Apparently, Blair Withers had always wanted to have a drag party.This year, Blair was turning 40, which proved as good an occasion as any. Keran and I initially thought about going as bride and groom. It was going to be pretty tough to get any other kind of dress to fit me, and Keran would have looked very cute in a three-piece suit with a little moustache. Turns out Blair wanted everyone dressed as a girl – girls included. Sadly, Keran as a drag-king was out.

Mitch Bartlett runs a store called Costume Boutique in East Brighton. We met Mitch six months’ previously at a dance party. The night we met Mitch, however, he was incarnated as Miss Man. It turned out Miss Man had just come from an acting gig; she played Wanda, a drug-addicted transgender prostitute in Underbelly: The Golden Mile. Anyway. I assume Miss Man felt it would have been a waste of looking awesome to just go home afterward, so she went out clubbing instead. Having the occasional need for costumes, Keran and I soon afterwards found ourselves at Costume Boutique. When it came time to dress up as a woman, Mitch was my natural choice as mentor.

There weren’t many options available; to start with, shoes were impossible. I still have ligament damage to my ankle, notwithstanding the fact that there aren’t a lot of high-heels around in a European 48. Mitch thought we should do ‘bride and mother-of-the-bride’ thing, which meant that I could wear the only dress in the shop long enough to fit, which would cover my Havianas. We tied some tulle around the straps and managed to make them look a little more, shall we say, ‘formal’.

Next was hair and make up. I have a terrible phobia about having anything near my eyes, so this was painful for both Mitch and I. I hadn’t realised before, but that eyeliner pencil goes RIGHT ALONG the shelf of the bottom lid. By my definition, that is IN MY EYE. After twenty minutes of blinking and flinching, it was done. I pulled on a wig and stood up so we could look at the results in the mirror.

“You know who you look like?” asked Mitch. “You look like Jessica Simpson in that ‘Boots are Made for Walkin’ video”.

Oddly, this remains one of the most positive compliments I have received in recent times.

Keran and I decided to drive rather than taxi to the ‘Oxford Lounge’, located towards the Toorak Road end of Chapel Street. It doesn’t take much time spent on this blog to discover that I have had some experience with fighting; imagine my surprise when a number of drunken English backpackers decided to pick a fight with me. Once, in Thailand, I saw a Ladyboy hand out a brutal thrashing to an American solider and it led me to believe that sometimes, nothing is better for some kinds of moron than a brutal thrashing at the hands of a man wearing make-up and a dress. While staring at the drunks, I deliberated the pros and cons. Certainly, I could have a good time at their expense. However, it was sure to have a detrimental effect on my dress, my hair, my make-up, and I could just imagine Keran’s little face staring tearfully through the bars of the police holding-cell, instead of having a good time at her best friend’s 40th birthday. We turned our backs and climbed the stairs to the entrance of the bar.

Once inside the Oxford Lounge, I was surrounded by people I could not recognise. A number of suspicious-looking ladies ran up to me; I still didn’t recognise them, until they told me who they were. The night progressed as very funny for the first hour, sliding further and further into various degrees of discomfort. My hair got in my eyes; my hair stuck to my lip-gloss. Flat shoes proved to be a gift, however; Michael was dancing madly in his three-inch heels and soon, both he and his partner Dan were sitting down, rubbing their feet. Stevie Fernando had peeled off one pink patent-leather stiletto and perched on a bar stool, massaging his arch.

“How do women dance in these things?” he complained. “My feet are killing me!”

Every man should dress up as a woman at least once. It gives you a genuine appreciation just how much women suffer to look good.    



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