Oct 16, 2010

The Art of Cross Dressing. Part II

Ed. If you did not read Part One, please set aside a few minutes to do so. Link here. This post should then provide better value.


Yes, I relish the risk of Cross Dressing. I love the effect that it has on me, and on people around me. I am enthralled by the Art of it all. This drives me. These impulses and motivators, and the way that my pleasure receptors are touched when I act on them seem to me to be artistic, or at least creative, at their core.

Perhaps now is a good time to introduce a little more of me to help contextualize this theme.

I did a good amount of theatre in my 20’s. The high I took from working a stage is similar to the high I take from being Petra. The nerves prior to curtain, the attenuation to surroundings when on stage, the conscious blocking of movement, the ownership of personality, and presence while interacting with other players, the odd flower tossed by an admirer in the audience, it is all there, all of it. The satisfaction of knowing that to some degree you pulled off the performance, and that the immediate world briefly suspended disbelief is immense. If I had not worked in theatre I would have less, or perhaps nothing to compare Cross Dressing to. I did though, and damn it, but the likenesses of experience are profound.

It surprises me that I had not twigged to this earlier on.

For a variety of reasons, in my 30’s, I lost theatre and settled into technical lines of work. Lots of process, heaps of data, chains of command and the like. A couple of IPO’s that did nothing to fatten my purse too, but I am not bitter. It was a busy time building a career, and a busy time learning how to be a husband too. There was much to take me off the scent of creative pursuits. Great stuff, but different stuff.

I hit my 40’s with reasonable achievement on both the career and marital fronts. There was room in my life, and a creative, artistic activity snuck into the gap in the form of a big, beautiful piano. I had not played a note of music in my life. I started up pretty much the same way a 5 year old does and managed to become a pretty accomplished 7 year old before hitting a talent wall. I do play though, for minutes at a time, most days these days. The piano is a great source of joy for me. Certainly, the making of music is Art, even if in this field, I am no Artist.

Art has become much more central to my happiness over the last couple of years. I taught a course this past summer on the topic of Art History from Paleolithic times to the present day, viewed through the lens of technological advances. I cannot draw for beans, but I lit a room full of avid minds up expounding a theory of Art not as luxury, but as a necessity in the lives of our odd species. I gobbled up the research effort. It was delicious. I loved it and will refine the material for another go around the next time there is room for me.

Some, perhaps much of the confidence or the carelessness required to create this curricula from scratch, and then to stand up and teach it came from my recent experience of building this blog into a home for another type of Art. The Art of Writing. A fair amount of effort goes into rendering feeling, thought and experience into words here on these bright pages. Arguably the effort falls short of art, but it is creative. A blank Word doc is “medium” as surely as a freshly shaved face, and the keyboard is brush, shadow and blush. Doing this labor has thoroughly awakened within me just how central works of creativity are to my happiness.

All of this, if I am on the scent, truly brings me closer to apprehending the big catch, the whole "why". Not quite though.

I am left with why Cross Dressing, as opposed to, well, something else.

There remains the possibility of an odd chromosomal arrangement somewhere inside. There remains the possibility that some suppressed childhood experience guides my life and interests. There remains the possibility that the second hit of purple microdot I took at the David Bowie Station to Station gig clear cut an odd neural path and got me behind the velvet rope that keeps tourists from getting a good bar stool in Club Gender. And who is (ever) to know?

Not knowing these things with any certainty, I can at least contextualize my Cross Dressing as satisfying Artistic urges.

Art, at core, is work in pursuit of truth. Truth has a close relationship with beauty. Much of what I see in the world that is beautiful is displayed by women. This beauty inspires. I feel envy for it in moments of weakness. I admire it in moments of clarity. I realize that I cannot have it all or always. I can, however, aspire to beauty.

The beauty that I see in women provides very stark relief from what is ungainly, unmusical, and unbeautiful about men.

In admiring womanly beauty, in acting on the admiration, in adopting womanly surfaces, and surfacing the better feminine self from within, I believe that I am able to stand further away from my ungainly, unmusical and unbeautiful masculine potentials.

Having done this, the sculpting, the painting, the performing, and having written about it all has been completely transformational for me. Transformational in the way that Art is supposed to be. Lasting in the way that Art is supposed to be. Beautiful in the way that Art is supposed to be. For me.

I do feel further away from ungainly, unmusical, unbeautiful potentials that were always ready to stumble into view in earlier years. Perhaps that comes to us all with time, with maturity, but I am quite certain that it came to me earlier than it would have otherwise as a direct result of the pursuit of this Art.

I am happy that this Art found its way to me.

And I am curious to know from you, my Artistic friend, if these thoughts ring true for you, if you feel these things too. Comments most sincerely welcomed.

Photo Credit for Female Magritte to Colin Carver


Leslie Ann said...

Brava, Petra!

I think the pursuit of Art comes to many of us. Catching it and taming it is a rare thing indeed. You, m'dear, are a rare bird.

Couture Carrie said...

Good for you, learning an instrument in your 40s ~ wow!

Love what you say about art... I feel the same way!

Happy Monday, darling Petra!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you liked my Woody Allen quote, that's great!

Amazig post about art, really inpirational!

Camila F.

Claire L Hallam said...

Hi Petra, I seem to have lost a well crafted comment. So I'm afraid this is the condensed version.
Once again a great post and the answer is yes, the thoughts ring true, absolutely. Its strange how ideas and thoughts which seem so individual to ourselves turn out to be shared by others, it’s a reassurance too. The only addition I'd add is the contribution to Art of creative tension. So much interesting art and music comes from people who are outsiders or who live at some boundary, whether religious, geographical, of gender, or class. The outsider, and the emigrant seem to see more, or more freshly than the insider, or the comfortable. Unfortunately my own female presentation is not really a work of art, (unlike you dear Petra) but it certainly sets a tension to the remainder of my life that I believe makes me more creative. I have no evidence for this, but it’s a pleasant thought.

Tights Lover said...

I completely agree with all of this. I think the old cliche 'Imitation is the highest form of flattery' could almost apply here, only it would be wrong to look at it as imitation. You are, after all, who you are.

Even though I find myself failing at all things artistic, I can completely understand being drawn to all things feminine and away from all things...drab. Your post, as always, is an inspiration.

Petra Bellejambes said...

So very grateful, Leslie, Carrie, Camila, Claire and Lisa for your very kind words.

Thanks for having the appetite for the work, seeing your way through it all, and saying all of these encouraging things.

You all make it easy to write.

Warmly yours, Petra

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