Photos throughout by Holly Lucas.
FACT #1: Men’s clothes are boring. That’s the reason most fashion weeks have five days of womenswear, followed by one day of menswear that nobody goes to. FACT #2: Men dressing as women can sometimes be funny. Not, like, in a transphobic way or anything, just in the way that made Jack and Jill and White Chicks the contemporary comedy classics they are. In light of these facts, I went to Adam and Eve, a trans-makeover service in East London, to swaddle my body in the luxurious fabrics that only women and men who dress like women get access to.
Adam and Eve is located in Shoreditch in London’s East End, and offers full male-to-female (MTF) makeovers for the transvestite/ transgendered communities. For £130, you can walk in their door, spend a few hours as a woman, and then leave as though nothing ever happened.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a woman named Josie, who was going to be guiding me through my transformative trans experience. Josie first got into the MTF-makeover game after answering an ad in the local paper seeking a lingerie salesperson. “It was really good money, so I knew there had to be a catch," she told me. "I got to the interview, and it was all going well, and then they tell me I’d be selling it to blokes.” She took the job anyway and, after an initial period of being weirded out, realized she actually quite enjoyed it.
“I only thought it was weird because it was something I didn’t realize was happening. But then you realize that it’s totally normal and everyone must know someone who does it, I bet the people reading this will have someone in their social circle who does it.” Last year, she branched out on her own and opened up her own trans-makeover business.
Josie told me that most of her clients are straight men who, for whatever reason, can’t indulge in their cross-dressing at home (“whatever reason,” I assumed, was code for “wife”). She said a common trend among them was that they worked in traditionally masculine fields. “I get all of my carpentry work done by one of my girls,” she told me. “He comes over, I do his hair and makeup, and he does all of my woodworking in drag.”
The first step in my transformation was to make the shape of my body more feminine. I had to put on this really tight underwear thing called a “flattener” which “reduces how far your front section sticks out” (as Josie awkwardly and cutely described it), then I put on some bike shorts that had built-in booty pops and thigh-enhancing pads, a corset to enhance my curves, and finally a bra stuffed with silicone breast fillets.
By the end of it I was extremely uncomfortable, but also surprisingly passable, shape-wise. Josie told me I was lucky that I already had quite a feminine body. Which is the closest someone has ever come to complimenting my body.
Next, we did makeup. I had to wear more makeup than a regular woman, as I have a bunch of stuff on my face that most women don’t. Like a square jaw, and stubble. Josie also told me I had a very “masculine nose” which would need to be thinned down by putting a strip of makeup down the middle. I’ve since googled this, and there’s no such thing as a masculine or feminine nose. THANKS JOSIE!
Then Josie glued on some fake nails. If you’re a person who wears fake nails, you are either a fucking moron who hates using a telephone/ wiping his asshole, or you’re infinitely more skilled than me. I literally couldn’t do anything. When it was time to get dressed, Josie actually had to put my clothes on for me. Do you have any idea how awkward it is having someone else dress you?
I was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of clothing to pick from. There were racks and racks of the stuff, with everything from wedding dresses to suburban mom workout clothes, so I got Josie to help me choose. She picked a black long-sleeved top, as it’s the most popular top she has (“the girls love the way it feels on their skin”), as well as a tiger print skirt (“to make it a bit playful”).
After graciously making my way upstairs to the photo studio…
I was ready with my day look. It actually kind of made me sad to see myself as a woman. I’d always secretly thought I would be quite hot as a girl, like a young Mena Suvari. Instead, my look was more, “Chyna dressed as Rachel from Friends for Halloween.”
Later, we re-did my makeup and chose a different outfit to make an “evening look.” Which didn’t look quiiiiiite as good as the day look. We overshot “alluring” pretty badly and I ended up resembling Princess Peach in a really half-hearted Super Mario Brothers porn parody.
All in all, I had a really fun few hours. It was kinda like that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams tries out all the different looks at his brother’s house. Except I’m way less annoying and coked-up than Robin Williams.
Follow Jamie on Twitter - @JLCT