Thursday, October 02, 2003

Strange Costume Choices

My post office apparently employs only 3 people. It doesn't matter what time I go there or how big a crowd could be reasonably expected, there's always at least a 20 minute wait.

So when I was there the other day I had lots of time to stare at the strangest drag queen I've ever seen.

I suppose I've actually seen stranger, but that's been part of their characters. It's all about context, and this was the Woodside post office, not Lucky Cheng's.

The tall, muscular African American man was wearing a small blue top with thin shoulder straps, matching hot pants, and blue high heels with white ruffled socks. On his wrists were a woman's gold watch and matching bracelet, and around his neck were 3 strands of pearls. This outfit would have been trashy and odd on anyone. It was like a bad costume designer's idea of a hooker from the 80s. On him it was simply odd.

I usually use female pronouns to describe drag queens/transvestites/transsexuals, as they are presenting themselves as women, but this guy couldn't have made less of an effort to disguise his masculinity. His most feminine feature (apart from his clothes) was his curly medium-length hair, which may or may not have been a wig. Otherwise, his body was extraordinarily visible: huge bare arms, clearly a man's torso under the tight shirt (he didn't have any kind of fake breasts), and the pants, well, they left little to the imagination. He wore no makeup. It seemed odd to me, but in a way I had to admire his guts in going out in this neighborhood like that...though he could probably beat up anyone who messed with him.

What really struck me, though, was that I seemed to be the only one staring. In this room full of mostly middle-aged, working-class immigrants, no one batted an eye at the man in inappropriate woman's clothes. But come on, pearls in the morning? At the post office??

I thought of this man again today when I got on the subway and saw a boy in full goth-parody drag. Like Marilyn Manson a few years ago. White face-paint with black lips and eyes, long dyed-black hair, a leather/pleather trench coat, safety pins in odd places, the whole nine. He was sitting next to a businessman in a three-piece suit who appeared utterly unfazed. As I settled on the train our eyes met, and I smiled. Almost laughed, really. I mean, he just looked so silly.

I don't think it was the reaction he was looking for.

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