Saturday 22 April 2017

Goodwood Revival - Stepping back in time, in heels.

Getting out and about doesn't always have to be at a transgender event, and sometimes you get to wear the loveliest clothes!

We have had a few events over the years  that have kept us entertained. But the annual Goodwood Revival is a truly splendid vintage rally held near Southampton on a historical horse racing course. Over the years the house grounds have been a farm, then an aerodrome, a formula one circuit and most recently a horse race course. 

The revival is set between the 1940’s to 1960’s as this was when Goodwood was in its hay day, with a fighter squadrons based there in WW2 and later when the circuit was used as a formula one grand-prix venue. 
Visitors come to the event to see the cars and motorbikes of the era race round the track at breakneck speeds with none of the modern safety aids to help them.

During the 1940’s Goodwood was also a Battle of Britain RAF fighter Station  so always has a fantastic array of world war 2  and vintage aeroplanes on display. The Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain flight often give a majestic flypast joined with some of the aircraft attending the event. many aircraft are on static display so as you can pose next to them for photographs. 

But you don’t want to hear about that – you want to know all about the fashions! And what fashions there were!
Over 90% of the 140,000 + people who attend dress in  appropriate outfits of the period. We try yo attend for 2 days so need to have fabulous outfits for both days.

On my last visit, for the Saturday saw me in a 1950’s Pan-Am outfit, not exactly authentic in detail, but enough to be instantly recognisable as the iconic cabin crew of the day. My partner found an authentic 40’s summer dress, which looked wonderful. Along with my friends Jemma and Jackie we all looked a stylish group.

The event has a very large retail area that caters for all the needs from vintage dresses, uniforms, fur coats and hats. There are make-up and hair salons that would perform a magical transformation to turn anyone into a retro pin up model in a Jiffy.
all around the site there are set pieces playing in the steets, with workmen holding up the traffic, spivvs selling watches, policemen chasing criminals and gangs of mod’s and rockers roving the streets. Tesco has green-shield stamps and St Trinians girls run riot with hockey sticks. its a kaleidoscope of movement and fun. 

Vintage motorcar memorabilia was also on sale, as well as an auction where some cars often fetch in excess of £1,000,000. The car park alone is a awesome car show in its own right, with vintage cars being driven to the event from all over Europe and parked for all to see. 

Famous people bring their cars to the venue to race them and to show them off. Some may know of Rowan Atkinson (AkA as Mr Bean) is a very keen car racer and had some fun on the track in a jaguar, whilst Ewan Macgregor (AkA Obi-Wan Kenobi) races on a vintage motorbike.

The evening events are full of life, with a funfair and music marquees with high quality acts giving renditions of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s music. there are rockabilly groups, trios of boogie-woogee singers and some psychedelic renditions that will make your toes curl! 

The Sunday saw the weather a little cooler and we were in more formal attire, with me in a 50’s poker-dot A line dress with large petticoats and pill box hat, with my partner in a 50’s black and white Vogue suit and Jemma looking fabulous in her Vivian of Holloway 1950’s dress.

The event was really good fun and very relaxed. We met several other girls there and we all felt that it was really Trans Friendly.
So it dosent matter if you don't know your Lotus from your Alfa, your Hurricane from your Spitfire, or your Channel from your Dior ; if you just want to have a lovely day out wearing a fab frock and heels in a great venue then this is the place to come with all that and more. 

I’ll not pretend, it is an expensive day out, but there is soooo much to see and do when you are there. Food is reasonable in the ‘over the road’ site next to the funfair,  the night life is all free, and its a fabulous place to be stylish, fashionable, retro and chic! 

Monday 17 April 2017

Dawn's transgender story - NHS Choices

Most of the time Dawn lives as a man using a male name. However, she considers herself to be transgender.

Dawn, who works as an occupational health nurse on an oil platform, describes growing up as a boy who liked to dress in girls' clothes. She hid that part of her identity when she was in the Air Force, but in recent years she's become more open about her feminine side.
"As far back as infant school I remember playing with dolls and dressing in my sister's clothes. I also remember feeling upset that girls wore skirts and boys didn't. 
"When I was about 10 or 11, I used to escape through the bedroom window at night and walk around town in girls' clothes. Once, I got caught by the police and taken home. My mother then took me to see a psychologist. 
"I think we saw the psychologist two or three times. At one stage, he asked me: 'Do you want to be a girl?' My parents were sitting with me, so I gave an answer they wanted to hear rather than the truthful answer. Looking back, I think if they hadn't been there, things might have been different. 
"After that, I kept that side of me hidden even more because it upset my parents. I kept myself as busy as possible at home, but the feelings never went away.
"I chose the name Dawn when I was about 12 years old. I wanted to be 'me', and my given male name didn't have a female version. I thought for a long time before settling on Dawn. 
"Dawn has many meanings: the start of a new day, or a realisation. But I chose it mainly because I like the name, and the few people I knew who were called Dawn seemed like nice people. 
"I lived in a small town in Wiltshire with few job prospects, so when I was 16 I joined the Air Force. I became an aircraft mechanic for a short time before switching to nursing. That's what I've done ever since. 
"Back then, being trans in the Air Force was a big problem, so I kept it hidden. I found out about trans groups through other people and from newspaper articles. In the 1970s and 1980s there wasn't much publicity, so you heard about it from agony aunts such as Clare Rayner and Marje Proops. 
"While I was still in the Air Force, I visited trans groups in Bristol and London. It was an opportunity to meet like-minded people and to realise that I wasn't alone."

Meeting my partner, Jules 

"In 1985 I moved to London and left the Air Force. It was the first time I'd lived completely on my own. As I was away from family and friends, I seriously considered transitioning [living full-time as a woman]. For nearly one year I dressed as a woman except when I was at work. 
"Then I met Jules, my partner, an absolutely wonderful woman. I decided that my priority was to stay with her rather than transition.
"Shortly after we started going out together, we moved to the coast. Cornwall, our new home, was very different from London, and I hid my trans side initially. 
"Only in recent years have we started being more open. I dress in women's clothes maybe once or twice a week when I'm at home, and when Jules and I go to National Trust places, to the cinema or for dinner. But we generally do it away from our home town so that people who know us won't see us.
"My two sisters know that I'm trans. My parents don't know, or if they do know they haven't said anything about it. Jules' parents know. She told them when we first started dating, and I've been out with them dressed in women's clothes. 
"We try to tell people only if they need to know, but I don't like hiding it. l'd like everyone to know and not worry about it, but Jules would rather keep it a bit quieter."

Being found out at work

"Recently I was found out at work. I'm a nurse on an oil platform, and I was moving to another platform. Somebody emptied my locker for me and sent the contents to the next platform. People on my new platform also saw photographs of me on the internet. 
"It was quite upsetting when I got a phone call warning me to be careful at work because all this information was out.
"I was expecting ridicule, abuse and possibly discrimination from the management team, but it was the total opposite. The management team supported me 100%, and the people who made a big fuss about it were taken off the platform. 
"Being accepted at work was a humbling experience. My work colleagues' support and relaxed attitude has made me feel valued and wanted. 
"I don't tell people that I'm trans. It doesn't come up in conversation, and it's not important to my work, but I don't have to keep it a secret any more. 
"Being a transgender person isn't easy, although I've had an easier time than most people. I've had a lot of frustration. I've had to keep my feminine side secret, and I try to conform to what society expects. But now that I'm older, I feel more confident about my gender identity. 
"I like to think that having a strong feminine side has helped me to help other people, which is good for my nursing. It possibly gives me a more caring nature. But as I've always been trans, I have nothing to compare it against. 
"I know that if I were given the option, I wouldn't like to lose the feminine side of my life. I wouldn't be me.” 

From the NHS Choices Website - 

Its Pantomime - Oh no it isn’t!

Pantomime is seen as a truly British affair. It is a testimony to the quirkiness of the British sense of humor and traditions -- and often includes gender reversal.
It’s like roast beef and gravy, part of the empire and all that. However the history of the pantomime can be traced back to the Greek and Romans, where the plays encompassed music, comedy and sex, as well as a bit of tragedy.
Famous poets of the day wrote libretto for the shows, possibly for a good fee, but sadly none have survived -- which may be due to pantomime being looked down upon as a lower class of entertainment. It would be fitting to find an ancient ‘Oh No it Isn’t’ set in Greek! 
The British pantomime (or more affectionately known as ‘panto’) is not exactly a modern invention and goes back to the 17th century, where it seems to have evolved from Italian popular theatre of the day. Some similarities with pantomime have been noted are from the pagan 12th night celebrations and the midwinter feasts where the natural order of things are turned around for a short time. (Mind you…… all that dancing round in the morning dew at midwinter solstice plays havoc with the lumbago! )
These similarities are typified by the gender reversal that has become one of the most recognisable parts of panto, along with the pantomime horse and the Harlequin.
In the early days of panto, the Harlequin was the most influential creature of the show, clad in a costume with bright diamonds of red, yellow, blue and black. The colours were of significance as the character would strike a pose and touch the colour on his costume to signify what mood he was presenting – red for anger, blue for faithfulness, yellow for jealousy (Green was considered an unlucky colour onstage, and we all know how much the theatre is steeped with superstition …. So go and break a leg! ) however black was a special colour in that it would make him invisible! (So Marvel and DC comics were a little behind the times here!)

Cross Dressing
(now we’re getting to the good part!)
Panto is strongly interlinked with cross dressing, as traditionally most of the main characters are cross-dressed during the show.

The principle boy is always a girl, the dame is always a boy, and there are often supporting ugly sisters who are men; however the leading lady is the only exception in always being a woman. ….confusing isn’t it – and that is before we even get to the plot!
The Pantomime Dames first treaded the boards in the early 1800’s and were usually cast as the mother of the hero. It is a comic part where the dame has the quick fire dialogue and elaborate costumes.  Taking the clues from the early Harlequin, the Dame has an outrageous and topical banter, pointing jokes at various famous politicians and celebrities. The audience are never excluded and are often the target of humorous ribbing, inviting participation through an all too familiar dialogue….. ‘Oh no it isn’t….. Oh yes it is!’
Many Dames have been played by famous stars of the day. One such star was Danny La Rue (seen in photo above), a truly well-loved female impersonator of the 70’s and 80’s and brought a brand of high glamor to the Dame role. Dannys’ outfits were always elaborate, but given the ‘over the top’ style of a Dame, the outfits went stellar! 

Playing a Dame is very demanding, more so than drag. It’s a comic female role made to be bawdy for the adults and having to play to young children at the same time, as well as adlibbing and following a plot, and engaging with a live interactive audience! Slapstick comedy with slick timing is never easy, adding a fantastic frock, heels and an outrageous hairstyle takes it all to a new dimension, then keep it up for 2 hours plus! Not for the faint hearted!

The ugly sisters are often a bad, spiteful pair that give the audience someone to ‘Boo’ at, but their role is a difficult balance between humor and sinister, without being frightening and offensive.

Whilst the name of the Dame goes with the show that is being performed. Widow Twanky from Aladdin, Dame Trott from Jack and the Beanstalk, for example, the names of the ugly sisters change from show to show, moving with the times and poking fun at popular culture. Names such as Daisy and Buttercup were common names for cows in the 50’s, Tracy and Sharon were middle class names of the 80’s, to Hysteria and Hypothermia of the 90’s, it’s a part of drag culture that crosses over from panto.

The role of the principal boy is also one of skill, the part is that of a male lead, which is portrayed by a feminine girl, clad in a short tunic, showing her legs and dancing in heels. Indeed the femininity of the actress is paramount to that of the role.
The principal girl is often the damsel in distress of the show. She plays the love interest for the principal boy and has to dance and sing in a romantic setting.
Diversity at its best, portrayed in a popular stage play up and down the country every year, entertaining thousands of children and adults for over 200 years! 

The Plot
Yes what about the plot! Well take a well know fairy tail, add a large pinch of salt, throw in some elaborate costumes, add some corny jokes, some fun songs,  a wicked witch, the odd fairy godmother, a talking horse, and a big wedding finally, not forgetting a loud excited screaming audience of adults and young children – then you’re just about there! Mix this all together for about two hours and you’re done !
Its not possible to get any sense of the atmosphere of a performance on the telly, its one of those things that you’ve got to be there ! So if the opportunity arises, take the plunge and dive in to a panto, otherwise its always going to be just …. ‘behind you’ !   

For more information on pantomime, take a look at these sites where I got lots of help from:-
Danny LaRue Video 


Cross-dressing has some form of history in most countries. In the UK we have Shakespeare with boys playing girl parts on the stage, we also have pantomime where the principal boy is a girl, the dame is a duke and as for the sisters  - they are not all that they seem!

In Japan there is a long history of cross-dressing on the stage in the form of Kabuki and Noh plays, where the actors/actresses were treated as the rockstars of today are.

Noh predates Kabuki by over 200 years and has an long standing influence in Japanese culture. Meaning skill or talent, Noh originated in the 14th century and is very ridged in its traditional style and form.  This style has been maintained with traditional works performed today in the same style as when first conceived over 600 years ago. 
A traditional performance would usually last all day with 5 long set pieces with short light pieces in-between sets.
Unlike Kabuki, Noh utilises masks to denote certain characters and moods, with the female roles being undertaken my male actors. Traditionally the plays are only rehearsed once – so each actor and musician has to work independently on their performance, making each performance unique.

Kabuli is a much raunchier form of entertainment when compared to Noh, and has a much more tainted history. (Think opera verses Burlesque and you’ll get the idea!)

In the Japanese Kanji writing style, Kabuki means ‘Dance, Sing, Skill’ and became popular in the red light parts of Tokyo (Edo) and Osaka (Kamigata)in the early 17th century,  where it was the place for new fashions to be worn and where the trendy ‘in crowd’ of the day went to see and be seen. 

The Kabuki theatres were often lavish decorated buildings with many rooms with a traditional Tea House attached where food and drink were served, tending to the clients every needs. The patrons at that time were usually men, but later many women also attended, with half of the audience comprising of women from the 18th century. However  the Kabuli theatre was seen as a ‘bad place’ or house of prostitution, often being located in the brothel section of the outskirts of the cities, much like the early music halls were seen in the past here.

The performances were originally undertaken by women in the early part of the 1600’s, (Onna-kabuki) with women cross-dressing to play the male parts and imitate the local dandies seducing tea house girls, however, like in Britain, the shows were seen to be too erotic by the powers that be and in 1629 woman were banned from performing, leaving the stage open (literally!) for young boys to take their place. (wakashū-kabuki). 

The young actors playing female roles were called Onnagata, and were often chosen because of their looks and ability to pass as an attractive woman in the ‘raunchy’ parts of the plays. This was coupled with the male leads being handsome youths called wakashū. This also lead to problems as both sets of actors were available for prostitution for male and female patrons , (no wonder the authorities had a problem with the Kabuki theatres!) leading again to a ban on both the Onnagata and Wakashū for a period in the mid 1600’s leaving only mature male actors to perform in what is official called Yaro-kabuki. 

Like Noh, the performances at the Kabuki were an all-day affair, so areas for preparing food for eating and drinking during the show were also included in the building – think of it as the original ‘Dinner Theatre’!! (Debbi Reynolds would have approved!) The performances required the actors to present stage drama, singing and dancing, within the main three traditional styles of production.
The first style is the historical play – Jidaimono - that denotes parts of famous events in Japanese history and was used as a way of sublimely criticising the current ruling classes by using metaphors of what had happened in the past, thus confounding the censors at the same time.

As in all great music halls and musicals there is a need for a song and dance, take any of the Busby Berkeley musicals for example, Kabuki is no exception. Whilst not as restrictive in its style as Noh, the set dance pieces, Shosagoto, are a big part of the traditional kabuki repertoire requiring a high level of skill for the dancers to perform to a stylised dance form, where every movement has meaning.

The lower classes were not left out of the event, as with Shakespeare and countless others, there was a vast array of popular plays that denote love, family, strife and feud. These are the third style and known as the Sewamono or ‘domestic plays’ and had a wide ranging subject matter. There is even an often used plot that follows in a similar vein to that of Romeo and Juliet where true love cannot be shared in life, so both commit suicide to be eternally together.
The skill of the kabuki actor is often measured in their ability to hold a set pose denoting a character, event or emotion. This leads to audience participation and shouting out their appreciation during the performance. Indeed the whole setting for the kabuki is very different than in western expectations were the performance is held continually whist the audience are being fed lavish meals, served drinks and continually talking.

The costumes can only be described as awesome when compared to the comical outfits worn at pantomime. Full kimono of vibrant colours and bleached white make up create a stunning vision of female beauty, coupled with poise, and delicate coy movements to create a wonderful female illusion.

Modern Kabuli has evolved into a more stylised art form to maintain the traditional aspects of the art. There a frequent tours that play to packed houses, with actors such as Tamasaburo (
showing their traditional work and culture to new audiences  worldwide.
For more information, have a peek at the UNESO website to get an overall view of Kabuki.  

Dawn Wyvern


Timothy Clarke – 2013,  The Shock of the Scroll (Evening standard 3 Sep 2013 age 44-45) 

Humble Beginnings

As many of you know, we all have to start somewhere and this is my first jump into writing a blog, so bare with me and my misguided steps in...