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Dina’s Diner 4/13/15

| Apr 13, 2015
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Siliva Sparklestein with friend. (Is that a young Jack Benny?)

Siliva Sparklestein with friend. (Is that a young Jack Benny?)

The Guardian is a UK-based newspaper that publishes around the world. The US edition had an article about Orthodox Jewish drag queens in the March 10, 2015 edition. The headline said that the queens were “joyfully putting the sin in synagogue.”

Orthodox Judaism is one of the many religious sects that is not okay about homosexuality or crossdressing. As in many of these sects, there are a certain number of members who simply cannot sublimate their urge to dress in drag. There have been many articles about crossdressers and drag performers in other conservative religious areas of the world. We’re irrepressible. In the case of the Orthodox Jewish drag queens, you can say “they are here and they’re queer so deal with it.”

New York City has an organization called Hebro that provides a place and social scene for Jewish gays. They hold “High Homo Days” parties that feature some of the drag queens mentioned in the Guardian article. “Lady SinAGaga, as you may have guessed, is a Jewish drag queen (in case you missed it: SinAGaga sounds like synagogue). Her real-life alter ego, Moshiel, 22, was raised Orthodox and came out just over a year ago. He grew up attending Jewish day schools on Long Island and spent two years studying at a Jerusalem yeshiva, a religious school, before he started at the School of Visual Arts.” According to the Guardian piece, Lady SinAGaga asked a more experienced Jewish queen named Silvia Sparklestein for advice on makeup and costuming. The kosher queens support each other because it is a small sorority so far.

Sherry Vine, a longtime New York-based drag performer was born Keith Levy, the son of a Jewish father and Baptist mother. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 was Jinx Monsoon, a Jewish performer from Portland, Oregon. The winner of the Eurovision song contest in 1998 was Dana International, a transgender performer from Israel.

The article reported: “Hebro’s [founder] Jayson Littman, who has been described as the mayor of the Jewish gay party scene, remarks: “Drag is very much a part of gay culture, and so is Judaism. Some of the gayest parts of LGBT culture are Jewish: Broadway, Barbra Streisand and big hair. Because Judaism is so intertwined with theater and entertainment, professions highly sought out by the gay community, they go together quite well. Being a character in drag is all about creating a big, exaggerated personality, and most gay Jews have the perfect role model to imitate for that: our mothers.”


Zhang (L) and Li Yinhe (R)

Zhang (L) and Li Yinhe (R)

The New York Times had a front-page article about Chinese sex expert Li Yinhe in the March 7, 2015 edition. According to the Times article datelined from Beijing, Ms. Yinhe “China’s leading advocate of freewheeling sexuality has been shocking this outwardly prudish nation for three decades — She promotes one night stands, sings the praises of sadomasochistic sex, and has called on the government to decriminalize pornography. She is also a hero to gay and lesbian Chinese, having for years pushed a same-sex marriage bill.”

But the Times reports that Li Yinhe surprised the nation when she announced in December 2014 that her partner of 17 years is a female-to-male transgender person. Li’s first husband, a noted Chinese novelist, died in 1997. She began her relationship with Zhang Hongxia soon after. The Times article said that transgenderism is a little known subject in China and the concept of female-to-male transgenderism is even less familiar.

Li’s initial blog post about the relationship has been read over 360,000 times and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Li is 63 and her partner Zhang is 50. They were photographed for the cover of China’s People Weekly magazine. Zhang has not undergone sexual reassignment surgery so some people have accused Li of really being in a lesbian relationship. Li, for her part, says that she treats Zhang “as a man.”

Li Yinhe has battled with the Chinese government over their restrictions on sexual expression and has faced criticism and censure from authorities throughout her career. The outpouring of support after her announcement about her relationship “reinforced what she has long maintained: that unlike tradition-bound men who run the country, ordinary Chinese are a tolerant lot.”


Model on the left, pinup on the right.

Model on the left, pinup on the right.

Angela Gardner forwarded a fascinating Internet posting from the Gag.Buzz site. It appeared on March 4, 2015 and was titled “10 Pictures that Show What Pinup Girls Really Looked Like.”

The site posting didn’t have any article, just 10 photos of famous pinup art with side-by-side photos of the life models in the same poses. The artwork was culled from the work of Gil Elvgren, a famous pinup artist (also commercial advertising artist) who worked in between the 1930s and the 1970s. Elvgren apparently worked using real models for the iconic pinup poses in which he had his drawn beauties pictured. I guess I always assumed he just dreamed them up from imagination. Elvgren was a trained artist and most of the pinups were commissioned for business clients so he was meticulous about the details of the scenes he painted.

According to other Internet sources, some famous female stars of his era spent time as models for Elvgren’s pinup art. Among them were Kim Novak, Donna Reed, Arlene Dahl, and Barbara Hale. It’s interesting to note that the finished pinup art is superior to the real-life model in the same pose and costuming. As one Internet source mentioned, Elvgren used his paintbrush to enhance the facial expression, bustline, and costume details much as latter day artists would airbrush photos of real life pinups.

Nowadays, the drawn or painted pinup picture is all but gone, replaced by photography and video. It’s hard to imagine it coming back but it’s a pleasant window into a specific time in our history — when paint and canvas often bested real flesh and blood.


Maribel Aber

Maribel Aber

I like to watch HLN (the old Headline News division of CNN) in the mornings. They have Morning Express with Robin Meade and it’s always fun to check in to see what Robin’s wearing while she flirtatiously reads the morning news and features. One of the newer contributors to the newscast is reporter Maribel Aber.

Maribel (I later learned through research) is an accomplished media veteran, financial reporter, blogger, and law graduate. But I must confess, the first thing I noticed when I saw her on TV was … her amazing breasts. She is one of those women of small physical stature who have been blessed with oversized (and natural, I’m sure) breasts. On HLN, the bustline of her dresses are usually ballooned outward in a really enticing pillowy mass.

The photo of her accompanying this item is from a video clip when Maribel was a business correspondent for another news outlet. Look at that cleavage!

Falsies, taping, push-up bras, try as we might, we can never match Maribel’s glorious hooters. Thank goodness for the magic of television so we can keep at least an occasional eye on her.


Leggings are not PantsThere is a Facebook page called “Leggings Are Not Pants.” I forget where I saw this originally but if you search for it on Google, a number of sites now come up with protests about the prevalence of women’s leggings.

I, for one, have no problem with women wearing leggings as pants. In fact, I’m in favor. Oh, sure, the naysayers posted photos of obese women squeezed into over-stretched leggings to prove their point. There were even some photos of women’s leggings that were transparent enough to allow a glimpse of their panties through the stretched material. In general I don’t object to this invitation to see what lies beneath. I also found laughable the protesters invocation of the “cameltoe” as an argument against leggings in public. Yeah, us guys hate to see THAT.

If some fit young women wish to wear tight leggings that show off their tightly packed, or gently rounded, or voluptuously expansive fannies — who are we to rain on their parade? Wear your tights, girls, and we’ll keep the skies clear.

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment, Transgender Opinion


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.

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