To start: I have a ton of respect for Wendy Carlos’ work. By all accounts and by any definition of the word, she’s a genius. She takes an understanding of science and a desire to explore the applications of science and uses them to create some beautiful and more importantly, truly unique, music. So that’s not in question.
But what I’m talking about here is this page on Carlos’ website. In short, it says that her personal life is none of our business, which is completely true. It also says that you’re a total perv if you’re curious about it, which is what I have a problem with.
For years, I’d assumed that the “Walter Carlos” credited on A Clockwork Orange and Switched-on Bach was Wendy’s husband, and she’d carried on his work after his death. It wasn’t until I saw a brief mention on a different website that Wendy was a post-operative transsexual. It wasn’t the least bit scandalous, just something like “nee Walter”.
I went to her official website, and it confirmed nothing. The only mention on the site (this was a few years ago) was buried deep in a FAQ and said something along the lines of “There was never any such person as ‘Walter’, it was a mix-up on the part of the publishers and has caused no end of confusion.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so I just read it as an attempt at a humorous, tactful way to dodge the question and gently say, “None of your damn business.”
And now, of course, there’s the page I linked to above, which is a tirade against all the hateful people who want to pry into her personal life. Which is finally my question and reason for posting here – is it really that tactless and rude for a fan like me to be curious about something like this?
I’m not at all curious about what prompted the change. I definitely don’t want to remind anyone of a tramautic time in her past. I don’t pretend to understand all the issues around gender identity, and I definitely wouldn’t “judge” someone for going through such a procedure. I just wanted to hear why the name in the credits changed. And of the writers mentioned on her “ouch!” page as “hateful” or “sexually repressed,” I could only find a few online – music catalogs, mainly, which make a brief mention of it to explain why the earlier work is credited to Wendy. This isn’t even like the “gasp! Anne Perry is one of the murderous girls in Heavenly Creatures!” style rubbernecking – Carlos did absolutely nothing “wrong” unless you have an aversion to vocoders. So what gives?