Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Charley's Aunt

The most recent film femulation of Charley’s Aunt was by
Thomas Heinze in the 1996 German version of the play.
About a million years ago, I shopped in boy mode for my female wardrobe, but I always had an excuse to justify my purchase to the sales representatives (as if she cared or even believed me). As a result, I did a lot of shopping in October using Halloween as an excuse, but what’s a budding girl to do the other 11 months of the year?

I went to the UCONN branch in Waterbury and one day on the way home, I drove through downtown and noticed that a new woman’s clothing store had opened. I learned that it was a large woman’s clothing store – a perfect fit for a size 18 like me.

The store was opened Thursday evenings, so I decided to shop there then because there would be less foot traffic downtown and I’d be less likely to run into anyone I knew.

So one winter evening, I drove downtown to shop at the store. There was hardly anyone out and about downtown or in the store, which turned out to be owned by a mother and daughter, who greeted me when I entered their establishment.

The Mom asked if I needed any help. Since it was three months after Halloween, I had to come up with a new excuse , so I hit her with, “I need a dress because I am going to play the ‘aunt’ in my school's production of Charley’s Aunt.”

The Mom and daughter seemed interested in my story and asked a few questions about the play. My answers did not help my cause and I doubt that they bought my story, but they helped me find an appropriate dress and I even got to use a woman’s dressing room for the first time!

Don’t know if you are familiar with the plot of Charley’s Aunt, but femulating is involved and the play has been a popular work for the film and television. I did not realize how popular until I researched the topic and discovered that there have been at least 15 film and television versions of the play. The play is most popular in the USA and Germany, which boast five and four versions respectively. I was surprised that there is even a version back in the USSR titled Hello, I’m Your Aunt. Where’s Charley? and the European Charley’s Tante are other titles used for the same play.

The femulations vary from unconvincing “men in dresses” to passable middle-aged ladies, but since the play is a farce, even the men in dresses can get away with it.

Source: Intermix
Wearing Sablyn top, Intermix skirt and Schutz boots

Guillaume Gallienne femulating in the 2013 French film Me, Myself and Mum.
You can view the film’s trailer on YouTube.


  1. I wonder how many a local theater group stages the play and 25 lead actors go shopping.....

    (see the play advertised? EXCUSE!! )

  2. I have used that excuse before, but with a different play. Never mind the fact that most theaters have a costume department to provide wardrobe for the performers! :)

  3. The mother is fabulous; who wouldn't want to be a woman like her

  4. "Where's Charley" was the title for a successful musical version of the play in the 1940s that starred Ray Bolger and gave him one of his signature tunes, "Once in Love with Amy".

  5. I remember going into a small shop that had a mix of mostly vintage and used women's clothing. I picked up a couple of dresses I really liked and brought them to the counter. The woman behind the counter (owner) and I were the only ones there. I asked if I could return them if they didn't fit. She said, no returns, and asked "what size is she?" I don't know why, but I said "I usually take a 12." She pulled out a measuring tape, measured me, measured the clothes and pronounced them good. They were, and we had an ongoing (retail!) relationship for quite a number of years after that.

  6. When I was in Junior High School -- 8th grade, I was 13 -- a gaggle of kids were taken by bus to Arena Stage in Washington, DC to see "Charley's Aunt". I think I was selected because I was a voracious reader and movie-goer. Arena Stage was new and always had education as one of their missions, as they still do today. It was the first play I ever saw. I laughed my ass off. The 1952 film, a musical version, "Where's Charley?" with the great physical comedian, Ray Bolger is my favorite of the films. Not especially great femulation, but great fun.

  7. Add me to the very long list of femulators with lame excuses. But I never got around to fabricating an acting gig as my excuse. I think we all were so relieved when we finally decided we didn't need an excuse to wear whatever clothing we chose. While my vocal release came from saying, "Yes" to the question, "I'll bet you have a pretty red dress to go with these shoes", a couple ladies at Macy's had already figured it out and were suggesting Jones New York clothing to me. They pointed out the shoulders were, "more generous" and the arms a little longer. I never said it and neither did they, but I knew they knew that I knew.....

  8. I often used the Halloween excuse.


    Often they would ask "What size is she?" I would answer oh she's a 18"

    Then one day I said Oh "They're for me" It was so freeing


    1. I remember my "day", too! Talk about tossing a load off my back. The next time I was in that store (not the Nordstrom Rack with the red shoes but Macy's where they actually have people to help customers) the ladies couldn't do enough to help me.

  9. It took me years to summon up the courage to admit that yes, I was shopping for me. The amazing thing is that I only ever had one refusal to my request to try something on. The overwhelming majority of salesladies just clicked into gear as though I were a GG.. I think they appreciate the honesty - who likes being lied to? The fact that a man can admit publicly to having a feminine side appears to carry great weight with them.. the fact that we want to be part of the sisterhood validates them in some way.
    If you haven't dared to do it - I'd say go for it - you'll be astonished by their helpful reaction.

  10. I think I now wish to Femulate a french woman but when she is more middle aged- wow what style!