In 1982, charismatic soul singer Teddy Pendergrass was at the peak of his career when he slammed his Rolls Royce into a tree, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Though there were no other vehicles involved in the crash, there was a passenger in Pendergrass’ car. In the wake of the accident, questions emerged about this mystery woman. Her name was Tenika Watson, a nightclub performer and transgender woman.
At first, there were rumors and speculation about the cause and details surrounding the accident, but Pendergrass remained focused on his recovery and his music. Watson, too, kept quiet. In fact, in the 30 years since the accident, Watson has rarely spoken about what happened that day or about the nature of her relationship with Pendergrass. Now, in an interview with “Oprah: Where Are They Now?,” she tells her side of the story.
Like many Pendergrass fans, Watson admired the popular artist. “Teddy was a big star,” she remembers. “His music was always playing. You couldn’t get any bigger than he was, and he was a very handsome man, I must say.”
Back then, Watson, a former prostitute, lived near the studio where Pendergrass recorded his music, and one day, she saw him walking down the street. “He called me over to his car — it was a Rolls Royce,” Watson says. “I thought he was a pimp because I wasn’t used to people really having Rolls Royces.”