Jahna Steele, Entertainer
Jahna first made headlines in 1992, when she was outed by the press for being a transsexual. At the time, she was starring in the “Crazy Girls Revue” at the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and had been named Las Vegas’ sexiest showgirl the year before. Once her secret was out, she was immediately dismissed from the show. With her dreams shattered, Jahna embarked on the talk show circuit to tell her story and educate people. She created a one-woman show and toured across the US, singing her way into the hearts of thousands of supporters. Jahna also guest starred on NYPD Blue.
Jahna eventually returned to the Riviera and resumed her showgirl status, however the media intrusion was too much and six months later, she left the show for good. Retreating from the spotlight, Jahna was able to reassess her life and goals. Originally not wanting to be the “Poster Child” for the ts community, Jahna realized that this was her opportunity to speak out for transgender acceptance and embraced the role.
In 2004, Jahna returned to the Riviera to host “The World’s Most Beautiful Transsexual Pageant”. The experience has opened many new doors. A book of Jahna’s life is in the works-and she promises a good read, a documentary film is soon to be released and she is touring again. Anyone who has not heard Jahna sing doesn’t know what they’re missing. She is extraordinarily gifted.
Jahna was instrumental in paving the way for transgender entertainers to venture into mainstream media and be accepted.
Jahna’s website is at www.thejahnasteele.com
From the "Goddess Spotlight" archives, May 24, 2001:
A column about Jahna Steele, by Shellee Renee
Jahna Steele has turned away from the Las Vegas spotlight, but not Las Vegas.
She performs in a more important setting to her, a place called Weston Willows. Jahna helps recovering drug and alcohol addicts get their life back on track. She's the first to admit that she's been there done that, but the addictions are in her past and her future looks bright. She still indulges in her love of singing and performing, with dates booked in Scottsdale and Denver nightclubs.
I saw Jahna for the first time on the "Crazy Girls" stage at the Riviera Hotel. This was in June of 1988, so they were still in the zebra skin room that "La Cage" now occupies. It was my first week in town and my brother, who had been in Vegas a couple of weeks earlier, told me I MUST go to "Crazy Girls" to see Jahna. He was impressed by her beauty, talent and scathing comedic wit. I sat down in a racy zebra chair and didn't blink for an hour! She was "all that" and more! She was gorgeous. She interacted with the audience so well, like they were guests at her private party. She was a dumb blonde Barbie one minute and a sharp-tongued comedienne the next. She had a beautiful singing voice and she danced. I started to wonder if she had a twin backstage! One thing I was sure of by the end of the show, Jahna was loaded with talent and "Crazy Girls" was the show I wanted to be in.
I worked as a cocktail waitress while I learned the dance numbers for "Crazy Girls". I started telling a bartender that I was rehearsing for the show and how excited I was about working with Jahna. He replied, "Did you know she used to be a he?" I was dumbfounded. After rehearsal the next day, I stayed to watch the show. I couldn't keep my eyes off Jahna now, trying to imagine her as John. It was impossible. Still is.
Producer Norbert Aleman sent Jahna to open "Crazy Girls" in Japan. As a "new kid on the block" I went along also. Once in Japan, sitting in a dressing room the size of a mini-van, the cast of ten girls bonded with each other. Jahna's unfaltering sense of humor and friendship was the only thing that kept me sane. I stayed for 3 months, she stayed a year! Once back in Vegas, we were back together performing in "Crazy Girls". There she was, back on the Riviera stage with her beauty, talent and witty charm. Then the news leaked out that Jahna was a transsexual. She exited the show and went on a whirlwind publicity tour to share her story. She was on every talk show and tabloid. She showed the world that transgender people were PEOPLE too! The sudden national "outing" proved to be too much of a good thing. There were those waiting to exploit her and those who took advantage of her kindness. The most important, however, were those who gained an understanding and appreciation for who she was and the hundreds of other transgender people that lauded her as a representative of the culturally diverse world they lived in.
Jahna's story is one of overcoming adversity and shining a little light into the lives of others. I've been her friend for 10 years. I've watched her ups and downs (there were no in-betweens) and I've learned from her. Jahna says it best, "I look forward to the day that acceptance will mean a higher quality of life for people making a transition in life. Respect and understanding are the keys."
Published in the "Goddess Spotlight" on
The Valley Explorer and The Las Vegas Entertainment Show Guide website
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