First sex change; now leaving antique mall for flea markets Jennifer Blake is going through a transformation from a mall/shop dealer to a flea marketer. This might be a big life change for most, but for Blake it hardly registers as a tiny blip on the landscape
to undergo a surgery so dangerous and so experimental that he wasn’t even given the odds of his survival. It was 1966—the first year that a male-to-female surgery had even been attempted in the United States; it was sparked by endrocrinologist and sexologist Dr. Harry Benjamin’s thesis entitled “The Transsexual Phenomenon.” In 1965, John Hopkins University Medical Center opened their Gender Identity Clinic and the following year, several gender reassignment surgeries were performed at the center. Blake may not have been the first to undergo such a surgery, but he was definitely in the pioneering class.
Blake has been post-operative now for more than four decades. Although the surgery did solve some of her problems, it didn’t address them all. Blake struggled with bouts of severe depression which led to her addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. Recently, her story was told in a trade magazine and it described her frightening bout with amnesia after suffering from a concussion: “Blake was a refugee of her own conscience. Her memories were like shadowy vagabonds in the night lighting bonfires to keep themselves warm. In the morning, all that remained were smoke and smoldering embers.”
This experience left Blake with what John Locke would call Tabula Rasa, a “scraped tablet.” However, unlike Lockean theory, she did not have the freedom to author her own soul, because the memories, both comforting and disturbing, when they started to return after several seasons, stormed her mind like guerilla warfare.
Blake attributed the breakdown, the most horrific she ever experienced, to a devastating romance. “I fell in love with a gal who is a very famous actress,” said Blake. Although this actress is a household name, to avoid any libel lawsuits it will be withheld from the story. “She led me on and it never materialized.”
According to Blake, shortly after their relationship floundered, her unrequited love reflected familiar scenes and dialogue from their romance in a short-lived television series where she played a lesbian. Blake felt she had been nothing more to her than a guinea pig; it was not romance, it was research.
Despite the failed romance, Blake is still hopeful that she will find love.
She got her start in the Los Angeles antique business in the early 1980s when she befriended two dealers on Venice’s Abbott Kinney, Jerry and Gary. Since she spent her youth hunting for treasures in alleys and dumpsters, she amassed quite an array of collectibles, spending 10 years focusing mainly on her collection of vintage Mexican sterling silver jewelry. She decided to share a table with Jerry and Gary at the Culver City Show, which was then run by Federico, and got hooked on buying and selling antiques after clearing out most of her merchandise, walking away with an impressive one-day total of $5,000. At the time she owned her own housekeeping and landscaping business, but was so excited by the prospect of peddling antiques, she gave up dusting bookshelves and trimming hedges.
In the early 1990s, Blake