Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Skirt Chasers

Lets face it, the holiday of Purim really has nothing to do with the its supposed biblical source. I have no doubt that it predates the book of Esther, and was probably adopted from the very Persians who are vilified in that text. Jews, like persians, need at least one day a year to break loose. Catholics need one too, and have thus invented carnival.

Both Carnival and purim allow grown ups full freedom to choose a diguise and fulfill a fantasy (much more so than Haloween, which is mostly identified with kids) It should come as no surprise that both holidays are heaven for anyone who's interested in playing with gender identity. I love doing that, so it's a big shame that I'll be away for business on the holiday this year.

Stuck as I am in my boring, bearded, male persona, the least I can do is give my readers a Purim gift, a "mishloach manot", if you will. Thus, I decided to honor this earth's true masters of disguises and pay homage to a handful of great female impersonators

When looking for "female impersonator" on wikepedia, one gets automatically directed to "drag queen". In my understanding, this isn't precise. Drag queens exaggarate female attire and behavior, creating in a sense a third, comical gender that can be used to express gay notions, humor and critical content. Female impersonators are about illusion. Their art is tromp l'eoil, and it's an ancient art. check our this poster from 1896.

Even this guy is rather pre-stonewall. In his day, Julian Eltinge was such a star that he gave a commend performance before the king of England. I read somewhere that in preparation for his act he used to go as far as shaving the backs of his fingers. Eltinge was probably straight, and acted in several films as a man.

Fernando Marcano is one of the most beautiful women in Venezuela and a sort of a national symbol, well, if you're gay in Caracas, I guess, or otherwise a drag addict.

And here is Germany's Chris Kolonko. I happen to have met him face to face here in Tel-Aviv just recently, so I can tell you the airbrushing of this photo was completely unneccesary, the man makes a great woman in real life.

I couldn't help but finish the tribute with the picture of a real woman. This photo of a drag king is by talented Canadian photographer Tanja Tiziana. Drag kings, like drag queens, tend to take the portrayal of the other gender to an extreme. They have less of a choice, though. Women in convincing drag tend to look young. Playing it rough prevents them from being mere "drag kids". This one pulls of a nice look, without painting on a moustache.

These people are the answer to the whiny Israeli children's song: "why doesn't Purim happen twice a week." why? because we don't let it. Those who made Purim their profession enjoy it often. If this is indeed a day in which we break societal conventions and bounderies, then these are some subversive personalities, role models for our opressive day and age. Keep that in mind when you choose a costume this year.

1 comment:

homefris said...

Hi Yuval! Just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed reading your blog again. I'm intrigued my your "third gender" thoughts, and whether this third-ness could, in fact, make a spectrum or a non-categorization instead of a one, two and three division.

Hope things are going well for you!