Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-12-12
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Alexandra Billings reigns on her parade
by Ross Forman
2009-06-24

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


She's a worldwide pioneer in the LGBT community, not just a local celebrity with roots in Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Alexandra Scott Billings, 47, is the first transgender woman to have played a transgender character on television. She appeared in the 2003 made-for-TV movie Romy and Michelle: A New Beginning on ABC-TV and in an episode of the ABC show Karen Sisco. She also played transsexual characters in episodes of ER and Grey's Anatomy.

Not bad for the 1980 graduate of Schaumburg High School who admittedly is a Cubs fan, enjoys Murphy's Bleachers sports bar on the North Side and craves Giordano's stuffed pizza.

"Chicago's my home. It really is," said Billings, who now lives in Los Angeles. "The city is gorgeous; the people are open, funny, silly, great. There really is no place like Chicago anywhere in the world. And the summer in Chicago really is beautiful.

"There's no place like home."

Billings, who left Chicago for California in 2003, returns for the ultimate local LGBT honor. She is the grand marshal for the 40th annual Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, June 28.

"Are you kidding? I think it's incredible, bizarre," to be the grand marshal, said Billings, who last was in the Chicago parade on a float for the Baton Show Lounge, where she worked at the time.

"It's huge being the first transgender grand marshal; I really can't believe it."

In fact, Billings thought Chicago Pride officials had the wrong person when they contacted her for the gig. "I kept asking them, 'Are you sure you want me? Don't you want some famous person?' I even thought they somehow had me confused with Peter Billingsley. I just thought it was really bizarre that they wanted me [ to be the grand marshal ] ," she said.

Ultimately, she agreed without hesitation.

But don't think for one minute she isn't nervous about the role due to the size of Chicago's annual afternoon gala, where about 500,000 fans are expected to watch.

"I have a terrible fear of crowds, and anything over 10 people is a crowd," she said. "It makes me very nervous knowing how many people will be in the crowd. I'm nervous, but still very excited. [ Large crowds are ] a real fear of mine that I'm going to have to deal with."

Billings admits she's even nervous in an elevator with more than six people and has intense stage fright, surprisingly. After all, just consider her resume:

—She was a female impersonator in the early 1980s under the stage name Chante, and won numerous beauty contests to claim such titles as Miss Wisconsin, Miss New York, Miss Chicago, Miss Illinois and Miss Florida. Also, she judged the Miss Continental pageant in 2000 and 2001.

—Billings has extensive, award-winning experience at The Bailiwick Theater and the Steppenwolf Theatre.

—Her one-woman autobiographical show has toured Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and off-Broadway.

—As a singer, she has performed in theaters and nightclubs throughout the United States. Her first CD, Being Alive, was up for Grammy consideration. She was a recipient of the New York MAC Hanson Award for Cabaret Artist of the Year in 2004.

"There were so many great things that have happened in my life; it truly has been a roller-coaster life," Billings said. "I had a great teacher who once told me that it's great to look back, just as long as you don't stand there and stare. So I look back with great fondness, but that's it.

"I've had a really big life, and a lot of extremes have happened, there's no question about that. But the more I interact with other people, the more I realize that my journey isn't really as bizarre or odd as anyone else's. I don't really look back at my life and say, 'Holy moly, look at all of that stuff.' I don't do that. I look back at my life and remember different times, events, periods … and then I look to the future. I try to keep my sights on what's in front of me, as much as I possibly can.

"When I was young, I remember saying to myself, 'Gee, I wish something extraordinary would happen to me.'"

Well, Billings truly is extraordinary.

She's overcome AIDS, which doctors told her in the 1980s would claim her life very soon. She's now healthy and happy, living with her high school sweetheart, Chrisanne. Sure, she still smokes and deals with daily medication, but otherwise she's a picture of perfect health—and a pretty one at that.

"You don't have much time left, the doctors told me [ years ago ] ," Billings said. "And every year thereafter, the doctor would say, 'I have absolutely no idea; you should be dead.'

"I think about that all the damn time now."

More Alexandra Billings …

—She has taught at the Steppenwolf Summer School since 2002, as well as Louis University, The University of Chicago, Illinois University, for the Illinois Theatre Convention, at Act One Studios, and various Master classes and workshops around the Chicago area.

—Billings and Chrisanne were married in a commitment ceremony in Chicago Dec. 4, 1995.

—Quoting Billings: "I want to do everything [ in life ] . I want to travel more. I want to live happily for a really long time with my wife. I want to see equality happen for every single human being on the planet. I want to do everything that I haven't done. Climb trees, jump out of a plane, anything and everything."

—On Stonewall: "The further we get from that event the more holy it becomes. What I think we have to remember is, that particular situation was born out of chaos, and I think that's what's important. I believe that any great joy begets great pain, and I also believe the opposite works. Every great pain begets great joy. So, I think we not only have to remember to celebrate the joy of being free, but also the pain and chaos of what happened. We cannot forget that that was a situation that was highly emotionally and politically charged, and the people had just plain had enough. Especially now when we're fighting for equal rights."

—On Facebook: "I'm obsessed with that thing; I can't stay off it. I love it."

"Schoolboy to Showgirl: The Alexandra Billings Story," a part of the Out & Proud in Chicago series, concludes its run on WTTW Prime June 24. A 20-minute screening of the movie Stealth—which stars Billings and will benefit the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame—will take place Tuesday, June 30, at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, at 8 p.m.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Billy Masters 2018-12-12
SAG nominees include 'A Star Is Born,' 'Maisel' 2018-12-12
NUNN ON ONE Actor John Barrowman part of team that spins a Celtic tale 2018-12-10
Billy Masters 2018-12-05
Billy Masters 2018-11-27
Karamo Brown in Evanston Dec. 5 2018-11-26
SHOWBIZ Mariah Carey, Rami Malek, Jussie Smollett, Rachel Maddow 2018-11-20
GLAAD applauds record-high percentage of LGBTQs on TV 2018-11-19
'Drag Race' guest judges announced 2018-11-19
Billy Masters 2018-11-13
Queer Eye's Karamo Brown in Evanston Dec. 5 2018-11-07
Wachowskis to sell Chicago studio space 2018-10-31
SHOWBIZ: Jamie Lee Curtis, Latifah, Jim Parsons, 'Heathers' 2018-10-30
Amiyah Scott 2018-10-26
SHOWBIZ 'Orange' ending, 'Tales of the City,' Rihanna, Jussie Smollett 2018-10-23
Lesbian CEO takes reins at New Thought Channel 2018-10-22
Chicago-made "the T" Wins Best Indie Series in Streamy Awards 2018-10-22
Billy Masters 2018-10-17
TELEVISION 'Glitterbomb' engages queer Latinx community 2018-10-16
Personalities speak against anti-LGBTQ bullying for Spirit Day Oct. 18 2018-10-10
Leslie Jordan is now one of 'The 'Cool Kids' 2018-10-10
Selling it like Ryan Serhant 2018-10-10
SHOWBIZ Madonna, Matt Bomer, bullying movie, Janelle Monae 2018-10-09
SHOWBIZ Aretha, Justin Bieber, Wanda Sykes, 'Wicked,' Robin Williams 2018-10-02
SHOWBIZ Greg Berlanti, Rihanna, 'Downton Abbey,' Ralph Lauren 2018-09-25
LGBT vampire film has Shakespearean twist 2018-09-24
'Maisel,' 'Thrones,' RuPaul rule Emmys 2018-09-18
GLAAD celebrates LGBTQ-inclusive 70th Annual Emmy Awards 2018-09-17
SHOWBIZ Sia, Rain Dove, Justin Bieber, Grace Jones, Kathy Griffin 2018-09-04
TV Choreographer-dancer Travis Wall on 'Dance' series, being out 2018-08-28
'Wendy Williams Show' in town Aug. 23 2018-08-14
TELEVISION Orange Is the New Black cast talk new season, LGBT issues 2018-08-08
New Drag Reality Show Camp Wannakiki Coming Soon to YouTube 2018-07-26
2018 ASANA Softball World Series Coming Live To A Screen Near You 2018-07-25
TV Getting crafty with 'Making It' contestant Jeffery Rudell 2018-07-25
SHOWBIZ Jennifer Hudson, 'Horror Story,' Kathy vs. Ellen, gay boy band 2018-07-24
TV 'Sharp Objects' screens at Chicago History Museum 2018-07-23
NUNN ON ONE TV Mj Rodriguez strikes a 'Pose' 2018-07-16
NUNN ON ONE TV Gay psychic Thomas John aims to take your mind on a trip 2018-07-15
70th Annual Emmy nominations announced 2018-07-13
 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.