Living the Dream
NYC, 1999: I had been making all sorts of contacts on the internet; chatting with girls from all over the country and all over the world. I had always imagined that ‘we were everywhere’, but wow…we were EVERYWHERE! I couldn’t wait any longer. I had paid my dues for long enough; the same, the guilt, the angst, and embarrassment….ENOUGH. I had paid my dues and I was old enough not to have to worry about what people may think. I didn’t ask anyone else to do this. It was my turn to join the party.
I found a salon a few blocks from where I lived that was happy to do my makeup and nails. I hired a limo and found a photographer sympathetic to my cause. For weeks I had been scoping out fountains and well known locations. I had seen enough photos of girls in motel rooms to know that I had to do something different. Sept 22, 1999, 48 years old and I am finally coming out! My wife and I had gone shopping to pick out a few things for me to wear on my big night. She was probably more nervous than I, but seemed to sense that this was something I had to do. She too, realized that ‘this doesn’t go away’.
I packed up all my things, went to the salon, got my makeup and nails done. I got dressed and waited for the limo and photographer to arrive. I very nervously stepped out of the salon to have a contemplative smoke. As I stood there I saw my reflection in the shop window. I knew right then and there that I was finally where I was supposed to be and, more importantly, I was finally WHO I was supposed to be.
Off in the limo with photographer. Photos of me at Lincoln Center, The 21 Club, The Plaza Hotel, every fountain in NYC, and finally a stop at Karalyn’s at the old Silver Swan. I let the limo driver go and stayed with the photographer awhile to take in what was going and pretty much just enjoying myself. Finally, the photographer took his leave and I was getting very tired. Oh wait! I’m by myself! It took a lot of personal courage that night to walk down to Park Ave. by myself and flag down a cab, but I did it.
For the whole next week I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
As soon as I got the photos back from the photographer, I started to make a little website for myself, and I was getting compliments from many other girls. It was the affirmation and validation I had needed for so long. Maybe 2 weeks go by and I get an e-mail from television producer asking me if I wanted to appear in a pilot for a proposed series. I talked it over with my wife, who told me to go for it. Somewhere out there are some old clips of me on a show called ‘Insomniacs’ with Dave Attell. They used about two seconds of me in the introduction every week. So I had 14minutes and 58 seconds of fame still coming to me!
I start to go out about once a month or as time would allow. My makeup lady asks if I would model for her at a makeup seminar/workshop she was taking. Sure, I say. I jump on the subway and head out to Queens early on a Sunday morning. My nails were done, but I was in my boy clothes, my drag in a bag. I sit and she does my makeup and there are about 6 other makeup women fussing over me. Loving the attention? You bet! The makeup is complete and I go off to the women’s room to dress. When I return to the workshop session, all 20 or so of the people there actually applauded! Some was for me, some for the great job my makeup person did, but damn, what an awesome feeling!
Now of course is the dilemma of getting back to Manhattan. Not only had I never been out in the daytime dressed, but never on a subway. My makeup person and I walk to the subway and head off for Manhattan. She gets off at 5th Ave and I continue on, by myself right into the lowest level of The PA building. Holy crap! What do I do now? As the train comes to a stop, I stand at the door, take the deepest breath I can, and somehow manage to walk right through the place like I own it and head back up to street level. I was doing it! Scared to death, but I was doing it.
A few months go by and I get it into my head to find a barmaid job. It’s what I had always wanted, so why not. I put on my best black dress and went from the east side to the west side stopping at every gin mill I passed dropping off my resume. After about 8 hours of this, I had one resume left; I was tired and hungry. I said enough for today and hopped a cab to E. 53rd St. The owner was there. I asked almost sheepishly if they need a barmaid. Two days later I gat a call. Am I serious? Well, yes, of course. I became the Monday night barmaid and cocktail waitress at Julie’s , a lesbian piano bar! LIVING THE DREAM!