| Jul 28, 2008
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Digital Diner author Dina AmberleDina Amberle has been reading the newspaper again…and you know what that means. She’s taken the stories that spoke to her in the loudest voices and run them into the Diner’s kitchen where she sliced, diced, spices and stewed them all into this week’s edition of Dina’s Diner. Everyone will find the latest dish at Dina’s Diner so look over the menu and pick your favorite. Can I freshen that coffee hon?


The online version of Runners World magazine carried an article and interview about New York’s recent High Heel Race in Central Park. The race occurred on July 9, 2008 as a benefit event for the March of Dimes. (Thanks to Pam DeGroff and Angela Gardner for passing this article on to me).

High heel race in NYC.Kelly Ripa of Live with Regis and Kelly was the celebrity face of the event and Runners World writer Mark Remy spoke to Michael Gelman, the show’s producer, about the race. The dash was 150 yards and women would of course have to wear high heels. Two well-known runners were scheduled in the race: Caroline Gauger and Amy Palmiero. Palmiero is an amputee runner and I don’t know how she managed the high heel requirement but amputee runners have been doing amazing things in the past few years.

The event will have a separate race for male entrants — but they must also wear high heels. Reporter Remy asked Gelman where a man could get high heels big enough to compete in the race. Gelman answered: “There are shops in New York where you can buy anything. If you know what I’m saying.”

Kelly Ripa also joined in as a competitor in the race. When she was asked to compete in it for charity she was reported to have said, “Oh, I could win that. I’ve been running around in my high heels for years.”

There are a lot of high heel races around the country and the globe. New Hope, Pennsylvania used to hold an annual high heel race up the Mechanic Street hill. That was primarily a gay/drag event. The New York race is hoping to be certified as the world’s longest (you know New Yawkers always gotta have the biggest anything) and reps from Guinness will be on hand to see if it qualifies for that designation.

Runners World ran a brief update about the race and a 25 year-old woman from Queens, Chioma Aduba won the 150 yard dash in a time of 20.6 seconds. She wore three inch heels. Kelly Ripa finished in 31.9 seconds while wearing 5 inch heeled sandals. Not too shabby, Kelly.


Burlesque in DCThe Washington Post’s Sunday July 20 edition carried an article about some new burlesque venues in the District (as the locals call DC to distinguish it from the many suburbs). The new burlesque places combine the classic striptease shows with some new elements and some old standbys of burly-q.

The Post featured three of the clubs with vintage striptease shows and spoke to a few of the performers and patrons, including photos to illustrate. (Can you imagine an article about strippers without some photos — even in a family newspaper?)

A burlesque revival started back in the 1990s with some local and touring troupes. The 21st century reincarnation tries to combine the general interest in vintage stuff (in one club, there are costumed cigarette girls who speak in Betty Boop voices) with the bohemian lounge scene and of course the attraction of stripteasers.

More Burlesque in DCAnd we are talking striptease here. It’s the ecdysiast’s art– not some gentlemen’s club lap dance scene. In fact, one of the innovations of the new burlesque joints is that the performers often include zaftig and less-than-classically-proportioned dancers. For example CoCo Monroe is a 250 pound 28 year-old African American woman who is also a health educator in Maryland. Kris Roth, who performs as Shortstaxx, is 42 years old. Shortstaxx had the best comment about her view of stripteasing in the new burlesque: “This is a parody. It’s really drag. It’s almost playing a woman.” When one of the other dancers told the reporter to “think of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren,” Shortstaxx laughed and said “think of Divine!” That should bring it into focus for this readership.

The revival of burlesque is seen as an empowerment thing for the women. This is feminist counter-programming where the women are doing it for themselves and not for the promoters or male patrons. In fact, the new clubs pull in a mixed gender crowd. The Post reporter, however, points out that the original burlesque queens — the legends like Lili St. Cyr and Tempest Storm — had become the headliners in shows that often featured male comedians and other acts. The ladies always had a certain share of the power.

And speaking of stripping in public, I saw this item in several online and print news media. This is in its entirety:

“MANCHESTER CT– Drivers along I-291 had quite a sight Saturday, as a man wearing nothing but a thong, fake breasts and a wig sauntered along the side of the highway. Police said they received several calls about the man, which prompted an hour-long search. Police said they found the man, fully clothed and collecting cans behind a business on Batson Drive in Manchester. Police said they found a wig and fake breasts in the man’s car. David Gebhardt, 42, of Manchester, was charged with disorderly conduct and simple trespass and was released on $2,500 bail.”

Maybe he just wants to join the burlesque revue.


Madonna back in the day. The New York Times carried an article in its Thursday July 17 Styles Section with the headline “Who’s That Girl?” The article was a critical look at Madonna’s recent fashion choices on the eve of her new CD and her impending 50th birthday in August. The article carried several photos of Madonna through the ages and her more recent public appearances. (Can you imagine an article about Madonna’s fashions without some photos — even in a family newspaper?)

The point of the article was that “as everyone knows” Madonna has been a trendsetter and style icon since she first burst on the scene 25 years ago. Boy, there’s a sentence that makes you feel old — remembering Madonna as a newcomer 25 years ago. She went through the ’80s punk-street-chippy look, to the corseted-bullet-bra look, to the new-wave-Marilyn-Monroe look, to the retro-Germanic-fraulein-dominatrix look, and some others that I can’t remember. But lately, according to Times reporter Eric Wilson — and even some loyal Madonna superfans –“ she has started to appear like a more run-of-the-mill celebrity. She wears more big name designer styles and less of the idiosyncratic looks that people expect from her.

In fact, the Styles section front page photo shows Madonna on the red carpet at Cannes from the back, wearing a long beaded black and silver creation with her hair bunned up. Madonna’s BackMost people, myself included, would have guessed it was Dolly Parton at the CMAs. The resemblance –“ at least from behind — is uncanny (is that a pun?) and Mr. Wilson makes the point that it is decidedly un-Madonna-ish. Even the cover photo for her new CD has her in an unrecognizable (to me, at least) mix of makeup and hairdo, wearing a wrestling-inspired leotard and big championship belt.

I was never a big Madonna fan but I always admired her ability to change from public phase to public phase and never get boring. And maybe this is just the beginning of a new phase for her as she hits 50 with a couple of kids to raise.

Another New York Times feature that I always enjoy is the Sunday society photos feature where Times photogs snap galas and garden parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons. In the July 20 edition, one of the photos shows a woman named Joy Marks at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York. Ms. Marks appears 30-ish, and has a pretty smoking body poured into what the Times describes as a “mermaid gown” standing in front of a large beach scene mural that features a mermaid. I had to wonder if it was just a coincidence that caught the photographer’s eye or a cunning attempt by the lovely Ms. Marks to steal the spotlight. Bravo, no matter how it happened.


The New York Times July 22 Science Section (you thought I only read the Style and Society sections?) had a cover article titled “Mirrors Don’t Lie. Mislead? Oh, Yes.”
As crossdressers, we all have a special relationship with mirrors. We love them. But are they telling us the truth? Would we listen, even if they were? Apparently, our friend the mirror may be having a bit of sport with us. Telling us one thing and meaning another.

Not surprisingly, some scientists have been studying the relationship of individuals and mirror images. Did you know that only animals with the most “sophisticated social lives”recognize themselves in mirrors? Humans, apes, dolphins, and Asian elephants have this in common. One study found that humans interacting in a room with a mirror behaved “better” than humans interacting in a non-mirrored room.

Another study came to a more disturbing conclusion about humans and mirror images. Social psychologists Nicholas Epley and Erin Whitchurch wrote a paper detailing their findings in which people were asked to select their true images in un-enhanced and enhanced photos. They always chose the enhanced versions. But they identified the un-enhanced photos over the enhanced versions as the true image of other people. Not only do we generally prefer ourselves better-looking, we prefer others to be worse-looking. Yes, we humans are lovely creatures.

One interesting brain puzzler was mentioned in the article. When you look at your face in a mirror, how big is it in relation to your real face? If you step back twice the distance, how big is it then? Now, some smart people will probably know this intuitively. For example, I bet JoAnn Roberts knows the correct answer. If you said that the mirror image is the same size of your actual physical face — you are wrong. It is only half the size. This is because the mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and the image in reflection.

But the real question we always want to know is — why do we always look so damn good in that mirror? Our silvered reflections are our best friends. They just lie, that’s all.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

Comments (3)

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  1. dina dina says:

    Here is a link to a You Tube video of Kelly Ripa preparing for the High Heel race. She really has lovely toes….I mean if you’re into that. (Hope the link works). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1tkgh2K6DA&NR=1

  2. says:

    You’re right Dina. Not only did she know it, she’s tested it with a camera. Sometimes I wish she’d just be a blonde.

  3. Michelle Michelle says:

    Some retailers have used long, curved mirrors to make their customers appear slimmer (Caution: Objects In Mirror May be Fatter Than They Appear) When in doubt a person can compare their reflection against a compact mirror. But some higher end stores also deliberately exclude mirrors, forcing customers to get an opinion from a sales person, who then close the deal.
    According to Forbes and USA Today the next trend will be interactive mirrors starting at Penny’s and Macy’s that let customers review high definition pictures of themselves in all items they’ve tried on. Pictures can even be streamed to computers or mobile devices outside the booth for instant criticism from our shopping friends. Who no doubt will immediate post the sillier outfits on You Tube. I think I prefer the comforting illusion a trick mirror.

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