Being John‘Hami on
We sent our voluptuous female reporter to a try out a cross-dressing workshop with drag king Dianne Torr, to kick off the Glagay! celebrations. Words: Jane Hamilton
et me introduce myself. I'm John. Weegie born and bred and a bit of a lad about town. I sell fruit machines for a living. don’t have a bird right
now but let‘s just say I don‘t do too bad on that front. if
you catch my drift . . . ‘ ()r at least this is who I was when I had a one-to-one workshop with Diane Torr. Torr. drag king extraordinaire. would love to see every woman do this at least once in their life. and I agree. It‘s an incredible experience. and if you think it‘s just about dressing up and adjusting your fake dick every five minutes you‘re a totally wrong. This is about
challenging gender stereotypes. Ridding yourself of your socially constructed submissive image of
femininity and taking on the traits of what we are brought tip to believe is masculinity.
According to 'l‘orr. women do the workshops for
many different reasons. It could be a woman wanting to find another side to her character. a feminist wanting to get into the male psyche or even to help in a gender reassignment decision. For me it was for fun. but changing from a. how shall I put this. well-stacked. curvaceous woman into a man is no mean feat. Torr had her work ctrt out. First of all it was deciding what kind of man I wanted to be. After dismissing other people‘s suggestions of dirty truckers. neds and bikers. I settled fora dodgy Glaswegian bloke.
If you‘re going to pass as a man you‘ve got to dress properly. First. the breasts had to get bandaged down before getting dressed and putting on the make-up. I chose a goatee beard. sideburns. some five o'clock
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shadow and bags under the eyes with my hair made to look greasy and unkempt. And let‘s not forget one of the most important additions — the penis. To be a real man you want a condom filled with cotton wool. Sorted.
For the first time since the start of the transformation I looked in the mirror and got a shock. There was a really horrible guy staring back at rue and I wanted to move away from him. Now I had to learn how to act like him. I was told to stop nodding. agreeing and smiling. Basically shut off my emotions and stop doing what comes naturally.
As John l‘m dismissive of people. I don‘t acknowledge or agree and I certainly don’t trust. I don‘t react. As for interaction. it’s on my terms and don't you forget it. I‘m always right. Torr showed me how to act and go from merely sitting in a chair to owning it. move my gaze from my eyes to further back in my head. how to stand. take up space and walk. It's all about power and control. When I venture out into the Arches bar. people don't even look twice as l swagger through. Being arrogant and dominant don’t come naturally to rue. but give me a bit longer in this guise. and boy. does it get you places.
This workshop will make you question so many things about yourself and society. but for whatever reason you do it for you will have a ball . . . or two.
Drag King Weekend, The Arches, 253 Arger Street, Glasgow. 0141 334 7126. 1-6pm. £30 (£15). Sat 8 & Sun 9 Nov.
Transphobia explores the dark side of male-to-female cross dressing in a Glasgow that was less open than it is today
Russell Barr's Transphobia is a show about being a drag queen and how it can change your life in ways you would never have imagined.
It's based on Barr‘s experiences growing up in the City it is up to the audience to decide whether his stones are fact or fiction. Based in Glasgow, a city which Barr had to leave, it focuses on a nine month period when he worked in the drag bar Madame Gillespies. ‘I was 22, hadn‘t had a drink. hadn't taken drugs and had a very damaged childhood. It is a city where you can get taken somewhere very dark very quickly and not be able to get out. but that was where I wanted to be. It could only have happened in Glasgow.“
Despite being angry at himself for being gay. Barr decided to go to the extreme and embrace the lifestyle as a drag queen. His first experience was when a friend made him up. very badly. as Diana Ross in the hope of getting a job at Madame Gillespies. Despite being a drag bar it was not a gay bar, and was frequented by plenty of straight. and often married guys.
Barr believes that many gay men are misogynists and so portray a type of woman who doesn't actually exist — a fact that he finds quite unpleasant. Dressed in a style not far from their mother or a prostitute they embrace and exaggerate the characteristics and take on what he describes as an acerbic bitterness.
This was originally planned as a one—off show about his experiences. Barr has been amazed by its reception, and is delighted to be back in his home town as part of Arches Live! and Glasgay! From murder to make-up. this is definitely a show that will leave you wondering exactly what happened back in the days of Madame Gillespies.
Transphobia, The Arches, 253 Argyle Street, Glasgow. 0141 565 1023. 7.30pm. £6 (£4). Thu 6 & Fri 7 Nov.