Friday, July 31, 2020

Setting Makeup

Sally Stone has kindly written a series of articles about makeup and makeup application that is specifically targeted for girls like us. The fourth installment of her series talks about setting your makeup after applying it.

By Sally Stone

If you don’t set your makeup or don’t do it properly, all of that hard work isn’t going to last. Setting makeup is important because it keeps that painted-on face from moving around or running off. Think about it: you are applying makeup to warm skin. Body heat alone is enough to ruin a good makeup job if it isn’t properly set. Effective setting can also delay makeup breakdown as the result of warm weather or humid conditions.

If all of your makeup products are powder formulas, you can wait to set your foundation after all products are applied. If you are like me, however, and use liquid foundation and crème contouring products, it is important to set those before applying powder blush and powder eye shadow, as those applied over unset liquids or cremes will not blend properly.

There are two common ways of setting makeup. One is to use a setting spray. The other is to use a setting powder. The way you apply your makeup will determine which method works best for your specific needs. I actually use setting powder and setting spray combined. Here’s my routine:

After putting on my liquid foundation and crème contouring products, I use a translucent setting powder to initially set them. I recommend translucent setting powder over tinted formulas because translucent powder will not alter the shade of your foundation the way tinted setting powder can. Using a tinted setting powder can also make the face look pasty and unnatural.

I begin the setting process by using a powder puff to press the powder into my makeup. Once the powder is on my skin, I very gently work it in using a soft powder brush. I twirl and lightly press the brush as I work the powder in. Again, you want the setting powder to get down deep into the pores to be effective. Then I use the same powder brush to remove any excess powder. Be sure to wipe away the excess setting powder very gently to avoid damaging the foundation as it takes a few minutes to achieve the full setting effect.

When I have finished setting my foundation and contouring, I then apply my powder blush and eye makeup. After all my makeup is on (including lipstick), I very lightly spritz my face and neck (with eyes gently closed) with setting spray. Avoid any heavy applications of setting spray because too much can actually cause streaks and runs in your makeup.

Setting can also be accomplished in layers, which is important if, like me, your makeup consists of a combination of powders and cremes. I recommend setting one type of makeup before trying to apply the other type over it.

Ultimately, setting makeup is a critical component of any makeup regimen. I’m actually still amazed that many cis-women don’t set their makeup at all. In my humble opinion, it is one makeup tip that is necessary for cis- and trans-women alike. And if done properly, set makeup can look as though it was just applied, no matter how long your day has been.

Source: Venus
Wearing Venus

Men, circa 1960
Men, circa 1960

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Sally Stone has kindly written a series of articles about makeup and makeup application that is specifically targeted for girls like us. The third installment of her series deals with foundation.

By Sally Stone

Artists will tell you that in order to create a masterpiece it is important to have the right canvas. Where makeup artistry is concerned, the canvas is just as critical to a perfect face as it is to a perfect painting. Foundation is makeup’s canvas and if we don’t get it right, anything else we put on it is likely to fall short of our expectations. In my opinion, foundation and more specifically foundation applied correctly, is the single-most important component of a makeup routine.

File ID 132198382 | © Dmytro Zinkevych |
When choosing foundation, there are several characteristics we should consider as important: how well/easy it is to blend, is it buildable, what level of coverage does it provide and finally what shade/color is it? Other considerations like “is it long-wearing” or “what kind of finish does it provide” are not particularly important to me because I create my own wear and finish characteristics when I set the foundation.

Blend-ability: A good foundation is easy to apply and blend. To get blend-ability, I use creme formulas. They generally go on easily and they are compatible with the crème contouring products I use. I don’t use powder-based or waterproof foundations because in my experience, they don’t blend as well as non-waterproof cremes.

Buildable: Foundation must be buildable. This is important because building foundation in very thin layers until you just cover the targeted flaw is the only way to get a natural looking result with full-coverage formula.

Coverage: If you have perfect skin and facial features that are decidedly feminine, you can probably get away with a foundation that offers minimal coverage. For many of us, though, we are going to need a foundation that can effectively hide flaws and help to overcome some of skin characteristics that come from being born male. This usually means we will need a product offering full-coverage. The good news is that full-coverage doesn’t have to mean heavy or unnatural. In fact, with the proper formula and the right application, full-coverage foundation can look just as natural and beautiful as those sheer formulas do. I get great results with full-coverage foundation, so it has always been my go-to formula.

Full-coverage foundation can be grouped into two general categories. The first group is designed for serious concealment, hiding major flaws. Dermablend Cover Crème and Mehron Celebre Pro HD are super-pigmented and can cover flaws like birthmarks and tattoos. The second group is still full-coverage, but these foundations are designed for general coverage. These include foundations like Loreal Infallible Total Cover, MAC Pro and Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer & Foundation. Any of these foundations are good choices and possess the characteristics we are looking for.

Shade/Color: The hardest part about choosing a foundation is finding the correct shade. Some makeup companies offer a dizzying array of shades, while others have a limited number. If you want a natural look, it is imperative you find a foundation shade that matches your skin tone. This can be difficult.

I had to resort to mixing shades (always of the same brand and formula). It was the only way I could get the brand I use to match my skin tone.

Another option is to allow a makeup specialist help you find the correct shade. This is a viable option, but be forewarned: if a specialist is trying to sell a particular product and their shade options do not exactly match your skin tone, they might end up recommending something that is only close.

Using a shade that doesn’t exactly match your face can still work, it’s just that using this option means you’ll have to apply foundation to all of the skin that frames your face. This means the neck and exposed chest area.

Most makeup sellers allow you to sample different shades and the back of the hand is perfect for matching the proper color. The back of the hand mirrors facial skin tone and tends to show the same tan level as the face. It is also the perfect pallet for mixing shades to find an exact match.

Putting It On

Begin applying foundation all over the face and neck. Start with a very light application. The key here is adhering to the “less is more” theory. Start by putting a few dots of foundation all around the face and neck, then with a stippling brush, work it into the pores using a combination pressing, swirling motion to ensure the foundation gets pressed deep into the texture of the skin. This is important for both coverage and staying power.

I find the stippling brush the best way to apply makeup to male-pattern skin texture because it provides the most coverage with the least amount of product. Many makeup artists will recommend letting foundation “cook in” after applying it, that is, it needs to melt down into the pores with the aid of body heat before being set. I have discovered that by stippling the foundation, “cooking in” is a completely unnecessary step.

Makeup sponges are popular with women for applying foundation, but in my experience, they do not get the product deep into the pores the way a stippling brush does. As a result, a sponge tends to result in sheerer coverage for the same amount of foundation applied.

After the first light layer of foundation is worked into the skin, reapply additional layers to areas that need more coverage. If possible, wait five or ten minutes between each layer to allow the foundation to dry. Add layers to the areas of beard shadow and areas of discoloration like birthmarks or dark circles under the eyes, but again, use just enough to cover to avoid the heavy or unnatural look.

Concealer can be used to deal with problem areas, but if foundation is built up properly, often concealer isn’t even needed. If concealer is necessary, I recommend applying it on top of the first layer of foundation and then applying just enough foundation over the concealer to ensure an overall uniform shade.

The cheekbones, forehead and eyelids get the lightest application of foundation, often only a single layer. Subsequent layers of foundation can be applied using the stippling technique ensuring it is blended really well. When finished, the entire face and neck should be a uniform shade ready for contouring, blushing, bronzing and all the other things that go on top.

Source: MatchesFashion
Wearing Madame Butterfly

Janek Traczyk femulates Slawa Przybylska on Polish television’s Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Makeup Prep

Sally Stone has kindly written a series of articles about makeup and makeup application that is specifically targeted for girls like us. The second installment of her series addresses prepping your face before applying your makeup.

By Sally Stone

Prepping the face for foundation is a process that begins way before sitting down in front of the makeup mirror. The daily facial regimen should include cleaning, toning and moisturizing and it’s important to do this even on the days when you won’t be wearing makeup, so that on those days you do, your face will be ready.

Another consideration for keeping your face ready for makeup is to use some type of wrinkle cream. I have used Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair for as long as I can remember and while I haven’t noticed any reduction in the wrinkles I already have, it is possible regular use has staved off any additional ones – who’s to say? What the anti-wrinkle cream has done for me though, is to significantly reduce the coarse appearance of my male-pattern skin and I believe this is the real magic of any anti-wrinkle cream.

File ID 94537684 | © Dmytro Flask |
The next part of the process is to ensure your face is free of facial hair. I won’t go into the various ways that you can make this happen, but obviously, being whisker-free is pretty much a necessity if your objective is to have a flawless complexion.

I moisturize every day, whether I’m putting on makeup or not, but I also moisturize right before I start applying makeup and just after shaving. On makeup days, I recommend a moisturizer that is formulated to wear under foundation. Generally, it should absorb completely into the skin and not feel greasy afterwards. Beyond it being compatible with your foundation, I can’t really recommend one brand over another.

Moisturizer hydrates and plumps the skin, which helps prepare it for makeup. You might be inclined to believe that because moisturizer is important you should use a lot of it. Actually, less is more. Apply just enough to cover the entire face and neck, but not so much that the skin can’t absorb it all. It will take a few minutes for complete absorption, but in the end, your skin should be a little dewy, but not tacky or sticky.

Next comes primer. For the longest time, I didn’t put much stock in primer. Perhaps my youthful skin didn’t need it, but as I’ve aged, primer has become my best friend. It really does help my foundation go on easier and adhere more firmly to my skin. Don’t be fooled into thinking primer has to be expensive to work well. It doesn’t. I rarely spend more than ten dollars for the primers I used and they have never failed me.

Most primers look like lotion, but do not apply them like lotion. Instead, press primer deep into the skin. You want it way down into the pores, not just clinging to the surface of the skin. It can be pressed in with the fingertips or it can be pressed in with a brush. I have a special stippling brush that I use only for my primer. And where primer is concerned, less is once again, more. Prime all of the skin where you plan to apply makeup and then let it dry completely. You’ll know it is dry when it is no longer tacky.

A lot of makeup artists actually mix primer in with the foundation. It could be that for male skin, mixing isn’t a compatible option because I haven’t had much luck with the method.

There is an additional prepping step that may be necessary for those that tend to have a darker beard shadow and that is, some form of beard cover. Those of us that still have facial hair, will always have some beard shadow even after a close shave. The darker or coarser the facial hair, the more noticeable the shadow.

Beard shadow can be covered with foundation, but if the shadow is pronounced, it will require a lot of product, which would ultimately look unnatural. The more effective tactic for dealing with beard shadow is to neutralize it, because neutralizing requires a lot less product. Beard shadow is blue, so to cancel it out, you need a color that lies exact opposite from blue on a standard color wheel. Blue’s counter-color is orange.

You’ve no doubt seen or heard of girls using red lipstick as a way of camouflaging beard shadow. It’s effective because red has orange in it. The problem with lipstick is it tends to be somewhat greasy, keeping it from blending effectively with foundation. Because of this, lipstick often leads to premature failure of the foundation it is blended with.

Orange concealer is sometimes not easy to find because it is not a color most cis-women need. Still, it is readily available from many online makeup vendors and some of the larger brick and mortar stores.

Apply the concealer sparingly, but be sure to cover the entire area where beard shadow is present. Then, using a stippling brush, work the concealer way down into the pores. Orange concealer is also perfect for hiding under eye circles or other dark areas around the eye. When the concealer is stippled in good and deep, let it dry, usually around ten minutes and then you are ready for foundation. The foundation tutorial will be in the next installment.

Don’t undermine your makeup routine by skimping on the preparation steps. If your objective is to have a flawless complexion after putting on your makeup, your skin must be in the best possible condition beforehand. Prep also contributes greatly to the ease at which your makeup goes on and it helps make it longer wearing.

Source: Rue La La
Wearing Rue La La

Hermann Thimig
Hermann Thimig femulating in the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria. which was remade as USA film in 1982 titled Victor Victoria.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Our Makeup Needs are Different

Sally Stone has kindly written a series of articles about makeup and makeup application that is specifically targeted for girls like us. The first installment of her series begins with this post and will continue over the subsequent posts.

By Sally Stone

This article is the first in a series about makeup usage and application techniques. Before we actually begin talking about makeup tips though, it is important to mention that our needs often differ from the needs of cis-women. What works for them, many times, isn’t going to work quite so well for us.

The first thing we need to realize is that makeup is generally designed for cis-women. That is, it is formulated to be used on female pattern skin, skin that is generally smooth and doesn’t possess much texture. Makeup is also designed to accentuate feminine features, not necessarily to camouflage male pattern features or flaws.

Makeup is also marketed and sold with women in mind, so a lot of the claims about what it can do are made based solely on the female face. As an example, one of makeup’s biggest selling points is that it provides sheer coverage. Okay, the fact that sheer coverage is an oxymoron notwithstanding, sheer makeup just isn’t going to work for most of us because we generally have more to hide. The moral here is that what makeup company’s claim their products can do usually has to be taken with a grain of salt when a transwoman is buying it.

That’s not to mean we can’t use female-oriented products; in fact, we pretty much have to. It’s just that we have to remember that the way we use makeup is quite a bit different then it is for cis-women. We want to transform skin that possesses male pattern characteristics into skin that looks decidedly feminine. It can be done if we fully exercise makeup’s transformative powers. To do this, however, we girls have to use techniques oriented more for our unique needs.

So, as you read these upcoming articles, keep in mind that the way I use makeup is going to be different from or a modification of,many of the cis-oriented techniques you’ll find on the Internet or in fashion magazines. Still, I have learned a tremendous amount about makeup and its application from cis-women; it’s just important to know how to adapt those techniques so they work effectively for us.

My intention is to demonstrate how to get the most out of your makeup and hopefully, the series will provide some insights on how to use makeup in ways that complement and enhance the male pattern complexion. Additionally, some of these makeup techniques could help you unleash the true makeup artist residing within.

Source: Moda Operandi
Wearing Balmain

Boy and girl attending Tuntenball

Monday, July 27, 2020

Shopping During the Pandemic

This came over the Mojo Wire from CBS News a few days ago:
Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant's corporate owner filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday, the latest retailer to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ascena Retail Group of Mahway, New Jersey, which operates nearly 3,000 stores mostly at malls, had been dragged down by debt and weak sales for years. As part of its bankruptcy plan, the company said that it would close all of its Catherines stores, a “significant number” of Justice stores and a select number of Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey stores.
That’s bad news for girls like us and all girls, in general. I shopped at Lane Bryant when I was heavier, at Ann Taylor when I was lighter and I will miss them both.

Meanwhile, DressBarn, which closed all its stores’ doors last year keeps on chugging along via the Internet.

Initially, their Internet offerings were blah and did not interest me. But lately, they have been showing some edgier clothing – a lot of it intended for younger customers. Seems that they are now selling clothing from other sellers. For example, the dress in the photo above right is from SukiSo. (Click on the boutique menu on the DressBarn website to see what I mean.)

Meanwhile, my femulating is still quarantined. There is no place for a girl to go to show off her girl! Frustrated by it all, I keep buying more clothes that I can’t wear out yet! Two new dresses from Venus should arrive today and a new dress from Haband should be shipped real soon now.

And so it goes!


Boys can can-can, too!
Boys can can-can, too!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Odds of Being “Chatted up”

Playing the Percentages
By Jeanine Williams
Stana asked her readers in her June 25 post to respond to Paula’s question about those of us who have been approached by men and what the results were, so I thought I would share some of my experiences as a T-girl who is out and about almost as much as Stana.
In the beginning, I used to avoid men as much as possible and if I entered a restaurant or bar by myself (which was uncommon) I would choose a seat that was as far away as I could as I was still trying to let my inner girl out and develop my confidence in public settings. 
As I became more assured of myself I didn’t worry about being read or passing (I don’t consider myself passable, but have found that I do blend in and people usually don’t take notice of me). I will sit where there is an open seat with the hope that another woman will be nearby to chat with. 
However, I have been chatted up by quite a few men and have had very few negative experiences. In fact, most have been pleasant and rewarding encounters and provided me with feelings of empowerment and affirmation of my feminine essence and energy. I’m reluctant to say “validation,” but I suppose that could be considered as well by some in our community who are seeking it that way. Personally, I’m not seeking too much “validation,” but have been more open to allowing myself harmless opportunities to express my femininity.
Before I describe some of my experiences with a bit more detail, I have figured out that men tend to fall into the following categories and percentages (Disclaimer: this is based on my experiences, yours may be quite different and certainly valid). I’ve found that 50% of men are oblivious to us; they are going about their lives, may or may not be enlightened about the transgender community and are not looking to meet women – most don’t present a threat but some may and we must, of course, be careful. That leaves 50% and they break down into 3 groups of about 17% each. 
The first group is men who have identified you as a woman (Woo Hoo!) and sit next to you or chat you up or otherwise indicate they are interested in meeting you. In my case, if the conversation goes past talking about the weather or whatever caused him to chat with me, I will then tell him “by the way, just so you know, I’m a transgender individual. I don’t try to deceive anyone.” (Or something similar depending on the encounter). At that point the alarm bells go off, the sheepish look appears on his face, a “umm, I didn’t know that, sorry to bother you, but hey it’s ok that you want to be you” or many other explanations including that “I’m only into real women,” so don’t be taken aback. Just smile and tell him to have a good day. Moreover, don’t be surprised if they just get up and leave; the rude ones will do that, whereas the gentleman may say, “Ok, thanks for telling me.” All of those responses have happened to me and only one was negative. 
So that means at least 67% of men are absolutely not going to be interested in meeting a transgender woman like you and me. So, on to the next group of 17 percenters.
The next group (#2) have figured it out. They have determined that we are T girls and are cool with it (some may be way to cool with it, so proceed with caution!). I have met quite a few men who fit in here and most of them identify as straight. They embrace the larger definition of femininity and appreciate the effort that we girls place on our appearances and demeanor. They will likely agree with the statement that, “transwomen are women.” 
I will admit that I have enjoyed meeting men like this; they provide an affirmation of who I am at that moment in my life. With that said, for the record, I’ve never gone beyond enjoying their company and compliments, but neither am I threatened by anything more significant than that. 
The man I’m sitting with at the recent Halloween event I attended (a “Tarts and Vicars” theme) falls into this category. He came with his wife and both were very accepting and aware of the transgender community. After his wife went to mingle, he affirmed that by asking, “Halloween costume or life style choice?” I was very honest and identified myself as transgender (I identify as gender fluid), got a compliment and we had a great conversation on many topics. He was not interested in me otherwise and I estimate that goes for the majority of men with whom I’ve interacted. Men like this are secure in their sense of self and are not threatened by people who are different, which I complimented him on – and he said, “thanks, you’re right.” 
On the flip side, this category very much includes the men who are attracted to you and may ask you out or be seeking a relationship. They will act and be motivated in the same way that most cisgender men interact with cisgender women. For them, you are a woman and they are attracted to the femininity you present. These men (as many men) are very visual – wear a nice outfit with heels, do up your hair and makeup and smile and these guys will be checking you out. 
In my case, I would say that 10 to 20 percent of the men I’ve chatted with were interested in me as a woman they would like to know better. These guys have given me opportunities to “get my girl on” so to speak and I admit that I have engaged in some mild flirting, which was fun for both of us.
I’ve had some very interesting and meaningful conversations with these men and have received my fair share of compliments. They were all polite, never did anything inappropriate, held the door for me, pulled out a chair, helped me with my coat and truly made me feel like a lady. There are several men I encountered more than once (like the manager of a bar that I go to for jazz night) who make a point of singling me out and asking how I’m doing and what I’m up to for the weekend.
I have told another bartender that when I’m sitting at his bar at the Sheraton in Duluth, that it’s like being on Free Parking on the Monopoly board. I’m in a safe place with a man who is totally cool with the trans community and can be myself without fear of going to Jail, paying rent or the luxury tax! I’ve been chatted up by quite a few guys at this bar and some know, some don’t and some spend more than a few moments thinking about it, and that brings me to the last group of 17 percenters.
These are the men who may have some degree of doubt about your gender identity. Maybe they want to get closer to confirm their suspicions or maybe they are interested and they overcome their hesitations because they see a woman they find attractive. I’ve had a few that will just come and stand next to me, some sit, some may say hello, but you can tell they are now trying to figure it out by the sidelong glances or the sound of my voice. It’s almost amusing, but you have to maintain your dignity and be ladylike. 
For me it eventually comes to a point that I let them know and then the outcomes can vary, but these are not like the men in group #1 who will be turned off – these guys will maintain some degree of interest and you can see them working through the news, of which they already may have figured out. I think many are working through the sexual orientation issues for themselves, “what does it mean if I don’t turn away or, what if someone I know sees me chatting up a man in a dress,” etc. It’s confusing for them!
I’ve had guys apologize and move on, or stay and chat for a bit so they don’t seem rude, or, and I think these are the most interesting encounters, some seem to come to an understanding with themselves that they are not gay, and they are talking with a woman, albeit a different kind of woman – and they eventually settle into chatting up the woman they found attractive! (Keep in mind the thumbs up ratio will increase if they’ve had a drink or two). 
I have used these opportunities to educate these men about our community during the course of our encounter and have had drinks bought for me as well. Hopefully, I’ve left them with something positive and have actually consoled a few who admitted an attraction to me and wondered why. I confirmed that they likely had very strong attractions to femininity and feminine energy and saw that in me and not to give it another thought. I said, “I consider myself a woman and it’s obvious you like women, so don’t beat yourself up” or some words to that effect. They usually feel better, say they were glad to meet me and we go our separate ways. 
Some of these men just want to talk with a woman. I was chatting with the manager of the jazz club I go to (who seems to fit in group #2), and when he had to leave, another guy moved right in and took advantage of the opportunity. He fit in group 3 – I think he knew, but he just wanted to talk and proceeded to tell me about his wife who had passed away and how difficult his relationship had been with her and I politely listened.
He seemed harmless enough, but I admit I was a tad uncomfortable with him because he stood rather close to me rather than sitting down and was quite tall, too. So, I wasn’t quite as charming as I usually am! I was glad when he left and then I struck up a conversation with another woman, which of course, lasted through closing time. 
My encounters with other woman are usually mutually beneficial and I’ve met with several on other occasions. It’s very comforting to be out and about with another woman or group of women and a lot more fun! Being around men can be tedious at times, but I have met several men who are interesting and enjoyed their company, too. 
I’ve always wondered if a guy I met, several years ago at the Sheraton knew – I never really had the opportunity to tell him because I was initially the third wheel in his conversation with the bartender, and when he went to serve another customer, I picked up where he left off and I never felt like I needed to say anything. I think that was one of the few times I would have accepted an offer to go and sit down privately and have a more meaningful talk. 
He was an attractive intelligent man with whom I felt entirely comfortable and he shared the conversation rather than dominating it. It did give me a bit of a flutter! Alas, we went our separate ways but he mentioned when he’d be in town again so that was yet another positive sign of approval. But for me, it was late April and that was the end of my feminine forays for my “girl seasons” – I went back in the closet til October. 
OK – so time to write about the times when the men I met were absolutely looking for more! I’ll start with the Oscar party that was held in a retro theater this past February. You can see more pictures – if you’re interested, Google then click on the first picture to see all the photos taken and see if you can figure out who my admirer was!
I wore this dress, which is just about the most incredible buy I’ve ever made, never thinking it would fit much less wear it out. Christmas shopping at a Walmart (please, no judgements) two years ago and this was hanging on a sale rack in the Juniors section for $9. So, what the heck, I bought it. Of course I need a corset, which I’m wearing – and I forgot my slim slip (which is why you can make out the outline from it), but it fits rather nicely, is clingy and sexy, but not overtly so and I added rhinestone earrings and bracelets. I received quite a few compliments from several women and the male hosts. 
I saw this guy making his way to me from the bar at the end of the party with two glasses of wine. He offers me one and the final “compliment” went something like this, “Jeanine you are absolutely gorgeous with great legs and if I wasn’t so drunk, I’d be all over you.” Well, alrighty then! Needless to say, I was so taken aback that I wasn’t able to respond right away, but eventually came up with, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to deal with that when you’re sober.” 
OK, girls, what would you have said and done? I will add that he was not threatening at all and actually was a very nice guy. I wasn’t offended and we spent about ten minutes talking during which he said something to the affect that “things are different now” to let me know that he knew and that “society is more accepting now of differences.” So he’s a keeper in group #2! I considered if he were sober, he would have been fun to flirt with to see what other compliments I could illicit, but I’d likely have kept my vanity in check - I guess! 
The professional photographer covering the event took this picture of me as well, just after Prince Charming graced me with his presence, so I thought I’d include it.
This was a fun event and I hope to go next year. This theater is welcoming to the trans community as is downtown Duluth in general. I’m looking forward to the re-opening of the Blackwater lounge this Fall (virus concerns permitting) as it’s my favorite place to go and listen to me friend Maxi Childs do jazz with her trio of men, who are also at ease with the transgender community. It’s always so nice for these guys to come up and say, “Hey, where have you been” and good to see you! The waitresses all wear black corsets and all of them seem to know what I like to drink, which is a chocolate martini – the glass alone just makes you feel sexy and the lighting is very conducive to passing. 
This is where, about four years ago, I was pretty much propositioned by a professor at the local university. That was interesting, but no harm done readers. His chat me up line (I was watching a basketball game) was, “So, do you have a horse in the race?” He was British and East Indian I believe. Chatted a few minutes, he settled in and I let him know my status, which didn’t seem to concern him and we talked for another 30 minutes or so. Nice enough, but other things on his mind and eventually my friend Maxi and her husband came by and rescued me from his clutches!
Here’s another example: I walked into the Blackwater one night a bit late, no tables empty except one with two bar stools and one man – so I asked if the seat was taken and he said no and waved me to sit down (I would never have done this 15-20 years ago). It was a good seat and Maxi, mid-song, waved to me as I took my chair. My companion then gave me the following compliment, “I don’t often see such tall regal looking women.” 
OK then, off to a good start, but I figured he may be in group #1 and didn’t know that this tall regal woman was not all she seemed to be. I was content to focus on Maxi, but he wanted to chat, so after the preliminaries, I let him know and he said, “Oh, ok. Well, it’s not like I was going to run my hand up your leg.” Uh huh! Sooo, once again I was at a loss for words and eventually managed to come up with, “Well, it’s not like that hasn’t happened before.” Yes, I know, what the hell was I thinking!
Anyway, a table for four with seat backs finally cleared. My new friend and I took it and about that time my friend Sue came to join me, so his possible advances ended and he excused himself about 15 minutes later. Therefore, he was placed into group #3. I’m sure he would have stayed if it was just me and him and I didn’t feel uncomfortable in his presence. I’ve accepted a few drink offers from men in similar circumstances, but have usually turned them down, particularly if I’m not sure of my surroundings.
Before I wrap this up, here’s a few more chat up encounters that I’ve had through the years. They vary depending on my level of confidence at the time they occurred. 
Many years ago, after I appeared with three other T-girls for a Denver radio show about our community, I went to the downtown Adam’s Mark hotel for a drink and to review my part of the interview. I was wearing my grey suit that I like to wear for professional presentations and, not to sound vain, I looked good. 
The bar was mostly empty and I was watching a World Series game when an older man walked in, took a look around, and quickly made his way to me. He pointed to his watch and then apologized for being late. To this day I feel badly because I just raised my eyebrows and sort of ignored him. He sat a few stools away and attempted to chat me up a few more times, but I was not very confident about engaging with men then, so I hardly spoke to him and he made a point of being disappointed and left. He obviously saw me as a woman and I suspect he would have been placed into group #1 when I told him, but who knows.
Recently, a bartender in Minneapolis, after chatting with him for an hour or so while he worked, said the following to me as he walked by me to serve another customer, “So, whose going to be taking you home tonight?” It was kind of a hit and run proposition!
After he came back my way, I said, “Regarding your last question, it’s still undecided!” Of course, I decided to go back to my hotel and left an hour or so later, but my last drink was on him so my “undecided” comment saved me a few dollars.
The creepiest contact I had was a guy who sat across from me at a bar in Minneapolis when I attended the Creating Change conference. After he asked if the seat in front of and facing me was taken he sat down and just stared at me. I asked if he was attending the conference and he shook his head (no) and I then let him know what the event was about and that I identified as transgender. He just nodded and softly said, “That’s OK.” I excused myself less than two minutes later with an “oh my” and a look at my watch!
As I look back on all my experiences though, I’ve had very few negatives. Most of the men seemed to enjoy being in my presence, indicated it was nice to meet me, the conversations were meaningful and I usually left feeling that I was accepted as a woman. A few men were disappointed that I wasn’t, but most were just fine with my identity and some obviously were seeking to become better acquainted. 
I’ve given that possibility some thought the last couple of years, but that’s likely the “road less travelled by” for me. Still, I’ve always been open-minded and if the circumstances were right, I wouldn’t rule out a romantic rendezvous with a man that I felt safe with. 
There is a provocative sultry side of my feminine spirit and soul where the femme fatale resonates, as I’m sure many of you can appreciate and I admit that it would be fun to let that part of my personality out (or, shall I say, “to let the Jeanine out of the bottle”). There should be no guilt here for those who share similar feelings; it’s just part of who we are and a part of embracing the woman within. For me, it would be kind of like taking a ride on the flume wave at Disney World – it could be a fun experience, but I wouldn’t spend all day in the park!
I hope my observations and experiences have been helpful. I wish all of you well in your respective journeys – for some of us, like me, it’s at the pace of a fast turtle. For others, the hare passed me by quite a while ago!
Remember, “Life can be amusing, if it’s treated like an adventure and not a chore!”

Source: Moda Operandi
Wearing Resort 21

Massimo Bellinzoni
Massimo Bellinzoni (right) femulating in the 1992 Italian film What A Night.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Good At It

One reason that I femulate is because I am good at it.

Growing up, I loved playing baseball, but I was not good at it. I could hit the ball a mile, but I threw like a girl. A woman has to know her limitations, so I did not play much ball after age 13.

Coinciding with my disappearance from the diamond was my appearance in a dress. In my teens, I was experimenting as often as possible with my mother’s and sister’s wardrobes and cosmetics.

My Polaroid selfies proved to me that I was getting pretty good at crossdressing. So I kept at it because it was enjoyable doing something I was good at. But I was closeted and had no idea how my female presentation would play in the real world.

Still closeted in my late teens and early twenties, I received a few invitations to Halloween parties. What a great opportunity to test my femulating skills, so I accepted every invitation I received, attended the parties as a woman and received rave reviews.

Many people were impressed with my meticulous not-a-man-in-a-dress “costume,” but what was more telling and gratifying were the people who wondered, “Who is the woman not wearing a costume?” This happened at nearly every Halloween party I attended and motivated me to keep at it.

I believe that anybody can learn the skills to look like a woman. Women do it everyday, so why can’t a guy do it, too. Of course, women have a lot more practice doing it. But if a guy studies the art of female presentation and learns the tricks that professional femulators use for their finely-tuned male-to-female transitions, a fellow can present a reasonable facsimile of a woman, too.

That’s what I did – study, practice, study some more and practice, practice, practice. But I also had a few things going for me that helped me become a very good femulator.

👧 I “take after” my mother. She was a beautiful woman and I look a lot like her. She also had great legs and as a young woman, she was nicknamed “Leggy” by appreciative male co-workers. Like her, I have great legs and would you believe that a transman dubbed me “Leggy.” (Like mother, like son.)

👧 I have female breasts. I never sought medical advice about my 40B’s, but I assume I have gynecomastia. It is caused by male estrogen levels that are too high or are out of balance with testosterone levels (which probably accounts for the other thing I have going for me).

👧 I am naturally feminine. All my life, I had been accused of being feminine. The way I walked, talked and moved were decidedly girly according to the social norms police. I did not purposely act feminine. I just acted in a way that was natural to me, but my way was not the way of an all-American boy.

Even as an adult, I still did not think I acted in a feminine manner until I finally saw a video of myself speaking en femme at Hamvention. (You can view the video on YouTube. My appearance starts at the 6:39 mark and last about 2-1/2 minutes.)

I had never seen my female self “live” and I was anxious to see for myself if I had feminine mannerisms. After viewing the video, I have to admit that the social norms police were correct. That is all-woman up at the podium, not a man femininely dressed.

By the way, after that presentation, a fellow came over to talk to me. I have probably encountered him at every Hamvention I have attended during the past 10 to 15 years.

Anyway, the gent asked me, “How are you related to Stan Horzepa?”

I sure did not see that coming!

Yeah, I guess I’m good at it.

Source: Venus
Wearing Venus

Kira Sadovaya
Kira Sadovaya, model

Femulators in the “City of Brotherly Love” 100 years ago
Femulators in the “City of Brotherly Love” 100 years ago

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Be Safe

By Paula Gaikowski

Back in better times, when I traveled the world, I had several trips to Reading England. I always stayed in the Forbury Hotel adjacent to Forbury Gardens, a delightful park. I would often walk through the park as Paula on my way to the train station and often stopped and took pictures.

I wrote several Femulate articles about my adventures in Reading my favorite would Bond Girls, about a concert Jenny and I went to.

Waiting for Jenny at the gates of Forbury Garden
I received an email from Jenny, who told about a horrible LGBT triple murder that occurred in the park. Three people dead after Forbury Gardens attack.

It is very unnerving seeing such a place that I associated with beauty, peace and friendship being the sight of such a brutal tragedy. I must have crossed by the Forbury Lion scores of times dressed as Paula. This could have happened to me; a crossdresser would surely be a target.

The park was always a safe place for me to go as Paula, I have so many warm memories of the park, the hotel and the nearby abbey ruins. Reading will always hold a special place in my heart, a town large enough to provide restaurants and shops, but not too large to as London would have been for Paula. I always felt at home, mostly because of Jenny’s friendship and hospitality.

I remember walking home from that concert one evening with all sorts of seedy characters on the street. Walking down the street in heels, hose and a dress, it made me appreciate how vulnerable women sometimes are. I wonder now if this thug was out there or if any other predator saw us and perhaps contemplated a hateful LGBT thought, but didn’t act on it.

After the pandemic passes, I hope to go back on the road and have a few more adventures in Reading. Perhaps I’ll take a moment and lay some flowers and remember that we are all queer.

Source: Rue La La
Wearing Kay Unger

Veit Alex
Veit Alex, male womenswear model