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Trannypalooza Turns It Out

By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 5, 2010 6:00PM

Photo courtesy of Mercedes Tyler.
A party for transgender people, cross-dressers, transvestites, and the guys and dolls who want to mix it up with ‘em—Trannypalooza isn’t really about female impersonators lip-synching the hits; if that’s what you’re looking for, swan on over to here and here. According to Mercedes Tyler, the hostess of the monthly event at Spin, Trannypalooza is more of an opportunity for transgender individuals “to meet people who want to know them better for friendship or dating.”

“Honestly, our party encompasses everyone and everything,” explains Tyler, 36, a pre-op transsexual female and Lakeview resident. “We want to offer a safe, friendly environment for TS people and their admirers to meet and get to know each other.”

A quick taxonomy for readers unfamiliar with some of these terms: “transgender” is an umbrella term that includes anyone who generally is unsatisfied with the sex into which they were born. Some transgender people manifest these feelings by cross-dressing (part or full-time). Others wish to live their lives as members of the opposite sex and are commonly referred to as transsexuals. Some transsexuals express themselves through clothing and hormone therapy, while others engage in surgical alteration. Tyler emphasizes that anyone with an open mind and heart is welcome at Trannypalooza.

Chicagoist: Describe what a Trannypalooza party looks like—what will I see when I walk in off the street?

Mercedes Tyler: When guests walk into the party, they are greeted by upbeat music, candlelight, and friendly faces from the door to the bar staff. Our guests range in age from 21 to 50 plus. We feature two drag performances, and we also have two young “lady bois” who create atmosphere, and dance throughout the night.

C: Is Trannypalooza the only monthly event of its kind in Chicago?

MT: There are other events in town that feature transsexual entertainers, however, Trannypalooza is not so much a show, as a place for people to meet and mingle. We do provide traditional drag performances at the events, but these are simply to entertain our guests. The main feature of Trannypalooza is that we've offered a place to meet and associate specifically for transsexuals, cross-dressers and transvestites and the men who wish to know them. We charge $5 for each lady, and $10 for each gentleman, and provide a free cocktail to everyone with entry.

C: How has Trannypalooza evolved since the event’s launch earlier this year?

MT: The first party was on February 22 of this year and we started with about 150 guests, and we’ve waivered between 75 to 150 guests ever since then. I'm looking for more ways to promote our party to heterosexual men who wish to attend an event such as this. There is definitely a need for a party of this nature, and a platform for men and women to meet transgendered people and build wonderful relationships.

C: How did you come up with the name Trannypalooza?

MT: Trannypalooza was just a word that flew out of my mouth at a meeting one day, and we liked its fun and frivolity.

C: Does Chicago have a thriving transgender scene, Mercedes?

MT: Chicago has a huge community of TS people. This is a great city to transition in because of [the availability of] medical providers, physicians, and surgeons who specialize in the process of sexual reassignment, hormone therapy, and plastic surgery. Chicago is also a very liberal place that does a lot for is LGBT community, and I think many of us feel safe here. I, for one, do.

C: What are some Do’s and Don’t's for newbies attending Trannypalooza? Can you offer some Transgender Sensitivity 101 tips?

MT: Treat everyone like you wish to be treated. If someone is giving you the appearance of a lady, then treat her accordingly.

The next Trannypalooza event is Monday, August 30th. For more information, visit Spin's website at