The January 2014 TGForum carried a piece by Terri Lee Ryan, an American author and television director, saying they were planning to produce a documentary film in the UK about married crossdressers, and it seemed from her tone that she intended it to be sympathetic and helpful to others. So I emailed her to express an interest, which resulted in her putting me in contact with her UK associates Michael Attwood and Douglas Chirnside. Michael’s company, mapTV, was to make the film.
Michael and Douglas duly called on us a couple of times to discuss the basis of the project. We were to be one of four couples, the object being to show that being married to a crossdresser wasn’t necessarily the end of the world, and to illustrate this by interviews with couples who had come to terms with transvestism, accepted it, and lived with it.
Michael and Douglas, plus Roy, their camera man, and sound man Andy, filmed us for two days, first in a local park and later at home. They had booked with Brent Council to use the walled garden, but with typical efficiency nobody from the council turned up to let us in, so we had to film in the park itself. For the park I was dressed male, and back at home I changed to skirt and top. Apart from filming in the house they also filmed me doing a bit of woodwork in my workshop. The second day was more adventurous; they booked the Kings Head Theatre, which is at the back of the King’s Head pub in Upper Street, Islington, North London. We were at that time rehearsing for Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile, and Michael wanted to film the director, Andrea Miller, discussing the play with Helene, who had a lead part in it. (I also had a small walk-on as an Egyptian bead seller, clad in a long ‘nightshirt’, waistcoat and headscarf. The nearest I’ve got to a drag part on stage yet!) I was also to be interviewed at the theatre, and was asked to provide three outfits; two female and one male.
So on the morning I dressed in my first femme outfit, Michael and Douglas picked up Andrea — then us — and we drove to Upper Street. Unfortunately the road was well ornamented with a plethora of double yellow and red lines, which meant that they were not able to stop outside the theatre, but had to drop us several doors away. This was about 2 p.m. on a bright sunny day, so there were the three of us, Andrea and Helene in trousers and me in a skirt and top, with three-inch heel court shoes, and resplendent with bouffant combed hair, bosom and beard. It says a lot for life in London that nobody so much as turned a hair; they merely glanced at me and went on their way. I couldn’t have been less noticed in tee shirt and jeans. It was the same during the course of filming; several times I needed to visit the loo, which meant a trip right round to the opposite side of the pub through the large public bar. There were always groups of people in the pub drinking, but none of them did more than glance at me as I tripped by. Maybe Conchita Wurst winning the Eurovision Song Contest a few days before had given bearded ladies a little more acceptance in everyday life.
It was most enjoyable to work on, and the final result was excellent; sympathetic and quite matter-of-fact. Unfortunately Helene and I never met the other three couples, but they all came across very well in the film, which was aired on 19 November 2014 by Sky Living under the title I Married a Crossdresser. Hopefully one day it might get another airing.
Timeline proving Christine-Jane was a bearded lady before Conchita Wurst
Someone said I was “Following Conchita Wurst by having a beard.” Not so, she followed me, as this little timeline indicates:
- 1983 – Christine-Jane comes out, shaving off a 27-year beard
- 1988 – Thomas Neuwirth born
- 2002 – Christine-Jane re-grows beard
- 2011 – Thomas Neuwirth introduces Conchita Wurst
- 2014 – Conchita wins Eurovision Song Contest. (Very deservedly!)
FOOTNOTE: Two years ago, February 2012, a team of students from York University filmed Helene and me as one of their projects on their course. The five youngsters filmed us over the course of five days; they were keen and competent, and great fun to work with. The whole experience was a joy. Their little documentary is on Youtube. Look for “My Husband Christine.”
No need to search. Here is the film from 2012.
Category: Community News