Image courtesy of www.philstar.com
SUPREMO By Tim Yap
It was exactly 10 years ago when I introduced Ian King to Joey Mead. Ian is a known sports car enthusiast and is the scion of the Victoria Court motel empire. Joey was at the peak of her modelling career, known for her quirky ways on the catwalk and mad hosting skills. Joey had just finished walking on the runway for a magazine party celebrating their latest covers. Ian, clad in an all-white three-piece suit with matching fedora, saw Joey, who was wearing an off-shoulder boho summer dress, and was immediately smitten. He asked me for an introduction. “Are you sure?” I asked.
Turns out Ian was so sure about his attraction for Joey, that a few years into their relationship, they got married in the US in 2011. They even had a simple ceremony at the village clubhouse where they lived then for friends and family to declare their love for each other, which I hosted. They looked like the perfect, happy couple. They looked hot, loved each other dearly, were at the top of their careers, and had a lot of pets (Joey had grown a fondness for rescuing stray cats and dogs) in their household.
Somewhere in between all of that, Ian had a secret, which he wanted to share with his loved ones. Ever since he was a kid, he had a penchant for wearing women’s clothes. It started off with shoes, then went on to lingerie and makeup. Joey had known about this early on in their relationship, but they decided to keep this side private, for fear of being criticized by a judgmental society.
Angelina Mead King or Angie Mead the transwoman was hidden from the public eye, only revealed in a private Instagram account @hailtothe_queen_. Ian King and Angie Mead are one and the same person. In Angie’s world, Ian could be whoever he wanted to be, free from the eyes of people who couldn’t understand.
But he couldn’t keep it anymore. “I broke down and told myself I can’t live like this.” Ian then told his father and his family about his other side. “My father had a hard time accepting it, but even though he had a hard time in the beginning, he was full support in the end. My stepmom was a supporter and my real mom was also a supporter.” Incidentally, yesterday, July 5, marked the first anniversary of Archie King’s passing.
Through it all, Ian and Joey fought for the love that they had for each other. “Tooth, nail, blood, sweat and tears,” as Joey put it. “I fought a lot. Fought myself…a lot, fought my husband, fought conventionality.” All in the name of unconditional love.
And then last weekend, Angie Mead was set free. Joey and Ian threw all caution to the wind and, armed with the love and respect they had for each other, not to mention the support of family and close friends, the account @hailtothe_queen_ was set to public. Everyone was abuzz.
The overwhelming outpour of support for the non-conventional wife-and-wife couple was something they didn’t expect. “I thought this was going to be a bad dream, but it isn’t.” People encouraged Angie to celebrate her true self and admired Joey for her strength and capacity to love unconditionally in a world where it is easier to just quit.
There are beautiful lessons to be learned here. And we can all learn from the characters here because there is an Ian, a Joey and an Angie in all of us that just needs to be set free.
I spent Sunday with the Kings (and queens) and sat down with Angelina Mead King for this exclusive interview.
TIM YAP: So what do I call you now — Ian or Angie?
IAN KING: I’m okay with anything. In a way, I prefer Angie. The thing with me is I don’t hate my past because I just had a secret, but I don’t hate my childhood, I love my friends. In a way, my closest friends have been friends with me for like 30 years, 29 years and the next is like 16 years, so really, a solid group of friends. And they have known about Angie since 2009.
You have kept the Instagram account @hailtothe_queen_ private for quite some time. What made you open the account to the public?
I was with my stepmom in the other house and we were just talking, “You know people are talking…” I told her and some of my friends have sent me screen shots of other people’s chat groups. And it was like, “Hey, have you heard?” Like it was circulating already, so we were like, “It’s out already, why are we stopping it?” And everyone was just worried for Joey. So, that day after talking to my mom, I came here to the house and I asked Joey, “Ano, rock and roll na?”
And what did Joey say?
After all the rough situations that we’ve been through, we are at the stage now of …f*ck it, let’s do it. Go forward, be different and just enjoy life.
So, when was the Instagram account @hailtothe_queen_ with Angelina Mead King set up?
2012 I think. And everyone was like, “Hey, someone hacked your account!” I told them, “No guys, it’s true. I am Angie.”
When was Angie born within you? When did you realize you liked to wear women’s clothes?
There was always that interest ever since I was a kid. Like I would sneak into the maids’ room — sadly —and I’d borrow stuff. And then weirdly enough, my dad didn’t always have a partner in the house because my mom and dad were separated. So there were not much women’s clothes at home so the maid’s was like the first and then as it progressed, wherever I could borrow.
So, that was your secret life.
Such a rough spot and a mind f*ck, like what am I doing?!
How old were you then?
Seven or eight, like you’ve walked in your mom’s heels, when you were younger, right? When I was younger, I’d try to fit in another woman’s shoes and I liked it. And I was like, “What’s happening? What is this?”
You know, the funny part in the beginning, it was sensation. But growing up with Joey and sort of taking out fantasy from stuff because it wasn’t practical, you can’t just wear that every day. I liked lingerie in the beginning and then I super got over that.
And at the end, everything becomes practical clothing, everyday wear and stuff. That’s when we knew already I was moving forward. And Joey was like, “You’re moving forward too fast.” But yesterday was it. “Wala na,” she said. “No need to slow down anymore.”
When did you open up to Joey about this thing you had?
A few months into our relationship. I told her I like to wear women’s underwear and it escalated from there.
Of course, this was not gonna be easy for your wife, and you knew that, right?
Joey has had her struggles, we had struggles, but we never separated over it. We have been working through it. I have a counsellor, she has a counsellor, we talk to a lot of friends, family.
What does your counsellor tell you?
To live my authentic self, that’s what all counsellors tell people, I think you pay someone to tell you that you are normal. I’m just thinking that hmmm, I know this already!
Was there ever a time when you thought there was something “wrong” with you?
Yes, as a child, I was always thinking about looking at the other side — the girl side. I wish I had longer hair, I wish I had… And then I already knew in grade 6 or grade 7, that I wanted to be a pretty boy. I was thinking why do I want to be a pretty boy. That’s where it started, and I ignored it. Then came sports, cars, got a baby, got a girl pregnant, and fathered a baby — well, I didn’t father a baby — I “sperm donated” a baby at 16.
He now calls you “Mom,” your son Iñigo.
And then after Iñigo, everything has just been crazy — my life just unfolded. We were talking about it, the circles of friends are so tight that when the outside people ask, “Ano ba to?” Everyone around is like, “Wala yan! He’s our brother — back him up!” Or “Yeah we knew all along already.” I haven’t seen people flinch and people who I haven’t seen in ages are messaging me — I’m getting random messages saying, “You guys are awesome!” It’s surreal.
Did you have a fear that people would flinch?
Yes, cars are alpha male — highly alpha male environment and lots of testosterone. Last thing we’d wanna see is that…We are very scared about the Philippines because there are no transgender rights here. I’ll be coined “bakla” just like every other rainbow spectrum part of the LGBT community. Because of that yeah, there is that disconnect where it can be hard to actually explain it to my staff. “Ah, bakla si Sir!” That’s all they’d conclude.
Do they ask?
Recently, they have being seeing me walking around in a dress and their face is like, “What’s happening?” That was the hard part. Joey ended up explaining to the driver how the whole situation is, but he still sort of didn’t get it, so he had to talk to my maid, Nora. Joey knew first, Nora knew second and then my family came after. My household was in it from the beginning.
I gave up male underwear maybe two years after dating Joey. And everything just followed.
After your family found out, what was their reaction about it?
My dad had a hard time, definitely, but even though he had a hard time in the beginning, he was full support in the end. My stepmom was my supporter, my real mom was a supporter, too. My brother was little weirded out with it but came on board and then, we started telling… I just told my cousins a few months before this. But now, there is no need to tell anyone, I don’t need to explain myself anymore.
But you are not gay, right? Or are you?
Sexual preference — no, I’m not gay. I like women. Soft, curvy, yeah, no body hair.
That’s where the confusion stems from. That in the end, you still like women.
I perfectly understand. Sexual expression and sexual preference are two different things. There is no clear description in the Filipino native language, there is no Tagalog version of LGBT…and however how many letters there are — that’s where the blurred lines come from.
In your own research about the LGBT, is this where you realized that more than gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, it’s really just a human thing, right?
Me and Joey have been going to LA Pride for a few years, we did Miami Pride this year. That’s why we travel because when we travel, no one knows us. I can express myself and figure myself out and then in the recent years since my dad passed away, I’ve been traveling alone because I’m reinventing myself. I’m in a place where no one knows me, they’ve never seen me before, I get to reinvent myself as I unfold. Hence, the traveling — a lot of traveling.
When you first dressed up as a woman in public, how did it feel?
Omigod! Yes, it was super weird. Our first outing night was my birthday back then with Joey. She said, “We are going out!” I said, “Scared!”— I was scared because Manila is so small.
Because Joey said you should go out and face the world the way you are?
We went to Cafe Isabel and we sat there by the corner. I was just in jeans and a loose top, but it was scary. I actually started wearing dresses not too long ago.
What’s your size?
Depends, because on my shoulders, I’m a 10 or 12 and on my here (waist), I’m like a 6.
Do you enjoy shopping?
I love women’s fashion, there are so many choices. Color options, choices, varieties, cuts, everything. You are looking and everything is crazy. I still love doing male things — adrenaline, sports, cars every day obviously and everything with speed.
Aside from coloring your hair, your nails, what else is part of your transformation?
The hair is because I had white hair. I have been lasering for years to remove my body hair so I don’t keep shaving, hair is gross in general.
What were the challenges that you guys had to face with Angie being in the picture?
You actually need to ask that to Joey because she faced most of the challenges, I just faced the fear of rejection. Last thing I want is someone who will face me and say — “I’m gonna kill you.” It’s a possibility, after Orlando, in this homophobic world. It’s just hate. They make it their own personal mission to hate you.
When you go to LA and go out, do you dress as Angie?
Not really, just because I’m not dressed doesn’t mean I’m not Angie. It’s not a costume I put on. When it’s Halloween, people tell me, “Now you can dress as a girl!” Is not a f***ing costume. I don’t do this because it’s a costume, I do this because it’s me. Just like Danish Girl.
In Danish Girl, she had desires to be with a man.
Yes, but you can research this, sexual preference and sexual identity are totally different. Even the way I feel, I like my guy friends but no way. Don’t get me wrong, feminine men are beautiful but overmasculine, hairy and too much muscle … appreciation of people comes in many shapes.
What if as Angie a man will hit on you?
Thank God, I’m tall. I still want to do my athletics, don’t want to lose my abs and that was the most confusing part for me because I go shooting, car racing, surfing, I jump off stuff, we used to fly helicopters, name it, I’ve done it.
So, your dad knew the whole time?
He knew in 2009, when I told my family and my friends. He had a hard time, so our revelation was when he got sick in Germany. I took the whole time, I never went home, I took mini breaks and drove around, but when I was there, I had Joey fly in and then that’s when I broke down and told myself I can’t live like this anymore. I’m going nuts like two sides of me, two voices are fighting. You can do this, you can’t do that. There was confusion and now it’s just clarity. It’s still dreamy at the moment because everyone’s reaction is just amazing. If it was this easy, we should have come out sooner, I told Joey.
Why did you take so long?
Because I was scared, but I finally grew balls to come out. I never imagined this thing we were scared about was going to liberate us. We never expected it. Not just me, but Joey is overwhelmed with the love and support. Everyone is here for us, it’s really nuts.
When did Joey agree to make it public?
We had really serious arguments about everything, the biggest fear was being badgered by society, we were scared that the trolls of society would attack. They probably still will, but there’s so much love and support and that’s the cool part. I was thinking people might say I’m doing it for marketing. Dude, you don’t just wake up one day and say, “I want be a woman.” It’s something you thought of for a long time.
Where do you guys intend to take this after the revelation and being open to the public about Angie?
That’s what we were wondering about. I sort of feel pressured now, so many people are watching and I feel pressured about it. When I’m in LA, I don’t dress all the time, but I wear androgynous stuff, my normal wear. I need to learn how to do woman stuff, it takes years before you learn sizes and what works for your body type.
Other transwomen, they take pills. Do you take hormones?
I’m taking medication through an endocrinologist, he’s a licensed doctor and he monitors my blood levels every two months and adjusts the hormones. First, it takes testosterone blockers and then you supplement it with estrogen.
When you get this treatment, what’s the end goal of that?
It’s a second puberty where your body is reborn into a different gender because you are alternating it with hormones, so in two to three years, it would be finished and will transfer my body with a distribution of body fat and breasts, that is already starting. I measured when I started. My chest has grown a little — from 36 to 37 — and my waist has gotten smaller.
Is the end goal here to take out your privates and change them into those of a woman?
That’s a weird part, I’m happy with my privates and that should remain private. It’s no one’s business. Why does it matter? I have a partner, we are faithful and loyal. We have been living with each other for more than 10 years. You introduced us and you married us, too. It’s gone full circle.
Did you open this Instagram account to have a venue to post yourself as Angie?
Yes, I need it to connect with other people like me, it makes me feel normal.
Are you, Angie, partial to the color purple?
I just find it royal. I like doing the purple and gold, I have it on my hair, nails, and also in my cars.
What are your friends telling you?
I keep asking my friends: Is this happening? Is it real? And they are like, “Dude, you’re a nice person and there is no reason for people to hate you.”
I also saw some pictures of you being partial to pink.
Yes, I like all the colors. That’s the nice part. You don’t need to be stuck to anything. I like my blacks and grays, but when I want to wear color, yes!
So with this newfound freedom you put up a business in LA, you bought more cars also. When do you tell yourself that you need to buy a new car?
All car collectors will always want to buy a new car. It’s in the picture.
Do you have enough garage space to accommodate all your prized possessions?
Well, that’s why I opened car shops because they supplement the business. It gives me more reasons to show off the cars because I’m promoting my business. We have a car shop here at Veterans Center, it’s beside the old FTI, but my new car shop is located near the C5 area.
How many cars do you have right now?
I have no idea. Maybe 13 here, three in LA.
What I’ve heard is that you have 20?
Probably, because I have three in Germany also.
People know the number of your cars more than you.
Because people follow me on Instagram.
The passing of your dad told you how short life is?
Our family is such strategic thinkers. Since I’m working so hard, let me enjoy the world — travel, meet people. I have so many great friends in Los Angeles and I have been there only for three months. My friends who live there are like, “Dude, you can get in places that we’ve never been in.” “Come with me!,” Angie says. Everyone is like slow clapping, there are no more bad dreams that are gonna come true.
Because at first, you saw it like it was a bad dream?
Yeah, I thought it was gonna be a bad dream, but it’s not. It’s a beautiful dream, everything is beautiful.
What are you scared of now?
I’m scared of the beauty culture. How women are photoshopped, beautified and cut out into sections that they use for advertising.
And now that’s gonna be upon you, right?
Maybe because I like makeup and stuff, but I don’t wear makeup all the time. Everyone says that Joey and I look alike, because we are in sync with each other so our expressions are really similar. It’s like going into a different country and trying to pick up the accent when you are there.
It’s like you and Joey becoming one in the way you express yourself and the way you look. Because couples end up looking alike. Did you find in your wife a woman to look up to?
Yes, Joey helped me to progress way faster than I would. As much as she enjoyed in the beginning and hated it later on, she realized, wait what’s happening? Just like in The Danish Girl, I broke her because she lost face where her knight in shining armour wanted to be a princess… That was the hard part for us, but we picked up the pieces, we figured out what our relationship was — we love each other and this is not gonna break us. Rock and roll, let’s try, are you gonna give up before you try, this is what we are trying. Joey is super pumped also because there is so much support for her, too; she’s more awesome than awesome.
When Caitlin Jenner came out, did you think that was the sign you were waiting for? Did you want to come out at that time also?
I believe everything is timing also. I was happy that Caitlin came out because she was out as a male and now is Caitlin. That makes it easier to describe to people like, hey, I’m transitioning. What do you mean? Doing a Caitlin Jenner — it’s the fastest and easiest way to deliver the statement before the questions start coming in.
Did she become a peg for you?
Yes, she was the peg. That’s what she wants to be also so it’s very cool. Makes you feel even more normal when bigger individuals do something like this. It’s funny because on my social media, the girls follow me because of my fashion, and the guys because of the cars and travels, now I feel pressured.
Right now, what is your state of mind?
Dreaming, I can’t believe it is happening like this.