Saturday, July 9, 2011

Part 2 of Toronto Pride 2011

Todd Long aka Lady X


Desperate Housequeen

A walk in the life of successful Dragstar, Lady X. She's the Queen in command at Pride Toronto and over the past year she's gone suburban! Now as a Desperate Housequeen...she stuggles between the stage and the stove!

About Me

I was born Todd Andrew Long on the 8th of March in 1979. As a young boy, I dreamn't of the stage and all the glamour associated with it. At 15 I began exploring my female side and randomly started to hit Toronto's queer community in Drag. 7 years later I found myself designing stage shows which I burst onto the scene with at the first ever Drag Idol! I had already been in a 2 year relationship and risked it all for the love of fame. I came in 2nd place at Drag Idol and the gigs started rolling in. I quickly became the Queen to talk about. Scandalous headlines started hitting the local ragmag's and my style was soon described as "cutting edge and underground." My boyfriend and I were labelled as the "perfect couple", during that time period. That is when my desperate living began! I was juggling being a local star and taking long walks along the beach...all without burning the muffins in the oven! Now 10 years after it all began, I am living on the North Toronto borderline with the same guy and I am in control of booking all the drag queens for Pride Toronto's street festival. Follow me as I take you on a journey to the dark side of drag and into my happy home. X

In The Beginning

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

       The year was 1985 and the show was Jem and the Holograms. I already had a huge love of music at the tender age of 6 years old. On that magical morning when Jem premiered, I was instantly fascinated with the cartoon songstress. I remember singing the song throughout my whole day at school..."Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous!" This marked the beginning of lifetime glamorous endeavours for me. The cartoon was modeled after a line of Dolls, much like Barbie. The difference was that Jem and her friends came with cassette tapes of the songs played during the episodes. I longed for those dolls like a baby longs for milk from a mothers bosom. My parents thought that it would cause problems for me to play with girls dolls and denied my constant requests for them.

Later that year a problem occurred down below!!! I got some kind of infection under the foreskin of my member and was rushed into the operating room for an emergency circumcision. I was of course terrified that a piece of me would be taken away! My mother tried relentlessly to calm me down and nothing was working. Then she said, "If you are a strong boy and can be brave through this...we will get you the Jem doll!" The tears in my eyes dried in an instant and my smile beamed through the room like a ray of light. Minutes later, a gas mask was being placed over my mouth and I saw a bright light...then total darkness. When the light came back, I began to see the room I was in again and my mother and sister hovering over my hospital bed. My mother gave me some ice chips, as my sister whispered in my ear. "We've got a surprise for you!" Then in my sisters hands and in front of my half opened eyes, was Jem in all of her glamour, glitter and glory! I don't think I ever felt the physical pain of that operation because I had that doll. I did however, begin to think of other operations I could have to get the rest of her friends. One of the operations I thought of included removing more skin from my penis! My mother told me if they took any more I'd be a girl. That was an even more intriguing thought! Well that didn't happen, but my brothers girlfriends and other family friends began to help me collect the rest of the Jem doll franchise. I ended up with the car, the stage and the entire lot of dolls. I never went anywhere though without, Miss Jem herself!

Carrying that doll around with me was the cause of some major teasing and bullying. I didn't care if I was hurt, as long as I was still holding her when they were done. My second grade teacher saw the torment I was inflicted with and called my parents in for a meeting. The meeting resulted in me not being able to bring my dolly to school anymore. I think that's when then fire inside of me began to rage out of control and was visible in my eyes. I vowed to myself to get revenge on the entire world! Taking that doll from me was 10 times worse than taking my foreskin. All the girls I went to school with (who were the friends I was drawn to), got to bring their dolls to school. Mysteriously, their dolls began to disappear one by one. If I couldn't have them...NO
ONE COULD! I would take their dolls to my house, where in the basement I had cut a hole in the wall, that I would drop the dolls in. I pinned up a Jem poster over the hole and nobody ever found it! I did however get caught taking someone's doll and was questioned on the whereabouts of all the others. I said that was the first time and they called my mother to check the house for the rest. She told them I didn't have them of course and those dolls never saw the light of day again! My Jem doll was taken away from me as punishment. I was of course devastated! I think I even contemplated suicide?

The bullying saw no end, even after my doll was gone. That part..still didn't have an effect on me for some reason? Being bored without my doll, I started to venture into my mother and sister's closets and play with their clothes and shoes. Then with a towel on head and a toy microphone in my hand, I would start doing my own version of Jem's concerts in my basement while my family slept upstairs. Every time I performed, I felt more and more like a girl. This brought me to comfortable place where I could be myself. The summer came and I took my show on the road. Well more like around the block, lol! I would gather the local girls and put on shows for the neighbours with them. Because the shows were my idea...nobody else was permitted to be Jem! All the women and little girls loved it and the men and the boys laughed and dismissed it. By that time my future had been set in stone! I would one day take the real stage by storm and be able to show all my haters that I had really made it big. The boys wanted me to stop it all soo badly...but all they were doing was igniting my path to Fame! As I look back now, without those bullying boys, I wouldn't have had a reason to continue dancing and singing.

Halloween came along fast and a week before the big day, I was without a costume. While sitting at the table (ironically with my mother and sister again), I proclaimed that I wanted to be a bride for halloween. Within a blink of an eye my sister said, "Wait Here!" and ran upstairs to her room. She returned to the table with a huge white box and my mother screamed, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" In the box folded with care, was my sisters first communion dress. My sister said, "Why not? It's halloween!" She convinced my mom to let her put it on me. I instantly lit up like the brightest star in the sky. My mother and sister blushed and awed over how cute I looked in it. Mother caved and a week later I was skipping to school in a mini wedding dress, white veil, red lipstick and rhinestone earrings. I was a 7 year old drag queen! By far.. I was the most talked about costume in school that year. The comments actually never stopped coming. I was in all my glory and again, unaffected by the heavy teasing and bullying.

The drag queen was born and not about to be killed off anytime soon!


-Check in for my next blog when I will take you into my teenage years when I have my first major breakdown and blame Jem for it all!

The POP Addiction

Thursday, December 16, 2010

   Real life singers started to replace the cartoon characters in my life, when I was just about 8 years old. 16 year old mall queen Tiffany of "I think we're alone now" fame, became my new idol. For the next 3 years I lived vicariously through this pop princess. The Jem posters we're covered over with Tiffany posters and the neighbourhood shows I put on with my back-up girls, were now set to her songs. My sister got me tickets to her concert at Canada's Wonderland. I had never been to a concert before and wasn't really sure what to expect. What I saw astounded me! Bright lights, costume changes, back-up dancers and the 'spotlight' following my idols every move. I was in the 7th row and cried a few times, realizing that Tiffany was so close to person! When the concert ended, my sister wanted to say hello to a friend of hers (later to become her husband) who was working security to the backstage access door. I took the opportunity to beg him to let me go back and see my idol. He figured there was no harm in letting and 8 year old back there, so he ushered my sister and I through the gate. While backstage, my sister noticed some of the opening band members tossing around a football. She said, "You should get there autographs...they will be something one day!" Since Tiffany was still in her dressing room, I went over to them and asked. Their names we're Jordan, Donnie and Joey, who were members of the then unknown... New Kids On The Block. A year later I was very happy I had listened to my sister that night, because NKOTB mania had hit the nation. When Tiffany did emerge from her dressing room, I ran at her and was stopped in my tracks by her security. This strange woman said to me, "You cannot run at her like that!" Tiffany pushed them aside and said it was fine. She asked me my name and signed a photo of herself and gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek. I was trembling and crying as I watched her board her tour bus and hit the road.

After that moment I was completely star struck and wanted to be a pop star more than ever before! I created my own cassette tapes and would pose in Tiffany like ways, wherever I'd go. It was a known fact to anyone who knew of me that I adored that girl inside out! The boys teased me for liking the girly type singers, just as hardcore as they did when I played with dolls. At around 11 years old I met a boy who wasn't like the bully types, I had now come to associate with all boys. He had a similar obsession with the female artist Taylor Dayne. He was like Jem's boyfriend
Rio to me and we quickly became an inseparable duo. Around this time girls became interesting, instead of gross. Most of the boys I knew had expressed interest or started " going out" with them. I saw this as my chance to fit in with the boys finally! The girls were all very attracted to me in a big way actually. I guess I fell into the whole popular boy mold. There were only a handful of these boys in my school and the girls started trading us like baseball cards. I became very sexually progressive, do to the erotic undertones of pop music. I would go to this one girl from school's house everyday after school and try a new sexual experiment with her. The only knowledge I had of sex came from popular culture. At the same time, I had started to go swimming at the YMCA with my pop diva buddy. After our swims we would take our showers in separate cubicles in the locker room. One day I jumped over into his shower stall to scare him...but also to secretly see him naked and be close to his naked body. To my surprise he was playing with himself! He stopped when I jumped in, but his hard on was throbbing in front of me. I blushed, giggled and then kissed him hard on the lips, like I usually did with the after school with that girl. He didn't try to stop me. In fact he kissed me back harder and started to play with my little guy! As soon as I got hard, he got on his knees and went to town. It was way better than any experience I had with the girl. The best part was that it had to be our little secret and we could do it again and again, as long as no one else ever found out.

Elementary school graduation came and went. My
Rio boy was still my main squeeze in my 'top secret,' other life. Like Jem, I now had two personas as well. I didn't realize how very deep I had hidden the gay me until half way through junior high school. That's when the boys who knew about my female tendencies, began to take it out on me physically! It wasn't until the first punch, that the bullying finally had taken it's toll. The principal at the school thought it would be best if I went home for lunch daily, to avoid such confrontations. At first I would take the opportunity to watch Jem (who was now on in re-runs at noon). But one tragic day as I walked through the baseball field to my house, I began to sob uncontrollably. My double life caught up with me and I could no longer hide what was inside me. Not wanting to tell my mother yet...I simply proclaimed to be fed up with all the teasing and wanted to die! Counselling began immediately and low and behold the councillor was a gay man! He began to open me up to the gay world that was out there for me to discover. During this time I still wanted to be considered popular and that meant continuing with dating girls. 90210 premiered and it was now the standard to live up to in my social circle (the plastics). All the couples in my school quickly became compared to the cast on that show. The fight to be Brenda and Dylan was on!

Still having all my dolls at that time, just wasn't meshing with my new 90210 lifestyle. I had a fit one day and grabbed a pair of scissors! I opened up my box of dolls and started cutting all their hair off. Then I got to the bottom of the box where my little friend Jem had now resided. I went completely ballistic and chopped her into pieces! I hid her remains in that hole in the wall, where I had buried all my girl classmates dolls from elementary school. I felt like a murderer, but it was a sign of the times and had to be done for my the sake of my sanity. It was all over I wouldn't let that doll be the cause of my social downfall. I got a girlfriend (who at the time was considered the craziest of the plastics) and the rest was history! The burning desire for other boys still raged inside of me, but my YMCA buddy had taken a backseat temporarily and the little girl that lived inside of me was banished from the light of day!

Next stop in my desperate living story...HIGH SCHOOL!


Note: Those were the only two posts Todd had written on Blogger and were his last.

The first time I met Todd Long as Lady X, was at my first Toronto Pride back in 2007. She laid down the law with an outdoor Beyoncé set that had to be seen to be believed.

Since I’d seen Lady X in 2007 Todd had been a performance programmer for Pride Toronto. He was bright, funny, positive and energetic, with a raucous laugh. Lady X had fans all over; dedicated and involved in his community, he was the kind of diva the audience loved.

What is particularly heartbreaking about Todd’s death is the loss to the community; it’s rare to find a performer as generous. Although All About Eve scenes are relatively rare, backstage can sometimes be a tense place... but not if Todd was there. He consistently supported other performers through word and deed.

In his job with Pride
Toronto, Long coordinated drag extravaganzas. Four years ago, he even directed a show from a wheelchair, with both legs in a cast, after sustaining an injury. At the risk of letting down the people he was working with, he replaced himself in his own numbers. Talk about commitment to craft and community!

Although his Jem & the Holograms Pride performance was a hit, it was the 2009 Lady X’s Circus that cemented Long’s reputation. It featured fire breathers, Michelle Pfeiffer–style whip tricks and costume changes, all with Lady X in the centre ring.

His death surprised some, but the initial shock has evolved into a stonewall of silence. His struggle with addiction was no secret, so the silence is shocking to me. This is not the first time in recent memory our community has lost a beloved member to the demons of substance abuse. How often does this need to happen before the issue is taken seriously?

The buzz online is, “Don’t talk about it, out of respect.”

This culture of silence can lead only to more needless losses. It is possible and appropriate to celebrate the good aspects of someone’s life while acknowledging the darker aspects.

In addiction and recovery circles, many say, “You can’t save them. They need to seek help on their own, realize the problem on their own, recover on their own.” This is a hard truth for many of us to face, but even so, I wonder if saying this absolves us of responsibility when we see a friend in trouble? How many of us reach out to those we know are struggling? How do we negotiate the space between recreation and addiction?

We can talk about how alcohol and drugs shape gay nightlife in this city and what that means, but in doing so we also need to refrain from judgment when it comes to individuals. Addiction is recognized as a chronic, treatable disease by the Canadian Medical Association, and going through it does not in any way imply weakness or a character flaw. If you need help, start at and know that you’re not alone, you have nothing to be ashamed of and help exists.

You can tell the measure of a person by the mark they leave behind. I choose to remember Todd for his performances: always on point with a story arc, tight choreography and seductive costumes. I choose to remember Todd as someone who would offer to perform at fundraisers without being asked and his bravery in going to places like
Scarborough to perform in drag when no one else would.

March 8, 1979 - February 9, 2011

Todd Andrew Long, aka Lady X, died suddenly on Tuesday Feb 8 at home. He was 31.

He was a lovely man, a great performer, and it was my pleasure to share any place or time with him. I choose to remember his love of music and dancing and laughter. I choose to remember Todd with some deliciously dishy not-fit-for-print stories, and I have a feeling I won’t be alone. People will be talking about Todd and Lady X for years. Both the man and the diva deserve nothing less.

He will be missed immeasurably by all who knew him including myself.


In Memory of:

Todd Andrew "Lady X" Long

Pride will not be the same without the presence of Todd aka Lady X.

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