In 1982, Teddy Pendergrass was on top of the world, he had just left Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes amidst dissension with Harold Melvin who many industry people state was jealous of Teddy’s appeal with the ladies and his undeniable talent. Teddy had put the group on the map and now it was time to pursue a solo career. He was almost instantly a huge soul singing sensation who had to duck panties and bras flying on stage from women in the audience who would have given life and limb to be with him.
A man having a relationship with a transgender woman today is still considered taboo and the butt of jokes but a successful hardcore-masculine-ladies-man-superstar-soul-singer in 1982 was beyond comprehension for black women and left them sexually catatonic. They realized they really DIDN’T know Teddy Pendergrass… by now! And they never, never, never did know him. At the height of his career, Teddy Pendergrass saw all hell break loose in one night. Seeing a transgendered prostitute named Tenika Watson at a club in 1982, the singer spoke to her and was ready to leave and so was she. They got in the car and the rest is R&B history.
The world of marketing and promotion can often be unfortunate because it turns humans into products with no error stamps (at least back then) and while a man or woman should be able to date and have a relationship with whoever they want, female fans felt that Teddy was theirs and he owed it to them to be who THEY wanted him to be, after all, they were buying his albums, weren’t they? Just when fans were trying to get a grip on the news that he was paralyzed in the accident the additional shock that there was a transgendered woman in the car with him sealed his industry future and fate. Teddy Pendergrass had to have been absolutely devastated by the scandal that not only left him paralyzed but also desecrated his career as a successful R&B singing ladies man. He never addressed the situation and in the years following much speculation and distasteful jokes were made endlessly penalizing Teddy for the situation.