A Little Something for Korrektiv’s “Lives of Famous Catholics” Series

This week, the New Yorker gets around to gushing over the Wachowski siblings’ cinema adaptation of Cloud Atlas.  Would you believe it features Hugo “Agent Smith/Elrond” Weaving as a genderbending Nasty Nurse?  Not that you’ll read that here. What you will read here is some account of Lana (nee Larry) Wachowski’s transgenderism.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Lana’s gender consciousness started to emerge at around the same time. In third grade, Larry transferred to a Catholic school, where boys and girls wore different uniforms and stood in separate lines before class. “I have a formative memory of walking through the girls’ line and hesitating, knowing that my clothes didn’t match,” Lana told me. “But as I continued on I felt I did not belong in the other line, so I just stopped in between them. I stood for a long moment with everyone staring at me, including the nun. She told me to get in line. I was stuck—I couldn’t move. I think some unconscious part of me figured I was exactly where I belonged: betwixt.” Larry was often bullied for his betwixtness. “As a result, I hid and found tremendous solace in books, vastly preferring imagined worlds to this world,” Lana said.

The betwixtness apparently came to a head during the filming of the Matrix sequels.

Sensing that something was wrong, Lynne Wachowski flew to Australia the following day. The morning after her arrival, Larry told her, “I’m transgender. I’m a girl.” Lynne didn’t know what he meant. “I was there when you were born,” she said. “There’s a part of me that is a girl,” Larry insisted. “I’m still working at that.” Lynne had been distraught on the plane, worried that she might lose her son. “Instead, I’ve just found out there is more of you,” she said. Ron, who soon flew in, too, offered his unconditional support, as did Larry’s sisters and Andy, who had suspected for a while.

Eventually, the press retreated. Lana completed her divorce and met and fell in love with the woman who became her second wife, in 2009. “I chose to change my exteriority to bring it closer into alignment with my interiority,” she told me. “My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake. I know that many people are dying to know if I have a surgically constructed vagina or not, but I prefer to keep this information between my wife and me.”

Okay then!  But there are a couple of things that nag at me about this very friendly profile.  They don’t mention the whole S&M thing, and they don’t mention the hot mess that was Speed Racer.  If you’re going to do a piece that explores the subject’s sexuality and also discusses past work, you can’t just leave whole sections out.  It’s not like there are dozens of Wachowski movies, and it’s not like S&M isn’t a key part of Lana’s romantic history.

(I link to the HuffPo piece because the original Rolling Stone article is subscriber-only.  Love the author’s indignance: “You could also read this article and wonder at the point of it. Why are we interested in Larry Wachowski’s sexual proclivities anyway?” Well, maybe because he/she is throwing them up on the screen, and making questions of perceived vs. actual reality central to his/her films?)


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Of the making of ‘Lives of Famous Catholics’, there is no end. The question is: Where to begin? So far, we’ve got the Wachowskis, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Jack White, Alfred Hitchcock, Andy Warhol….


    Incidentally: Before we all left for Mass on Sunday, your Second Daughter, seeing my pink Oxford-cloth button-down, commented that she had never seen a man wear pink before, but that she had to admit it looked good.

    What I’m trying to say is, I hope my choice of shirtings didn’t undermine any of your parenting decisions.

    If nothing else, you can take heart that Second Daughter must already grasp the fine distinction between laymen’s pink and liturgical rose.

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    The list, like the beat, goes on.

    I don’t wear pink because it brings out the shattered blood vessels in my ruined, ancient face. The decision is purely aesthetic.

    But thanks for your concern.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      Figured I probably wasn’t doing any great violence to anyone’s paradigms, given that yours is a household whose womenfolk choose sometimes to go about in trousers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)


      …the shattered blood vessels in my ruined, ancient face…

      1) We knew you were a pinko.

      2) I thought that was just sunburn.

      3) Speaking of the florid-faced and prematurely ravaged: A few weeks ago, I went to a library and thumbed through some Evelyn Waugh biographies. It quickly became evident that further reading would be a time-wasting redundancy for any guest who had witnessed at firsthand the ‘later years’ at Combe Florey playing themselves out (the second time, as farce) at Castle Godsbody.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        Yes, all of the breakdowns and cruelty with none of the literary achievement.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          The Ordeal of Matthew Bebona

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          The analogy goes deeper, of course: There’s the husband’s being a younger brother; his having married above himself (interpret that how you like); and the couple’s having three daughters and three sons; there’s the loyal circle of friends, largely Catholic, with a sprinkling of learned clerics; there’s the attention to liturgy and appreciation for tradition; there’s the unstinting self-criticism, and the astonishingly openhanded generosity.

          In other words, the breakdowns and cruelty are only part of the story.

  3. I have another to add to the gallery:

    Fashion house Dolce and Gabanna, who for the past year or so has been perfecting their Sicilian Widow look with lace mantillas, miraculous medals, and all the sexy splendors of a pre-Vatican II granny. For their latest show, they staged their models in an abandoned Church under portraits of “sour-faced bishops” who once presided there (according to September 2012 Vogue US).

    Somehow it feels related to note that at the last Catholic-lady-conference I went to, the hallway was packed with vendors–mom businesses selling Rosary bracelets and prayer books. I came upon one table that was stacked with colorful pieces of lace, and my first thought was “This is new, to have panty-vendors at a Catholic conference.” On closer inspection, they were lace mantillas in every shade of the rainbow.

    • Oops, correction:
      Not an abandoned church–but a monastery that has been converted into a luxury hotel. Even better.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        The confusion of mantillas with panties must appear in a piece of fiction.

        The Sicilian Widow look! Sour-faced bishops! This is a major find, Duffer. Thanks much.

        • Not to beat a dead horse, but their jewelry campaign is really a must see.


          I’m going back to my mom blog now.

          • Matthew Lickona says

            Oh, my.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            In olden days a glimpse of cilice
            Was looked on as scan-dilice….

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            ‘I’m going back to my mom blog now’ is my favorite euphemism since ‘I’ll be in my bunk’.

          • Matthew Lickona says


          • Discussion question: Which would be the more sacramentallish purchase:

            1. A $5,000 Dolce & Gabanna ironic (?) necklace festooned with religious medals, you know, some of them real old-tymey looking ones like Nonna used to wear, made in Italy, possibly by some real live Catholic folks

            2. A $50 necklace festooned with similar medals, silver-look, made in China but sold by a Catholic bookstore?

            And could you have both of them blessed? What happens to the D&G one if you have it blessed? Does the air of fornication dissipate?

            • I have been wondering where DG is having their medals minted. Is some small-timey Catholic business making some Gs off this stuff? Or are the medals just slightly irregular? I can’t get close enough to see.

              • Holy crow. Click the video link down at the bottom of that D&G page. The boy she climbs onto on the bed looks about 14. Then something distracts her, and she heads off to confession, and the priest shuts the doors of the confessional on her. If you click the third video, you get to watch ’em make some of the jewelry. It ends with one of the medals, seen from the back, with the D&G name. But that doesn’t mean anything. I know I’ve seen some of those Marian heads before.

            • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

              Well, there are Chinese-made Catholic devotional aids, and then there are Chinese-made Catholic devotional aids. And anything manufactured anywhere in the world just might be made by some real live Catholic folks.

              But your question is a good one.

              These are basically gut reactions, not arguments, but — for what they’re worth — they’re all I have time for at the moment:

              I don’t think that an item’s provenance really affects its level of sacramentallishness; an item is sacramentallish in the degree to which it satisfies the Church’s definition of some given type of sacramental (e.g., a medal), and the degree to which it excites a person’s piety and opens his soul to grace.

              Do we assume, for purposes of the question, that both items are practically equal in the degrees to which they satisfy these two criteria (i.e., the outer and the inner, the ecclesial and the personal)? I will assume so for now.

              If an item’s sacramentallishness doesn’t depend on its origins, and if both items under consideration satisfy the criteria of sacramentallishness to the same degree, then that leaves the price difference — $5,000 versus $50 — as the point to distinguish the more from the less sacramentallish purchase. And at the level of price, I think the lower price — the $50 for the Chinese necklace — is the more sacramentallish purchase. If one wishes to spend really lavishly on some devotional something-or-other, it should probably be on something public — something more apt to show forth God’s glory and edify the multitudes than a necklace of medals is likely to do, anyway.

              I do love the idea of having either the D&G necklace or the Chinese knockoff blessed; either one seems like a very fitting tribute to lay at the pierced feet of the God Who, when crowned with thorns, turned an ironic (!) purple cloak into a sign of His coming victory.

              • Leaving aside the question of the two necklaces’ relative sacramentallishness, would y’all agree that, from the point of view of social justice, it does matter where and how a thing was made?

                I realize this is a very different question.

    • This was actually the moment when the Duffer and I looked at each other and thought that maybe we weren’t mean to go to Catholic-lady conferences any more.

  4. “Larry was often bullied for his betwixtness.”

    I distinctly remember the betwixt kids table in the lunchroom. Don’t you?

    • Matthew Lickona says

      Zachary! You’re still around! Awesome!

      I was probably one of those betwixt kids, what with my interest in musical theater, band, art, jazz choir, soccer (as opposed to football), and curly mullets worn in a ponytail. Oh, and I wore driving moccasins and Z. Cavariccis with no socks and the pants rolled up just a touch.


      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says
      • Cavariccis with moccasins complicate the narrative. The only way such an ensemble would speak of betwixtness, is if you adopted these aesthetics from a gentle but intense estranged uncle, who blew into town displaying a fondness for equal parts leather chaps, Allen Ginsberg, and leaving behind souvenirs from his travels–like a pair of said moccasins.

        To be an authentic betwixt, you’d better just limit your flashbacks to the pressed fabrics and clean lines of Catholic school uniforms, cold pewter crucifixes, and accusing fingers of sterile nuns. Because even if you actually grew up never hearing anything but homily after homily about how it’s bad not to share with the other children, and how Jesus gave the world a big hug on the cross, the story demands a chancery that lived to shame you.

        If you didn’t grow up a chancery that shamed you, then one will be provided for you.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      The betwixters in my neck of the woods were a little more identity-conscious — militant, even; the local nomenclature was ‘athwartlings’.

      • I love the way s/he makes the Catholic school the oppressor in this scenario, for making the genders divide to go to the lunchroom.

        In any case, I always thought that with the betwixters was the place to be. Best of both worlds for me anyway. The jock dudes were aloof and intimidating to approach and I always wanted to be around the boys, even if they were a little fey.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        In my day, we jes’ called ’em fence-sitters.

  5. Yawn.

    Looks like yet another argument for homeschooling.

    Also, it sounds like the poor movie director has addiciton problems – and modern culture is his co-dependent.


  6. Wags you all are.

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