April Ashley (George Jamieson)
BiographyLiverpool, Lancashire, England, UK
April Ashley was born a boy in 1935 and christened George Jamieson. His father was a sailor in the British Royal Navy during WWII with an affinity for drink who sired 10 children in quick succession. George(April) was frail, with a calcium deficiency and refused to eat most food or drink his school milk and ended up with malnutrition. After leaving the merchant marine, April moved to London at the urging of her friend Ronald Cogan. She worked as a table wiper, bacon slicer and a string of other small jobs to pay the bills. April was absolutely facinated with London. Read more... aquired the nickname "Eyelashes" after Albert Einstein remarked in the resturant Quo Vardis in Soho that he should be Madame Butterfly with his thick long lashes. Albert Einstein had asked to be introduced to April (even though April was still dressing androgenously). In 1956, while on holiday in the South of France, April met up with some friends who suggested she work at Le Carrousel nightclub in Paris. The management at Le Carrousel, which specialized in female impersonators, was stunned by her feminine looks. She was immediately asked to join the troupe and stayed with them for four years. April paid 2,000 pounds for the sex-change operation. The process was excruciating and the side-effects - dizziness, nausea and swelling - lasted for two years. As a woman, April felt confident to pursue a career in the public eye. April was queen of the catwalk, Vogue's favorite underwear model photographed by Terence Donovan and David Bailey, and was in constant demand by photographers. She did the Royal shows for Deenfield Furs, appeared in Road to Hong Kong with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Joan Collins. April married Arthur Corbett, son of Lord Rowallen in 1961. They opened a successful nightclub together in Spain and became close friends with Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. After 7 years of marriage April and her husband filed for divorce. The divorce left April completely without funds and the discovery of her transsexual past by the British tabloids ruined her personal life and modeling career (a la Caroline 'Tula' Cossey) Instead of losing her place in swinging London, though, April rallied by shifting her position slightly and opening a restaurant. April and Desmonds, or AD8, was opened on March 1, 1970, at 8 Egerton Graden Mews, Knightsbridge, just down from Harrods. Lord Lichfield bought it eventually. As London's most glamourous hostess, April was once more all over the paper. She was interviewed about her 23 inch waist, her taste for citrus colours, her beehive, tailored pants and sequined Biba dresses. In 1975, after a massive heart attack, April retreated to Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border where she lived for 11 years with her dog Flora, before small legacies from two locals allowed her to move to the warmer, more liberal France, Spain and finally America's West Coast.