. GLASGAY! 1995 ’
If the dress ﬁts
It's the toilets which are most problerrratic. say regulars at Glasgow's Love Boutique. the club for cross- dressing boys and girls. That simple act of relief can be cause for confusion. Should it he the boys“ or the girls“?
For cross-dressing boys the girls‘ is more fun. You talk to each other in there — and there‘s a mirror to fix the lippy. But the boys' can be fun too. Try standing at a crowded urinal in a dress and watching those reactions. Talk about confrontational.
That's in the comparative safety of a club. When you‘re otrt and about the response can be more extreme. ‘l went into a loo in Woolworth‘s in Cheltenham High Street and the women scattered like lambs.' remembers Della Grace. 21 guest on the panel of the Glasgay! discussion on cultural cross-dressing. Victor/Victoria. ‘They were really frightened.‘
Which is not altogether surprising. Grace is a photographer and up-front ‘hermaphrodyke‘ who sports a beard. She sees herself as more than a drag king. but less than a transsexual. ‘I experience gender dysphoria and real penis cnvy.‘ she explains. ‘l have a lot
dressing depends on what she is doing. For Naive. London‘s drag king club.
she puts mascara on her moustache and
beard. does tip her sideburns and dons a
packer to make it look as if she has a
‘lt‘s more of a performative thing.‘ she
of masculine secondary characteristics. says. Since the Club has been going 1
How far Grace goes in her cross-
feel less of a need to do it when 1 go
Cross-dressing: girls who become boys
shopping. for instance. But before the
club was open 1 wasjust cross-dressing
z for my own pleasure.‘
Peggy Shaw is a performer whose
one~woman show. You're Just Like My
l-‘u/lier is about growing up butch and working class in the USA. ‘Because we weren't allowed to wear certain clothes
j to school. it was basically my hair that
was the big drag act when l was young.‘ she says. ‘I didn’t know that I couldn't comb my hair like Elvis l’resley.‘
Because society is so disapproving. cross-dressing is a very hidden aspect of people‘s lives. it takes a brave person
to take it out onto the streets.
‘My biggest thrill is to have my shoe
shine done on Sixth Avenue in New
York by the shoe-shiner.‘ says Shaw. ‘To put my shoe tip and have this guy
shine my shoes — Oh. it's wonderful!‘
Cross-dressing is surrounded by misundcrstanding and quite erroneous
assumptions about sexuality. Straights. gays and transsexuals all cross-dress,
but what we do share is the feeling that
1 we need to do so: that we are more comfortable in clothes more commonly
associated with the ‘opposite’ sex. ‘When I create my material. what comes out is from an inside place.‘
‘ explains Shaw. ‘And it's a loving place. A a place where. when i am honest. I
have no choice except to be there. with all the details of my desire. ‘My show is a celebration of many
things. but mostly my love of my
father's clothes and his smells and his hureaux drawers and his underwear. All
I those things that i had to eventually
take on for myself which were very deep inside of me.‘ (Thom Dibdin) Peggy Slum: ’nu 're Just Like My l'iu/rer. Are/res 'l'lieulre. 'l'liurs‘ 2—1’1'1'3 Nov. 7pm: Vii'lm/Vu‘lm'lu — u (lisr'us’simi on cultural t'mssdressing. 'l'mu 'I‘lieulre. Fri 3 Nut: [0.15pm. Love linuuque. 'I’lie Are/res. Sat 4 Nov. llpnt.
Among the paper mountain of club flyers and passes that litter the tables of Glasgow’s cafes and bars, there will, in the next few weeks, he an unusual and intriguing addition. A discreetly printed card will invite you to phone a local number and leave a set-piece of information on the answering machine. Wittingly or otherwise, you will have participated in Jordan McKenzie’s multi-stranded installation Missing.
Running throughout Glasgay! and in conjunction with Amnesty International, the artist has made a multi-media installation that focuses its sights on gay visibility both in Britain and abroad, and the power of information in relation to an individual’s civil rights.
For part of the performance piece, McKenzie will be lurking in the shadows of the darkened Glasgow School of Art space, dressed in full leather while a gay anthem such as Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ blasts out of the speakers. This, says McKenzie, gets to the heart of the matter in demonstrating the idea of ‘gays occupying an area of darkness or invisibility.’
This piece also links in with the fact that McKenzie spends two-hour intervals buried in earth. Here, he explains the correlation between his being gay, being in a buried state, and the cards with the telephone numbers. ‘When people ring the number on the
card they’ll hear a message about a
his country due to discrimination,’ he says. ‘The more people who ring the more I become visible as I become “unburied.” ’
The analogy being, McKenzie continues, is that an oral petition of this sort can make a huge difference to an incarcerated or missing individual, since it raises their public
' visibility in a similar way to the gay man who has been incarcerated in , campaigning work of Amnesty
in another active calling card piece, cards emblazoned with ‘sex crime’ will be left solely in Glasgow telephone boxes. Ring the number on these and you will hear a recorded conversation between McKenzie and officials from the Albanian and El Salvador embassies. with the artist quining
Jordan McKenzie: digging up sex crime in Missing
f; ‘9 ’
each respective official about gay
l l l
demonstrations which resulted in
incarceration or severe violence being wreaked upon the activists.
The invisible will become visible for one week at least. (Ann Donald) Missing by Jordan McKenzie Is at Assemny Gallery, Student Axes. Building, 168 ﬂenfrew Street, Glasgow
l School of Art from Fri 27 Oct-Fri 3 9 Nov.
The List 20 Oct-2 Nov 1995 17