A Case of Mistaken Identity

| Mar 17, 2014
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Grayson Perry, also known as “The Transvestite Potter,” has been in the UK news recently after being invited to Buckingham Palace to receive a CBE from Prince Charles. He wore a blue Italian “Mother of the Bride” outfit for the occasion, with a hat so large that the Prince couldn’t get the medal over his head. I’ve never met Mr Perry, but he’s one of very few famous people in today’s celebrity-obsessed culture that I’d like to have the privilege of knowing.

It’s fitting, therefore, for me to offer you a short Grayson-Perry-related anecdote. Grayson was on a Saturday-morning chat program on Radio 4 in July 2012, and I e-mailed in to tell him this tale. It was read out on-air, but unfortunately, despite including my contact details, I never received anything in reply from the great man.

The location was an all-inclusive holiday resort in St Lucia, the date was early 2005. The Manager’s Cocktail Party is a ritual that’s played out every week in this sort of place, and accordingly, I’d made the trek up the steep hill to the treatment spa facility (which was a feat in itself, I should add) around whose pool the festivities were playing out. I’d chosen wear a formal short black skirt, a white sleeveless top, and some comfortable chunky-heeled sandals, since most of the evening would involve standing up. The General Manager was waiting at the top of the hill to greet his guests as they arrived, and direct them to the refreshment tables, where copious quantities of very strong alcohol were being made into pretty-colored drinks.

Grayson Perry had made the news in December 2003 after winning the Turner Prize, which he collected in the guise of his alter-ego, Claire; this had been one of the rare times when crossdressing was reported in a manner which didn’t portray the person concerned as some kind of pervert. But I’m sure that had he not been a famous artist, the media would have been less forgiving … it’s an industry that frequently — and erroneously in many cases — judges people contemptuously by how they look. Consequently, I believe that it’s through the activities of people like Perry — those who are known for their skills, but who also incidentally just happen to be crossdressers — that crossdressing will eventually come to be regarded as nothing out of the ordinary … but that will take many more years, and a lot more “out” crossdressers of Perry’s stature.

So it was with some surprise that, after a while, I was approached through the crowd by a young woman. “Grayson Perry!” she exclaimed. “It’s so wonderful to meet you! I love your work! Congratulations on winning the Turner Prize; you must be so pleased that your art is receiving the recognition it deserves?”

Perry (L.) Graham (R.)

Perry (L.) Graham (R.)

My first thought was that someone had put her up to this, but she was so disappointed and embarrassed when I told her that I wasn’t in fact The Transvestite Potter that I was forced to conclude that it was a genuine case of mistaken identity. I nevertheless thanked her for the sentiment, and assured her that I wasn’t offended … quite the opposite, in fact. Clearly, my crossdressing had been a factor, otherwise I wouldn’t have stood out from the crowd, but I didn’t feel that she was judging me because of it. I spent the rest of the evening chatting about all sorts of things to her interesting circle of family and friends.

This was a good story to dine out on for a few months afterwards … as it is again, now that Grayson is back in the news with his CBE. But I came to wonder … could Grayson Perry and I be brothers separated at birth? You decide.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

Graham is an Englishman who proudly wears women's clothing with no attempt to pass as a female. His hobbies include winemaking, music and leading on telephone scammers making them think they can get his personal information, then telling them to sod off.

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