Amanda was probably born Alain Tapp in Saigon (or France?) in 1939, but it might have been Hong Kong in 1941 or 1945 or even (as she now claims) November 1948. She's apparently of mixed parentage, at various times she's claimed to have British, French and Indonesian fathers, and English and Russo-Oriental mothers. Although now now usually identified as being 'French', she actually holds a British passport and uses a Scottish surname! The only thing really certain is that she was destined to become another of the gorgeous young transsexuals to emerge in France during the '60's, and was later was an icon of the 1970s'.
After an education supposedly in Switzerland and England, by 1959 at latest Amanda had moved to France - still a tall, gangly and rather Asian looking boy. Radically transformed by hormones and a nose job, she first became publicly noticed in 1960 when she started working as an exotic showgirl and stripper known as Peki d'Oslo at the Le Carrousel revue in Paris.
Peki's exotic looks quickly attracted the eye of Salvador Dali and she became his regular companion (despite his marriage in 1934 to Gala) and muse for several years - later capitalising on this with the book My Life with Dali.
In 1963 Peki had a sex change operation, carried out in Casablanca by Dr Bourou and possibly paid for by Salvador Dali.
Soon after this she changed her first name from Peki to Amanda and moved to London, where she quickly became part of the trendy "Chelsea Girl" set. She work at night at night at Raymond's Revue Bar, but during the day studied at St Martin’s College of Art where she started to meet musicians such as Marianne Faithfull and Keith Moon.
She bleached her hair blond with great effect and in 1965 she was signed by a model agency. It wasn't long before she was cat walking for top designers and appearing on magazine covers, but her modelling career was increasingly hampered by rumours of her transsexuality.
Amanda desperately needed official documents - such as a passport - that classified her as 'Female'. Whilst visiting a Notting Hill pub with her friend April Ashley she encountered a Scottish student who was willing to marry her for £50. The new Mrs Lear quickly obtained both her UK passport and a divorce, and slightly surprisingly adopted her husbands surname.
In early 1973 singer Bryan Ferry saw the supposedly 25-year old Amanda (making her pre-teen in her showgirl days!) on stage modelling a collection for fashion designer Ossie Clarke, and invited her to feature as the cover girl for Roxy Music's new album "For Your Pleasure" (right). Their relationship apparently culminated with a brief engagement for marriage. Amanda was soon mixing with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Elton John, and in 1974 she met David Bowie and became one of several beautiful transsexual women (Romy Haag was another) featuring large in his love life at that time, indeed they lived together for a year and Bowie is one of her few admitted "lovers".
Amanda became part of David Bowie's stage act, and he helped start off her solo music career. In 1977 she signed her own record contract, and in the late 1970's she became a huge disco star on mainland Europe in her own right as her first two Albums, the 1977 I Am A Photograph and the 1978 Sweet Revenge, and the singles released from them, sold in millions around the world. In one of her hits - Fabulous Lover, Love Me - she sings "the surgeon made me so well that you could not tell that I was not somebody else".
After her marriage to Frenchman Alain-Phillippe Malagnac in 1979 (right), Amanda began to vigorously deny her transsexuality. The centre fold of her album Sweet Revenge had already included nude photos of her, and more were sent out as post cards to the members of her fan club. Apparently as further proof, she posed nude for several men's magazines (including Playboy in 1980) and may have deliberately let paparazzi photographers catch her topless and bottomless on several occasions.
While this certainly proved to her delighted fans that she still had an amazing body even [almost certainly] in her '40's, her claim was not credible given the photographic trial going back to her Peki days and the comments of former close acquaintances implying that she was a transsexual, indeed April Ashley (a former colleague of Peki) has explicit about this whilst comments from David Bowie and the sadly deceased Salvador Dali have not supported Amanda's claim. This has not been helped by indirect evidence such as Amanda's very masculine voice and her lack of children. Probably Amanda's only chance to have disproved that she was a transwoman would have been by offering good documentation for scrutiny (e.g. her original birth certificate) and submitting to medical sex testing that would have verified her claim outright - but she did not do this.
In the '80's and '90's Amanda continued to record and perform her music, although she was unable to repeat the success of her early disco albums. However she successfully started two new careers - as a painter and as a TV host.
Tragedy struck Amanda in December 2000 when her home in France burnt down, killing her husband and destroying many of her and Dali's paintings.
In February 2007 she refused to be on stage with, or even near, transsexuals at a major gay event in Milan, Italy - this caused a lot of bad feeling with the crowd and and the annoyed organisers hinted at the "ambiguity" given her past.
Back to Articles
Please send any comments,
feedback or additions to the Webmaster.
Copyright (c) 2007, Annie Richards