Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Disco Queen

Amanda Lear (November 18, 1939) is a French singer, T.V. presenter, painter, actress, lyricist and novelist. She was allegedly born in Hong Kong, allegedly as Amanda Tapp. There are many theories regarding exactly when and where she was born as much of her life is shrouded in mystery.

According to Lear, she was born to a British Naval officer on leave in Hong Kong and a mother of Mongolian-Chinese origin. Soon after her birth, her parents separated and she was raised by her mother in Nice, in the south of France.

Much of the biographical information Lear has given has been a matter of speculation and debate in France, Germany and Italy since the early eighties. This stems from the fact that Lear has deliberately provided the media with different information and contradictory accounts of her early life.

As a child she spoke both French and English. By the time she was a teenager she was fluent in German, Spanish and Italian as well. Lear would use these attributes to promote her career all over Europe.

When she was 16, she relocated to Paris to study at L'Academie des Beux Arts before relocating to St. Martin's School of Art in London in 1964.

In 1965, Lear was spotted by legendary French modeling agent Catherine Harle and, anxious for a way to finance her studies she moved back to Paris. Her first major booking was a runway show for rising designer Paco Rabanne. Shortly after, she was photographed for magazines like Elle, Marie France and Vogue. She worked with many of the top fashion designers of the time including Ossie Clark, Mary Quant, Antony Price, Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel.

After some time, Lear dropped out of art school and started modeling full-time while rubbing elbows with the rich and famous like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Eno, Twiggy, David Bailey, Yul Brynner and Keith Moon. While clubbing with Brian Jones and then boyfriend, Guinness heir Tara Brown she met Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dali who would ultimately change her life. Lear and Dali were kindred spirits who shared their worlds with one another. He showed her the European restaurants, museums and Parisian salons while she introduced him to the counterculture of the music, fashion and art scene in London.

Although Dali was married, Lear often accompanied him and his wife on trips to Barcelona, Madrid and New York. They spent their summers together at his home in Catalonia.

Lear remained Dali's confindante, protegee and mistress throughout the sixties and seventies. She also enjoyed a romantic relationship with Brian Jones, which resulted in the Stone's song "Miss Amanda Jones", a year-long relationship with the married David Bowie and was briefly engaged to Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. Amanda appeared on the cover of Roxy Music's album 'For Your Pleasure' in 1973. This was her first brush with International fame.

It was during her relationship with Bowie in 1975, that Lear was encouraged to leave the conservative fashion industry behind and launch a career in music. Throughout the mid seventies and early eighties she was a Disco Queen in Continental Europe, the Eastern Bloc and most other parts of the world.

In 1979, in a Las Vegas ceremony she married French aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d'Argens de Villele who was the former lover turned adopted son of controversial gay novelist Roger Peyrefitte. They were married for 21 years until De Villele was killed by smoke in a fire in his newly bought farmhouse in France.

Despite modeling nude for Playboy magazine in 1977, many people dispute the fact that Amanda Lear was born a woman. To this day it is still widely rumoured that she is a transexual or intersexual because of her height, masculine facial features and her low baritone voice. That Lear was born a male is considered an open secret in Continental Europe, although Amanda has since the early eighties contended that the rumor was a clever publicity stunt initiated by herself and Salvador Dali. British actress and comedian, Joanna Lumley who plays the notoriously foul-mouthed Patsy Stone on the British television series Absolutely Fabulous has noted that she based her character's mysterious life story on a certain A. Lear.

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