I’m fairly convinced that I once had a penis, which was chopped off at birth. My predilections for classic rock, domestic beer and televised sports are really only found among men. I’m also a woman with the morals of a man, or what is commonly referred to as a "slut" in the vernacular. If I didn’t have a vagina, I’d probably make a righteous dude.
Luckily for me, the artist and drag king Diane Torr teaches a workshop called "Man for a Day." She offers women individual makeovers, complete with fake facial hair, and instructs them how to behave as men. I contacted Diane, and she agreed to try to make a man out of me.
But would a few lessons and a phony ‘stache be enough to transform me into a believable guy? I’m the size of a diminutive jockey. Short of shooting anabolic steroids into my ass, there’s little I can do to change this. The second a woman asked me to open a jar of mayonnaise, my true sex would be revealed.
And say I managed to pass — what secrets would I learn about the opposite sex? With the world as my urinal and the wind at my feet, would manhood be one big par-tay? Or would I long for a return to the joys of womanhood? But most importantly, would chicks dig me?
Please list all the materials required for this experiment (including, if applicable, how they were obtained).
– Facial hair
– Dude-appropriate footwear
– One Black Sabbath T-shirt
– One faux penis
In this portion of your report, you must describe, step-by-step, what you did in your lab. It should be specific enough that someone who has not seen the lab can follow the directions and recreate the same lab.
I told my male friends that I didn’t want to half-ass my cross-dressing expedition and therefore needed advice.
"Wait, you’re gonna be a man for a day?" my friend John asked. "How will that be different from any other day?"
"Get a jersey with another man’s name on it and live vicariously through him," my friend Jeff suggested. "Also, when it comes to talking sports, just look at the front page of ESPN’s website. Pretend to be infuriated over whatever is on it. Also, you know the phrase ‘the people around the king make the king’? Well, the people around the douchebag make the douchebag. Don’t forget that."
I jotted this down.
"Where do I put my stuff?" I asked. The idea of going anywhere sans purse was daunting.
Suggesting that a wallet is a bit too "metro," my buddy Bruce advised me to haphazardly stuff everything into my pockets.
As for men’s room etiquette: "Shake it more than twice and you’re playin’ with it," warned Big Mike, adding that no matter how you shake and dance, the last three drops will go down your pants.
It was also recommended I watch Just One of the Guys, a film which I happen to own. Although Jeff suggested I watch it for pointers on how not to be a convincing man.
Diane Torr and I exchanged e-mails and she encouraged me to start thinking about what kind of man I hoped to be.
Because I am a Leo, I take my hair seriously. I won’t cut it for any reason, not even transvestitism. I would just have to find a masculine guise that entailed long locks. My friend Kat suggested I go for a Yanni look. After all, Yanni managed to get with Linda Evans. But I wanted to find a style I thought was hot. I’m already manlier than most East Village pretty boys, so that look was out. Since I’ve always been mildly attracted to longhaired stoners, I decided to try for a greasy rock ‘n’ roll vibe.
For my name, I immediately chose Steve. If I were a dude, my name would undoubtedly be Steve. Big Mike persuaded me to adopt the nickname "Steverino" to clarify that Steve likes to party. Men’s men have often commented that I sound like a female Jack Nicholson, so the voice transformation wasn’t too difficult. By lowering my voice an octave and emphasizing its crackly undertones, I can easily sound like a man who does fourteen bong hits an hour.
The night before my workshop, I decided to take Steve for a test run with my male buds. In preparation, I picked up a five-dollar fake mustache and a skull-emblazoned bandana to conceal my bangs. (A smart move, I thought, considering that the last dudes to wear bangs were probably the Sweet or the Bay City Rollers.) An old pair of jeans, a dirty Black Sabbath T-shirt, aviator glasses and checkered Vans would complete the look.
At home, I cranked up AC/DC, popped open a tallboy and commenced my initial makeover, beginning with my breasts. I didn’t think it was possible for me to be more flat-chested than I already am. One Ace bandage later, I was proven wrong.
Next, I applied my stache using spirit gum and a little eyeliner for shading. Surprisingly, the stache served as a sponge, soaking up any Budweiser that managed to escape my gullet. Finally, I slipped out of my dress and into my man clothes. I stared at my duded-up reflection. The man in the mirror appeared to be Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap. I also looked like a narc, the type who might approach you at a party looking for "doobage."
My pals Tom and Mike agreed to meet me at Motor City, a somewhat bad-ass bar where there would surely be a handful of rocker chicks harboring Derek Smalls fantasies. Leaving my apartment, I realized I’d forgotten to wear a "package." Hastily, I grabbed a rolled-up pair of pink knee-highs and stuffed them down my pants.
At the bar, Tom did a double take as I sat next to him. "What’s up, Big Guy?" I asked, soliciting a hi-five. Soon my second wingman, Mike, joined us. We punched each other good-naturedly and exchanged appropriate manly greetings.
Across the bar, I noticed my coworker Jeff, whom I see practically every day. I approached him. "How they hangin’?" I inquired. Jeff stared at Steverino, bewildered. "It’s me, Jen," I said, waving my hand in front of his face, trying to break the spell.
"Oh my God, you’re a dude!" he exclaimed, horrified.
I ordered a Yuengling and rejoined my pals, who regaled me with stories of manliness. "I was at this college bar back in Boston," Tom began. "There were a bunch of students hanging out. Well, all of a sudden this biker gang comes walking in, and the littlest one looked like you. He was the smallest one so of course he was the meanest. He walked over to the bar where this couple was sitting, and in one motion he pulled the woman’s chair out from under her! Her date had no choice but to stand up for his lady’s honor, and the tiny biker responded by punching this poor dude in the face from one end of the bar to the next."
A cute blonde sidled up to the bar.
"How you doin’?" I asked her.
"All right." She looked around suspiciously, as if she were afraid Steverino might stain her.
"Are you single?" I asked.
She looked like she’d eaten a bag of Sour Patch candies. "No," she said firmly.
"Okay, your loss, babe," I said as she scurried away as fast as possible. I turned back to the guys. "She was a total lesbian."
"Rev., don’t ever ask if they’re single," admonished Tom. "Ask them where their boyfriend is."
"Oh," I said. "That way if they have no morals, they can say ‘not here’."
"And those are the girls you want."
"The bartender is hot," gushed Mike.
"Mike," I scolded, "don’t work the bartender. Even I know that."
"You just have to do something that sets you apart, and then you can work the bartenders."
"Well, I can’t. Not after she checked my ID and saw that I’m a woman."
After hoisting a few at the bar and not scoring with any of the laydees, we decided to "leave like a tree." We ran into our friend, Don, who thought Steverino might have better luck at a party out in Queens. When you are a man you will travel to even the most remote locations in hopes of finding action.
The party in Queens was small and full of people I knew. They all found Steverino "disturbing." My stache started to fall off somewhere around my fifth beer. Soon after it, the Ace bandage unfurled, which had loosened from Steve’s excessive chest-sweat. When I went to the bathroom, my "package" fell out and barely missed the toilet. The spirit gum bottle I’d stashed in my pocket for emergency ‘stache repairs had leaked and glued my pocket together. Steve had self-destructed. Now I just looked like a dirty woman with stubbly facial hair.
Quantify the effects of the experiment.
The next morning, I woke up fifteen minutes before my workshop was to begin. There was no time to shower, which would only make Steve greasier on day two.
Diane met me in the lobby of her building and escorted me into a well-lit dance studio. She began by showing me her portfolio, which was filled with photos of women she’d transformed into men. She’s been teaching her workshop all over the world for more than fifteen years, and she helped to pioneer the drag king performance scene. Some women who take her class are actresses preparing for a role. Some want to learn how to pass as a man so they can travel alone to places where they’d be harassed as women. Most women take it to have fun and explore another side of themselves.
She then handed me a copy of FHM magazine and told me to look for men whose facial hair I wanted to simulate. I found the hottest man in the magazine and said I wanted to look like him. His facial hair was not unlike the ridiculous ‘stache I’d donned the night before, only it was paired with a five o’clock shadow and sideburns.
"We can do that," she affirmed.
Realizing I’d forgotten both tighty whities and a fake penis, we walked to a pharmacy in search of penis-making supplies and manties. I was mildly offended when Diane suggested I buy boys’ underwear because it might fit better. My manhood had already been insulted, and I wasn’t even in costume. I defiantly chose a pair of thirty-two-inch briefs with a gray waistband. We then purchased condoms and cotton balls for stuffing.
Back at the studio, I stuffed as many cotton balls as possible into a condom. "I want to be a little man with a huge penis," I said. "I have big hands." I inserted the phallus into my trousers and decided to pack to the left, making sure the bulge was pronounced but not overdone. I practiced wenis-shifting in front of the mirror.
"Ooh, your nails are too long. People notice that stuff," Diane said, handing me a pair of clippers. She then pulled out a makeup case filled with fake beard hair in every conceivable color. Taking out two locks of black and brown hair, she began to clip off tiny pieces, which would serve as Steve’s scruff. I closed my eyes and almost dozed off as she spirit gummed the hair to my face.
Upon opening my eyes and staring into the mirror, I was amazed at the realism of Diane’s facial-hair artistry.
"Wow, you look really scuzzy. That works on you," Diane marveled. "Now you have to figure out Steve’s history. Where is he from? What does he do? What turns him on? Does he have any fetishes? Where does he go on vacation? These are all things you need to figure out before we leave."
Somewhere in the furthest corners of my subconscious, I’d known Steve all along . His story came to me quickly. "Steve lives in Jersey City. He has a van and works about once a week as a moving guy. He spends a lot of time smoking weed and hangin’ out. He likes big women, reads Juggs, but his sexuality is uncomplicated. He claims to have bedded many women, but has only had sex a handful of times. He is in the constant process of trying to form a band."
"Steve looks a little like a junkie," Diane noted.
"Yeah, but Steve would never admit to being a junkie. He claims he only does heroin socially."
Diane informed me that she was also going to do drag in order to play Steve’s buddy. In a matter of minutes she expertly applied her faux facial hair and changed into men’s clothes. She looked much cleaner than Steve.
We stood together in front of the mirror.
"We’re certainly a couple of dudes," Diane assessed.
She decided that she would be Bob, Steve’s uncool friend from the U.K. whose main interest lay in talking about ancient civilizations.
"I have a feeling Bob bores Steve to tears," Diane observed.
"Yeah, the only reason he hangs out with Bob is because he thinks Bob might buy him weed. Mostly he just zones out whenever Bob is speaking."
Now that we’d conjured up our characters, it was time for lessons in walking, sitting, gesturing and making stupid faces. Diane taught me to walk with my feet planted firmly on the ground. "You don’t get out of anyone’s way," she reinforced. She also taught me to use my thumbs often, to gesture with my fists rather than my fingertips and never to put my hands on my hips.
After a series of exercises and scene studies between Bob and Steve, we were ready to hit the streets, hoping to find men like Steve whom I could observe and emulate. Our first stop was Washington Square Park. We hung out on a bench, where Bob rambled on about his trip to Cambodia while Steve stared straight ahead obliviously. Finding no Steves in the West Village, we ventured down Saint Mark’s Place toward Tompkins Square Park.
On Saint Mark’s, Steverino stopped to flirt with a woman who was giving out smoothie samples and to laugh his ass off at the various novelty T-shirts for sale. "Dude Take Me Drunk I’m Home! I should totally wear that. I fucked your boyfriend — you should wear that, Bob!" At this point, I really started giggling uncontrollably. Steve had fully inhabited my body. I was possessed by a dude. My camaraderie with Bob had grown, too, and he was now laughing along with me. Just a coupla guys bustin’ a nut on the corner.
Steve plotted how he was gonna go into the smoothie place and order a bunch of smoothies, drink ’em real fast and then say, "But, like I thought they were free. The girl outside gave me one for free!" Bob thought this was hilarious.
As we entered the park, politically active young people attempted to hand us leaflets pertaining to the upcoming elections. "I don’t vote, dudes," Steve declared, stepping around them.
We sat on a bench and looked for male role models. "There really is no one like you, Steve. You’re one of a kind," sighed Bob. Approximately two seconds later, a voice not unlike Steve’s boomed out in the distance. "Dude, you totally stole my King Diamond button!" the voice intoned. We turned our heads and observed a shirtless man approaching the perpetrator who apparently had his King Diamond button.
"Oh my God, that’s a total Steve," I gasped.
"Look at his walk," Bob instructed. "He’s got a Neanderthal thing going."
"He owns the park."
The two men settled their dispute and left, but soon we saw Steves everywhere. A group of longhaired teenage slackers sunbathed on a blanket. "They’re Steves," I noted.
"They’re going to be Steves," Bob corrected.
A clean-cut version of Steve passed by. "That hipster is being a Steve in an ironic way," I observed, checking out his perfectly manicured handlebar moustache and breck-girl long hair.
"That girl was checking you out, Steve," Bob said as we passed a young hottie.
"I bet chicks dig Steve because he’s so scuzzy."
"And because he doesn’t care," Bob added.
"Scha-wing!" I gasped, ogling a girl in a tight Rolling Stones T-shirt who was, believe it or not, smiling at Steve.
I winked at her and she looked away quickly.
Steve tried making eyes at the laydees several times to no avail. I chalked it up to the fact that they simply "couldn’t handle" Steve. He was not the kind of man you take home to your family, unless you’re trying desperately to rebel against them. Finally, I knew what men meant about wishing women would approach them.
After a heavy dose of girl-watching and jackassery, we decided to head back to the studio because of the excessive heat (100 degrees in the shade, to be precise) and Steve’s declaration that he "totally had to get back to Jersey."
Summarize your findings. Don’t forget to attempt to identify possible variables that could result in different findings for others trying to recreate your test results.
I think I made a fairly convincing, albeit scuzzy, dude. For the most part, people believe what they see on the surface. As Diane and I strode back to the studio, I slowly let the Steve front go. It was a little like coming down from an LSD trip. My mind had been possessed by imagination and my day had been a far cry from my regular routine. I’m constantly brewing up new projects, but Steve was totally unambitious. He had been the perfect excuse for laziness. I would never just hang out in the park, but Steve would. I would never ignore politically active youths handing out leaflets, but Steve would. In fact, through Steve I almost achieved a perfect state of what Zen Buddhists refer to as "nothingness." I Did It for Science appears monthly.
Photos: Maurice Narcis
©2005 Rev. Jen Miller and Nerve.com