Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Belle Without a Ball

So I had a bit of an odd night last night. What was supposed to happen was that I was going to go to the Drag Ball over in Burlington. I'd already gotten my ticket and had decided on an outfit to match the 1970s theme of the night. Halfway through getting ready I came to the conclusion that I wasn't actually going to go to the ball, and I ended up staying home. It was an odd conclusion for me to come to, because I haven't gone out in dress since VT Pride, way back in July. While I did miss going out, something just didn't feel right.

I realized that for what I was going through, it wasn't going to be worth it. There were basically a number of things that piled up to lead me to this conclusion. First there was the drive, two hours there and two hours back. It's a drive I've done before (same drive I made to get to VT Pride) but for a commute that long (plus driving back at night, which I hate doing) it has to be worth it. Then there was the event itself. I noted a few days before that while it's called a Ball, which implies sort of a social dancing type event it was actually heavily booked with performers. This probably meant that I'd be standing or sitting around watching other performers so their thing. I don't mind seeing other performers but I knew it was going to make me miss the stage, rather severely. Add on the fact that I didn't know anybody who was going to be there and it just didn't seem worth it. Driving two hours there to see other people do the thing that I wish I was doing while not knowing anybody and then having to drive two hours back. Yeah, so I stayed home.

Photo by my wife Laura

I wasn't depressed over the fact that I opted to stay home, more annoyed. I actually realized that I never was all that excited about the Ball to begin with, probably mostly because I wasn't going to perform in it. What I should have done when I heard about it was contact the organizers to see if there was a performance opening, like I had done with Pride. What I miss mostly about going out is what I used to do in New York, which was perform. So while going out in dress is inherently fun, that's not what I'm really missing right now. So I need to start jumping on the few opportunities that there are around here. I made up for not going out last night with a little photo shoot in the house this morning. The picture above is a sample image, the rest are going up on my flickr page over the next few days.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's in a Name?

They say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But would a dresser by any other name be as feminine? One of the first things any dresser who wishes to be seen (be it online or in public) has to do is figure out what they're going to be called. It's not as easy as you'd think, and I suspect that most dressers go through several names before they settle on one for good.

For myself I was an online dresser for few years before I started going out in public. During that time I would change my name almost every month, though I'd tend to come back to some of the same ones from time to time. When I got to the point that I felt I was ready to start going out I knew that I'd have to pick one and stick with it. One of the first ones that most dressers consider is the feminized version of their given male name, Danielle for Daniel is an easy example. That was something I considered for a time but ultimately it wasn't a viable option. You see the feminized version of my given name is the same as my wife's sister's name. We were dating around that time and she was well aware of what I was going through and was very supportive. However having me use the same name as her sister was just a touch too weird for her.

Photo by Melina Malice

Ultimately that was a good thing for me I feel, because for how I've come to approach and balance dressing in my life it helps to have a feminine name that bares no direct relationship to my given name. I've opted to keep my masculine life and my feminine life fairly distinct and seperate, so having a name that bleeds over into both areas probably would have made it more difficult to arrive at that balance. Of course not all dressers are as compartmentalized as I am and a name that is close to their given name, or a name that works for either gender which could be used all the time (like Alex or Chris,) might work very well for others.

Basically what I ended up doing in my case was literally sitting down and making a list, my wife also gave her thoughts and opinions on what I came up with. I'm still not entirely sure at how I settled on Vera. I know it turned up on the list because the Pink Floyd song "Vera Lynn" was running through my head at the time. Something about it just worked for me I guess, it was a name that felt unique yet wasn't bizarre. I had never met anybody named Vera, and neither had my wife, and that kind of helped. It was old fashioned yet didn't feel all that dated.

Wylde as a last name came a bit easier. I knew that I had an interest in actually performing on stage in drag, so I wanted a name that could function as both a viable stage name but also would work as an everyday name. Drag performers either tend to have campy over the top jokey names (Hedda Letuce and Mimi Imfurst for example) or rather ordinary ones (which usually comes from people who created a female persona first and then took it to the stage sometime later.) My aim was the land somewhere in the middle of that, not sure if I quite made it but I'm very happy with what I ended up with.