Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tenika Watson's Story

When Teddy Pendergrass had the traffic accident that paralyzed him back in 1982, there was another passenger in his car whose life was affected as well.

Then 31 year old Tenika Watson's injuries were more emotional than physical. Her life after the accident suffered as a result of the publicity surrounding the crash and after she was outed as a transwoman.

She said about Pendergrass at the time. "I was concerned about him. I was concerned if he was really hurt. I feel about him as I do about any other human being. I thought we were both going to die."

The 5'10" beauty was on her way to becoming a model when the fateful traffic accident occurred. It took according to her an hour and 45 minutes to free her and Pendergrass from the wrecked car before she was taken to the hospital.

She told Philadelphia Tribune writer Barbara Faggins in an interview published in the May 31, 1982 issue of JET that the medical people on duty were more concerned with getting a urinalysis test done than finding out about the extent of her injuries.

"They were interested in finding out what I had in my system. The wanted to find out what was in my urine." I was very upset with them. I must have gotten to the hospital around 1 AM and didn't leave until 6 AM."

I remember at the time there was much Hateraid directed at her from die hard ciswomen Teddy fans. Pendergrass used to have 'For Women Only' concerts back in the late 70's and they loved them some Teddy. Some even ignorantly blamed her for the accident as if she was driving the car.

"My family and friends are angry because of what they've read in the papers about me." she said. "What really upset me was the fact that the papers made me out to be some animal or demon and that I was not a God fearing person."

Amen sis.

She was asked by Faggins if there was any part of her life that she would like to change, Watson stated, "I wish I had been born genetically a woman instead of having to get surgery. Society won't accept me as a woman."

I had a recent conversation with Dionne Stallworth, and she tells me that Tenika is still in the Philly area. I would love to hear from Tenika what has transpired in her life since it was turned upside down by that traffic accident.

1 comment:

ginasf said...

Ms. Watson has been unfairly made into some dirty, shameful trivia footnote in this story for far too long. Yes, I know Pendergrass had a lot to deal with after the accident (and maybe even more when he fought back to save his career) but I think the way he's dismissed her over the years speaks of cowardice. Where's his responsibility for what happened that night? And no, I no more think he was just "driving her home" any more than I believe Teddy Kennedy was just driving Mary Jo back to catch the ferry. No big deal gentlemen... just be a man and admit it.