ve heard overwhelming testimonies from men AND women of color (and several white people) on white privilege, fetishtization of other cultures, appropriating cultures, natural hair journeys, the politics of black hair, etc. But you still continue.Why, Michelle? Why won’t you stop this? It’s a very simple question. Nobody needs to tell you why this is wrong, as it has been described every which way. The question is no longer “Is this wrong?” or “Why are you wearing this afro?” but rather “Why do you still continue?”

    • Why do you let this upset you so much? Why not focus on your life and embrace diversity, as she has? Shes not letting labels stand in the way of celebrating humanity and maybe you should try relaxing a little bit and seeing past the color or labels that we humans use to classify people.

  12. Jesus Christ, just when I thought you couldn’t get any worse. Please, please, PLEASE start listening to people and knock off this nonsense.

  13. Holy crap. Other people’s core identities are not your own personal wardrobe, where you get to just try them on and see how it feels/fits.

  14. I like this post – I think it is a lot of fun. I think celebrating equality and diversity is fantastic. Oh… because you’ve gone and had a drink on your birthday, this must mean you are a floozy dumb blonde… right? Oh, because you used the word ‘tranny’ in a loving manner amongst your LGBTQ friends, you must be a dumb blonde, right? Ohhhh because you are white, blonde and are from an upper-class background this means you are dumb, ignorant, and privileged… right? Oh shoot – I did it again. I judged you on stereotypes and prejudice..but its okay because I am judging the characteristics that are ‘white, blonde and privileged’ and making the assumption that this must mean you are dumb, ignorant and floozy. How dare you drink, wear loud colors and wear a wig – you must conform to what society (and, evidently, your readers) want you to be…. white….blonde…..privileged…….heterosexual……sober…….weak..silenced..bullied… intimidated..weak….silent. For the sake of celebrating equality, diversity and open dialogue – please do not conform. Without conflict, there can be no growth.

  15. “While all drag queens are not trannies and all trannies are not drag queens, the two are often wrongly lumped together in the general public’s eye as trannies.”

    Kinda like you’re doing throughout this entire post?

  16. Its so funny that all the people beating the hell out of you with their words are doing to you exactly what they claim you do to others. Forget about ’em. Its good to see someone who is focused on not worrying about labels that divide us or whats politically correct, and who is more interested in people BEYOND the labels. Its nice to see that you see people for who they are rather than the labels that divide us. For the rest of you, get over yourselves, seriously, this is 2012. We can all dig up hurtful things from the past no matter who we are , yes, thats right, even white people. Let it go already and worry about the future, or fix your home fires instead of hurling insults, racist comments and hurtful words towards this delightful woman.

  17. I am boggled and intensely offended that you would use the t-word so thoughtlessly, and claim it childishly as, “putting away political correctness”. Drag queens are occasionally transgendered, but this is NOT the rule. Most queens are cisgendered, and this has nothing at all to do with the transgendered lifestyle. It does not take being flamboyant to be a “tranny”. Legitimately, the t-word has equivalent weight to the n-word. I have transgendered friends who get scared to use public restrooms. This is not paranoia. There is a legitimate fear of being beaten, raped or murdered for eliminating waste in what others may deem to be the incorrect bathroom.

    Even beyond this, being transgendered means most times, going through hormonal therapy and gender reassignment surgery. This is not pleasant. This is not easy. Even if all of your friends and family accept you, and you’re fortunate to live in a very liberal city, the best case scenario is rife with physical and emotional pain, and great financial obstacles. Your callousness is boggling, when you claim to be such a loving and lovely person.

    And for the record, there are plenty of GLBQ people that are not accepting or tolerant of the T. Your gay friend saying “tranny” does not make it okay. That’s like if your Mexican friend called you “nigger” affectionately. Does that still sound cheeky and lovable?

    Also, if you really are so enamored with the afro, why don’t you just get a perm? Then it wouldn’t be you slipping into it when convenient, but it would be your actual hair.

  18. “Tranny” is a politically incorrect slang term that originated from the words transsexual and transvestite, but both of these terms are outdated, NOT politically correct, and are offensive to me and others. As someone who is so in touch with the LGBT community you might wanna look this up- TRANSGENDER.

  19. Do you know how degrading and hurtful it can be? Coming from a college kid that almost had the word carved into my skin by my drunk, transphobic roommates when they found out that I was transgender. I’m not only insulted, but incredibly hurt that you would think it’s ok to try and use the word “tranny” in what you think is a funny way.

  20. You are an insensitive, attention-seeking, privileged, myopic, callous, ill-informed, misguided, self-absorbed, clueless, faux-progressive, trite, small-minded, anti-intellectual, childish, blind, willfully ignorant, showboating poseur. You are not celebrating *anything* except *yourself*.

    Lastly, your writing is sloppy, unremarkable and dull. It appears to mirror your predictable, party-girl lifestyle. In the words of an editor who once sent a rejection letter to Anne Lamott, “You have made the mistake of assuming that everything that has ever happened to you is interesting.” It isn’t — and neither are you.

    Bad writing is entirely forgivable. However, reckless indifference most certainly is not. Shame on you. The world does not need your wide-eyed, glittery “insights.” The world needs you to shut your damn mouth and LISTEN. Try it. You might actually learn something…and I guarantee you will become a better writer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s