"I'm a Person Who Loves Beautiful Things": Potassa de Lafayette as Model and Muse

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In January 1977, Potassa de Lafayette visited Andy Warhol’s studio wearing a black velvet and taffeta evening gown. The Dominican model sat for sketches by visiting artist Jamie Wyeth and photographs taken by Warhol that together reveal the sequence in which Potassa raised her skirt and lowered her stockings to expose her penis. This contribution explores Potassa’s strategies of self-presentation amid the politics at play in the studio that day. The author reads Potassa as a self-possessed figure fully in control of her image because hers is an identity not predicated on a gendered or sexed body, but on a visual sensibility – as one who ‘loves beautiful things’. As an aesthete and as one of the first openly transgender models of color, Potassa, the author argues, negotiated difference through beauty and glamor in Warhol’s studio and across New York’s high art and fashion scenes.




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