Monica at 10

A decade ago, Eduardo Greene abandoned his wife, his home and a successful restaurant, expecting a nightmare in pursuit of a dream

Genaro's boiled with buzz and glitz shortly after it opened in the early 1980s. But by late 1988, it had burned itself out.

That's when Greene took a detour, assuming a post at the Julius Schepps Co., a one-time Texas liquor and beer distribution powerhouse. Greene was a brands manager for Corona, which was about to shake up the U.S. imported beer market. He gave the Mexican beer significant presence in Dallas, stoking its popularity in South Dallas where salesmen often didn't venture.

He later sold wine for Schepps before a short run at Stephan Pyles' Baby Routh, where he was a manager. Shannon Wynne lured him from the high-profile restaurant to work the door at his resuscitated 8.0 in the late 1980s. "When we opened he knew every third person who walked through the door," Wynne says. "Once they became regulars, he knew what they ate, he knew what they drank, he knew what their preferences were." They made money by the fistful. The lines got longer and longer. The rush didn't die down for five years.

As Eduardo, Greene's presence in a restaurant was pure gold. As Monica, Greene is the city's grandest hostess.
Mark Graham
As Eduardo, Greene's presence in a restaurant was pure gold. As Monica, Greene is the city's grandest hostess.
Frankie Jimenez, a partner in Monica Greene's restaurants, says he heard rumors of Eduardo strolling through Dallas in drag. He didn't believe it.
Mark Graham
Frankie Jimenez, a partner in Monica Greene's restaurants, says he heard rumors of Eduardo strolling through Dallas in drag. He didn't believe it.

That's why Wynne was stunned when Greene told him he was leaving 8.0 to open his own restaurant. Greene had no problem raising the cash, collecting $100,000 from investors in just two months. "It wasn't difficult at all," Greene says. "People trusted that I would make it." Many urged him to take over the shuttered Los Vacaros spot in Highland Park Village and were stunned when this darling of the city's properly primped opted for an empty warehouse on Main Street in Deep Ellum. "People thought I was crazy," she says.

Greene spent $80,000 on the sassy Mexican restaurant he christened Eduardo's Aca y Alla, putting the other $20,000 in the bank to use as operating capital. Eduardo's quickly became one of the hottest spots in Dallas.

"My ex-wife used to get so upset," Greene says. "She used to say, 'Eddie, you're selling $4.99 fucking enchiladas. What are you doing kissing people's ass?'"

Greene says the transition from Eduardo to Monica was no big deal. She's the same person, she insists, the same person she has always been. The changes are simply cosmetic, though she insists the change was not elective.

She enumerates a few subtle differences. "Funny things happened," she says. "I went from being a short man to a tall woman." There's also the ever-present sense of vulnerability. As a man, Greene gave no thought to leaving a restaurant at 2 a.m., fumbling while scavenging pockets for car keys in a parking lot. Now, Greene says, she has her car keys positioned in her hand before she goes out--even at 7 p.m.--so she can quickly jump into her car.

Yet there have been rattling bumps along the way. Eduardo Greene divorced Karen Sue Mcelwee in 1986, citing financial irresponsibility on her part--and violence. (Mcelwee could not be reached for comment.) "My wife...has a violent and ungovernable temper and is unpredictable," Greene claimed in divorce pleadings. "She has abused and harassed me, and I have reason to be and am in fear of her." Greene says that his wife, who knew about his gender conflict all along, grew angry at him because of it. Following the divorce, he was granted custody of his son (now 28) and daughter (soon to be 26), raising them as a single father.

On New Year's Day 1991, Greene married artist Felicetti, his longtime close friend. He hints that there was a tremendous upheaval when he told her one morning in 1993 that he was determined to become a woman. There were also sharp struggles with his children. (Felicetti and the children declined to comment.) "It was very painful for everyone," says publicist Jo Ann Holt, who was friends with both Greene and Felicetti. "I would think that that would be very hard to deal with, to think that the man that you loved and married didn't want to be a man anymore."

"It was hard for them at the very beginning. I can tell you that," Greene says of her children. "It was hard for them to understand it...But they're proud of me for who I am...My kids call me dad."

The path was fraught with other bumps. Perhaps the most jarring occurred just after Greene moved to Fort Worth and settled in an apartment with Barbara, the transitioning woman Greene was referred to from the crisis line. Barbara was a 52-year-old engineer from Lockheed. "She was a big girl," Greene says. But after Barbara went to Galveston to undergo vaginoplasty--conversion of the penis into a vagina--she never returned. She died after the operation, felled by a blood clot. Greene was devastated.

Monica's sex-change operation skirted such tragedy. But it was not without certain side oddities. After a 1994 article appeared in The Dallas Morning News chronicling her sex change, Greene got a call from the producers of The Jerry Springer Show. They wanted to follow and document her physical transition via tabloid TV. They offered to pay the cost of the surgery if they could videotape the transformation from start to finish. For Greene, whose restaurant was foundering in the wake of her gender decision and who was barely earning a living, this seemed a godsend. "There was my dream, being made reality," she says. "But I would have to marry the devil, and I wasn't going to do that."

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