Dina’s Diner 12/18/17

| Dec 18, 2017


10-year-old makeup star Jack Bennet.

The New York Times Thursday Styles section had an article headlined “His Eye Makeup is Way Better Than Yours” in the November 23, 2017 edition. The article featured a few young boys who have achieved internet fame as makeup mavens. I wrote about this topic a couple of years ago after another article about young men who were internet cosmetic sensations. The difference now is that boys as young as 10 years old are being hailed as makeup “influencers” by industry insiders.

The Times article said, “Would you be inclined to buy makeup because a 10-year-old boy is showing you how to create a look on Instagram? If we’re talking about Jack Bennett, then the answer could well be a resounding yes. Since convincing his mother to start his account in May, young Mr. Bennett, who lives in Berkshire, England, has amassed 331,000 followers and attracted the attention of brands like MAC and NYX, which have offered products to create looks. Refinery29 has celebrated him as the next big thing in makeup.”

The earlier pioneers of gender-bending internet makeup sites were already in their late teens or twenties. Jeffree Starr was one of them and he is now 27. He bemoaned how sparse his competition was in those early days. “The only stuff that existed was guy-liner,” he told the Times. He also said that posting makeup videos to internet platforms humanizes the fellows doing the makeup artistry and “shows that we’re just people.”

The article went on to say, “there has been a 20 percent increase since the start of the year in mentions of “makeup” by male accounts on [Instagram]. In only a couple of years, these young men have gained sway in the industry. Cosmetics brands like Milk Makeup have built their offerings on genderless beauty; the skin-care company Glow Recipe hosts sold-out boy beauty mask classes.”

There seems to be no attempt to define the gender or sexual status of the new practitioners of cosmetic artistry. The Times again: “Carly Cardellino, beauty director of Cosmopolitan.com, argues that their skill is the draw. “If you’re amazing at applying makeup, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what gender you identify with,” she said. “If you’re young, already embracing who you are and are insanely talented, those factors will make you stand out even more.” Though the younger generation of influencers are of diverse molds, they are similar in that they take men wearing makeup as a given. “I didn’t think about gender identity, what you do with your life, things you associate yourself with,” Jake Warden [a 15 year old internet makeup artist] said, referring to the time he started his Instagram posts. “I think no matter what gender, you are free to do what you want.”


Flawless Sabrina (L) with Harlow in 1968.

The New York Times ran an obituary for Jack Doroshow, who was also known as Flawless Sabrina, in the December 2, 2017 edition. Mr. Doroshow was a Philadelphian by birth and the Times ran a photo of Flawless Sabrina with Philadelphia transgender celebrity Harlow taken in 1968.

Having grown up in Philadelphia in the 1960s and ’70s, the sight and mention of Harlow in the obit brought on a little nostalgia. Flawless Sabrina was already by that time a New York and international drag celebrity. According to the Times, Mr. Doroshow got into the drag world first as an impresario and host of drag pageants in 1959 after moving to New York. He acted as a male MC of the pageants at first, then hired professional drag queens, and finally decided to create his own drag persona to host the pageants. Although he was only a young man in his early twenties, Flawless Sabrina was pitched as an an older mother figure that would not be in competition with the pageant contestants.

The rest, as they say is history. Jack/Sabrina began running pageants all over the country. As the Times reports, often the pageants hit small towns and cities in the heartland and local drag queens would “come out of the hills” to compete and the local residents to watch. The Times said, “Mr. Doroshow would sometimes be arrested on minor charges for his efforts but he developed ways around that, striking deals with local leaders to make a charitable donation in exchange for a variance from any troublesome regulations. A certain amount of denial was involved in some locales, he said. “In the main,” he said, “the city fathers thought it was a show we were bringing in from out of town. They didn’t accept that it was people from the local area.”

Jack/Sabrina starred in a film called The Queen which was based on one of his drag pageants and became a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival in 1968. It also made Philadelphian Harlow a star of sorts. She went on to become a crossover celebrity in Philadelphia, mixing in straight and gay circles for decades afterwards.

According to the Times, Flawless Sabrina eventually gave up the pageant scene but became a mentor, drag mother and grand dame to drag performers and even today’s gender trendsetters in the visual arts like Zachary Drucker, a trans artist and producer of the show Transparent. The obit concluded, “Jack and Flawless Sabrina were regular visitors to New York clubs, and Sabrina held court on East 73rd Street, displaying the work of young artists in her salon-style room. If you aspired to be one of her “grandchildren,” Ms. Drucker said, you needed to memorize certain rules of life, including “If it doesn’t make you nervous, it ain’t worth doing.”


The recent Alabama special Senate election and the controversial candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of stalking and molesting teenage girls in his past, generated so much news. On almost the eve of the election, one of Moore’s supporters, Bill Staehle, went before a rally audience and tried to testify to the former judge’s character. Mr. Staehle’s story involved an experience from their days serving in Vietnam during the war. I found a video clip of the remarks and a Huffington Post online article about the remarks that were published December 12, 2017.

Was this the kind of girl they saw at the “private club”?

The following is an excerpt from the HuffPost article: “Staehle said he and Moore went to what they were told would be a “private club” to join a fellow soldier who was celebrating the end of his tour of duty. The club, he said, turned out to be a brothel.

“There were certainly pretty girls. And they were girls, and they were young. Some were probably very young, I don’t know,” Staehle said. Moore, he said, left immediately.”

When I saw the video clip and listened to Staehle’s voice telling the story, I initially took his comment, “There were certainly pretty girls. And they were girls,” to be a qualifier that they weren’t transvestites or “ladyboys,” the legendary Asian transgenders who are often employed in entertainment and sex work in Southeast Asia. I am willing to concede that I may be completely out to lunch here and I probably read gender issues into some things where it may not really belong.

I looked online to see if “ladyboys” were present in Vietnam during the war years and could only find mentions of ladyboys (aka “Katoey”) in relation to Thailand, where hundreds of thousands of American GI’s cycled through Bangkok on Rest and Relaxation breaks. This Moore story seems to have happened in Vietnam, however. In any event, Mr. Moore (who lost the election in the end) did not partake in the brothel’s offerings — whether female or transgender. But it also made me think that I never heard any reports or rumored gossip about American GI’s who did travel to Thailand for R and R getting down with the native katoey girls.


Drag Artist Hungry.

The New York Times Sunday Styles section had an article headlined “Beyond Campy Drag” in the December 3, 2017 edition. Our “TWIT” feature here on TGForum mentioned it in last week’s overview.

The article covered some new theatrical drag shows in Brooklyn featuring performers and guests who “are going toward the creative side of drag. It used to be all about glamour and pageant and stuff like that, and now it’s like, it’s cool to be punk rock,” according to one show organizer. The Times described the performance by a drag artist named “Hungry” who wears costumes akin to sci-fi aliens or otherworldly creatures: “It was undeniably drag: weird and apocalyptic, drag as seen through a cracked mirror.”

The scene recalls the Club Kid phenomenon of the late 1980s or early ’90s and the Times and some of the interviewed performers said the same thing. It makes lip-synching to popular female records seem like the kind of thing Mom and Dad would’ve liked. A show hosted by a performer who goes by the name Horrorchata, “bills itself as “a Dance Party for Homos and Aliens from Outer Space that like to shake it on the dance floor.” Amid the crowd, a lethal-looking goth kept company with a queen wearing angular makeup who defined her look as “darkness in a dream that you don’t want to leave.” No Whitney Houston tributes in this program.

Like a lot of modern transgender expressions there is no clear cut binary division between male and female or gay and straight in these gatherings. It all falls into the melting pot of “queer culture.” The article said, “In performance, [the artist] Hungry didn’t connote man or woman, or even human. “I don’t see many boundaries anymore,” Hungry said. “I have a lot of friends, especially in London, who are female identifying and who do drag. They do it well, they perform well. It has the same value.” The Times quoted Joe E. Jeffreys, a drag historian: “I think society is coming around to the idea that it’s not a gender binary, that it is not one or the other, that it can be anything in between.”



The New York Times weekend magazine (“T”) cycles through fashion, interior design and other special themes. In the issue that came with the December 3, 2017 Sunday paper, there was a fashion pictorial titled “Full Transparency.” The brief four page layout featured a model wearing various items of sheer hosiery, slips, and bodywear.

The fashions were nothing special (in my opinion) but I was stopped in mid-page-turn by the model whom I could not for the life of me determine what gender s/he was. Usually the term “androgynous model” refers to beautiful, waifish young men but they are easily identifiable as male. This model, Ninouk Akkerman, sent me to the internet machine to learn whether he was a she or she was a he or whatever was up wit’ all dat.

Turns out that Ninouk (even the name provides no easy clue to gender) is a Dutch national cis-female who completed studies in neuroscience (according to one website). She is 5’10” and has a 30A bust which is pretty boyish, you must agree. In some photos, she appears to be your typical female fashion model and in others the androgynous thing is happening. I don’t find fashion models very appealing to my tastes but I have to hand it to Ninouk for really giving me a head scratch on what’s going on below-deck.


Bridal beauty.

I was walking down the street of our local shopping district earlier today as I write this and the bridal salon had two live models in wedding gowns in their window.

The models looked like high school girls — juniors or seniors, maybe. They were not only in quite beautiful wedding gowns, they had their hair done and were in complete wedding regalia. I guess I haven’t been to a wedding or seen beautiful young women in really fine dresses for a long while because it was quite a startling sight.

The confection of all that white lace trim and satin trains and whatever else goes into a good wedding gown is really a work of art. It’s hard to imagine these two young women will ever look better than they did today posing as brides — except perhaps on their own wedding days sometime in the future.

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, 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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