Eclectic. Eccentric.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goddess Bunny

Fiercely rolling down an Inglewood sidewalk in an electric wheel chair, she sports a tight, silver spandex dress and holds her head held high, working a flamboyant, black fall perched atop her head like a teased glamorous crown. Sandie Crisp AKA “Goddess Bunny” is a transsexual drag queen living with polio. A unique individual who conquered the odds, Crisp has as much sass as she has stories.
“Rolling down the street, men are honking their horns. I still got it, I guess,” Crisp says.
She calls Centinela Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre home. Crisp, 51, is an international underground star. A YouTube sensation, one of her videos has almost 3 million hits.  In it she’s decked out in frilly lace and holds a parasol, tap dancing away. Her frail body holding herself up precariously, one hopes there’s an invisible armature to support her.
A SAG and AFTRA member, she has a long history of working with famous artists. Such as her cameo in Marilyn Manson’s music video, “Dope Show.” She also modeled for one of Joel Peter Witkin’s most famous images. Crisp said she also appeared in the porn, “The Boys of Venice” in 1979.
Needless to say, the span of her experiences dances across a Technicolor spectrum of bizarre. The funny thing is, she comes across as a calm and collected individual despite her unique experiences. Past and present.
A knock at her bedroom door comes from time to time. A patient shuffles in. They ask for cigarettes or spare change.
Crisp’s friend, Dianne Vaughn drops by. She wears a huge green shirt, pendulous breasts hanging.  She isn’t wearing her teeth. She’s quiet and says that they’ve been friends since she moved in.
“She still has her mind, unlike most of the residents here. We’ve always gravitated toward each other,” Crisp says.
Crisp gripes the majority of the patients in the facility are senile or have mental problems, so it it’s difficult to make friends at the facility.
            Vaughn joined the home when her sister committed her. Apparently Vaughn tried strangling her to death. She was thrown in jail for 27 days and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
 Vaughn shifts on the mattress nervously, coils creaking.
“You’re here for a reason. You can barely take care of yourself,” Crisp told Vaughn.
A head pops in, clad in yellow scrubs. Cynthia Warren, a caretaker at the home starts rambling about Crisp.
“I work 16-hour days, eight days a week, I love my job. What else do you want to know?” Warren cackles.
Looking around, more questions come to mind. There’s a cosmetology certificate hung, a portrait of Jesus, a license to preach and a picture of her late mother.
Despite the religious symbols littering the room, Crisp says “this is it” and religion is used to control the masses.
One of her favorite past times is making “art” on her laptop. Using her delicate atrophied hands, she crafts pictures of male celebrities’ heads composited onto explicit images of male porn actors. She proudly shares one she recently made of Mario Lopez hodgepodged on a guy with a raging hard-on.
“He said it was close to the real thing,” she shares.
Apparently, Crisp and Lopez are friends, along with a myriad of other household names.
The lines of reality start to blur the more time that’s spent with Crisp.
Crisp has been living full-time as a woman since 1984. When asked if she had plans to go under the knife to go “all the way” she said no, as she is covered under Medicare and the procedure costs upwards to $55,000. She also expressed that it can be difficult to find a doctor who will do the surgery in the U.S. Considering that Crisp is living off of disability and social security checks, this simply isn’t a feasible option.
“Like Chaz Bono, I myself have a problem, the body’s the wrong thing,” Crisp said.
Her resilience was reflected in her stories about her past addictions to crystal meth and crack. Crisp was homeless on the streets of Hollywood for a time and had to resort to prostitution-- her boyfriend Tom Draws coerced her to hit the streets to support their habits after getting her hooked on meth.
Crisp said the deal-breaker was when she came home one day to find Draws in bed having sex with a 13-year-old girl. She said she called in the gay bikers that lived upstairs and “had a gang-bang on his ass.” This lady has been through the ringer.
For a time she was living in a garden shed in her boyfriend, Carlos Gilbert Sandoval’s driveway. She had an extension cord running from the house to her shed charging her wheelchair and had to use a port-o-potty. When the conditions became deplorable, she turned to PATH (Peoples Alliance to Help the Homeless) where she lived for nine months. From there she moved to the New Image Shelter in downtown LA.
“There are close to 85,000 homeless people living in LA,” she said.
During her time at PATH, Crisp was a member of the resident’s council and helped open a computer lab to help people living at the shelter find work.
She paints an eccentric picture filled with fantastical stories that push the envelope. The party’s just begun.

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