Friday, January 21, 2011

The Death of Billy Tipton

PhotobucketDeath has a way of bringing out even the darkest secrets; such was the case when, on this day in 1989, the jazz pianist Billy Tipton died.

Paramedics in Spokane, Washington, trying to revive Tipton discovered that he was technically a she, a fact Tipton had managed to conceal from several long-term live-in lovers and even his step-children.

The life and disguise of Billy Tipton is more fully explored in Diane Wood Middlebrook's book Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton.
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Seumas Gagne said...

This story has always amazed me. How could anyone look at that face and not know? I suppose the cultural inhibitions of the time helped Billy. After all, what gentile person of that era would walk up to someone presenting as a man and ask if he had a penis?

michael sean morris said...

He certainly looks more male in other pictures; then again, there are pretty men just as there are handsome women.

The story he used was that he was injured in the war, and given the lesbian aptitude for cunnilingus, it's likely the women he ended up with were more than happy to have him.

But you're right - manners being what they are, even these days I'm sure no one would have dared to ask.