"The Whip" Imagines Life of Legendary Cross-dresser | WCAI

"The Whip" Imagines Life of Legendary Cross-dresser

Dec 12, 2012

Charley Parkhurst was a legend among 19th century Wells-Fargo stagecoach drivers, known as one of the best. He chewed tobacco, smoked cigars, played cards, drank and cussed with the best of them. He died in 1879. Then, and only then, was Parkhursts' lifelong secret revealed - he was a she.

Although the subject of much speculation, few facts are known about the life of Charley Parkhurst, also known as One-Eyed Charlie or Six-Horse Charlie:

She grew up in an orphanage. Her exact place of birth is unknown, although it is thought to be somewhere in New England, possibly near Providence, Rhode Island.

She lived most of her adult life as a man, and was a stagecoach driver in California for 30 years.

She was the first woman to vote in California; disguised as a man, she voted for General Grant in the 1868 presidential election.

She killed the notorious outlaw Sugarfoot.

She had a child (another fact discovered at the time of her death).

Actress and author Karan Kondazian was fascinated by these facts and driven by the question: if someone destroyed everything and everyone you held dear, could you forgive that person? If not, how far could you go for revenge? Kondazian combined those elements to create a fictionalized account of Charley Parkhurst's life, The Whip.

If you've read The Whip, let us know what you thought of it. Would you recommend it to a friend?