Halloween Drag Queens
What's the Fascination for Straight Men?
By Michelle Holcenberg

My friend Sarah is blond and quiet by nature. For Halloween the year Pulp Fiction came out she dressed as Uma Thurman's character, complete with a jet black wig and a bloody syringe dangling from her chest. That night she was tough, sexy and obnoxious, and got more attention than ever before. She had so much fun she wore the same costume again the following year, despite the fact that by then it was as passé as a Monica Lewinsky get up would be this year.

Like Sarah, for many people Halloween provides a welcome opportunity to let their hair down (or often, put it up). This often means tons of makeup, micro minis and hairy chests a go-go, as the holiday appears to have become amateur drag night for straight men everywhere. It's a sort of taboo-free night for busting out alter egos without the consequences such behavior might normally elicit.

The preponderance of fair weather transvestites - and I'm talking about stereotypically macho men, the ones who can often be heard making über macho protestations to make themselves sound so straight they could make a ruler seem swishy - has made me think about what's behind this fetish for fake boobs, dresses and lipstick, besides a lot of testosterone.

While I'm all for walking a mile in another woman's stilettos, I find it hard to believe that the motivation behind all this glam is actually about trying to understand how the other half lives.

In some ways these men seem to be making fun of women, but maybe what they're really doing is stretching femininity to the extremes and making a mockery of hyper-feminine depictions of women - the women's magazine ideal taken to mythical, larger-than-life proportions.

Perhaps the more obvious answer to all this gender bending lies in the fact that men are tired of being forced into societal roles that keep them clad in khakis and jeans and force them to keep their emotions in check. You know, to be "masculine." Maybe there's more than a little jealousy over the fact that women have more freedom in their dress and at least the perception of being able to express emotion without repercussion. Maybe straight men's inner divas are pissed at being subjugated for so long. They're scratching the itch on the one night a year when they can get all dolled up without their friends wondering if they've got a few wacky notions tucked into their padded bras.

Halloween is a chance to shake things up, turn social mores upside down, and for men to explore their feminine sides, or at the very least, grab their own fake breasts in public.

My friend Robert, who's gay and a sometimes drag queen himself, says Halloween is liberating because it allows people to adopt identities that are usually off-limits, especially in terms of gender and sexuality. He also says it's the one night when real drag queens take a holiday from pantyhose and coifed 'dos.

While he's all for straight men giving drag a go, he says if they want to use this night to dip their stocking-clad toes into the big ocean of cross-dressing, they better get some help and make sure they look pretty.

"Tragically, what it usually looks like when straight men dress in drag is that they got into Aunt Edna's closet and came out with a floppy hat, an ugly wig, bad makeup and a big floral dress," he says, having saved a number of first timers from such a fate. "And straight men can't walk in high heels. They walk like construction workers in stilettos."

Such fashion faux pas often conspire to help Halloween live up to its frightening reputation, even in the absence of witches and goblins. Six-foot-plus Carmen Mirandas and stubble-faced beauty queens have been known to inspire fear in many. But no matter.

When I checked in with Pippi Lovestocking, a famed drag performer, she told me she thinks the fact that straight men give drag a try is great, no matter how they look

"There's something liberating, risky and fun about becoming a different character."

Whatever the motivation behind some of the not-so-pretty gender bending that occurs every October 31st, and regardless of how many six packs it takes to slip into that plus-size evening gown, it's impressive that many men take the risk, because whether it's intentional or not, they're going to learn something.

It may be a better understanding of what it's like to be a woman in our society - having a man speak to your chest, getting hooted at by passing cars, and having your appearance commented on by any male who deems it his business. Or maybe how uncomfortable and annoying "feminine" fashion can be: think pantyhose, high heels, tight-fitting clothes. At the very least they're bound to gain an understanding of the virtues of MAC versus drugstore brands and having to worry about if their panty lines are showing or their stomachs are sticking out. As my straight friend Jeff learned during his two Halloweens in drag, "having to reapply lipstick is a pain."

Dig a little deeper and it's a chance for men to learn about themselves and gain a better understanding of people who are different from themselves. Bottom line, they'll find out that being a woman isn't always easy, but it can be fun - and may even be worth a try on some of the other 364 days of the year.

Come on boys, wear some eyeliner to the office, a bustier to the bar. You just might find you're man enough to pull it off.

l Scary Stuff

Scariest Trail of Terror. Friday-Saturday: Tours begin at dusk, end at midnight.Sundays and Oct. 25, 29-31: dusk to 11p.m. Jacobson Park, Richmond Road. For 12 and younger, parental discretion advised. $8.
Ghost Walks. Oct. 25-28, 31. White Hall State Historic Site, 500 White Hall Shrine Road. Richmond, KY. Reservations only, $8. Call 859-623-9178.
Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Midnight Horror Movies: Oct 26-The Exorcist, Oct 27-The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Nov 2-3-Killer Klowns from Outerspace.
Halloween Walk with the Animals. Oct 26-27, 6:30-9 p.m. Salato Wildlife Education Center, 1 Game Farm Road. Frankfort, KY. Carnival atmosphere and costume contest. $3 800-858-1549.
Special showing of Nosferatu at Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St. Oct. 31, 8 p.m. Feature will include Jim Barton on organ. $10. 231-6997.
Fourth Friday Halloween Bash and Costume Contest. Oct 26. 6-9 p.m. Lexington Art League Loudoun House, 209 Castlewood Dr. Live music, Catering by Max & Erma’s. 859-623-9178.
Dunbar Community Center Haunted House. Oct 27, 6-8:30 p.m. 545 North Upper St. Free. 288-2941.
Charles Young Community Center Halloween Party. Oct. 31, 5-7p.m. 540 E. High St. Music, games and prizes. Ages 5-15. Free, 252-1955.
Trick or Treat Trunk Fest. Oct 27, 6-8p.m. Victory Christian Church, 148 Victory Ave. Trunks of cars are decorated and church members give out treats to children under 12. 266-4231.
Haunted Forest/Z-Maze. Catalpa Loop Road, Richmond. Oct 22-25, 7-10p.m., 26-27, 7-11p.m., 29-31, 6:30-11p.m. Adults-$6, Children (10 and under)-$1. 859-623-8753.

Halloween Drag Tips for Straight Guys
By Sioux-zanna Danielle

So, it's drag is it? Well, let's see, uh, drag for straight men on Halloween? It helps to have a few gay friends for hints, clues and the occasional consultation. Gay men are, of course, known for good fashion sense and style. If the straight guy is cool enough to accept the gay friend then chances are he'll easily take advice. If not, much ridicule and "itsy, bitsy, teeny weenie jokes" will follow. Why, you ask? Because in most cases the gay friends are really friends of his wife or girlfriend and you know she talks about what goes on in the bedroom.

That said... let's talk men in drag! Halloween, as a holiday, is second to none in the "do whatever makes you feel good" category. Obviously, putting on a dress makes many a straight guy feel GOOD. It must have something to do with the pantyhose!

My best drag tips:

1) Don't wear blue eye shadow. It was tacky then and it's tacky now.

2) Guys, go ahead and shave the beard or mustache. It doesn't get any worse than a man in his girlfriend's old prom dress with whiskers!

3) Stay away from heels. I try to only wear 5" platforms, but first-timers should be careful. Do you have any idea what stilettos, a straight man and a twelve pack spells? Two words... Emergency Room.

4) Stick with what you know, i.e., don't try and go as a historical female figure or anyone in the political arena. It's much safer and you'll have more fun going as the "3-D Hollywood" babes you've watched on USA. Keep in mind, these are the same women who could probably kick your butt in or out of drag!

5) Don't get advice from your wife or girlfriend. Like I said earlier, drag requires a gay influence. Sure your wife or gal pal puts on make-up, but it's not drag. Female Impersonation is an art form, it deserves to be treated with respect. I recommend going to see a few shows at the Bar Inc. or Club 141 for tips on make-up and clothes. Besides, as a friend of mine observed, "drag is really the gay kabuki." Kabuki is an ancient form of theatre and don't think men haven't been getting in drag ever since the first swishie caveman scraped a bit of charred bone across his eyebrows. RESPECT drag in all it's many forms and have fun!

I've come to believe drag is wonderful therapy for easing the tensions of everyday life. Hey, I've tried everything from the couch-trip to the antidepressant and nothing works as well as putting on an inch of pan stick and a wig! I think drag, for the most part, is all about escape from the mundane monotony of life. Perhaps doctors should perscribe drag for a week and see how things go. Gee, just think of the change in office dynamics!

Sioux-zanna Danielle can be seen at Club 141 on a farely regular basis - usually two weekends a month. Call ahead and see who's performing.