Los Angeles is full of inspiring stories about people overcoming the odds and finding fame in the entertainment industry, but perhaps none are quite as unique as Sandie Crisp’s. If you’ve ever been to a drag show or a dimly-lit bar in Los Angeles and seen a glamorous creature encrusted in sequins, wearing a giant wig topped with a tiara, yelling “someone buy the Goddess a drink,” as she whisked by in a wheelchair, you just may have been in the presence of a true Hollywood Icon: “The Goddess Bunny.”
She had been ill for a while, and posted a picture of herself on a respirator in the hospital on her Instagram page a couple weeks ago. Her legions of followers all posted “get well soon,” in the comments, hoping that things weren’t what they seemed. But she lost her battle with Covid-19 on Wed., Jan. 27th at Centinela Hospital Medical Center. She was 61 years of age.
It’s difficult to sum up the essence of the Goddess and her larger than life personality. Her tales of glamour and lust were often hard to decipher. What was a real anecdote and what was complete fiction? From her wild accounts of Hollywood movie set rivalries and nightclub follies to secret love affairs with the Hollywood elite- in Bunny’s world, reality and fantasy were one and the same, perhaps serving as part of her life performance. She always wanted to dazzle, amaze, entertain and inspire and she did live a fantastic life, so the reality outweighed any embellishment she may have added.
Like with every other great Hollywood story, Bunny’s life had its hardships and tragedies but that never slowed her down. Born as Giovanni Baima and stricken with Polio at a young age, she underwent many botched surgeries that caused even further spinal complications, eventually losing her ability to walk and being forced to be wheelchair bound.
But if you spoke to Sandie, you wouldn’t think it even affected her in the slightest. She was always in the sexiest number she could be squeezed into, ready to steal the mic and wow the audience, and if a stud was at the bar she would be the first to strike up a conversation. She was unbelievably strong and she turned what some might call disfigurements into assets, never letting anything hold her back from her dreams.
She was one of the first figures to go viral in the internet age with her now infamous tap dancing video watched by millions around the world. She made her acting debut in 1986 in Penelope Spheeris, Hollywood Vice Squad, with Carrie Fisher, appeared in Dr Dre’s “Puppet Master” video. She modeled for one of the most highly respected designers in fashion today, Rick Owens, and was seen in Marilyn Manson’s “Dope Show” video. She had a lot of famous fans and even performed on stage at the MTV Music Video awards. But perhaps most impressive, her portrait “Leda and the Swan” shot by esteemed artist Joel Peter-Witkins, is part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.
Her story is really one of inspiration, teaching us that no matter what life throws at you, it’s yours to make what you want of it. She will go down in history as a legend on club stages, and an icon of the internet age, an inspiration to the queer community and true Goddess to those that knew her best.
“The Goddess Bunny is the last truly glamorous star left in Hollywood,” director Jon Aes Nihil proclaimed after coining the name Goddess Bunny for her. As a trans woman with polio she was a true fighter and her confidence was intoxicating. She had a razor sharp wit and could make you laugh till you were crying. She inspired you to believe in yourself, forget whatever simple problems you might have and be fearless, and there’s nothing more beautiful than that.
A gofundme to pay for Sandie Crisp’s funeral expenses. Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-goddess-bunnys-memorial-service