“Do you want to dance?” Ian asked Joey. “Yeah, you can dance—over there,” she answered, flatly turning him down. It was 2006, and not even the heady atmosphere of the Embassy club in BGC could spark romance between the pair. At that moment, neither could imagine they would spend the rest of their lives together, making incredible strides, the most significant of which would be Ian’s transition to Angie.
Despite the initial rebuff, Ian was persistent. “I asked her out on a date on February 15, which is the day we celebrate our anniversary,” Angie says. They shared a meal and two bottles of wine at People’s Palace. Joey was taking a break from dating and had little interest in getting involved with a younger man—Angie is five years Joey’s junior. But they hit it off and ended the night with a kiss—or rather two. “[The first one] was okay,” Angie says with a laugh. “So, she asked for another one.” The next day, Joey flew to Singapore, where she lived at the time, working as a model and host. The date had all the indications of a one-off. “[But] I woke up the morning after and thought, ‘I can’t lose this connection,’ so I booked a ticket and flew to see her that very weekend,” Angie adds.
The two would have what can only be described as a whirlwind romance: a few weeks after their first encounter, they took a vacation together. Angie says, “After eight days in Boracay, she didn’t fly home, and I asked her to move in with me—that fast.”
Angie and Joey posed effortlessly at the Tatler cover shoot; it was obvious to the team and other onlookers how in love they were. It was nothing grand or pompous: the energy of the simple pats on the back and the way they kept laughing together and cheering each other between set-ups electrified the room. Angie also gave her model wife a run for her money, rocking every outfit and look she donned. It’s hard to imagine that she was once afraid to be herself, crippled by the trappings of societal obligation, in particular, family reputation.
Angie’s family is well-known for their successful hospitality chain that brought to life the popular Victoria Court properties, several branches of which are now rebranded as Hotel Ava. That prominence had long prevented Angie from being open about her true identity. “I always thought I’d be happy alone,” she says. “The struggle, the fear, the burden of family image … it [coming out] didn’t seem like a possibility.”
A few months into their relationship, Angie shared that she fancied wearing women’s underwear. To find that Joey was not shocked about (and supported) her cross-dressing experiments encouraged Angie to explore her womanhood which at the time saw its peak in donning wigs, dresses and wearing make-up. The couple attended Pride parades in the US and dressed up for night outs in Europe, but home was a different story: it was back to the closet for Angie, quite literally. When things evolved from playing dress-up to Angie truly considering transition, their relationship started to falter. “We had four years of ‘are we gonna break up?’ We were fighting; it was toxic. The relationship began to tank,” Angie revealed. Eventually, she came out to her closest family and friends during a small gathering. It was made known that Angie is short for Angelina, a name chosen based on the couple’s shared love of actress Angelina Jolie while also paying homage to Angelo King, Angie’s grandfather. At this point, Joey felt relieved to no longer be the sole carrier of this secret. Yet, despite this significant step, things continued to take a toll.
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