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  #1  
Old 02-09-2006, 10:39 AM
Charger Charger is offline
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Is there much demand for female impersonators?

Hearing some of the suggestions from Simon on American Idol this season, he seems to be under the impression that a lot of men should seek careers as female impersonators. Is there really much demand for this? I would think this would only be an option in Vegas and on the coasts, but not at all in the midwest.

It makes me wonder how successful someone can be with such a career. I would think it would be time to hang up your dress once you reach your late 40s. Are there really such opportunities, and do they pay reasonably well?

Maybe I'm just stuck in a career rut. I went as a ballerina on Halloween two years ago and received a lot of male attention. Maybe this could be a way for me to bring in some extra cash in the evenings. I'm open to new things.
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  #2  
Old 02-09-2006, 11:10 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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  1. It's just another of Simon's special ways of being cruel.
  2. Yes, the vast majority of professional drag queens either hang up the dress at forty--at least professionally--but many move their act to, um, the street.
  3. Others, of course, move onto other ways to make a living. Don't forget: there are more men in dresses than live on stage; many crossdressers have "square" dayjobs.
  4. There are exceptions. RuPaul is probably the most prominent, but I personally knew a professional female impersonator who had the potential for a long career (she was also a critically appreciated actress), if she hadn't been killed by AIDS first.
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  #3  
Old 02-09-2006, 11:32 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Good female impersonation is a lot more than looks. A Female Impersonator who has a good voice and who is skilled in the mannerisms of the person he's impersonating can work longer than someone who only possesses the "pretty face". It's the essence of that personality that they're trying to convey.

The Midwest has plenty of FI bars. The key isn't region as much as it is "big city". Chicago's FI bars come and go like most entertainment venues. I believe Milwaukee, St. Louis, and other major cities would be just as likely to have a few.
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  #4  
Old 02-09-2006, 11:35 AM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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A lot of the "drag shows" here are now transsexuals who are taking estrogen and growing actual breasts. This strikes me as cheating, like taking steroids in pro sports.
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  #5  
Old 02-09-2006, 01:04 PM
Charger Charger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalhoun
Good female impersonation is a lot more than looks. A Female Impersonator who has a good voice and who is skilled in the mannerisms of the person he's impersonating can work longer than someone who only possesses the "pretty face". It's the essence of that personality that they're trying to convey.
I do voices quite well. While I don't impersonate any female celebrities, I do a female voice that has fooled many people. Maybe with some practice, I could zero-in on one celebrity. And I think I got the female mannerisms down pretty well, too (thanks to some degree from theater classes). I doubt that many people who saw me that Halloween suspected that was anything other than a tall girl.

I'm not gay, but I don't think that's a requirement, either. Something about the "secret life by night" thing fascinates me. This subject is the product of my "what if" mentality. And I don't want to find myself one day facing a mid-life crisis saying "I should have pursued a career in female impersonation, dammit!"

But I wonder how these people get started. Do they travel from place to place like comedians? Or is there some kind of "network" that they get into? If anything, it would be fascinating to get to know people who participate in this lifestyle.
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  #6  
Old 02-09-2006, 01:58 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I personally knew a professional female impersonator who had the potential for a long career (she was also a critically appreciated actress), if she hadn't been killed by AIDS first.
I have to question the choice of pronoun, here... Without going into the question of just what gender is, a person who is addressed as "she" is not a female impersonator, but a female.
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  #7  
Old 02-09-2006, 02:23 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
I have to question the choice of pronoun, here... Without going into the question of just what gender is, a person who is addressed as "she" is not a female impersonator, but a female.
The proper pronoun is whichever pronoun the person in question prefers to be called by.
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  #8  
Old 02-09-2006, 04:36 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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I used "he" strictly in the sense of a man impersonating a woman as opposed to a man living as a woman. While that might not be exactly correct for every FI out there, I know that there are men who, as our posted mentioned, are interested in this as a career choice and not as a lifestyle.

If you feel you can be good at this, go to a club and see if they have amateur night. If they like you, they won't care if you're gay or not. They want acts that will draw crowds.
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  #9  
Old 02-09-2006, 05:16 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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I assure you, the Midwest has its share of female impersonators, and some of the best are over 40. In fact, the best one I know is pushing 60! As far as pronouns are concerned, I use the one that matches whichever personna the person is currently in. The Beatles got it right in Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.
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  #10  
Old 03-01-2006, 04:02 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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When the last verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is repeated, the gender roles are switched, but not the pronouns. Were you thinking of -

"Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band"

It never occurred to me to read it that way. Desmond is "he" when sitting down to the makeup table, but "she" when performing? I always took the "she" in the last line to refer to Molly, who was referred to as a "singer with a band" in the first verse.
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  #11  
Old 03-01-2006, 10:09 AM
even sven even sven is online now
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Around here it is pretty common for party-throwers to hire pro party guests who are skilled in keeping parties exciting, and they are often in drag. But there is certainly competition and lots of sad drag shows in tiny dark clubs with a smattering of drunk audience members watching manly women singing off key.

It's not something you'd want to start out as your primary employment, but with a little talent and a little luck it's possible that it could become that.
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  #12  
Old 03-01-2006, 10:37 AM
Ceejaytee Ceejaytee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
When the last verse of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is repeated, the gender roles are switched, but not the pronouns. Were you thinking of -

"Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band"

It never occurred to me to read it that way. Desmond is "he" when sitting down to the makeup table, but "she" when performing? I always took the "she" in the last line to refer to Molly, who was referred to as a "singer with a band" in the first verse.
Actually, the first time it's sung, the lines are:

"Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band"

On the repeat verse, it becomes:

"Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band"

At least, according to the sheet music in The Compleat Beatles.

My best friend's brother was a female impersonator for years, but since he's gotten older (he's in his late 40s), the youngsters don't seem interested in watching him anymore. So he hung up his gowns.
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  #13  
Old 03-01-2006, 10:57 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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We mustn't forget Dame Edna Everidge, who is longer in the tooth than most impersonators. The whole field is a mystery to me. Aren't there plenty of actual women around?
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  #14  
Old 03-02-2006, 11:16 AM
aspen31 aspen31 is offline
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dame edna is excellnt live. i saw him/her this year and would recomend it to anyone. mind you, he is an excellent comedian. you might try to work at that for a while, but that would depend on why you'd want to do it.

female impersonation is likely as old as theater itself. shakespearean plays had no women actors at all apparently.

all performers of note from pavarotti to simon cowell have a schtick. this serves to make them stand out from others. you could be the best singer but be of no particular note. you've never heard of most of the greatest performers, yet tiny tim is a household name. it may help you to think in these terms.

rick
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  #15  
Old 03-02-2006, 11:28 AM
gigi gigi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
The proper pronoun is whichever pronoun the person in question prefers to be called by.
I think the point is that if this person was asking to be called "she", then she was not a female impersonator, but transgendered (pre-op or post-.)
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  #16  
Old 03-02-2006, 12:24 PM
the PC apeman the PC apeman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi
I think the point is that if this person was asking to be called "she", then she was not a female impersonator, but transgendered (pre-op or post-.)
Or, she is in character and prefers the illusion not be diminished with "he".
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  #17  
Old 03-03-2006, 10:53 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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What about male impersonators?

I'm not talking about drag king chicks. I mean men who are male impersonators. Let me explain.

Bryan Ferry the musician is heterosexual in real life. But onstage he plays a character named "Bryan Ferry" who comes across as outrageously queer. Most of the queer effect is in his vocal mannerisms, which resurrect the crooning style of the 1920s in a manner that is just exaggerated enough to skirt the boundaries of camp.

The nearest analogue I can think of would be a screamingly queer performer who had the straight male mannerisms worked into an art form. But come to think of it, innumerable nameless veterans of the closet mastered that very art form for many years without getting any credit for it. The world's unsung male impersonators. Hey, like I should talk, right? I did the male impersonator shtik so well for most of my life.

Remember the choki from the film Matilda? That's what it felt like.
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  #18  
Old 03-03-2006, 11:05 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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cisgender impersonators

Speaking of Matilda, the actress Pam Ferris was a woman who did an over the top female impersonator act which like Bryan Ferry employed certain stylized queer mannerisms within a single gender. It gives me mixed feelings: while I'm in favor of a story that encourages girls to read books and have brains, I'm not happy about making a villain out of negative lesbian stereotypes. The queer-bashing in the film was explicit, although to be fair the director Danny DeVito included two heterosexual-bashing performances (one of them played by himself) that were just as bad. So I guess it balances out somehow.
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