Few sights are funnier or uglier than a man "in drag" who is overtly male and couldn't "pass" as a woman from a distance of 50-100 feet, grotesquely and ghoulishly so if crudely and conspiculously masculine:
That's why CD and drag are typically used for comedic effect in TV shows, movies, plays, grade-school/high-school/college skits, parades, on Halloween, at costume parties, "mock weddings," etc.: everyone has seen the faces with coarse dark beards, the proverbial "5 o'clock shadow," jarringly visible under makeup sloppily and clumsily applied, often intentionally, ludicrously cakey and thick and garish and smeared, a clown's mask that looks more like war paint than feminine adornment; even more vile and farcical if the man has a beard or mustache; their skulls crowned with cheap Harpo Marx and thrift-store Halloween wigs often in unnatural colors such as green and blue and fire-engine red.
And, beneath the face, often thick bull necks, bear-like backs, shoulders wide and broad and square, muscular/hirsute chests and arms in low-cut and sleeveless garage sale and "bargain-basement" dresses; many with a "pot-belly" so huge that they appear to be pregnant males.
And, beneath the waist, hairy legs under nylons, often knee-highs in huge male shoes, brogues or sneakers, or even work/combat boots, often unlaced; On the whole, the palpable virility of men's faces and bodies made more ugly and glaring in contrast with the worst of makeup and cheap wigs and feminine attire often matched with male clothing.
And if they act or try to act womanly, ladylike or effeminate, as caricature and burlesque, the hideousness and obscenity and gaucheness of the comedy and it's players are all the more risible and amusing and entertaining. So males are free to dress and act like women and not be hated and vilified as "fags" and "queers" and "sissies" and "freaks by most males and many females -- as long as they look like men and especially if the parody is gross and ridiculous.
But even if those above and tens of millions of other men wanted to look like women --for whatever reasons --, sexual and/or emotional, I doubt that most could even "pass" as ugly women because of faces that can't be feminized by the best of makeup and wigs and bodies whose virility is so salient and distinct that it can't be concealed or markedly diminished.
Whatever the cost, skill and effort, they would all look like men painted and coiffed and dressed as women -- even if attractive or handsome as men appearing conventionally. How paradoxical and ironic that myriads of handsome men could never "pass" as women even if they spent thousands of dollars on wigs and cosmetics and feminine attire and makeovers at the best transformation salons, while millions of plain and even ugly men can pass as women who are sexy and attractive or even lovely and pretty and stunning and gorgeous and beautiful.
Classically handsome movie and TV stars like Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Burt Lancaster, James Garner, Rory Calhoon, Rock Hudson, Tom Selleck, Ted Danson, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, and many others could never "pass" as women given their faces and/or physiques. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis (a handsome man) in Some Like it Hot were ugly and mannish, transparently men in dresses and nylons and heels and wigs and makeup, while Dustin Hoffman, whom no one would call handsome, and many would call ugly, was passable and cute and feminine in Tootsie. Patrick Swayze was sexy and attractive, virtually passable in his classy red wig, but his jaw and chin were those of a man or a woman who was genetically masculine.
Then imagine professional-collegiate wrestlers and football and basketball players, politicians like LBJ and Chris Christie and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, actors like John Wayne, Kirk Douglass, James Coburn, Charlton Heston, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Karl Malden, Jimmy Cagney, Craig T. Nelson, Sly Stallone, and many others en femme. The horror, one might have nightmares!
And that's why "passing" as a women is both artful and propitious: propitious in the luck of having a body that is feminine in the sense of having a small frame with bones that are small or not visibly mannish, wrists and hands and feet that are small and delicate for a man or at least passably feminine, shoulders and chests and backs and legs that are not overtly masculine; a body that can be feminized, superficially, whose virility can be hidden or at least minimized. And propitious in having a visage that is feminine, plain or pretty, or can be feminized, transformed into that of a woman by a close shave and the expert or competent application of makeup and a choice of wigs that are feminine and attractive and look like a real woman's hair and best accentuate and consummate the illusion and patina of femaleness.
Artful in how one uses concealer, foundation, powder, lipstick, gloss, eye-liner, mascara, false eye-lashes, shadow, and wigs to turn one's face into that of an apparent woman; and, with the body, feminine attire to conceal what is manly and enhance what is womanly in appearance. The wig is the "crowning touch," literally and figuratively, the consummation of one's metamorphosis, perfecting and framing one's painted visage and usually the most crucial item in presenting one's image and illusion of womanhood: the plethora of styles and shades to choose for this metamorphosis -long to short, wild or tame, wavy or curly or straight, sexy or demure, classy or sluttish, bangs or parted, sundry colors from black to all the hues of blond, brown, natural red- depends on the shape of one's head and the eyes and nose and chin and other features. And, of course, it depends on what kind of woman (or women) one wants to see in the mirror and be seen by others in public and/or private, the hundreds of images one captures in photos or videos to cherish and share with others, wives and lover and other TVs, intimately or anonymously.
Propitious and artful in that with the right face and body, combined with skill in "doing" one's face and taste in picking the best wigs and feminine attire/accessories (what luck to be rich or well-off!), many CDs in full regalia look more feminine, ladylike, stylish, classy, elegant, glamorous, prettier and lovelier, more sexy, sultry, sensual, and even stunning, gorgeous, ravishing, and beautiful, than myriads of lovely and pretty women sans makeup and with their hair undone or butch and wearing T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sweatpants, flip-flops, tennis shoes, hiking boots, etc.
Feminine Beauty as Cultural Creation
It's striking and often amazing how the purely natural and unadorned beauty and femininity of women is enhanced by the masks and guises and trappings and inventions and accoutrements of culture: embellishments and adornments that have existed for centuries or decades (e.g., makeup, dresses, high-heels, hairdos) but are always evolving in subtle and dramatic ways (e.g. platform pumps and other styles of feminine attire, cosmetics and surgery to hide or slow or reverse aging) to improve the looks and enhance the beauty of women. The femininity and beauty of women is to a large extent a cultural creation and "artificial social construct," culturally-derived and imposed and facilitated. Women who are feminine and lovely naturally are rendered more so by cultural adornments and embellishments.
I'm sure you've seen photos of beautiful women, of actresses and models and singers and other celebrities, with no makeup. If young, still in their 20s or even 30s, they're still pretty and lovely but not or far less beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, ravishing, voluptuous, resplendent. Their faces are often wan. The eyes sans liner and shadow and mascara are still pretty and lovely but smaller and duller and not as sultry and radiant and expressive. The lips, unpainted by gloss or lipstick, are duller and smaller, not as sexy and sultry and sizzling and seductive, even if full and pouty and well-shaped. The imperfections and flaws of their skin are visible with no foundation, concealer, and powder. Or if they can't be concealed, more salient or even disfiguring.
And with older beauties, women in their 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s, the sight of them sans makeup is far more vivid given the effects of aging and often frightening. The multi-billion dollar beauty industry and all its creations to alter and cover and enhance the faces and bodies of women make it possible for Joan Collins and her sister Jackie and Sophia Loren and other mature women to still look stunning and desirable in their 70s and even 80s. I might not want to see Joan nude in the morning (not that I will ever have the chance) sans makeup and with her hair undone and disheveled. But perfectly made-up and dressed and classily and elegantly coiffed, usually in wigs apparently, she's still exquisite, luscious, glamorous, and resplendent at age 81! Expertly painted and coiffed, Joy Behar is cute and sexy and "foxy" and pretty. Sans makeup she looks dreadful, almost homely.
And how much more striking and amazing that these masks and guises and trappings and inventions and accoutrements, the embellishments and adornments of culture that enhance the femininity and attractiveness of women, permit TVs with the right faces and bodies, including males who are plain or even ugly, to appear as women and, for many, to perfect and master the art and magic and patina of feminine illusion, to appear not simply passable, if dowdy and plain and ugly, but sexy and attractive, pretty and lovely, and often beautiful and ravishing and gorgeous and stunning and voluptuous.
Behold the images of CDs and TVs at the Vanity Club, Flikr, Ipernity, and many other websites, including scores of transformation salons, Watch videos on You Tube (see Jay's makeover by Raine Storm at Fairplay), and be amazed. Marvel at the sight of Tawni Bonds, Donna Kelli, Ana Cristina Garcia, Jamie Grae, Jenee Davis, Joann Taboada, and many others, including me. Not knowing their real identities, no one viewing the myriads of photos and images of these dolls and sirens would think they're males.
Thus, if only superficially, the femininity of TVs is real and not illusory: not If one uses the word "feminine" in a purely cultural sense as opposed to its biological meaning as synonymous with female embodiment and its purely natural/physical manifestations; not if one thinks of "femininity" as a cultural artifact and "construct" to a large degree rather than a purely biological reality. Femaleness and maleness are natural and biological, and immutable apart from surgery and hormone injections. Femininity is natural and genetic as well as cultural and artificial. For TVs, the appearance of femaleness as opposed to femininity is obviously an illusion. But, inversely, the superficial femininity and sexiness and beauty of many TVs is real, just as real as that of real women.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines metamorphosis: 1 a: change of physical form, structure, or substance esp. by supernatural means. b: a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.
The metamorphosis of "passing" as a female is obviously not a "change of physical form, structure or substance" by either natural or supernatural means. But it's surely a "striking alteration in appearance": illusory in respect to "physical form, structure, or substance;" "striking" and actual in regard to appearance.
Next: The Art and Magic of Feminine Illusion, Part Two: The Crème de la Crème, an appreciation of some of my favorite T-girls.