Transamerican Love Story

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Transamerican Love Story
Directed byJulio Kollerbohm
Presented byAlec Mapa
Theme music composerKevin Haskins
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)World of Wonder

Oh Really! Productions

  • Joe del Hierro

Co-executive producer

  • Julio Kollerbohm[2]
Producer(s)Sara Jandrain (senior producer)
CinematographyBrian Stevens
  • Jason Blum
  • Ben Levine
  • Tom Sitter
  • Edwin Steinitz
Camera setupMulti-camera
Production company(s)
DistributorMTV Networks
Original networkLogo TV
Picture formatATSC (480i)
Audio formatStereophonic
Original releaseFebruary 11 (2008-02-11) –
March 31, 2008 (2008-03-31)
External links
Production website

Transamerican Love Story is an American reality dating show in which suitors woo transgender woman Calpernia Addams. Addams chooses a suitor by process of elimination. When the show first aired, viewers could vote their preferences online, but it was Addams who chose whom to eliminate. Calpernia is accompanied by her friend Andrea James; each episode is hosted by comedian Alec Mapa.

Transamerican Love Story is the first reality dating show in the United States in which contestants compete for the attention and approval of a transgender woman.[3] Logo TV, a digital cable channel with LGBT content, announced the series in November 2007, and premiered the first episode the following February.[2][4] The series finale aired on March 31, 2008.

Zack Rosen of the Washington Blade praised the series, describing it as "refreshing for its lack of sensationalism". Heather Havrilesky of Salon agreed, and admired Calpernia's composure in the reality show environment. In 2009, Transamerican Love Story won a GLAAD Media Award in the "Outstanding Reality Program" category, tying with I Want to Work for Diddy.

MTV Networks published the complete series on DVD in 2008. The series is also distributed on Amazon Video, and was previously distributed through Netflix, iTunes, and LOGOonline.


Calpernia Addams,
the bachelorette
Andrea James,
Calpernia's friend
Alec Mapa,
the show's host

The show employs the competition-dating format established by The Bachelor (2002),[5] a long-running series with numerous spin-offs and imitators. The bachelors in Transamerican Love Story are men who are "open to dating a trans woman".[6] They lodge together in a mansion while Calpernia stays in a separate cottage on the estate. The contestants compete in group challenges, and the winners are granted time with Calpernia.

Before deciding which contestant to eliminate in the evening's ceremony, Calpernia confers with her friends Andrea James and (show host) Alec Mapa. James and Mapa have occasion to chat with the bachelors, and they share some of their insights with Calpernia. Viewers also vote their preferences online, but it is Calpernia who chooses whom to eliminate.[7] In the elimination ceremony, Calpernia feeds a chocolate to those suitors whom she invites to stay. In the final episode, when only three suitors remain, they are given makeovers before Calpernia meets with them individually to tell each man whether it is him she has chosen.

Most of Transamerican Love Story was filmed in the Greater Los Angeles Area of Los Angeles County, California. Portions of episode six were filmed in the Western US cities of Ventura, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.

The suitors[edit]

Eight men compete in the show. They range in age from 24 to 47.[8]

Name Age Hometown Job Eliminated
Shawn 33 Ventura, California Concert promoter Winner
Mike 24 Chicago, Illinois Personal trainer Episode 8
Jim 32 Hilliard, Ohio Writer Episode 8
Mark 34 New York, New York Professional wrestler Episode 5
Peter 25 Encino, California Media consultant Episode 4
Rich 37 New York, New York Yoga instructor Episode 3
Barry 45 Glade Hill, Virginia Actor Episode 2
Blaine 47 Reseda, California Car salesman Episode 1

Call-out order[edit]

Contestants are arranged in the order in which Calpernia calls their names during the elimination ceremony. In episode five, no competition winner is declared. In episode six, each of the three remaining men gets a date with Calpernia. Episode seven is a clip show, and has no elimination ceremony. In episode eight, Calpernia turns down two of the three remaining suitors before declaring the remaining man the winner.

No. of
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 Rich Shawn Mike Jim Shawn Shawn N/A Shawn
2 Jim Jim Shawn Mike Mike Jim N/A Mike
3 Peter Rich Mark Shawn Jim Mike N/A Jim
4 Mike Mark Jim Mark Mark
5 Barry Peter Peter Peter
6 Shawn Mike Rich
7 Mark Barry
8 Blaine
  The contestant won the competition.
  The contestant won a date with Calpernia.
  The contestant won a date with Calpernia, but was eliminated.
  The contestant was eliminated.
  The contestant was to be eliminated, but Calpernia let him stay.


Episode number Title[9] Air date
1"Getting to Know You"February 11, 2008 (2008-02-11)[10]
Calpernia arrives in a horse-drawn carriage and meets the eight bachelors. Each man spends a few minutes talking with her while the rest talk with her friend Andrea. Later that night, the men are invited to a "sleepover" with a Middle Eastern theme: the men dress in thongs and loincloths, and must cater to Calpernia by fanning her, feeding her tidbits, rubbing her feet, and dancing. Calpernia decides to eliminate Blaine, who previously revealed that he had owned a transsexual porn business.
2"Something's Cookin'"February 18, 2008 (2008-02-18)
Since Calpernia is from the Southern United States, her friends are invited to a Southern dinner—which the bachelors must prepare. The men shop at a nearby kosher market, and make kosher substitutions for the non-kosher ingredients that the recipes call. At first the men get along while preparing the meal but things become more strained as the cooking progresses. Barry, having taken control of the cooking and organizing the men, earns a wine-and-cheese date with Calpernia that afternoon. The dinner guests arrive and find that some of the dishes are not well-prepared. The dinner party ends with a singalong led by Shawn. Shawn wins a few moments with Calpernia based on her friends' recommendations. Jim reveals to Mark that he is transgender, and is pleasantly surprised by Mark's encouraging response. At the elimination, Calpernia sends Barry home.
3"Love's a Beach"February 25, 2008 (2008-02-25)
The six remaining suitors arrive at a beach where they must strip to their underpants and exercise under the orders of a former drill sergeant (who is also a trans man). Calpernia and Andrea watch through binoculars from a nearby yacht. The drill sergeant pairs them into teams, and explains that each team is to paddle a rubber raft to the yacht. The men who win the race earn time alone with Calpernia. Shawn and Rich win the race, and take the opportunity to get to know Calpernia better. Back on shore, Mark clashes with the other men, particularly Mike. The next day, Calpernia visits to spend some alone time with Mark. Peter (who's worried about having had no alone time with her) and Mike crash the end of their date. Jim tells all of the remaining suitors that he is transgender, and they are all supportive. At the elimination ceremony, Calpernia eliminates Rich, saying they would make better friends.
4"I Love the Nightlife"March 3, 2008 (2008-03-03)
Mark continues to come into conflict with the other suitors. Calpernia brings the men to a nightclub where several of her friends (including original club kid James St. James) evaluate them. Calpernia performs her song "Stunning", and the men learn they will perform on stage and in costume for her and a panel of judges. Mark refuses, but eventually agrees to perform in his street clothes. Mike wins the performance competition, and earns a limo ride with Calpernia. The next day Calpernia finally spends some time alone with Peter, but she's concerned that he's more interested in the mint juleps she's serving than in her. Calpernia eliminates Peter at that night's ceremony.
5"I Like the Way You Move"March 10, 2008 (2008-03-10)
The episode begins with group interactions between the remaining four suitors. Everyone goes to Oil Can Harry's to learn to dance the country-western two-step. Afterward, they return to the mansion for a barbecue dinner. The dinner becomes a shouting match between Mark and Jim, and Calpernia breaks down in tears. Calpernia eliminates Mark at that evening's ceremony, and Shawn leaves the mansion to attend a funeral.
6"Meet the Folks"March 17, 2008 (2008-03-17)
This episode stresses the importance of family. With Shawn absent for a funeral, only Jim and Mike are left to meet Calpernia's "adopted mother", Chyna. Calpernia and Mike go to the Las Vegas Strip, where Mike's mother and father are on holiday at the Sahara Hotel and Casino. Shawn returns, and Calpernia accompanies him to his hometown, Ventura, California. Jim's parents visit the mansion to meet Calpernia, as do his former roommates, a gay couple. At the elimination ceremony, Jim and Shawn are invited to stay, but Calpernia decides not to eliminate Mike, either. Calpernia announces that all four of them are returning to the mansion for the final portion of the competition.
7"Season Recap"March 24, 2008 (2008-03-24)
In this clip show, host Alec Mapa recaps the series so far, and interviews Calpernia and the remaining suitors.
8"Season Finale"March 31, 2008 (2008-03-31)
Calpernia and the three remaining suitors move to Le Parc Suite Hotel in West Hollywood, and the suitors get makeovers at Fusion Hair. Calpernia calls Jim to the hotel's rooftop patio and tells him that they should not be "romantic partners". Mike and Shawn each make their final pitch for Calpernia's heart, and in the end she selects Shawn.


Transamerican Love Story was one of three new reality television shows that Logo premiered in 2008, accompanied by Gimme Sugar and Shirts & Skins.[11] It was produced by World of Wonder Productions with the assistance of Oh Really! Productions, a company that had recently begun producing The Big Gay Sketch Show for Logo.[12][13]

After World of Wonder developed the concept for Transamerican Love Story, Logo called Calpernia Addams in the summer of 2007 to offer her the starring role, which she accepted. Addams is an actress, musician, writer, and activist from Nashville, Tennessee.[14] She was 36 years old when the show was filmed.

Her friend, transgender activist Andrea James, co-stars in the series, and was a consulting producer. In a 2013 interview, James explains that she saw an opportunity for social progress in a program that accurately represented men who are attracted to trans women. Typically, she says, in US media trans-attracted men are stigmatized and shamed, and that can make them hate themselves—and "lead to unhealthy and even dangerous situations for trans women."[15] "No one knows how hard it is for us to date!" Addams adds.[6] Both Addams and James hoped the show would also undermine the media stereotype of trans women as "tragic and serious".[16]

Transamerican Love Story was not World of Wonder's first transgender program. Their documentary series TransGeneration (2005)[17] won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary in 2006, and Sex Change Hospital (2007) was a nominee for the same award in 2009.[18][19] Transamerican Love Story contestant Jim Howley, who is himself transgender, appeared in the premiere episode of Sex Change Hospital.

Response and epilogue[edit]

Zack Rosen of the Washington Blade called the show "refreshing for its lack of sensationalism".[20] Heather Havrilesky, in her review for Salon, observed: "The show’s producers (thankfully) resist the urge to throw in big, manipulative Fox-style surprises. While some of the men get freaked out by each other, Calpernia is likable and accepting and takes the whole crazy assortment of characters in stride."[21]

"A reality dating show is… a very difficult circumstance in which to get to know someone", wrote Calpernia Addams, a few weeks after the finale aired. "I look[ed] at it as… a fun romp… rather than a deadly serious path to matrimony."[22] The following July, Calpernia reported that she and competition-winner Shawn "had some dinners and get-togethers, but… have not continued to date".[23] A few days later, she told an interviewer: "The amazing thing that Logo did with this was they showed trans people dating as being so normal, like it really is. I think it’s going to open it up for trans women to feel worthy of love and for guys to not be afraid to date us."[16]

About two months after the final episode aired, Addams, Howley, Andrea James, and Alec Mapa all appeared together in the 2008 Los Angeles Pride parade.[24] Later that summer, Jim Howley did a photo shoot with portrait photographer Eric Schwabel for a feature in The Advocate on the human body.[25] Schwabel also photographed Addams the following February.[26]

On June 18, 2009, a few weeks after Transamerican Love Story won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program, Calpernia Addams and Andrea James debuted a short comedy film at the 33rd Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco.[27][28] They had begun developing the film—called Transproofed—more than a year prior.[27][29] Transproofed is the story of a trans woman, Ava, who feels unready to tell the man she's been dating that she's transgender; but when Ava's friend Joyce pressures her into hiding any evidence in her apartment that she's trans (with a long career as a showgirl), Ava feels more and more uneasy.[30] Addams and James wrote, directed, produced, and scored the film. Addams takes the role of Ava, and James plays the role of Joyce.

GLAAD Media Award[edit]

At the 20th GLAAD Media Awards in May 2009, Transamerican Love Story tied with I Want to Work for Diddy for the GLAAD Media Award in the "Outstanding Reality Program" category.[31] Calpernia Addams and Laverne Cox were at the awards ceremony in San Francisco to accept the honors for the respective shows.[32]

Also in attendance was Transamerican Love Story finalist Jim Howley. He reports that when Transamerican Love Story won, he impulsively ran past the security personnel and onto the stage.[33] After Addams' acceptance speech, he approached the lectern, introduced himself, and said a few words about transgender progress. Howley was one of the subjects of Sex Change Hospital, which was a nominee that year in the "Outstanding Documentary" category.[18] He attended the awards ceremony with Clair Farley,[34] a trans woman who was the subject of the 2007 documentary Red Without Blue.[35] The couple married in 2011.[36]

In 2016, two transgender-related series once again tied for GLAAD's "Outstanding Reality Program" award: I Am Cait (starring Caitlyn Jenner) and I Am Jazz (starring Jazz Jennings).[37][38] Chris McCarthy, general manager of Logo and VH1, told Adweek in 2015 that without Transamerican Love Story and other portrayals of diverse trans issues, "there would be no I Am Cait."[39] Said World of Wonder co-founder Randy Barbato, "We always thought our subjects were ready for prime time. Not that many people agreed with us."[39]

Video releases[edit]

MTV Networks published the complete series in a four-disc DVD set in 2008.[40] It is distributed online through Amazon Video, and has also been distributed through Netflix,[41] iTunes, and LOGOonline.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James, Andrea. "Transamerican Love Story". Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Logo Green-lights Dating Series Featuring Transgender". The Advocate. Here Media. November 30, 2007. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  3. ^ Hilton, Perez (November 29, 2007). "The Bachelorette (That Used to Be a Bachelor)". Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  4. ^ Schoenberger, Colin (November 30, 2007). "Logo's New Reality Show: Transamerican Love Story". NewNowNext. Archived from the original on July 15, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  5. ^ Marikar, Sheila (November 30, 2007). "Guy Turned Girl Seeks Love on Reality TV". ABC News. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Kearns, Michael (2008). "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Frontiers. 26 (20). Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  7. ^ Melloy, Kilian (December 31, 2007). "Logo Plans 3 Queer Reality Series in 2008". EDGE Media Network. EDGE Publications.
  8. ^ "Transamerican Love Story: Meet the Cast". Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  9. ^ "Transamerican Love Story: Episodes". Viacom International. 2008. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008.
  10. ^ "Calpernia on the Air". The WOW Report. World of Wonder. February 9, 2008. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "Logo puts stamp on 3 new reality shows". The Hollywood Reporter. Nielsen Business Media. November 30, 2007. Archived from the original on May 14, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  12. ^ Lambert, David (October 18, 2007). "The Big Gay Sketch Show — Rosie O'Donnell-Produced Show from Logo's on DVD, but Online Only". CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  13. ^ Goff, Leslie Jaye (February 16, 2007). "Cable's Originals". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  14. ^ Nichols, JamesMichael (February 28, 2016). "The Incredible Story of Trans Showgirl, Musician and Legend Calpernia Addams". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  15. ^ Kowalska, Monika (December 28, 2013). "Interview with Andrea James". The Heroines of My Life. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Hernandez, Greg (July 29, 2008). "A quick chat with Calpernia Addams and Andrea James of Transamerica Love Story". Out in Hollywood. Greg Hernandez.
  17. ^ "Logo Finds Love Transamerican Style with Upcoming Reality Slate". Out & About Newspaper. December 7, 2007. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "And Speaking of the GLAAD Media Awards…". The WOW Report. World of Wonder. January 27, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  19. ^ "Update on 'Female or She-male' sketch and RuPaul's Drag Race". GLAAD. April 14, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  20. ^ Rosen, Zack (March 7, 2008). "Springtime Blossoms: TV Returns to Its Regularly Scheduled Programming After Strike". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2008.
  21. ^ Havrilesky, Heather (February 10, 2008). "I Like to Watch § Transamerican Love Story". Salon. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  22. ^ Addams, Calpernia (April 30, 2008). "The Reality of Love". The Advocate. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2017. Alt URL
  23. ^ Addams, Calpernia (July 14, 2008). "Transamerican Love Story – What Happened After?". Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  24. ^ Addams, Calpernia (June 9, 2008). "Los Angeles Pride with Calpernia, Andrea, Alec Mapa & Jim Howley". Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Naked Truth: Jim Howley". The Advocate. August 28, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  26. ^ Addams, Calpernia (February 15, 2009). "Calpernia by Eric Schwabel". Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  27. ^ a b Addams, Calpernia (May 15, 2009). "Transproofed Poster Completed, San Francisco Screening Dates Set". Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  28. ^ "Transproofed". Frameline Festival Archive. Frameline. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  29. ^ Santoscoy, Carlos (June 5, 2008). "Calpernia Addams on Love & Transgender Rights". On Top Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  30. ^ Addams, Calpernia; James, Andrea (April 20, 2010) [2009]. Transproofed (video). Deep Stealth Productions – via YouTube.
  31. ^ "GLAAD Tidings". The WOW Report. World of Wonder. May 11, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  32. ^ Addams, Calpernia (May 31, 2009). "Video from the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards – Calpernia's Acceptance Speech". Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  33. ^ Jim Howley (May 18, 2009). GLAAD Awards and Clair (video). Los Angeles: YouTube. Event occurs at 5:13. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  34. ^ Jim Howley (May 18, 2009). GLAAD Awards and Clair (video). Los Angeles: YouTube. Event occurs at 4:27. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Winn, Steven (June 16, 2007). "Identical Twins Walked Divergent Paths". SFGate. San Francisco: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  36. ^ "A Story of a Transgender Couple: A Video". Lesbian News. LN Publishing. January 17, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  37. ^ Deerwater, Raina (April 2, 2016). "Video: I Am Jazz, I Am Cait Tie for the #glaadawards in Outstanding Reality Program". GLAAD. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  38. ^ Duncan, Gabi (April 3, 2016). "Congrats, Caitlyn Jenner! I Am Cait Wins Outstanding Reality Show at GLAAD Media Awards 2016, Ties with TLC's I Am Jazz". E! Online. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  39. ^ a b Stanley, Terry L. (November 15, 2015). "How the Producers Behind RuPaul's Drag Race Went From Extreme to Mainstream". Adweek. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  40. ^ Transamerican Love Story. Season 1. OCLC. OCLC 731580432.
  41. ^ James, Andrea (June 1, 2008). "Transamerican Love Story now on Netflix". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  42. ^ Addams, Calpernia. "Transamerican Love Story". Retrieved March 1, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]