Tuesday, 2 December 2008


You only realise how shallow you really are when, instead of going, as planned, to watch a moving and thought provoking film about selflessness and love in a war torn country, you go at the drop of a hat and without hesitation to a transvestite revue, leaving in your wake a bewildered husband, five hungry children and a crop in the field.
It doesn’t take much to persuade me to enjoy the camper side of life. What is there not to love about high heels, spangles, diamante and wigs? Throw in some fine food, several glasses of wine and the company of excellent woman and you have yourself all the ingredients of a perfect night out. I wonder if it is a purely British thing, this love we have for cross-dressing? I can’t think of any American equivalents to Danny La Rue and Hinge and Brackett; neither do they have gender bending pantomime dames and principal boys in the States. Australia of course introduced Dame Edna to the world, but given that the Queen is head of state, then I can safely suggest that a British influence has had something to do with Ms Everage’s dubious femininity.
The Barbican Theatre is a terrific venue for such a night out. Tucked away in the back alley of a part of Plymouth steeped in history, it did make me giggle as I stood outside the theatre teetering on my high heels on the uneven cobbles, on America’s Thanksgiving eve, thinking, ‘What would the puritanical pilgrims think if they could see me now?’ These Pilgrims considered 1620 England a place of moral rack and ruin, so it tickled me to imagine them walking these same cobbles before fleeing on the Mayflower to a new life. They were prophetic. Here I was almost 400 years later mingling, on exactly the same spot where they’d prayed for a purer world, in the company of the more, how shall I put it, decadent of society.
I’d had no time to at all to worry about what to wear to such an event and in the event, got my red high heels out of their box for another outing. Mercifully, having had a lift with Mags, walking was limited to getting out of the car to the cash-point and climbing the hill to the theatre, so my toes were fairly intact all night, although being oh, so very tall in the shoes, I was asked by one young wit if I was appearing in the show. There was a time in my life when I would have died of mortification at such a comment and run to the loos to see if indeed I looked like a big hairy bloke but these days, being older and bolder, I stand tall, shoulders back and think of a wittier riposte, which on this particular occasion was to lean down – these types of men are always far, far shorter than I and whisper into his ear, “Listen mate, these puppies are for real” before turning on my stiletto and walking away.
Mags and our friends were already seated and if for one minute I’d thought that Plymouth was full of fashionably challenged folk clad in Primark’s finest then I was gladdened to discover that there are Plymothians out there who buck the trend for overly tight trousers and ‘muffin tops’ (an expression to describe women whose bellies hang over the tops of their waistbands like an muffin over its casing) by wearing what can only be described as ‘theatrical’ garments. My shoes were not in the least bit out of place in this blurred environment and I was even happier that I had my best, most sparkly earrings dangling from each lobe. Mags was resplendent in crushed velvet, glitter twinkling on her cheek bones and Ellen’s embonpoint, literally spilled over her décolleté silk dress. There is no denying that we most definitely looked a right bunch of, and I mean this kindly, fag hags.
We were enormously entertained once the show started but a couple of things were questionable. For instance, whilst there was no refuting the sex of three of the performers, hell one was almost simian so hairy was he, one of the ‘girls’ however, really did look like a girl. Either that or I’d very much like the phone number of her plastic surgeon because I have never seen breast augmentation that realistic before, I mean these babies wobbled like the most gelatinous of jellies. They didn’t have that hard, obdurate way about them that silicone implants produce. I don’t wish to sound like an expert but I’ve had to defend my own creations when Hubby has been found reading my Hello magazine, emitting such appreciative gems as “Cor! Look at the pair on her” and I’ve been most indignant in pointing out, “Really? They’re fake”.
So, was one of them a girl? Her bosoms were fervently discussed during the interval when I went outside to stand amongst the smokers. I have overhead and at times joined very interesting conversations with strangers outside public buildings since the smoking ban. Birds of a feather, as they say, flock together and whilst I don’t smoke anymore I do still love the smokers, they seem to have a more gung-ho, optimistic attitude to life which, in the current climate, is most welcomed.
Not knowing whether it was a he or a she begs the question, could anyone of us, especially those of a taller, more ambiguous disposition try our hand at this form of entertainment, especially seeing as their routine of high camp songs were lip-synched. Now whilst I had great fun, there was no discernible talent required. We never heard their voices, they didn’t dance, and they didn’t write the songs. All that’s required to succeed in this business is a limitless dressing up box, daring and some chutzpah, often and rather ironically referred to as, balls.


Jen Ballantyne said...

sounds like such a fun night out Alice, I have found myself at one of those nights in Melbourne before (long story but funny) and had an absolute ball! I too am very tall (175cms) and got mistaken that night for one of 'them'. I did feel a little worried that I'd forgotten to wax my lip that week however under close surveillance in the bathroom all was well in that department...take care sweet J.

Mary Alice said...

And you didn't invite me? I could do with a night out amongst the drag queens.

Anonymous said...

I was still cracking up over the Kenny Rodgers reference when my eyes darted over to the advertisements on the right-hand side of the screen... they were nearly as funny as your post.
So glad you've gotten more use out of those red shoes. :)

Sally said...

What a laugh. Loved your comment to that man! Being tall must have great advantages at times.