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 2017-06-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

NUNN ON ONE Alexandra Billings talks 'Transparent,' tunes and Caitlyn
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2017-06-14

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Alexandra Billings grew up performing in Chicago and recently returned to make an appearance at the Steppenwolf gala. Theater credits in Illinois include The Bailiwick Theater, Light Opera Works and Court Theatre. She has won a Joseph Jefferson Award and five After Dark Awards, and was a artistic associate for About Face Theatre.

Now living in Hollywood, she has achieved even more success with a variety of television shows. Billings has played transgender characters on series such as ER, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy. This streak continues with the role of Davina on the current hit Amazon series Transparent.

Windy City Times: I first met you when you were in the live show Xena.

Alexandra Billings: Oh, lord. That was back in 1923!

WCT: You really gave it your all at the recent Steppenwolf gala. How was being in Chicago again?

AB: I was in town for 48 hours. I got in a plane, went to the hotel, ate, slept, did the gig and went home. I got to see Honey West, which was spectacular. She came to my hotel and we hung out for two hours. She is my best friend and has been for 20 years. She got nominated for a Jeff Award for Priscilla. She is the first trans person in the history of the Jeff Awards to receive a nomination. It is huge and no one is talking about it.

It makes me angry to see how things are minimized, even in the LGBT community. She has made theatrical history.

WCT: Honey was the first trans person to do that role.

AB: That is exactly right. There is a lot of stuff going on here that needs to be talked about.

WCT: Is the new season of Transparent in the can?

AB: Yes, it is shot. It is more of the same, but more… [Laughs]! It is bigger.

WCT: Will your onscreen friendship with Maura Pfefferman be explored more?

AB: They were looking at trans actors' contributions more closely on the show for season three. Season four has a lot more of Maura and I in it. There is more on Shea also. There have been suggestions that the trans actors be more visible.

Jill Soloway, who is a genius, took that to heart, and so did the rest of the writers.

WCT: How did you get on Transparent in the first place?

AB: Jill and her sister Kate, who is also an executive producer and writer on the show, and I all knew each other from Chicago. The Annoyance Theatre did a production called Co-Ed Prison Sluts, which was a huge hit. It ran for years. The Soloway sisters wrote the music and lyrics to it. I was doing a show called Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack for the Torso Theatre, which is no longer there.

The shows were running at the same time. This was when late night theater shows were hopping.

One time I was asked to fill in at the Annoyance show then jump into a cab to make it to my show later. I was young and did it for a week. That is how we got to know each other.

About four years ago Kate contacted me through Facebook and told me about their idea for a show. Nobody wanted to buy it because it was about a parent who was transitioning.

Amazon was interested but I thought that is the place that sells books!

I didn't think anyone would see the show, but knew if they made it then it would be brilliant. I went down to read with Jeffrey Tambor and we hit it off immediately. I knew it was a good idea when I walked into the room. It just happened before reading anything. We just looked at each other and knew it would go swell. I got the role, we did the pilot, and my life changed.

WCT: I have seen you at the awards shows. Do you get starstruck?

AB: Oh, my god—are you kidding? That is all I do. I bring my phone and take pictures of people. I'm the idiot running up to people at the Emmy Awards and asking for pictures. I have no shame.

I am 55 years old. I have been living with AIDS for three decades. Every day is a gift. When I am living a Cinderella moment in a fairy tale, I don't take one single moment for granted.

WCT: You have a new show at the LGBT Center in LA coming out?

AB: Yes, it is called S/He & Me: A Theatrical Cabaret. It is a musical play about my marriage and my relationship with my wife, who I met in 1976. It parallels my parents' relationship when they were teenagers. It is about wha happens to these four characters. There is a little boy named Scott who is the catalyst to all of these relationships.

I wrote it and it is directed by Joanne Gordon. There is found music where we put in a bunch of Broadway show tunes. Within the text there is a lot of singing.

WCT: Would you ever write a book about your life?

AB: It is hard, Jerry. It is difficult for me to write something and not be very truthful. I don't know if I could be honest and not hurt a lot of feelings or at least bruise some people. I don't particularly want to do that in order to write a book. I have to think about it.

I am going to write a book, it just might not be an autobiography.

WCT: Do you have any music coming out?

AB: I suck in the studio. I feel I should leave that to Madonna. It is really a gift and a whole other thing that I don't understand. I don't have a pleasing voice where someone will just sit there and listen to it. I am loud. It takes up a lot of space, and is not always in tune.

I feel like I am a live performer. We tried to do a live album, but it felt stilted. I don't know if I will go back in the studio anytime soon.

WCT: Any thoughts on the current state of trans rights?

AB: I transitioned in 1980 when it was not only unheard of, but illegal. I got put in jail because I was wearing women's clothes in the streets of Chicago.

We live in a very different time now, but conversion therapy is very real. We are designated a mental illness in almost a dozen states. There are several jobs where I could still be fired. I was a victim of a hate crime in my own university in California. There is progress to be made.

I think things are better and can be better.

We have to concern ourselves with the younger generation. The trans younger community is killing themselves at astronomical rates. This is not just the bullying that is going on but the marginalization in the LGBT community. We have a lot of education and communication problems in our community.

I believe in order to clean up politically we need to clean up our own house first. We are not good at that unless something tragic happens. We can't wait for that to happen. There is a man in the White House right now who couldn't care less about us. If push came to shove then we would be the first to go.

We've got to congeal and be a tribe. We can't do that until we learn our own LGBT history. That goes back to my point about Honey West!

WCT: What do you think of Caitlyn Jenner?

AB: I feel she is in the best place she can be for what she knows. The best thing she can do for herself is take a vacation. She needs to stop for a minute. Anyone that goes through any transition, whether marriage to being single, having a job to unemployment, or whatever, if it is done on a large stage it turns into theatrics. It is not spiritual or truthful. It is not founded in any kind of reality. That is true of anyone, not just Caitlyn Jenner.

She is going through a massive change in her life on a global scale. I don't know how we expect her to act except for exactly how she is acting. She is not doing this in a spiritual way but instead a public way. I think she is a wonderful human being with her heart in the right place. She just needs to stop. She's got the money and the time. Get the hell out of Dodge and relax for a few minutes!

Visit AlexandraBillings.com for more information on Billings' projects. Transparent's fourth season is scheduled to be released sometime this fall.


facebook twitter pin it 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

Gay News

The Golden Girls, The Lot Episodes, extended through Aug. 26 2017-06-21 - CHICAGO ( June 20, 2017 ) — Thank you for being a friend, indeed! Due to popular demand Hell in a Handbag Productions' ...


Gay News

Kathy Bates to headline Oct. 2 event 2017-06-21 - Kathy Bates, an Academy Award-winning actress ( Misery ) and two-time cancer survivor, will headline the 2017 Fall Benefit Luncheon hosted by the ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies 2017-06-21 - Playwright: Jessica Sherr. At: Velvet Fox Productions at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Tickets: $24-$34. Runs through: July 2 It was ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Native Gardens 2017-06-21 - Playwright: Karen Zacarias. At: Victory Gardens Theater at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: $15-$60. Runs through: July 2 History ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes 2017-06-21 - Written by: David Cerda. Directed by: Shade Murray. At: Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark St. Tickets: HandbagProductions.org: $16-20. Runs through: July 12 ...


Gay News

CRITICS'PICKS 2017-06-21 - Great Expectations, Silk Road Rising and Remy Bumppo Theatre at Chicago Temple, through July 2. Victorian Brits may all look alike to us ...


Gay News

NUNN ON ONE: THEATER 'The King and' Kavin Panmeechao 2017-06-21 - Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I continues to captivate audiences decades after premiering back in 1951. The classic musical tells the story ...


Gay News

LGBTQ drama through July 16 2017-06-21 - Cor Theater will present the Midwest premiere of the LGBTQ drama Late Company through July 16 at The Buena ( Pride Arts Center ...


Gay News

'Nuns in Charge' through July 16 2017-06-21 - Vicki Quade—the creator and co-author of Late Nite Catechism—is bringing back the comedy Put the Nuns in Charge! through July 16 at the ...


Gay News

Lookingglass ED Kraft to exit 2017-06-21 - Lookingglass Theatre Company announced that Rachel Kraft has decided to step down as executive director after 12 years with the company. She ...


 



Copyright © 2017 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

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      Post 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.