Dina’s Diner 12/19/16

| Dec 19, 2016
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MEMORIES FROM THE FUTURE

Performer at Finoccio’s.

TGForum’s December 5, 2016 edition of “This Week in Transgenderism” included an item about Candi Guerrero, a former female impersonator at San Francisco’s late drag emporium, Finocchio’s. The mention of Finocchio’s brought back a long-held memory of when a traveling Finocchio troupe decamped outside Philadelphia for an engagement at the Tabas Hotel in the 1980s.

The Tabas Hotel always ran newspaper ads trumpeting its headlining acts and the Finocchio ads featured the five female impersonators in the troupe in full drag glamour. At the time, I had only a vague idea about drag, female impersonators and crossdressing. Atlantic City, where my family did summer vacations, also had a drag show nightclub and they had photos of the performers beneath the marquee. There was something about the photos of men dolled up as women — glamorous women to boot — that fascinated me. I sensed that it was a secret thing, a way to flaunt an outrageous facet of oneself while the wigs, makeup and gowns kept the person underneath hidden.

When I purchased crossdressing magazines in the years before the internet, they often included old photos of drag performers from the 1950s and ’60s. I still find those old female impersonation glamour stills intriguing because the “girls” were emulating the type of feminine beauty of the era that gave us Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, and dozens of lesser known actresses, Playboy centerfolds, and cheesecake models. When I finally got into crossdressing in earnest, I tried to figure it out in context of all these crosscurrents and psychological factors that led me to this strange pastime. I could never come up with a unified theory.

There is still something in those old black and white photos, the same for the simple mention of “Finocchio’s,” that stirs the original emotions felt so long ago. After all these years, that’s good enough for me.

ONLINE ACCEPTANCE

The New York Times had three articles recently that dealt with gender representations in online settings. On November 20, 2016, there was an item about the online dating app Tinder initiating a category for transgender users to identify themselves as such. On the same day, another article discussed the gender queer gamer scene. One week later, on November 27, 2016, The Times had an essay by a gay male who fought his early teen loneliness by “catfishing” men using a made-up female persona.

Zackary Drucker

The article about the new Tinder gender classification is a serious step forward. The dating website consulted with transgender people (including Zackary Drucker, a producer of television show Transparent, shown here) and eventually created “almost 40” categories from which users can identify their gender. Some of the non-obvious new categories are trans-masculine, neutrois, non-binary and other. I must admit I have never heard of “neutrois” and I’m not really sure what trans-masculine means because there is also a separate category for transgender male. And you thought choosing a flavor at Baskin-Robbins was hard.

But in all seriousness, the new categories are helpful because transgender people looking for serious relationships encounter great difficulty about the issue of identifying themselves in a binary gender dating scene. It is not only embarrassing but potentially dangerous and the community has many stories of transgender women victimized by men who acted out when the delicate truth comes out. So bravo for Tinder and the folks who made it happen.

I must admit I know nothing about online gaming so parts of The Times article about queer gamers flew right over my gray head. The article covered a confab called Gaymer X East in New York City which was started as a safe place for LGBTQ gamers to gather. Some corners of the gaming community have been subject to misogyny and homophobia so the gay and non-binary gamers welcomed a place to choose their own identities free from trolls. The meeting was happening in the immediate aftermath of the presidential election and some parallels between Trump supporting haters and online gaming haters was under discussion. The fear is that the same type of hate and vitriol queer gamers have faced online could bleed more openly into the real world as exclusionary viewpoints now come out of the woodwork after the election.

The personal essay by Kalle Mattila (“Catfishing Strangers to Find Myself”) recounts his story as a young male teen in his native Finland who used a chat website to create a female persona modeled after Pamela Anderson to find friendship and electronic romance. Chatting after school, posing as a bored housewife (who just happened to be smokin’ hot), “Charlotta” was able to flirt, be a little naughty, and finally meet an online male paramour. Well, the meeting of course never happened as Kalle/Charlotta — scared and housebound — stood up the poor guy on a cold Helsinki street corner. The experience made Kalle realize he was gay. The female online subterfuge was just the only way he knew at that time to get close to men. It’s a sad story with a sort of happy ending.

PAINTING HER MASTERPIECE

Kay Pike in her bodypaint.

The New York Times had an article about cosplayer Kay Pike in the December 8, 2016 Thursday Styles section. Ms. Pike distinguishes herself from other cosplayers by painting her body to create the comic book characters she admires. The Times article described her art this way: “Ms. Pike painstakingly turns herself into an array of characters with a paintbrush, bold colors and a steady hand. Thanks to a keen eye for lighting and shading, her metamorphosis into heroes and villains — male and female, human and alien — eerily resembles two-dimensional comic book art.”

Kay Pike was a traditional cosplayer making her own costumes out of material when she got involved in the cosplay scene. Although she is only 28 years old today, in 2014 she became afflicted with arthritis which hampered her ability to spend long hours sewing and working with fabrics. She self-taught herself to body-paint. Her creations have garnered her a following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She also has a video presence on something called Twitch where you can watch her in live action depictions. I also found YouTube videos of her work as well.

In perusing her photos online it is difficult to tell whether they are indeed photos or photo-shopped drawings. That’s how good her techniques of shading, highlighting, and color blending are. If you look real close at some you can see that there is a human underneath the paint. There are some videos of her actually painting herself if you still have doubts.

Cosplay, to my mind, is similar to crossdressing in that the cosplayer and crossdresser both create a character for a finite time period and literally take it all apart and put it away until the next foray. And cosplay includes a certain amount of crossdressing as some fellas become female characters without necessarily having any transgender feelings. Since the female characters are almost always physically attractive and dressed provocatively, cosplaying female superheroes seems similar to fetish dressing in leather, latex, fishnets, chokers and the like. The cosplay craze was a couple of decades too late for me but if I would have been attracted to it, there’s no doubt I would gravitate toward the female characters. Likely, you too, I suppose.

As for Kay Pike, she described herself to The Times as a “nerd” and enjoys the cosplay community to connect with other nerds. I understand what she means but anyone who has as much talent and fortitude as she does to create her living art seems to transcend categorization as a “nerd.” The article said that her body painting sessions take up to 14 hours. She works with her husband (a photographer) to do the stills and live feeds for her fans. And it takes an hour of soaking and scrubbing to wash the paint off afterwards. Ugh, the scrubbing off. There’s something about which we can all commiserate with her.

TOO MANY GUYS IN DRAG?

Something made me think of an amusing Korean cellphone commercial I saw on YouTube years ago. The commercial showed a young woman dancing in her room to a bouncy song. When her phone rings, she picks it up, pulls off her wig (surprise!) and answers in a male voice. Maybe you remember this. It was a well-shot video and the fellow playing the girl was cute as a button.

Korean commercial girl.

I hadn’t thought of this video for years and I went searching for it on YouTube and Google with a combination of terms that included “crossdresser,” “commercial,” “dancing,” “Korean” and “phone.” It was surprisingly hard to find the video. My Google searches turned up plenty of ads and commercials that used crossdressing in them, however. In fact, I was amazed at the number of companies and products from around the world that used crossdressed men in their promotions. They all seemed to acknowledge the humorous situation but I was glad to see that the crossdressed actors or celebrities were not in fright drag.

I guess this is a sign of progress of sorts. If you’re old enough to remember the silly drag turns of Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, the Monty Python guys and others of that type, it would have been unimaginable decades ago to use drag in a commercial unless it was for the cheapest laughs. The only problem nowadays is finding the cute Korean dancing girl when you really want to see her again.

STOCKINGS, STUFFED

Hoping for a crossdressed Christmas.

They say that Halloween is the crossdresser’s national holiday but Christmas cannot be far behind. It’s fair to guess that most of us have dolled up for Christmas themed photos. Doing a quick Google search for “crosdresser and Christmas” brings up all sorts of photos from the sublime to the, well, if not ridiculous, let’s just say unusual. Pretty “girls” of all ages arrayed before Christmas trees in festive dresses, elfish costumes, lingerie, a string of lights, and even latex dresses were all on display.

Maybe it’s the emotion of the Christmas season, but we seem to want to express our femininity with the glow of tree lights, kitschy decorations, and warm fireplaces blazing nearby. And unlike many crossdresser photos found on the internet, nobody is exposing their private parts next to the decorated family fir. Even the hard-core naughty ladies keep their gifts wrapped during Christmas photos.

If you haven’t done so yet, better get your red velvet dress, white lace tights, black patent belt and boots, sparkly earrings, or whatever else screams Merry Christmas! to you, and get your fine self in front of the camera. Christmas comes but once a year.


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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment, Transgender Opinion

dina

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 (1)

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  1. says:

    Dina, that video reminded me of another cute boy in drag answering a phone in his male voice – the Clothestime commercial from 1995 called “Bedroom”.

    I don’t think they could get away with that “real woman” comment nowadays. (Of course Clothestime is no longer in business so that’s moot, for them at least.) 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIURG-NVt6E