Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sun Oct 21 2007
That's why he gives me a hello hug at his Exchange District studio while wearing more foundation, blush, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick than I've worn in six months.
"When I'm working, I have my face on," says the effusive local style maven. "If you wear it, then you can sell it, and you can inspire. If I tell (a customer) 'I love using lip pencil,' I'd better be having lip pencil on."
In a Prairie city where we tend to dress pragmatically and trends are slow to arrive, the 31-year-old Polvorosa is a deliciously over-the-top personality. A Free Press editor recently spotted him in a women's shop, looking fabulous as he tried on the same pink trenchcoat as she did -- in a smaller size.
As a boy who outdresses, outstyles and outstruts most girls, Polvorosa is fast branding himself as Winnipeg's answer to celebrity stylist Jay Manuel (host of Canada's Next Top Model) or red-carpet style arbiter Steven Cojocaru ("Cojo") . . . .
At first glance, Captain Ian Hamilton looks no different to any other paratrooper. A snapshot taken of him on a tour of duty in Iraq shows him squinting into the sunlight, his well-built frame set squarely against the desert horizon.
He is wearing combat fatigues, his sleeves rolled up to reveal muscular, tanned forearms. A rugged smile plays across his face.
But then you notice his stance. One foot is placed carefully in front of the other, the military boots elegantly angled away from each other. It is almost the pose of a catwalk model, designed to show her legs to the best advantage.
Scroll down for more...
‘I know!’ Ian says now. ‘You can tell that I wasn’t your average Para, standing there like a ballerina.’
To say he was not an average Para is something of an understatement. Three months ago, Captain Hamilton, 42, a decorated officer who also served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, took the extraordinary decision to become a woman. . . .
By TIM BROUKAndrew Wodzianski paints, draws and finds images of women's legs and attaches them to motorcycles, race cars and monsters in his work in "Does Gender Still Matter?
If the latest exhibition in Purdue Memorial Union's Robert Ringel Gallery was a rock band, it would be the New York Dolls.
Like the influential 1970s glam rock band, "Does Gender Still Matter?" is bold, a little brash and cutting edge just like the Dolls were. "Does Gender Still Matter?" has work that crosses normal gender boundaries in a light and humorous way and in serious and unnerving ways. The show is full of contradictions, just like the Dolls were with their quite masculine, heterosexual personalities and tough rock 'n' roll underneath pounds of make-up and women's clothes.
"Does Gender Still Matter" opens Monday and runs through Dec. 2. The show was created by Purdue Galleries director Craig Martin and Elizabeth Mix, an assistant professor in art history at Butler University. A worldwide call-out for work that relates to gender issues was made, and Martin and Mix received about 400 submissions from all over the United States and as far away as Australia. The best seven were carefully selected.
"We were looking for works that were fresh," said Mix, who was an assistant professor in art history at Purdue University. "We didn't want tired old representations of general versions of feminism like in the '60s and '70s, now we have transgender, androgyny and homosexuality issues to work with."
Through coincidence, the seven artists are all from New England and the East Coast. Call-outs were made on multiple Web sites including www.artdeadline.com.
Many of the pieces are striking. There's the mesmerizing portrait photography of transgender people by New York City's Mariette Pathy-Allen and the bold video by David Politzer of Syracuse, N.Y. His Change Your Body/Change Your Mind looks at body issues often associated with females but from a male perspective.
Christina Pitsch played with the masculinity of objects, including deer antlers and trucks, in her three pieces in the show. In Trophy Suite, multiple antler trophies are embellished in silver in a tough, metallic tone -- save the dozens of rose buds and pretty bows that are subtly attached to the trophies. Five has the antler trophy theme but the cast plastic pieces are coated in a pink flocking in front of large, lacy doilies.
"Flocking reminds me of those little plastic flocked Easter bunnies. It's nylon fiber sprayed on an enamel paint base," Pitsch stated. "It's fuzzy and soft-feeling."
Flocking was added to Present, a piece featuring three small porcelain trucks that spin around as though it was on stage at a car show. Pitsch said she was thinking of wedding cakes and beauty contests while designing the show.
"I enjoy tweaking gender in my work," Pitsch said. "I'm taking hunting and truck culture and emasculating them and feminizing them. Maybe it was from growing up as a tomboy and people asking me 'Why don't you wear a skirt?' ... Thematically, the title of this show is the crux of my work.". . .
SLUMPED in the middle of the dance floor, tears streaming down her face, Kate Rose was at rock bottom. Her wig ripped from her head by a total stranger
- who then pelted her with abuse
- she felt totally worthless.
"It was like a woman having her top pulled off, or a Muslim having their veil snatched away," explains the 38-year-old.
"At least that's how it felt to me: I felt totally exposed. It was like my identity, and my dignity, had just been torn away."
To most people, Kate is better known as Michael. By day, in the boardroom, Mike looks much like any other man: short hair, smart suit, neatly knotted tie. But then, after work, he changes into a long wig, make-up and women's clothes - and becomes Kate.
Clad in elegant black trousers and high heels, Kate is talking about her double-life with awe-inspiring candour. Sitting in a Cambridge café, waiting for her latte to arrive, she admits that "some people can be really unpleasant".
"But I don't believe in going to special places where 'different' people go," she continues. "I don't want to have to hide away.
"A lot of the finger-pointing and unpleasant comments are borne of ignorance; a lot of people have never met someone like me before.
"The best thing I can do is make people aware of who I am and what I am, both as a person and a transvestite."
A father to three young children - who don't know about their dad's alter-ego - Michael has felt the urge to wear girls' clothes all his life.
"My earliest memory is from about the age of four," explains Kate. "I can remember going to primary school wearing a girl's vest underneath my top, and pants under my trousers. They must have been my sister's.
"My mum went to pull my trousers down, to tuck my shirt in properly, and I remember thinking 'Oh my God, she's going to see'."
Going on to an all-boys boarding school, Michael "felt different". "But I think everyone feels 'different' when they're growing up," says Kate. "That's one thing we've all got in common. As he got older, Michael's desire to sneak into women's clothes didn't go away; if anything, it got stronger. "It felt like I was doing something wrong, so there was this incredible feeling of guilt," recalls Kate, a scientist. "Then I would throw everything I had away; sometimes I didn't wear the clothes for months and months. . . .
'Frozen somewhere between underwear and pastrami sandwiches, I felt a sudden need to rebel against the gender taxonomy of baby vests...'Rafael Behr
Sunday October 21, 2007
ObserverBecause of a hedgehog, I had a gender crisis in Marks & Spencer. I was shopping for clothes for my daughter and had found some vests I liked. They depicted hedgehogs, friendly, mischievous-looking hedgehogs, blue hedgehogs. They didn't have pink hedgehogs. Presumably you get girl hedgehogs in the wild, otherwise there'd be no baby hedgehogs and, pretty soon, no hedgehogs at all. But according to baby clothes designers, hedgehogs are essentially male. So are crocodiles. Rabbits and butterflies are female. Trains and cars are male. Flowers are female.
That was the root of my crisis. I didn't feel ready to identify my daughter as a flower-sniffing rabbit. If that is her vocation, I'm happy for her to pursue it. But I'd like her to grow up with the confidence to also consider becoming an engine-driving crocodile.
Frozen on the spot, somewhere between underpants and pastrami sandwiches, I felt a sudden need to rebel against the regressive gender taxonomy of baby vests. I'll buy the hedgehogs anyway, I thought. Boys don't have a monopoly on blue. But then I wondered if maybe I only liked the hedgehogs because I was a man. Maybe I had been brainwashed into blue-centricity as a child.
But that didn't seem plausible. I was a Seventies baby. We all romped around in sludge-coloured neutrality. I am Generation Orangey-Brown. We all had our hair in shoulder-length bobs. When we were older we graduated into purple corduroy flares. There's no sex in corduroy.
But if my preference for hedgehogs wasn't acquired as a child, it must be innate. Perhaps there is a recognised classification of creatures that most of us don't know about, but that is familiar to people who work in the infant rag trade. I imagine a studio many storeys underground, where designers are sitting in rows on tall stools at drawing boards. There is a constant scrabble, scratch, scratch, squeak sound, like cockroaches crawling over balloons. It is nibs on paper.
'Panda! Boy or Girl?' a young designer calls without looking up, to no one in particular. 'Girl,' comes a reply from the other side of the room. 'It's a bear. Bears are girl.' The young designer takes a fine brush, moistens it between his lips and dips it into one of two paint wells built into his desk - the left-hand well, the pink one.
I imagine that on the studio shelves there is a reference book, Pre-school Animal Preference by Gender (Vol II)' by RG Hobsbaum and CW Richardson, two sociologists from the early Eighties. Dr Hobsbaum showed zoological slides to babies and used a specially customised protractor to measure the corners of their mouths for evidence of a smile. Then he noted the inclinations of boys and girls. Professor Richardson, meanwhile, was an expert in de-scarification - the technique of making children want to cuddle animals that, in the wild, would tear their throats out. He learned how to switch off the instinctive fear that all creatures have of dangerous predators. His breakthrough came when he successfully trained baby foxes to play with fluffy toy aristocrats. . . .