I once shared a flat with a professional drag artiste. In Stockwell, in the mid-nineties. He was not the best. He did not look good in a frock. He couldn’t really sing. But he had oodles of commitment. I sat through his shows and willed him on through countless tuneless renditions of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. Thankfully, audiences were kind and venues had schedules to fill. The truth was, he didn’t have any other employable skills. It was the only option open to him.
The main thing I learned in that time is that fried eggs taste absolutely vile if you use olive oil (He was kind too, and tried to cook me breakfasts occasionally, despite having almost zero culinary skills). The other thing I learned is that I looked better in frocks than he did (or at least back in my twenties I did). I went to a party once, in drag, and he did my make-up for me. I looked pretty good.
My girlfriend at the time failed to show up. This was before everyone had mobile ‘phones, so I had to go across the street to use the public ‘phone box to call her. I was pestered by a very insistent man. I growled at him in the deepest voice I could muster but he was quite undeterred. It seemed my genitals were no barrier to his unwanted attention; a pretty face and a pair of fishnets seemed to be enough for him.
I must say this was not my first excursion in women’s clothing. A few years before I was the proud owner of an ankle length black mohair coat that was notable for its extreme fluffiness. I had confused the crap of of the shop staff when I bought it.
Sir, you do know this is a woman’s garment?
And? Tsk. I liked it. It made me look like a little bear, and on snowy days as I rode the bus from Clapham to work in Mayfair, I dreamed I had stepped off the screen of Doctor Zhivago. I had more dimples than Omar Sharif, so why not?
[When I say Mayfair I mean a restaurant in Shepherd Market, a slightly down-at-heel spot populated by ageing hookers. One of them had her room just across the central service well from my office. On warm summer days we would both have our windows open and the unmistakeable soft slap of ping pong bats on middle aged male buttocks provided the soundtrack for my afternoons].
Oh, then there was the bright pink coat I once borrowed from a friend in Sheffield. That was fun too.
It has therefore always puzzled me why girlfriends have objected to me wearing their pink fluffy dressing gowns in the morning. If I had my own dressing gown there then I would wear it, believe me, but I much prefer a cup of coffee before I shower. Pink and fluffy works fine for me, and is certainly a better alternative to sitting in a kitchen stark naked or in yesterday’s clothes. So what’s the problem?
It’s also true that I would love to flounce into a room, turn sharply on a killer stiletto heel and bring conversation to a standstill with a sultry pout. And the days when I go into work secretly imagining myself to be a girl are way more productive.
I’m sure all men must think this way.