Is Porl Thompson a Girl? (or trans?)

Porl Thompson was a founding member of The Cure and has come and gone from the band’s lineup a few times. But with a recent name change to Pearl and sometimes being observed wearing lipstick, dresses, jewelry, and blouses, many people wonder: Is Porl Thompson a girl?

Porl Thompson was born a man and has never identified himself as a woman or as a transgendered woman. He legally changed his name to Pearl in 2011, which had been a lifelong nickname.

Being in the most popular band of the 80s, Porl (nickname of Paul Stephen Thompson) felt limitations as his commitments with music took up a lot of time and prohibited him from pursuing painting.

So he quit The Cure, probably for the last time, in 2011.

But now that he is out of The Cure, he gets his hands on multiple ventures like jewelry designing, writing, and painting. Let us see what else Porl, nee Pearl, Thompson is exploring other than his feminine side.

Why did Porl Thompson change his name to Pearl?

Paul Stephen Thompson, aka Porl, changed his name to Pearl in 2011. Legally adopting the name Pearl is said to be part of Thompson’s efforts to immerse in his artistic pursuit, but it has also been a lifelong nickname.

Thompson gave up his musical career to pursue art and paint as he had long planned and never really got the time for it.

Motivated by Mr. Musichead Gallery owner Sam Milgrom, Thompson finally decided to dedicate his life to art.

During the launch of his first-ever U.S. art exhibition, Through The Eyes, he talked to a reporter and confirmed that he had legally adopted the name Pearl.

Thompson said:

“Friends have always called me Pearl, and it seemed to fit with my new path. I’m legally Pearl now.”

On a more personal level, changing one’s name (which may sound more feminine) doesn’t necessarily always have to be associated with one’s gender. I mean, even if you are a male, you could adopt a woman’s name and still be as manly as you want.

In the case of Pearl, I would say it is a more artistic decision, and we should respect that decision.

Is Porl Thompson married?

Porl/Pearl Thompson is married to Dali’esque Thompson. The couple married in 2014 and have been together since. He divorced his first wife, Janet Smith, in 2000. Smith is the sister of The Cure’s Robert Smith.

First Marriage:

Thompson entered the marital relationship with Janet Smith in the year 1990. Janet Smith is the younger sister of former band (The Cure) member Robert Smith.

Both started dating each other during Porl’s stint with Malice. He married Janet Smith in the year 1988 and has four children from her named Noosha, Todd, Bodhi, and Darcie.

The couple’s marriage came to an end in the year 2000.

Second Marriage:

The singer, composer, painter, guitarist Thompson moved in life and found love with Dali’esque Thompson. He ended up marrying her in 2014, and they are still together against the odds.

He has no children with Dali’esque.

Is Porl Thompson trans?

There is no documentation of Porl/Pearl Thompson being trans as he has never identified as transgender. He does, however, sometimes dress in traditionally feminine clothing.

Unveiling his iconic look of blood-smear lipstick and cobwebbed forest long hair, Porl Thompson (as he was called when he was part of The Cure) gave a new definition to stage presence and freedom of expression.

All these decades of the band’s emergence have stood out their unique dressing style, silver jewelry, eyeliners, pierced ears, and baggy clothes associated with feminine ways of living.

And as far as the question of being transgender or not is related, I did not find any documentation either in print or video where Pearl has once stated himself whether he would like to be referred to as he or she.

On the contrary, I noticed a post on Twitter by Classic Pop Magazine which mentions Pearl Thompson as a transgender woman.

But, Fans would remember the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame YouTube video. In the comment’s section of the video (I have also embedded the link above),

I noticed a user’s comment who said:

“The enigmatic star is not transgender, obviously very androgynous, but pretty sure he identifies as a man still.”

I think it is more logical to accept this legendary guitarist for his skills rather than his gender or looks.

Why did Porl Thompson leave The Cure?

Thompson was part of The Cure’s original line-up, under the name Easy Cure, which included Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst, and Michael Demsey. However, by 1979, Thompson was dropped because of a clash with Smith. 

Of course, he rejoined the band later in time for The Top, the band’s 5th album.

He stayed with the band through 1992 and the album Wish which featured the huge hit Friday I’m In Love. He then remained gone again until 2005, when he rejoined prior to the album 4:13 Dream. I saw him on that tour as well in 2009.

But by 2011, he was again gone from the band, most likely for good.

The multi-instrumentalist co-founder, Porl Thompson, turned his back on music altogether in 2012, insisting that only a call from his hero Iggy Pop could persuade him to put the paintbrush down and return to studio-and that it would only be for a short time.

Thompson launched his first-ever U.S. art exhibition, Through the Eyes of Birds, at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles in 2015.

During the launch of his exhibition, he talked to the press: 

“I doubt if I would go back to music full-time. The freedom to move about and paint and sketch is the agenda now. I’d like to dedicate my time to that. I don’t have a great deal of connection with the music world.”

Changing his name during this time was all about starting over and finding a new path.

However, Thompson hasn’t completely given up music, and after auctioning his gears, he was also known to team up with Dj Sumach Ecks to record an upcoming experimental album.

He added:

I won’t be going on the road or committing to any music ventures. I’m not really in that area right now.

How many times has Porl Thompson left The Cure?

Porl Thompson has left The Cure three times, initially right at the band’s inception, and again in 1992. He took his final exit from The Cure in 2011 to focus on his art.

Porl took the responsibilities as The Cure’s guitarist and worked on the band’s debut album: Three Imaginary Boys. But before their first album could be released, Thompson was fired.

First Exit in 1979:

He was dropped from the line because his guitar skills were at odds with Smith’s growing preference for minimalist songwriting.

Rejoined in 1984:

Thompson rejoined the band in 1984 and expanded his instrumental contributions by playing saxophone, keyboard, and guitar. But he was principally known as a guitarist. During this time, he worked on the following projects:

  • Studio Albums: The Top, The Head on the Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration, and Wish.
  • Four Live Concerts: The Cure Live, Entreat, Paris, and Show
  • Videos: The Cure in Orange, Picture Show, and Festival 2005
  • Remix Album: Mixed Up, the deluxe issue of Three Imaginary Boys

Second exit in 1993:

Thompson left the band in 1993 to play with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. He is also known to play with Babacar (a band formed by former Cure drummer Borris Williams).

Rejoined in 2005:

He officially rejoined the band for the third time in June 2005.

Eventually, he and The Cure released the band’s 13th studio album (and the most recent studio album, 4:13 Dream) in 2008.

They toured extensively up through 2009 and played 2 shows in 2010.

Final exit in 2011:

After legally changing his name to Pearl, Porl decided to work in the art field and auctioned 122 gears, including stage equipment, stage clothing, artwork, guitars, and memorabilia.

He put a statement out saying:

“For those who do care…I apologize if I upset you with this decision, but I will no longer be playing in this inspirational band” (hence the auction)

Pearl Thompson - NAMM 2016


Porl/Pearl Thompson, the longtime on-again/off-again guitarist for The Cure as well as Plant-Page, is most definitely not a girl.

That being said, Pearl, as he goes by now, does dress in a way that might make you think he is trans. However, he has never come out as trans.

But at the end of the day, what’s really important is his legacy of being an amazing musician and artist.

Photo which requires attribution:

The Cure Concert 3 by Taylor Ramos is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added

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