When I was 18 years old I met Alan, who had a passion for cross-dressing. He was a friend of my girlfriend’s friend. When I first met him he was a shy, young man , hidden away in the back of a little table in the corner of a Latin night club for gay men. I was there to see the flamboyant and dazzling display of the drag queens in all of their glittering, larger than life glory!
Alan was not a drag queen, a transvestite or even gay. So why was he at “Esculita” that night? He was a sad, confused man with a strong desire to explore cross-dressing, but he had no idea of how to go about it.He was wearing a baseball cap with a blonde curly wig that came just below his shoulders, and had pink blush on his cheeks. I found his natural male look attractive and his attempt at being "femme" a little pathetic. Our friends, all “butch” girls who were in the club that night, teased and probed Alan. They could not understand why he didn’t just throw on a dress and make-up. The problem was that he did not own any girl clothes, and did not know how to apply make-up. Since he lived close to me the girls decided that I should feminize him. I had no idea that twenty years later I would be helping cross-dressers as a career.
Alan began visiting my house while my parents were at work. I would let him try on my clothes, and I would apply make-up to his sweet young face. Then we would drink wine and watch movies in my bed. We did not have a sexual relationship,per se; we were more like a brother and sister.
One night he was begging to go to the club "dressed." So we threw some things into my beat up little Chevette and drove into New York City. Our friends went ahead into the club and I attempted to transform Alan into “Angel” in the car (in the dark). I did not have the knowledge and skill then that I do now, and I realized, when we arrived at the door to the club, that it was silly of me to think I could pull off a decent transformation.
The bouncer at “Esquilita” was a muscular, handsome and straight black man with a great sense of humor. But this time he was not smiling. “He can’t come in here like that!” he barked. “What’s wrong?” I asked naively. “No, no way, he is not allowed to come in dressed like that.” Defeated, we walked back to the car. Alan removed the socks from his bra, along with the blouse and skirt that looked as though we painted it on. In the backseat of the cramped and tiny car he changed once again into his jeans and tee shirt. He traded the black patent leather heels for sneakers, which was a good thing because he walked with heavy flat feet like Frankenstein in heels. We decided to try the door again, with boy clothes, a lighter lipstick and the baseball cap over the wig. The bouncer approved, and after a light pat down and cover charge we were in.
What a foolish girl I was; I did not know about breast forms, so I didn’t think much about the lumpy sock look. I did not have knowledge of theater make-up and beard cover then and could not understand why my foundation just did not do the trick. I realize now that I was just as ignorant as he was when it came to making a male look like a female.
Over the last twenty -odd years my life has taken many twists and turns, and it has lead me to some interesting places. I have married, more than once, raised children, had a successful career as an educator and administrator ,and met many interesting, intelligent and helpful mentors. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that any of it would lead me to where I am today. After Alan other cross-dressers and transsexuals came into my life at different times. I loaned them clothes and gave them make-up tips and encouraged them any way I could because they were my friends.
When I met Nikkie my life began to change. Nikkie is a transsexual from Texas whom I first met on-line, then in real time, when she was in New York on a business trip. She is a beautiful, sexy, graceful, well educated and well dressed T-girl with class and style. She told me how she ran a part-time business out of a rented apartment on the weekends. She was paid to transform guys into girls then she would take their picture or escort them out for the evening. I was fascinated! I couldn’t believe people wrere actually getting paid to do what I loved doing for free. I interrogated Nikkie that night trying to learn as much as I could about her business and she was very open and honest with me. When she returned home we began e-mailing each other and I asked her for advice on starting my own transformation business. I also began reading about cross-dressing (CD) and transgender (TG) issues. I was surprised at how large the CD/TG community was in the United States. I started looking into gender studies at the university, joining associations, attending conferences and local parties and getting to know more and more CD & TG girls. I studied make-up manuals by famous stylists to the stars, as well as instructional books on make-up for theater. I began practicing on anyone that could sit still long enough. The more I learned the more I realized I had to learn.
Cross-dressing and Transgender studies became such an exciting hobby for me I was telling everyone about it. Friends and relatives started sending me links to websites, clipping of news articles and calling me when anything remotely related was on TV. I also studied photography, especially techniques for posing females. By far the most exciting and pleasant part of this research was listening to these girls tell their unique stories. Almost all were filled with hope and joy, although most stories started with pain, guilt and tremendous loss.
I began to hear and learn from my clients and friends of the valuable service I was providing, and they were not referring to the make-up lessons. I was offering them a service that was greater than even I realized. They told me they needed and appreciated me because I am a good listener, a gentle and honest advisor, and most importantly I give them the unconditional love and acceptance they often can’t find anywhere else. I allow each individual to be who they truly are. I offer them a safe place to express their feminine side. I give the support, advice, guidance and education we genetic girls (GGs) receive throughout our lives from our mothers, sisters and girlfriends. Some CDs have told me I am a mentor and role model for all things feminine. Some tell me they are stunned, thrilled and very grateful to have me in their lives. That is why they treat me like a Queen.
To get my business started I recruited local volunteers I found on the internet. I offered a free transformation with photos to the first six people who agreed to allow me to use their pictures on my website. Some did not allow me to use a “before” picture of them in male mode, but a few did and that I was all I needed. Today, the majority of those volunteers are my nearest and dearest friends because they knew I was genuine and sincere in my caring and attention.
My business started to grow by word of mouth and I was longing to invest more time in building it. My “real” job changed and I was dissatisfied with my new work. It was boring and taking up time I would rather spend doing the work I love. So I dove into research on marketing, advertising and building a business. Now a year after I launched my first website I am doing what I love full time. It is not yet as profitable as my “real” work was, but what a joy it is to get out of bed every morning feeling excited by all of the possibilities of the new day!
Lady Ellen is the Owner and Operator of Le Femme Finishing School, Studio and Spa the only full service transformation and education center for the cross-dressing and transgender community in New Jersey. www.LeFemmeFinishingSchool.com