Friday, December 28, 2018

All Play and No Work Makes Jack a Dull Girl

Lavern Cummings
I received an e-mail from Carollyn in response to my "who would I want to femulate?" post. She picked female impersonator Lavern Cummings as the woman she would femulate.

Carollynn wrote, "She was amazing and an icon among the female impersonators. I could never imagine, when I was a teen, how beautiful a man could be when dressed as a woman... and what a performer too."

I was similarly amazed as a pre-teen when I first saw photos of the female impersonators in newspaper ads for New York City's Club 82. Today, having achieved a somewhat passable female presentation myself, I am less amazed. It is just a lot of hard work.

Just like anything else, if you want to achieve something, you have to work at it. To be a successful femulator, just putting on a dress and lipstick will not cut it. You have to study the subject thoroughly, practice what you have learned in your studies, then go back and study some more.

Just like a woman, you have to become an expert in cosmetics, fashions, hair care, etc. You have to follow fashion trends and read fashion magazines.

In addition, as a man trying to be a woman, you have to become an expert in impersonating a woman and learn all the tricks on how to hide the guy and bring out the gal. And once you achieve the look of a woman, you have to learn how to act, walk, move, speak and have mannerisms like a woman. And you have to practice, practice and practice some more.

I am sure that Miss Cummings did not become a femme fatale overnight  she had to work at it.

And yes, it's a lot of hard work. But the first time a woman compliments you on the way you look or when a man makes a pass at you, you will feel wonderful beyond compare and know it was worth it.

(Caveat Emptor: This post is a rerun from September 2015.)

Source: MatchesFashion
Wearing Burberry sweater and skirt (Source: MatchesFashion)

Julian Eltinge
Professional femulator Julian Eltinge, circa 1922


  1. Yes Stana! Getting a “Good morning, ma’am” when you walk into a store makes it all worthwhile!

  2. If only I could look as good as the two professional femulators

  3. I have to hope that I can Femulate as well as the pros. I know my finances limit my access to "good" products and "makeup training" is out of the question! My wife about killed me when I spent my birthday money on a dress and earrings for Halloween. Makeup isn't cheap and my application skills are close to amateur. I can do mascara, foundation and lipstick. I almost think for me the natural look will have to suffice.

  4. Heather I am the same financially
    The "pros" can afford the best advice and makeup
    The ones who appear in movies have all the skills of the studio make up department to make them look good

  5. I first saw laVerne Cummings in 1954, it was during her final days with The Jewel Box Revue. Until then I had only seen the occasional photo in "Confidential" magazine. I hadn't yet found the newsstand with more CD/TG content. All of a sudden there they were -- in 3-D! The showgirls were fabulous, and LaVerne was the most beautiful of all. Back then she worked with her natural long hair.

    Of course the girls looked fantastic. They were professional showgirls and had all the makeup and assistance they needed to be beautiful. And we know most of them had paid their dues in clubs and bars with drag shows. They had to do their own makeup and worked very hard at perfecting their look and female persona. I think LaVerne was one of those prodigies who just looked like a girl from the start and had a lovely natural soprano voice. I wish she had written an autobiography to tell us how she perfected her femininity. She moved like a woman, and with her natural hair could move around away from the stage undetected. The only way to tell she was not a woman was that she was in a Female Impersonator revue.

    Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the spectacle of all those beautiful showgirls and the stunning LaVerne Cummings. Let's just say, "I was stirred" by LaVerne. The show started my love of Drag, which continues to this day. It took quite some time before "Mikki" actually stepped outside and into the light, I can certainly appreciate the amount of work all those Drag showgirls put into their presentation -- not just the paint, but the movement, the little "signs" that tell us so subtly, "That's a woman". When Mikki wants to make an impression, I seek professional help, as my own work is just barely above looking like I applied my makeup with a paint roller.

    Just to cap off my LaVerne story, my career led me into computers, and it closed out with many years with HP. I regularly visited San Francisco, and early on found my way to Finnocchio's, the world-famous Drag show bar. And who do I see as the star of the show???? Laverne Cummings! I can only count the times I saw her as "A LOT". I chatted with her on occasion. By then she was wearing wigs and had a side gig in retail. Eventually she retired from Drag and moved to Las Vegas. Last year she (Paul Cummings) was hit and killed by a driver who ran a light.

    When I think, "Drag", I can close my eyes and see the young and fabulously beautiful LaVerne Cummings on that stage in DC -- and me being "stirred". My years of seeing Drag shows and dressing have underlined the amount of attention to detail, and just plain work that's involved with our presenting as women. I know I'm "a man in a dress", and still I work hard to look as feminine as possible. While I don't pass, I don't want to be a parody. I have great respect for my female persona and work at being as presentable as possible. Girls, we have to roll up the sleeves of our blouses and focus on the work at hand. And as we do that work, we get better. We start seeing "that" woman in the mirror and we know why we put in the work to get where we are. You know, after all these years of work my brows are looking pretty fem!

    1. THANK YOU Mikki for your post and your memories. Well said. Connie Marie

    2. AnonymousMay 30, 2020

      I used to have a GG friend who ran a shop that sold bras and breast forms for women who'd had a mastectomy. She couldn't have been more sympathetic to me.. and she turned into a real friend. She told me once that creating the feminine illusion is all about mastering all the 1001 details - such that someone seeing me for for the first time would identify me as a woman.
      She said that it's not enough to put on a skirt and a blouse with some heels - I needed to examine myself from top to bottom and ensure that I was sending out a consistent female message. Sounds easy doesn't it - but it's like hill-walking - just when you think you've reached the top, you look up and see that there remains another slope to struggle up.
      She once made me up, lent me a few bits and pieces (a silk scarf, a necklace, earrings and a brooch and the difference was amazing.. it's the detail that does it.. That was the first time I ever looked in a mirror and saw a woman looking back at me. I'll never forget that as long as I live.