New York Magazine | May 23, 2011
The Beat Goes On
Chaz Bono on Becoming Chaz and Coveting Michael Chiklis's body. by Kyle Buchanan
Introduced to America as Baby Chastity on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour; Chaz Bono was eventually outed by the tabloids as a lesbian, and later came to terms with the fact that he was actually transgender. The TV documentary Becoming Chaz on OWN, chronicles Bono's very public evolution, a subject also dealt with in his new book, Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man.
You're so calm in the documentary. Were there times when you felt emotional? I was really calm throughout the whole process. For me, the hard part of it and the work and the struggle happened before I started my transition. Once I knew it was the right decision, it was just a pleasure.
What did being outed so publicly teach you? That trying to hide something is the wrong thing to do. The more you're afraid of something, it's like the tabloids can sniff it out, like blood in the water. Get out in front of the story and own it.
Had you not been in the public eye, do you think you would have transitioned earlier? I would have, yeah.
Have you run into Michael Chiklis since you brought him up as your physical ideal? I said to the directors, "Oh, Michael Chiklis--he's kind of stocky, but he's got a nice build. I'd like something like that, because I'm never going to be like Brad Pitt." And now it's everywhere! I hope that I didn't offend him--I'm a big fan. I did the same thing in my first book, where I talked about having a crush on Kate Jackson as a kid--she was a good friend of my mom's--and it went viral.
I would hope they'd be flattered by it. I think Kate was a little freaked out. It was kind of a drag, because we were really tight when I was a kid. You never know with people.
Is the public pressure ever too much to deal with? No. I have an activist soul, I guess, so if I can effect change for the things I care about, it never feels like a burden.