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Thread: History Lession #1

  1. #1
    Silver Member Stephanie Julianna's Avatar
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    History Lession #1

    So Rhonda and I have been pm'ing about the earlier days of cding and she asked me about transformation services. Well, you don't get a short answer when you ask an old person about the good old days. And she triggered some memories that I don't think I ever mentioned here. So grab a martini and sit back and get ready to read. I will answer any questions all this triggers in your mind and if you have trouble falling asleep this might also help.

    Well, I am not a student of transformation services back then. I found out about Lee Brewster's service from an ad in his Drag Magazine. I would guess that local services would have advertised in The Village Voice newspapers that were in most major cities at the time. Also word of mouth would have been a major way back then since much of what we did at the time was still only whispered at the clubs. When I had my first and only makeover with Lee Brewster in 1979 he was using clown white as a beard cover. It worked good but you had to wear a ton of makeup to then add color back to your face. If the sun hit you a certain way it could bring up the white under the makeup and you could end up looking like Beetlejuice. So it was meant more for night time use. The coversticks and foundations of today were not around then. I always worried about this when I dressed.

    In 1980 I landed a job with Mott's ShopRite in CT. I was Head of Pharmacy (I am not a Pharmacist) and Health and Beauty Aids, and non-foods Buyer for 22 grocery stores and 3 free standing Drug Stores. Shortly after I started, my boss, a guy, was distressed by all the expensive unsold cosmetics in all the stores and determined that the old pharmacist that proceeded me was simply clueless to what women were using. So he sent me to numerous cosmetic classes offered by Cover Girl, Maybelline, Prince Macibelli and Aziza (remember them?) and others. Many were 2-3 days long and I was always the only guy there. I was 30 years old then and most of the girls that attended up were in their early to mid twenties. Most were the makeup girls that you saw in the big department stores like Macy's, Gimbel's, Abraham & Strauss, Filene's, G Fox, Stern's and others. These were the crazy beautiful girls you would see passing out perfumes and offering makeovers in these stores where their departments were positioned right at the main entrance of these stores. Every day they showed up dressed to the nines, all in dresses, never skirts and blouses or any form of slacks and always in high heels. Makeup was always perfect. I was in a boring suit.

    There would be an instructor, usually on a stage, demonstrating how to use their products to enhance someone's beauty. She would use a girl from the group to show some technique to do with her product after she removed the girl's makeup. In the audience we were at tables and were paired off to repeat what she demonstrated at our seats on our partners. The poor girls stuck with me never got to try what they were learning on me but I did get to do their makeup. Some would tease and say that I would look cute if I would let them do my makeup but I would make a joke and all dropped it with a laugh. Some noticed and commented that my brows had a beautiful "natural" arch and shape and never questioned me about it. I was already plucking and shaping them by then. Oh how I wanted them to push it but none did. What I learned was unbelievable and I was immediately using the products and techniques I learned within a few days when I dressed next.

    I was getting deep into the NYC drag scene then and hung with those interested in dressing to pass. That was also the year Lee introduced me to Sam who became my boyfriend for the next 25 years. So as my skills increased I would tell Lee what I learned and he would sometimes start carrying that product I bragged about. As a buyer I was presented with a product that was developed by a woman who had dark facial scars from an accident. It was one of the first true covers that also killed serious facial imperfections like scars and birthmarks and beard shadows without using gobs of makeup. It was made by a small private label but eventually was bought by Cabot and marketed under the label Sheer Perfection. Lee and I determined that $10.50 was a good retail price and in 1980 that was a big ticket. I used it for years and even at that price it became a huge seller at Lee's. Now every cosmetic maker sells some version of this early product.

    These were raw times for me with my gender identity and all these events in my life contributed to my confusion. Being head of pharmacy I also had access to ordering hormones without getting a script and bought my Premarin at cost without anyone knowing. That's when My boobs grew and my features softened allowing me even more freedom of movement through the general public. Sam and I did the usual clubs for crossdressers and their admirers but also went to the "straight" venues as well. These were very confusing times for me since I also had a wife and family at home. My wife held on tight until I came around and somehow we survived. Happy ending.
    Last edited by Stephanie Julianna; 07-11-2019 at 03:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Yeah Ok like whatever Tracii G's Avatar
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    That is one huge paragraph.
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    Silver Member Bobbi46's Avatar
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    Wow!!! How far have we got since then! miles of course but did you know that when lipstick first came out having red lips was a sign of wealth and social standing and how one dressed, now we have all the colours of the rainbow to choose from! I wonder if people way back then wondered what would become in later years.
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    Silver Member Meghan4now's Avatar
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    That is a huge paragraph, but what a story!

    Thanks for sharing. What a grand stroke of luck that job was for you! It also highlights how much more accessible information and products are today. The clown white vs orange lipstick is a really good example of how hidden knowledge was back then.
    Put on a Happy Face.

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    Silver Member Stephanie Julianna's Avatar
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    Wow! Sorry about that. I tried to do indents fort the paragraphs and it didn't do it. I hope the breaks help with the narrative.
    Last edited by Stephanie Julianna; 07-11-2019 at 03:46 PM.

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    Senior Member Tracy Irving's Avatar
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    I wouldn't go with "old". Seasoned, experienced, or accomplished work. Anyway, interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

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    However, despite the challenge of reading a long paragraph, it was an interesting story.

  8. #8
    Silver Member Stephanie Julianna's Avatar
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    I keep bringing up the influence and friendship I had with Lee Brewster. Google his name and then go to the site for Gender Variance and you will get some insight into how important Lee was to his generation of crossdressers and all that followed. Even I had no idea of how important he was to our cause until after he passed away in 2000 and I read all the obits. He was very modest for being what he always called himself, a Drag Queen. He also always wanted to be referred to as 'He'. He had a very feminine voice with a decidedly southern drawl. But he would get offended if a caller referred to him as "Mame" on the phone and I saw him more than once hang up on someone when they did. I would never think to tell him, "Well, Lee, you kind of sound like a girl." It might have ended our friendship. All I can say is he was a great mentor and counsel and probably saved my marriage more than once when I thought I should transition. I miss him dearly.
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    Aspiring Member abbiedrake's Avatar
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    Thanks Stephanie Julianna . That was a really interesting read.

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    Platinum Member kimdl93's Avatar
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    Wow, what a life experience! I was totally ignorant of the drag scene of that era. As totally closeted and mostly in denial, I could only privately dream about such a life. I don’t regret the life I have lived, but can’t help but wonder what else might have been possible.

    Thanks for sharing Stephanie!

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    Aspiring Member sarah_hillcrest's Avatar
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    That was seriously fascinating, the history and your personal parts. You could flesh that out into a book and I'd buy it.

  12. #12
    Yeah Ok like whatever Tracii G's Avatar
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    The drag scene has been quite popular here in my town all the way back to the 1930s.
    I remember in the 60s as a teenager hanging out downtown and seeing drag queens going in the clubs during the day.
    Google Sweet Evening Breeze he was a black transvestite in my town and all the kids knew who he was.
    he was really famous around town.
    He was a nurses aid at one of the hospitals during the day and a drag queen at night.
    There were at least 5 drag clubs in town back in the 60s 70s and 80s but only two or three now.
    Trans people have always been a part of my town as far back as I can remember
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  13. #13
    Silver Member Stephanie Julianna's Avatar
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    Tracii, I read about Sweet Evening Breeze as you suggested. I have to think that Louisville was much more tolerant of crossdressers than NYC. After all, The Stonewall Revolt was started because of people being arrested for crossdressing. It wasn't until 1971 when NYC was taken to court, funded mostly by Lee Brewster, that the laws against crossdressing in the City were lifted. Sounds like Louisville was much more tolerant.

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    Thank you Stephanie for an interesting read.

    What struck a cord ( among others) was that you had a marriage and a boyfriend. There are not many among us that can relate. Sad to say Idon't think most would understand. I came of age in the disco era; in San Francisco. I flirted with boys as a teenage girl, but found my romantic interest was in Girls. That and it was just too confusing back then. I married a wonderful woman for 14 years who was very supportive ( once she got over the initial shock) and we would go into the city and flirt and dance with the boys but we never did anything. Through a series of events after the divorce I ended up dating a man, more as a kind of lark to satisfy my then girlfriend, as anything else. That began a 20 year on again, off again relationship. We even had a faux wedding with some friends. In between I would date and be in ltr with women. I found that woman gave me what I needed in an emotional way. And John gave me what I needed in an almost primal way.

    It's ironic in that the hand full of women that I have dated since the divorce, and fell in love with. All eventually drifted off to be in a relationship with a bad boy. All eventually either left their bad boy or were dumped. All are still friends. The one person who has been mostly stable for me is my "husband". I don't love him with the "big L", but I do love him. I just can't connect any closer no matter how I try. On the other hand, one of my friends has always come back to me as her girlfriend each time it didn't work out with the bad boy. Heck we have even had "fun" with a couple of her boyfriends. I have to admit I'm in love with her, but we know that she will eventually leave and I"ll go back to my long suffering husband for anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years.

    Nice to know someone else out there understands.

    Michelle

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    Silver Member Becky Blue's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great story Steph... fascinating and if people can't manage to read your post they are the ones missing out
    A.K.A Rebecca & Bec

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    Silver Member Bobbi46's Avatar
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    I read the whole thing, top to bottom that's what fasinated me with the whole content! the origins of various things are interesting but learning about the early years of dressing well wow!
    I started life a lost man now I am a found woman

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    Junior Member HelpMe,Rhonda's Avatar
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    Like any good story, leaves us wanting to hear more....

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    Aspiring Member mbmeen12's Avatar
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    I guess the edit (4:30) took care of the paragraph issue....Nice journal on your journey,,,
    I live in CT and love to meet like minded friends....

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    Gawd the agony of being around all those beautiful women taking makeup classes and not being able to do anything about it. Yes, it must have been agony. (I know, sounds like a BeeGee's song.)

    Then again, being paid to take makeup lessons and selecting products doesn't sound bad either.

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    I was very interested in Michelle's story about her feelings for women and her relationship with a long-term boyfriend. This reminded me of Richard Novic and his book 'Alice in Genderland"
    He is married but has a long-term boyfriend. The relationship with the male satisfies a deep sexual need while relationship with his wife is deeply important to him emotionally.
    I have experienced similar feelings to Michelle. She mentions her boyfriend giving her what she needed in an almost primal way. I too. had a relationship with a male that was very satisfying but I found I could never relate as deeply and complexly as I could with a female.

    For those who have never experienced this I can imagine this will sound confusing. I have never seen any analysis of this complexion of feelings in cross dressers

  21. #21
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    I loved reading this post! What a great living history lesson. I then researched Lee Brewster & truly marveled at his / her life story. You were indeed blessed to have Lee cross your path. Steph, you are truly an inspiration. Much peace to you.

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    Thanks, Stephanie, for the "look back." I'm sure you've additional anecdotes/episodes that your fans here would love to read. Who knows, there may be the beginnings of your autobiography in the making! Thanks for sharing!

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    Stephanie's story is one of the more interesting on the PLANET! Something tells me she's being very understated.

  24. #24
    Member DanielleDubois's Avatar
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    A great and well written, interesting story Stephanie. You have related parts of this in personal emails but is wonderful reading about even more of the details.

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    Stephanie Julianna,

    Great story! I would love to hear more about the 70's and the CD environment you were in.

    Ossian

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