“I really believe in steaming the skin,” Madison Hinton, aka Ts Madison, tells me during our afternoon chat. The 44-year-old Miami native—who keeps “Ts” in her stage name to honor her transness being an inseparable part of her journey and identity—is filling me in on the joy of revitalizing her skin with at-home steam treatments.
“Sometimes I go to sleep while the machine's just steaming for about 30 minutes, just that hot steam opening up my pores,” Hinton says of the soothing ritual that keeps her skin dewy, plump, and nourished. Next comes the application of a turmeric and honey facial mask, then Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, followed by a medley of creams, body butters, and sprays. “I like all of that stuff. I have to make sure that I really clean and unclog my pores, because my skin absorbs makeup, honey, and I'm always painted for film.”
The star is indeed booked and busy. She’s built a loyal following from all walks with a range of online series, like Ts Madison After Dark, a reality TV show, The Ts Madison Experience, and regular appearances on hit shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. Hinton was also quite the scene stealer in the long-awaited film Zola, as the memorable house mother of a strip club, a role specially written for her. (Rest assured, she has more film roles in the pipeline.)
Even if you haven’t yet encountered Ts Madison on your screens, you’ve likely experienced her wide-reaching impact across pop culture for years. She popularized mantras like “Step your pussy up”—which went on to be repurposed everywhere from Nicki Minaj tracks to motivational speeches by And Just Like That’s most polarizing love interest. Hinton also pioneered an adult film genre in the aughts, coined “trans hood erotica,” which starred herself and Black cis men of the trade variety. “Listen, there was only one other film before me that is so old,” Hinton explains. “It was legendary because it was called Trannies in the Hood. That one video is so iconic, but it was owned by the white men.”
During a time when the porn industry was dominated by white men, regardless of who was in front of the camera, Hinton blazed a trail ahead, created her own adult film production company, made sure to maintain the rights to her work, and though retired from the industry, still collects that residual porn coin to this day when people stream her films. Now, in the latest chapter of Hinton’s life, she’s turning more dreams into reality and joining the line of impactful talk show hosts who came before her (Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael, Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake, Tyra Banks, and Wendy Williams, to name more than a few). With intention and care, she’s crafted a space where viewers can tap into a refreshing TV community, and where guests can comfortably chit-chat and go deep, like Mo’Nique candidly discussing her love life, pay disparity lawsuit against Netflix, and years-long conflict with fellow high-profile Black creators in the business.
Here, Ts Madison, a renaissance woman of our time, opens up about her new talk show, the wounds and opened doors that came with doing survival sex work, and what her healing journey has looked like in her forties.
I wanted to start with your background of growing up in Miami. I feel like every city has its own flavor—New York, Atlanta. What did growing up in Miami add to Ts Madison and Madison, the person beyond the public persona?
Growing up in Miami is a very important part of my entire existence. When I look at people who I know grew up in Miami, like Trina, for example, Trina is when you think of Miami in an urban setting, like music and stuff like that. You think of Trina, Trick Daddy, Betty Wright—The Cleanup Woman, you think of these people. There's a different type of hustle and drive that speaks to you being from Miami. And as diverse as Miami might be and as much of a melting pot as it is, we still deal with a lot of racist things. People really don't get that.
I love that you brought up Trina, because she comes to mind when I think of Miami and women prioritizing their financial well-being as a form of self-care. Women who’ve put other women on game in a way that feels like talking to their girlfriends, as you’ve done, and as Trina has done in her raps, is major. It feels like there's love wrapped within that action because you’re essentially sharing survival tools to people in your community.
I communicate with my girls. I want them to know that yes, you're a woman, but you don't have to submit, you don't have to serve. Girl, you can lead. You have the power to control the room, to control the narrative. I want to always encourage women because there's a lot of women who suffer with self-love, self-confidence issues and they put their trust in men, and they rely on compliments and validation from men. Yes, you want a man to love you and you want a man to take care of you and all this type of stuff. But what if he doesn't? You going to roam the earth until you find one that does? No, you’re gonna take care of yourself.
Let me tell you who I love the most, even though it's a fictional character—I’ve loved Wonder Woman since I was a child. It wasn't Superman for me, it was Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman came from an island, Themyscira, filled with other Amazon women, other women who are strong, who were powerful, but they had masculine energy, but yet were still women and still desired by the gods. We’re very powerful beings.
Let's get into your new talk show, Turnt Out with Ts Madison. Why was hosting your own show such a good fit?
I learned a lot about the world through talk shows. When you can humanize anything, the reach is broader, and there's power in reaching a mass [audience]. Geraldo Rivera[’s show] is where I first saw a skinhead. I didn't know what skinheads were. I saw the Klu Klux Klan and I saw Black Panthers try to have a conversation. I saw other girls like myself on the Maury Povich show. I saw them on Jenny Jones. So talk [shows] introduced me to the world.
When I think talk, I think Oprah. Not only did Oprah shed light on individuals, Oprah followed stories and changed lives and bridged gaps. I feel like the more that I'm able to do my talk show, those are the footsteps I want to follow in.
You’ve had such a fun variety of guests so far.
The first time I've talked about dealing with trauma was when I sat with Tamar [Braxton] and she talked about God speaking to her. We talked about God meeting us where we are. When I sat down with Mimi [Faust], her spirit was so calm. She talked about the traumas in her life. We talked about how she had to go back to her six-year-old self and heal and mend her six-year-old self. Nivea talked about how she interacts with other women and what makes her not really fuck around with other women and stuff like that. Cherry [Thee Boom], how she identifies as a woman and how I identify as a trans woman. It's so much, but at the end of all of this, we all were having a human experience here. Each time that I have a guest and I have a conversation with them, it just makes me feel much closer to the creator because I know he created all of us.
You’ve talked about some of the hardships you’ve gone through during your journey, especially while doing survival sex work.
Those experiences made me a boss ass bitch. It lit a fire of determination in me. Because see, sometimes when we go through things, we don't go through them to get back. We need to go through those things to build character—to build courage, to build the new you, to build stamina. I ain't scared of nothing now. I have so much resilience in me.
I tell people, like [in the film Mommie Dearest] when Joan Crawford says, “I fought worse monsters than you in Hollywood. I know how to win the hard way. Don't fuck with me fellas, this ain't my first time at the rodeo.” I felt that line when she said that. As harsh as this may sound, they only did what was written in the path for them to do to me to strengthen me.
I tell stories like these because there is somebody out there who needs to build some type of determination, find something, some other gift that God gave them. God gave me the gift of charisma. He gave me the gift of likability, being social, the gift of laughter. And he gave me a vision on what path to go on with it. But the pandemic was a gift and a curse. We've lost a lot of people in the pandemic, but the pandemic also brought a new era of the ways people try to get money, and that was OnlyFans. All of the OnlyFans flew in, and it made all the shit that I did look normal. People got sex tapes. Now it's socially acceptable. Everybody understands it now. You got to survive. But when I was talking about it...
When you reflect on your ongoing healing journey, is there a highlight that comes to mind?
I'm more open to a personal life now. Sex work caused a lot of trauma for me. [Having experiences where I was in a vulnerable position] and men touching me that I didn't want to touch me caused a lot of trauma for me. It caused me to be determined if I was going to be in that business, not to let nobody touch me that I didn't want to touch me, or if they did, they needed to pay me. I lost all emotional connections to people or to men and to partners.
I'm just now regaining emotional connection back in my 40s. I'm open to regaining that, because I was closed off of that shit for years. Like, "Oh, I ain't doing that. Child, I ain't thinking about no man." Even when I thought I wanted to date, I still had reservations. I'm open to being vulnerable now, where I was never before. Just recently, I have a little boo.
I spoke so positively on how my future was going to be in business, but I never spoke positively about my love life and my personal life, and it's because of the traumas that I've dealt with in my personal life as far as my connection to what I love, which is men or a man. Someone said to me, "Bitch, didn't you speak all of this stuff that you got going on into existence right now? Why you ain't spoke this way over your own love life? Why you ain't spoke this way over your personal life? Huh? Don't you know that the tongue has that same power? You always talking about the power of positive speaking, and you didn't think one time to speak in your love life, girl?" I was like, "Fuck."
I was so blown back. I cannot remember who I had that conversation with, and that little moment of conversation, it blew my wig cap back. I was like, "Yo, you have broken me up, because I didn't even think about it like that!”. No matter what hurts me, no matter what fails for me, I will never do it again, ever.
When the name Ts Madison comes up in 50 years, 100 years from now, what do you hope is passed on about you and your time here on earth to future generations?
I hope that someone picks up determination, tenacity, resilience. I want people to go forth and be determined in whatever it is that they want to do in their life, and I want people to know that it is not impossible, no matter what is stacked against you. It's not impossible if you believe and if you are determined to walk in your future. I want the people to be like, "Damn, Ts Madison." This is why I'm so open to talking about my past and I'm so open to embrace all those things, because in order for you to know where I am now, you had to know where I was at.
I want the people to say, "I knew where that bitch was at and I knew where she ended up at, and I know that I can do it. I know that if it was available for her, even though times have changed, 100 years from now, 40, 50 years from now and times have changed, but we will still face obstacles. There will always be some barrier. There will always be some type of thing that's going to try to hold you back, but I know that I can do it because that Ts did that shit. Ts did that. Ts paved a way for me to do that." And that's why I love RuPaul so much. That is my idol.