Madam Leigh Madam Leigh was born in Kalgoorlie and born male. The personable brothel madam and sex change recipient is a respected member of the local council. Olive and Dominic Varis gave birth to Harry (later to become Leigh) fifty-ish years ago. Young Harry enjoyed playing football and cricket and the company of his three sisters and two brothers. During adolescence, he began to think that something wasn’t quite right. By the age of 17, Leigh was no longer Harry. She was fully aware that she was a woman trapped inside a male body. Leigh left Kalgoorlie and headed for the bright lights of Perth. Working as a labourer and then as a nurse at Graylands Mental Hospital, Leigh discovered that there were others like her out there. “It was an outrageous time, the late sixties; we were liberating people who had no idea that homosexuals existed,” she laughs. Two years into her new lifestyle, Leigh answered a knock at her front door to to find her mother and younger brother were moving in to escape the violent clutches of her father. At the tender age of twenty-one Leigh became the family breadwinner, fulfiling her routine chores at the hospital during the day to support her mother and brother and slipping into woman’s clothing and tripping the light fantastic with her homosexual friends at night. At this point in time, Leigh admitted her homosexuality and cross-dressing behaviour to her mother. “She was just waiting for me to tell her and then issued me with instructions to be either one or the other,” Leigh said of her moment of truth. With that in mind, Leigh headed north for the obscurity of Port Hedland to decide on her future. After touring the area with her own drag show, Leigh then grew a beard and stayed on in Wickham, working in construction for seven months. “I lived like a bloke, worked like a bloke and drank like a bloke,” she says. Leigh then returned to Perth, giving her mother the surprise of her life with a fully-grown beard. Not long after, Leigh moved to Sydney. Working as a maintenance man in a Kings Cross hotel by day, Leigh began taking female hormones and dallied as a prostitute at night. After trying this for a while, Leigh moved back to Wickham, this time as a female. Taking the bull by the horns, Leigh walked into the local pub dressed as a woman. She stepped up to the bar and said in a deep male voice, “Give us a beer.” From that day on, they all thought that she was a bit of alright. Leigh lived happily in Wickham for fourteen years, working as a cleaner, but still required surgery to complete her sexual transformation. She opted to have the procedure carried out in Singapore in 1986, returning to Perth as a fully-fledged female to work in a pub. After being sexually harassed by her boss, Leigh decided it better to work professionally and became the first sex-change recipient to be registered as a brothel worker under the containment system. Leigh’s next move was to Kalgoorlie to check out Hay Street. “It was really quite scary, because the guys I went to school with were picking me out and doing their business without realising who I used to be,” Leigh says now. “But I never once got sprung, not for that or the fact that I’d had a sex-change operation.” “I had only been working in Kalgoorlie ten weeks when I heard they were looking for a new madam at Club 181.” Working with Mary-Anne and seeing her frustrations in trying to rebuild Club 181, Leigh then decided to nominate for the local council elections – surprising no-one with an overwhelming victory. ”Kalgoorlie’s always been known for it’s brothels,” she quips. Running with the slogan “I DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”, Leigh paints Kalgoorlie –Boulder as a progressive town that doesn’t play host to bludgers. “We live in the best city in the world, a stones throw away from God’s door. Nothing sinister really happens here,” she boasts. “There are no rapes, tourism is booming and although the price of gold has dropped considerably, there is more remaining under Boulder than has already been reaped, so the days of prosperity will return.” What do her local constituents feel about their local boy turned brothel madam councillor? “They love me because they realise that I ain’t that much different from the next councillor - I’m just a normal person with a changed exterior,” she says with a wry smile.