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Posted on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Shoe boutique specializing in transgender, stripper footwear opens in Ypsilanti's Depot Town

By Tom Perkins


Paula Filek opened Screamin' Hot Shoes in Ypsilanti's Depot Town.

Tom Perkins | For

Every time transgender punk rock singer Jenna Talia hits the stage in high heels, she encounters the same problem.

The former Notre Dame football team defensive end and wide receiver stomps and flails like Iggy Pop’s more-spastic sister, and her big frame puts big time pressure on her heels, which inevitably snap during the performance.

But a new boutique in Ypsilanti's Depot Town, Screamin' Hot Shoes, is hoping to remedy that problem. The shop, at 22 E. Cross St., is focusing on women's shoes, and specializing in transgender and stripper footwear. It's owned by Ypsilanti businesswoman Paula Filek, who also operates Paula's Barber Shop several doors east on Cross Street.

Jenna was part of the inspiration for Filek taking her store this direction and Jenna now has a local source for six-inch heels that won’t bust every time she sashays across the stage when her Detroit-based band Glitter Trash performs.


Screamin' Hot Shoes is at 22 E. Cross St., across the street from Fantasy Attic costume shop.

Tom Perkins | For

“She has a really hard time finding shoes because she jumps off the stage like a crazy person and breaks them, so I have shoes that are big enough and won’t break,” Filek said.

Talia has yet to stop into the brick and mortar shop, but purchases shoes from Screamin' Hot's online store.

“She carries larger sizes and has better made, good looking shoes; not junk,” Talia said. “I feel pain for females who have larger feet because all the shoes in larger sizes are ugly. People who have odd sizes or big sizes have a hard time finding good shoes, but Paula's stuff is good looking.”

Talia is 6 feet tall and weighs 220 pounds, so her shoes - and other transgenders' shoes - require metal poles through the heel and extra support on the bottom of the shoe, Filek explained. That type of support also is necessary for strippers who dance in similar boots and shoes.

Among the labels Filek stocks at Screamin’ Hot are Soda, Delicious, City Classified and many more. They range in price from $40 to $500.

But Filek stressed that her store also is carrying flip flops, flats, wedges, sandals, low heels, boots and footwear for all women - not just transgenders or strippers.

“I’m going to provide shoes for strippers and transgenders, but to kick it off it’s mostly just for women in general,” Paula said, though the shoes in her roughly 200-square-foot boutique she leases are undeniably flashy and sassy.

Filek met Jenna through a mutual friend at Paula's Barber Shop, and had Jenna model for a Screamin’ Hot shoe show at McShane’s Pub in Detroit’s Corktown. There, she learned more about what transgenders need in a shoe.

Screamin' Hot's shoes for that demographic are mostly purchased from one of several California distributors, and the website has some shoes that can be quickly ordered if they aren’t yet in the store.

Filek said she opened Screamin' Hot in Depot Town because she likes the vibe there and it's near her barber shop, so she can walk back and forth between both businesses.

She said she's not concerned that neighbors won't like the transgender and stripper clientele.

“They need shoes, too,” she said. “Try to close me down, or come in the store and see it.”

As for her target market, Filek said she believes stocking “regular” women's shoes will help keep her afloat, but said she also thinks she will see more business from transgenders, cross-dressers, drag queens, strippers or others who might need her services as word spreads.

Neighboring bar and concert venue Woodruff’s, for example, has held drag queen shows in the past, and Filek says the customer base for her wares is large.

“There are more of them around here than anyone knows,” she said.

Jenna expressed similar thoughts, and said the store is extra special because there are so few places where transgenders can go and be treated respectfully by the owner and staff.

“That’s a big deal for people who are different,” said Jenna, who is from Harper Woods. “Having people be sympathetic goes a long way to help you be true to who you are.

“They will travel when they find out there are stores where they can feel comfortable and people treat them respectfully. It’s really hard to find venues like this where you can feel comfortable walking in.”

The store has been open for about a month, but the grand opening celebration will be Friday through Sunday, during which time Filek will offer a "buy one, get one half off" special. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Mondays.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Reach the news desk at



Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Paula and her new store rocks! She may carry larger sizes as a footnote, but her business is driven towards great looking and sexy women's shoes that are high quality. Thanks, Paula, for putting together a great store concept!


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 10:55 p.m.

I am 70 years old, and I wouldn't hesitate for a minute. As a matter of fact, I think I will go in just so I can see if they have anything I would like. I can't wear high heels anymore, but I can look. Strippers and transgendered people are not scary.

Sandra Samons

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

I am offended by an article that leads off with a headline putting transgender and stripper in the same category. The majority of transgender people are NOT strippers and the majority of strippers are NOT transgender people, who have enough trouble overcoming social stigma without this trashy kind of reporting. I could see indicating that this shop might be useful for people who require larger size shoes, but I think a new article is in order, apologizing to transgender people. I am very disappointed in this kind of ignorant and erroneous reporting.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

Well hoo-dee-hoo-de-hooooo!

Girl on Fire

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

A younge lady walks into a shoe store Hi, I'm a stripper and I need a new pair of work shoes, said NOBODY EVER!! I give this store 4 months tops before it closes its doors. Poor business decision to allow this article to published and have it focus on such a nitch market.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:31 a.m.

I'll buy you a Fresca at the Deja Vu if your right GoF.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

You know, that's kind of insulting. Believe it or not, I have walked into shoe stores (or costume shops, or Lovers Lanes, or other places that sell high heels) and said something very similar to 'Hi, I'm a stripper and I need a new pair of work shoes.' But most places that do sell 'stripper shoes' have a very limited selection, low-level quality, and only keep small sizes in stock. This shop fills a very real need, for more people than you'd think.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

@ dogpaddle: Don't make light of 82Wolverine's concern: I couldn't count how many diners have pictures of a couple of sunny-side-up eggs in their windows. I get aroused every time, no mater how hard I try to think chaste thoughts. It's a real problem.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

I apologize, hmsp, for my lack of sensitivity to this problem that apparently lurks in our shop/restaurant windows all over. I can only imagine what the two sausages pictured next to those two sunny side up eggs do for many people.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

LOL, I love maryypsilanti's comment to the82wolverine and the alleged phallic symbol. How does the saying go about thou doth protest too much? And I want to thank 82 for bringing that to my attention. I never would've seen that otherwise in that pic. Tell me, 82, are you part of that group that wants the driving pig taken off of the Geico commericals and the walrus off the Skittles commercial because the pig and the walrus might promote bestiality (that word is in the bible, so I hope won't see the need to delete this)? Yeah, man, until I saw those commercials, I never would've considered that possibility.Thank you Geico and Skittles for planting such an idea in my head! And I hope everyone can detect the sarcasm here and not actually seriously believe I would be interested in pigs and walruses, even though they are cute animals. Don't you wonder about the people who see these things in pictures that the rest of us don't?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Thank goodness! I've been wishing a shop like this would show up some day, THANK YOU so much! This is exactly what I (and many others I know) need. It's impossible to find a sexy pair of dance shoes in a 10.5W. So not only do I have a hell of a time finding a cute shoe that fits, I dance hard. Heels wobble, platforms disconnect, after even just a few days in some cases. Despite the high prices, most shoes are made cheap. And since I always have to resort to special-ordering my size online, I can't try them on beforehand to see what their quality is like before I buy them. They fall apart within a few weeks. I've broken through 10 pairs in the last year alone. I even have one pair of industrial latex boots that I have held together with layers of duct tape. Finding a shoe that is cute, high quality, and that fits is a never ending hassle. So THANK YOU again for bringing this shop to us. I can't wait to come check it out. I just wish the hours were more nightlife-friendly!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

As a cisgende woman I will be taking my size 11 feet there.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

Watch the movie "Kinky Boots".

buvda fray

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1 p.m.

At the risk of sounding like a heel: it's not the size of the shoe, it's how you wear it. When competition is stiff, I can't imagine how a small shop tucked away in Ypsilanti will be able to compete with the big box stores. No matter how hard I try, I keep getting sucked in to the big boxes. Maybe a blowout liquidation would be a way to draw new upstanding customers.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

You know what they say about women with big feet...


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Yep, I'm a size 12, and a woman ;)


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

If you liked this article rent the movie KINKY BOOTS. It is the story of a shoe factory in England that was going bankrupt until it started making shoes for transgender dancers!!!!!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

This is a news story?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

No different than any other new business coming into town.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2 a.m.

One more reason I love Depot Town! Good luck, Paula!!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

This will fill a crying need.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Reminds me of the wonderful movie on this topic, "Kinky Boots". Highly recommended! And I don't see the phallic symbol.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

As Freud said, sometimes a shoe is just a shoe.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

Bingo! Really? Don't see it. I see a shoe arch. What do you see when you look at the arches on a church?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

Look at the shape formed by the heel and the toe - the empty space between them. Bingo!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

I don't see it either. But then I have been accused of not being imaginative.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

Between this store (the logo), the infamous water tower, it would seem that Ypsi has a phallic preoccupation...

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:23 a.m.

Well, one is clearly cut at any rate...


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

This story is amusing, but it's also inappropriate. "Jenna's" name is ridiculous, but the most obscene thing is the phallic symbol that's imbedded in the shoe store's logo. (Look carefully at the high-heeled shoe.) I know that Tom is a freelance reporter, and I don't know if he brought this story and photos to, or if assigned him to do it, but my hunch is that got played here.


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

It's a punk rock stage name, Mr. 82Wolverine...and since you apparently are not in the market for a pair of high heeled shoes, it's even more ridiculous that you are commenting on it.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Do you also feel played by bananas because they're phallic? Or the water tower?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Really? The high-heeled shoe logo? That's quite a stretch. If you are worried about phallic images meeting your eyes, I'm sure you want the Water Tower taken down as well then?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

Wolverine - Do you mean the Stiletto arch represents a phallis? I guess maybe - well no - not really - it looks like an arch of a Stiletto shoe to me. Certainly Screamin Hot Shoes is no place for those not comfortable with their own sexuality but I see nothing inappropriate about this story. It is a shoe store for crying out loud - It is a legitimate business.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2 a.m.

How many of your enemies do you suppose are after you still, versus how many are nowadays simply laying low?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

I believe you're making something out of nothing. I'm looking at the heel and I see what you're trying to make a big deal out of. Please... just stop, it's ridiculous.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

I am pretty sure I am not in one of the target demographics, but other than that it is a SHOE STORE people. Please react accordingly.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

I'm so happy that Ypsilanti is becoming the "in" place to shop. One stop shopping...... One can get a tattoo, multiple body piercings/ jewelry. pick up a little pot, and now praise the lord, we can pick up a pair of stripper shoes, before catching a late night show at Deja Vu.....and all within walking distance. Ah.... urban living at it's best. I'm sure this will improve property values, and be a significant draw for young families look for a place to raise a family. Sure am glad those (uncool, so void of funk) shops like Quinns, Cheeky Monkey the interior design store and The Silverspoon Antiques etc. stores are gone as well as restaurants like Cady's, There are still some available store fronts. I say lobby for one or two pawn shops,...for sure a massage "salon".


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

Okay, I miss Silver Spoon Antiques too, but you shouldn't discredit local businesses just because you don't care to be a patron- if it does not fit in with your personal image or lifestyle. Ypsi is a diverse city, and the businesses in Depot Town love Ypsi and the community. Many of the businesses you mentioned even give back to the community. Depot Town Tattoo hosts an annual fundraiser during the holidays "Toys for Tats." And I miss Cady's too, but Woodruff's has been so important to the music scene- also hosting fundraisers like Mittenfest which has raised thousands of dollars for 826-Michigan. So, you don't want a tattoo? Don't get one. You don't have a need for larger-sized "women's" shoes? Don't buy any. However, I'm sure there are many people that are grateful that there's finally a local store that can meet their needs.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Ypsi is definitely the place I'd like to have a family. In fact, I think it's a perfect place for that or anything else.

Jill Bridges

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

Interesting. I'm a size 10 or 11 and I have an impossible time finding shoes, I wonder if there'd be anything for me here. I don't care if their target markets are drag queens or strippers, I just want shoes! While this store first opening generates a lot of attention, I have a feeling once it's been there for a while nobody will pay any attention except those who want to shop there. I don't think THIS kind of thing is what's wrong with Ypsi's image. A shoe store isn't going to hurt anybody.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:31 p.m.

A transgender stripper?


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

As if you didn't know ;)


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

I think it's awesome! Wishing this new small/local business owner much luck!

Dr. Fate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

Had no idea there was a demand for this. Learn something new every day. Thanks,!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

There is a huge demand for exotic shoes. Not even just for transgenders and strippers either, but many other kinds of dancers, performers, models, club-goers, ladies who don't have "perfect" size 5-8 feet (that's pretty much 90% of what standard shoe stores keep in stock), and really anyone who is looking for just the right pair of shoes to go with just the right outfit. Every performer knows how important it is to have shoes that can keep up with the show, and every girl needs the perfect pair of heels to match her prom dress, wedding dress, little black dress, etc. I hope this store sticks around for a good long time, because it's been desperately needed.

Ann Dwyer

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

Well, they might have some customers at the ready:


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:59 p.m. you can PRINT the name....but me pointing out that the name is a creative pun is a violation of TOS? You lose and I win again...


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

I think this is a cool and exciting new business! It's certainly a niche market! I wish her the best of luck. I think Depot Town is a perfect place for a business like this...keep it funky!

Bryan Ellinger

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

What an exciting niche! My sweetheart and I love sexy shoes. Best of luck to you, Paula.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

Does she have anything in a 12 narrow?

Laurie Barrett

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

Seems like the term transgender is being used out of context in some places in this article.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

I think you're right, Laurie. For me, the overall positive intent of this woman makes up for the slightly off usage of the term.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.


Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

What a fun new business for the Depot Town area!

Bertha Venation

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Oh, Thank GOODNESS! Now I don't have to ask the embarassing question: "Do you have these in a size 13 EEE?" (My "sister" has VERY large feet). ;)

Christine Laing

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

I think both your "sister" and G-man are out of luck. They don't do widths and they don't do returns. They advise that you order a size up if you have wide feet--I bet your sister can tell you what a horrible idea that is. I was hoping they'd have some options to go with my plain black pumps, but I'm stuck with the expensive and conservative brands again.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

My size 11 feet has the same problem.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

Can you post a picture of those feet John?

John of Saline

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Actually, a friend of mine really does have 12-AAA feet. She has trouble finding shoes.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Brilliant business idea. I just love it and would go there for shoes in a New York minute--were I ever to need another pair!!

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Strange world: I met Jenna Talia during an interview and subsequent Glitter Trash show while I was freelance reporting for a weekly newspaper in Toledo. Hi Jenna!


Thu, Mar 21, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

Hi Amy!!!! Funny catching you on here!

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

I'd think a majority of women would hesitate to be seen going in there, given this description of the expected clientele.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Think again, Elaine. I'm 6 feet tall, I wear size 12's, I'm a woman, and this may well be the only place I can find nice shoes that actually fit!


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

No hesitation here. If thereis a possibility I can find a nice pair of dress shoes for interviews for my size 11 feet I am there.


Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

What women specifically?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

I do declare!


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

A "majority" of women? Speak for yourself. Why would anyone "hesitate to be seen" going into a shoe store, regardless of who else was or might be in there?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

I think what Elaine may be getting at is that a female stripper might hesitate going in.If men saw a stripper going in they probably wouldn't be asking for too many lap dances.That aside, from a business standpoint not a bad idea


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

I for one can't wait to go in the store, it looks great!


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Evidently there's one woman who would. What horrible thing would happen if they were "seen" going in?


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Cute idea. Lady shoes to fit a man's foot who likes to dress like an exotic female. Ok.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Well, it's more interesting than a CVS or a pizza place. Best of luck.