Thursday, August 1, 2013

Uncle Sam Wants You... To Wear A Dress

Years ago, when I began collecting images of femulators, I was surprised to discover that there was lots of femulating in the military, both in the military of the USA and other nations.

The military femulations fell into three categories:

- Prisoners of war femulating to entertain their fellow prisoners

- Sailors femulating during crossing-the-Equator ceremonies

- Personnel attached to military theatrical productions who femulated to entertain the troops

Which reminds me of an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which Rob Petrie (Van Dyke's character) recalls being attached to Special Services in the Army. During that stint, he was the Special Services boxing champion. To attain that status, one of the soldiers he boxed against was a female impersonator.

But none of those categories explains the snapshots I have of one of my relatives in an Army camp in the Hawaiian Island during World War II wearing a grass skirt and a bra top.

During a recent Internet interrogation, I found an enlightening article, "Cross-Dressing in Military Theater" by Stephan Likosky, which provides a history of military femulating. The article is the last one on this page - scroll down past three-quarters of the page to find it.

By the way, according to the article, "Today, drag performances are no longer permitted by the United State Armed Services."


 German prisoners of war performing in an American prisoner camp during World War II.

American and British sailors femulating during crossing-the-Equator parties.

A British military troupe who performed en femme during World War II.



Source: DailyLook

Wearing DailyLook.


  1. Surely you recall the scene in "South Pacific" when Nelly Forbush sings "Honey Bun" (in male drag) and is then joined by Luther Billis (Ray Walston in the movie) dressed in a coconut-shell bra, grass skirt, and blonde wig?

  2. There was a very serious academic article in the august American Historical review back in 2006 (I think) by Alon Rachamimov about Austro-Hungarian PoW theatre in Russia durning WW1 which majored on the femulation side. I think you can Google it. There's a particularly gorgeous photo of one of the stars of that theatre in full Salome fig- I can send it on if you'd like!

  3. Thanks so much for this post! My dad was a Navy veteran of WWII. After he passed away, while going through some of dad's papers, I found a couple of photographs from a show. I think from the date on the photo, it was taken somewhere in the Pacific. To my utter surprise, dad was a member of the cast and he played a Navy Wave. He was completely dressed up! I had no idea dad had ever femulated. I'd love to share the photo, but I can only imagine that there was a reason dad never shared it with me or my siblings. I wish I could know if mom even knew.

  4. Although openly gay and lesbian personnel are now to permitted to serve in the U.S. military, this in not true for crossdressers and transexuals. Unfortunately, They can expect to be discharged immediately upon discovery.

  5. That was a interesting article from the 'post card blog'. I wonder when and why the military no longer permits drag performances.