LZ Love's 'From The Rooter to The Tooter' - a transgender life of love & music

  • by Cornelius Washington
  • Monday May 13, 2024
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Singer/author LZ Love
Singer/author LZ Love

The last fifteen years has seen astonishing advancements for the transgender and gender-fluid communities, particularly in art and entertainment, where elements of performance such as style, vocal intonation, lyrics, cosmetics, hair and staging have all been par for the course. Audiences pay great sums of money to be entertained by glamorous beings who serve an ambisexual allure and an androgenous presentation.

However, after the curtain descends, and the lights are shut off, and the audience goes home, what becomes of the performer? What do they do, where do they go, how do they live and love and what does it take to balance their day jobs, families, socialization and mental health, beyond the usual talk show patter?

"From The Rooter to The Tooter" explores the amazing life of LZ Love, her trials, tribulations, toils and snares of being a Black child raised in the 1960s and '70s in The Bay Area, to become one of its most sterling talents.

LZ Love performing  

Communion in music
As told in her memoir, LZ (born Arnold Elzy) was raised on soul food, "Soul Train," gospel music, blues, and The Black Panthers. Very early singing and dancing fabulously, along with his emerging sexual orientation, sent him across the bay to San Francisco with a gay community filled with glitter, drag, dancing, and crowds of communion with music.

All the while, there was the emerging of Arnold's first meditation, the most stellar representation of gay San Francisco known as Sylvester. Although Arnold was underaged and eager, he and Sylvester upgraded gay entertainment with live vocals and a glitter rock presentation that made Alice Cooper and David Bowie look musty.

After only a few gigs, Sylvester went on to the wonderful genre of disco, while Arthur went on to perform in local bands, performing lead vocals, previously, he sang backing vocals for Sylvester, before the latter met Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes, known as The Two Tons of Fun, while slowly transitioning to LZ along the way.

Strength to strength
After a failed demo for Gene Simmons (of Kiss fame's label), she seamlessly blended into disco's transformation into house music, as it was formulating in London, and she soon found fame there on the British capital's dance charts.

Her transition into a woman went exceedingly well, too, being slender, tall and stylish, with the approval and support of her mother, who never blinked twice.

LZ Love  

Moving back to America, LZ graciously moved from strength to strength, eventually joining San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church choir, performing for household names like former President Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Bay Area icon, Pulitzer Prize winner, Maya Angelou, who declared Miss Love as beautiful.

Miss Love's life is a testimony to the enduring spirit of why people the world over come to San Francisco to live out their imaginations, hopes and dreams.

For all of her life's triumphs, however, the tragedy is, and it pains me to say this, is the book itself, which is in need of a proofreader and editor. The reminiscences are repetitive and scattershot. And the images of LZ and her family are so unforgivably blurry and tiny, to the point that I thought I needed to upgrade my reading glasses.

LZ Love's life is so worthy, her career is so sterling and her beauty and pedigree, as a transgendered performer is unmatched. It's a shame that this book is not reflective of those qualities, though her timing could not have been better.

Perhaps the author may revise the project with a professional publishing company of discerning standards, so that she may then "receive her flowers."

LZ Love will perform on May 30 at a tribute for Sylvester at The Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy St., with former Sylvester backing singer Jeanie Tracy. It is my sincere hope that we all attend, to see the beauties on duty.


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