September 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ll be releasing one video every week, so keep coming back!
And here’s a sketch I made:
October 20, 2010 § 9 Comments
Okay, I’ve had some questions, if you have any more, send ’em and I’ll do my best to answer them.
“So you mentioned straight transvestite role models. particularly metal ones. Obviously this is a verrrry niche kind of role model, one which I’m sure you are becoming, as more people know who you are and more people are exposed to someone who is more able to be outwardly what they feel inwardly. but what do you think about the transvestite role models that do exist… and who are yours? Jefree Star, as you mentioned? What about Eddie Izzard? Or other people I might not know about? And what about women who cross dress… and is it really possible?”
Eddie Izzard had a huge impact on me. Funnily enough, the very first time I saw him on television I had a fairly typical reaction against him, because I was still suppressing my transvestism. He apparently reacted in a similar way against the New Romantics.
By the time I next saw him, things were progressing in my brain, puberty had hit and I was feeling the overwhelming impulse to wear girl’s clothes. I really started loving his comedy, and gradually came to accept that I too was a transvestite. Because before that I had always known essentially that I wanted to wear girl’s clothes and make myself pretty but I only ever saw gay men doing that, so I just thought that was something gay men did, and that this was something different. Turns out it’s not, particularly, of course. It’s just that openly gay men don’t worry about people thinking they’re gay for cross-dressing!
So there was the fact that he was straight, and a great comic, and someone I massively admired. Finally I had some context and someone I could look up to. I didn’t want to dress like him, particularly, although sometimes he does look awesome. But the fact that he did it in a blokey way, that he was still entirely himself and not adopting feminine behaviour is something I have consciously followed.
It was reading his book Dress To Kill that made me decide to come out about it. I didn’t want it to be a secret – something that people ‘find out’ about. I’ll discuss that a bit more in answer to someone else’s question later on. But that’s what gave me the confidence to tell people. And then, VERY SLOWLY to start actually doing it in public.
I had fuck-all in the way of clothes or make-up though! I ordered some horrible platformy boots from a vegan shoe place which I first wore out under cover of darkness. I just wandered up my road in Palmers Green, hoping no-one would see me. And I had some Halloween face paint that I used to do a kind of crap gothy make-up with.
It built up inside me until one night I made the decision. I was so excited and nervous I couldn’t sleep. I remember being very excited about the idea of getting some more feminine glasses! I decided to tell my best friend John, and ended up bottling until the next day. His underwhelmed reaction pretty much set the pattern for everyone since! But in my mind – and lots of genderspazzes who remain closeted would know this well – it was the biggest deal. The first time I wore nail polish I thought the whole world was looking at me.
As I’ve mentioned before, the process of coming out never really stops. There are always people who are surprised to find out, because I don’t ‘cross-dress’ all the time. (Although I am actually trying to destroy that distinction and dress at least vaguely androgynous all the time, so that it’s no longer binary.) It’s a hassle to have to explain the whole thing, and even more of a hassle when people act like it’s something I’ve just started doing!
I met Eddie Izzard a couple of years ago, and had a lovely chat in which I thanked him for influencing me both to come out AND to do stand-up. Which is quite a double whammy of compliments. He was very gracious.
Jeffree Star is an influence more in terms of attitude and in the way he kind of ‘owns’ being a transvestite, rather than trying to look female. He revels in the artifice, and adopts a look that somehow acknowledges his gender transgression, which is something I try to do. Unfortunately, by all accounts he is a prick. Which is a shame. But then, H.P. Lovecraft was a massive racist. You can’t have everything…
Other influences include Brian Molko and a friend of mine called ‘Trash’ who is WAY more committed to his femininity than I am. I haven’t seen him in ages, and he seems unfortunately to hate the way he looks. It’s a shame because like Jeffree Star he pulls off a way of doing it that seems to get around the issue of passing vs. not passing. He doesn’t look like someone trying and failing at something, he just looks like him. He is also the most unbelievably heterosexual person I have ever met. Watching him chat up women is a lesson in brazen confidence.
He is also wonderfully diplomatic when questioned by people about the way he looks. I was out drinking with him one night and we ended up, at his suggestion, at the Tiger Tiger in Leeds. Now, I would never normally go in there, no matter what I was wearing, and he was wearing a flouncy skirt and little breast forms… (I was dressed blokey.) I went to the toilet and when I got back he was surrounded by three townie blokes. My introduction to the conversation was hilariously revealing. One of the blokes looked at me and said:
“So… are YOU gay?”
By that point in the conversation my patience would have run out, but Trash just patiently explained who and what he was, and wasn’t, and they went away with that wonderful ‘fair play mate’ attitude that I sometimes get after I’ve stormed a gig while dressed girly. I hope he finds happiness, because he’s pretty damn cool.
Now, as to the issue of whether it’s possible for women to cross-dress, I’d say yes, absolutely. When talking about transvestism people often say ‘women can wear what they want now’, which I would suggest is far from true. Women are under HUGE social pressure to fit a certain acceptable level of femininity. Yes they have more leeway, but the fact that my very obviously female friend Ros gets shit for wearing TIES suggests that battle isn’t over. Furthermore, a woman with a shaved head, wearing a tailored man’s three-piece suit, a tie and brogues would definitely be subject to a lot of hostility. Compare the visibility in the media of butch dykes to fabulously camp gay men. They are virtually invisible.
Hope that’s answered those questions! I was going to do another, but this is already a bit of a monster! I’ll do another one tomorrow. Meanwhile, please send me more questions, and keep giving me feedback. I appreciate it.