I am so thrilled to be the first Canadian trans woman to be singing at the Toronto Jazz Festival 2016. It is not, in theory, that important to be the first trans woman to be doing anything really. It is, however, important that people know that trans people exist. If being the first at something helps get that attention, so be it. Because that leads to media attention, which leads to awareness, which leads to educating and the hope of acceptance. Does anybody out there have a unicycle? I would also like to be the first trans woman to ride across Canada on a unicycle with my hair on fire. Think the media would be interested? I have read and seen more stories about trans women and men this year than any other year leading up to Pride. Thanks to Mathieu Chantelois and Pride Toronto.
As little as 15 years ago, my business partner Todd Kinck and myself shopped all around the GTA looking for a spot to hold t-girl parties. I discovered back in the late 90’s that their was a need for a club night designed for t-girls, their friends and admirers to meet in a safe and fun environment. The parties actually started in the party room of a residential building I lived at in Mississauga. I posted an invitation on my website, now www.mandygoodhandy.com. We invited some of the t-ladies we knew around Toronto to attend for free. And we charged the gents $100 a head to attend. Of course we provided entertainment and alcohol. Since it was in the party room and not in my private apartment, I thought it would be fairly safe, and we had nothing to lose. It turned out that I spent most of my evening answering my phone. That was because my front door buzzer did not stop ringing we had approx 30-50 men show up, through the night. We held about 2 more of these party room gatherings, over a couple of months. On the third night the police came barging in the door, obviously the building manager had let them in. We had always locked the party room door because the party was invite only, and did not want people wandering in to a “surprise”. The lucky thing was that only four of us t-ladies were left at the party, and my business partner Todd. None of the gentlemen, all of whom were very discreet, remained at that time.
The police proceeded to frisk us before even giving us information, and they at least were respectful have the female police officer, frisk the ladies. They did not know that we were trans, as that was not the point of their unwelcome visit.
I asked them to please explain why they were here, and what we had done wrong.
They told us just that they received a call from someone who said they were at attendance earlier and we were selling and using crack cocaine.
The police officer who had frisked Todd proclaimed that he must be our pimp, because he had a wad of money in his pockets.
One of the young male officers proclaimed “I can’t figure out which of these people are fucking men and which are fucking women”.
I explained to them about the concept of this party, and the fact that it was private, adult and restricted. And absolutely no drug use would be tolerated.
They asked if I was the one hosting this party and the one who lived in the closely located apartment. I told them that I was, and they were welcome to search my apartment if they thought we were selling or doing drugs, as they had found nothing in the party room.
I escorted one female officer and one male officer into my private apartment. They made a feeble show of searching my premises, in fact I could tell they knew they had been brought there under false pretenses. And the whole thing was just a silly charade. Transparency is always a good way to deal in these situations, as we had nothing to hide or be ashamed of. The police left satisfied that we were doing nothing against the law, and left. (Most of the time over the years, our dealings with police has been relatively decent – they deal with a lot of bullshit, and as soon as they realized we did not have crack cocaine, they wanted anything but to be trapped in a party room with a bunch of t-girls in lingerie).
A month later I called the building management to book our next party. I was told that the party room was no longer available to me. I asked them why and they said because the police had to visit. I asked them if the police did not explain that we were doing nothing wrong, and of course they had not. They also tried the “this is a family building with children” routine. I informed them that my parties, though adult in nature, were private and invite only. And that no children could wander in accidentally at 10pm till 2am at night, and we certainly did not invite any children to our parties. This obviously fell on close minded ears.
I moved out of the building of course a couple of months later, feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome.
That is when Todd and I started going to nightclubs around the GTA, to see if any of them had a dark night or extra bar room, for us to hold the parties.
We attempted to have the parties at several venues, but it is difficult to hold a party in a bar when you have to pay rent or give the bar to the venue, and make very little.
This led me to think about the entertainment factor of trans woman, and it could be interesting to have t-girl strippers, something that had never been done before in North America at that time. I went around to a couple of potential strip clubs, but it was not a good fit. We finally found a spot in Mississauga downstairs from an existing strip club. We relied on money from the door, and the venue got a small weekly rental fee and everything sold at the bar. We had trouble finding t-girls who would strip on stage, but did not mind doing lap dances in the private booths we had constructed. So we explained that they only had to do two songs and only had to remove their top or their bottom. It grew into a very interesting event and lasted for a good four years or so.
But it was time to shop around for our own venue downtown Toronto and with one or more nights catering to t-girls. That is when Goodhandy’s Nightclub was born, We struggled for a few years offering different nights to trans people, gays, lesbians and kinky folk. In theory it was a very interesting and edgy concept and was welcomed by all those who liked the fringe of society. Unfortunately we constantly struggled with our nights and had a hard time getting the customer support from all the fringe communities. And of course edgy parties with similar concepts kept popping up in the Village, making it impossible to complete, because of our southern location. We have to come up a concept quickly. Goodhand’ys was labelled a sex club or a “tranny bar”, which was a difficult label to shake. And we had a hard time getting certain events to our venue, because of the reputation. So we did some interior design of the club, changed the lighting, the sound and the look. As the finishing touch we changed the name to Club120. At that point it still took us a year or so to get event and party promoters to see our venue for what it was, a great space for music, dance and even cabaret shows.
We have now been open upstairs at Club120 for 10 years June 9th 20016.
And we have the longest running t-girl party in North America every Thursday night. The venue is available for promoters and party planners of all kinds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Originally the building was owned by Spring Rolls restaurant that operated on the main floor of 120 Church street. They sold the building we are in two years ago in 2014. We had been given an eviction notice at that point, as the new owners want to build a condominium in that spot. They had bought the parking lot already next to our building and are now waiting for McVeigh’s to sell. The snag for them is that McVeigh’s had no intention of selling, so they were just going to tear our building down to make a larger parking lot.
After making plans to re-locate, we thought maybe it would not hurt to approach our new landlords and offer to take over both floors.
They fortunately liked out offer and decide to rent the whole complex to us, and we became restaurant owners. Our 120 Diner has now been open for two years, and offer amazing comfort food, live music and live comedy shows to our diner.
Sunday June 12th downstairs at 120 Diner
Fortem a singing group made up of talented trans men thanks to Egale Youth OUTreach Counselling Centre. They will be presented by singer, performer and teacher Bella Canto in Bella Jazz Night with FORTEM, Kathleen and Brendan!.
Wednesday June 29th upstairs at Club 120
“A laugh a Minute”
Open-mic comedy show hosted by myself Andy Fruman
Canada’s first trans woman stand-up comedian Mandy Goodhandy aka Amanda Taylor.
Thursday June 30th upstairs at Club 120
10 years long and undebatably (yes that is a word) North America’s longest running T-Girl party!
Also a Pride Toronto 2016 affiliate event.
*Intimate Space, Reservations are Highly Recommended*
$15 with a reservation / $20 at the door
Call 416-792-7725 or text 416-706-4237
To end this post with a bit of trivia, to all those who bothered to make it to the end. My business partner Todd Klinck and myself where the Pride Toronto Grand Marshals on their 30th year . And I will be singing in what will be the Toronto Jazz Festival‘s 30th year.
We don’t all have to get along and run through fucking meadows holding hands, and be phony with each other. There will always be differences of opinion and some personalities just clash, we need to get over that. But don’t add me as a “friend” on here when you know you are either jealous of me, hate me, or are just sticking your nose into what I am up to. I am not on Facebook to share my personal life, so you ain’t going to be missing nothing. All the posts you will see involve my business and/or my career interests. And of course the occasional “I may hate you” rant, like this one.
I have actually blocked a handful of people, for the first time on Facebook. Not because they posted on my wall or sent me unwanted messages. You know? like the unwanted penis photos, marriage proposals from abroad, cross-dressers (not the nice well meaning ones) wanting me to do their make-up then fuck them up the ass, thinking we must be sisters now because we both wear women’s panties They are automatically blocked as always.
The saddest thing is they are other Trans women just like myself. We are all just trying to do our best in a world that still misunderstands who we are, and some of the population are actually doing their best, by educating themselves about us. I may be a Trans woman and you may be a Trans woman, but that does not mean we have to be friends. We are human beings first and it is okay to not get along. But please, can’t we just not get along in a different sandbox? I don’t want your dull sad shovel and pail, making mine look tarnished. Please go and heal yourself and take time to evaluate why you think the way you do, and what you can do to fulfill your own life. I may have a hard time forgiving you, but I will still love and respect the fact that you are on your journey. And please feel free to come to me when you are ready to join together as real allies, we need you and we all need each other.
By the way, if you can read this note, chances are you are not one of those who are blocked 🙂
P.S. I ended this with a smiley face so that means I am nice person. Well being nice is still a bit of a hobby, but I am trying.
Please save those “trans boxes” you are trying to squeeze us into, for more important gifts of wisdom. Insert instead some understanding, love & compassion. After all are those not some of the positive changes we are all trying to accomplish? Then please present those “trans boxes” to yourself, as a gift from those of us trans people who may not agree, but will support your right to have your own views.
It may help you feel better.
Love and respect,