Weird Science

Two weird side-effects of this latest experiment…

First, I never used to take lots of photos — and yes they did almost revoke my cross-dresser’s license because of it. But lately I’ve become a selfie monster on Facebook. I blame two good friends of mine…

(To anyone who follows my feed it’s pretty apparent — aside from the various trans-related stuff I’m posting — that I’m doing a lot more than “just for the stage” these days. Interesting I’ve had a couple people say that, based on my Facebook posting, I seem to be happier these days.)

Partly it’s just now there more opportunities, now that I’ve been living as a woman on the weekends. Partly, I’ve just gotten more practiced so that the photos are turning out better — I can photograph well with the right lighting and right angles, but candid photos have never been my friend.

Partly it is a bit of “what do I really look like in the world vs. in my mind’s eye?” Partly it’s a bit of curiosity of seeing what people see in me via the photos.

Partly I’m getting more comfortable in my skin. Yes, I have bags under my eyes that I’m not bothering to Photoshop out (though I’m seriously looking at getting Jevederm to fill in the under-eye hollows). But I’m (mostly) OK with that. Just like how I discovered I was (mostly) OK with the latest round of boudoir photos where I clearly have a belly. Thank you! burlesque for helping with body acceptance. A fellow big-bodied performer said something that really resonated with me:

When I’m performing it may be the first time someone in the audience has seen a someone with a body like mine, nearly naked, loving a body like mine.


Although I still swing between feeling like I’m damn well showing on stage how someone with another kind of unconventional body can be sexy as fuck, and then feeling like I’m only getting bookings because I’m the equivalent of a dancing bear who’s amusing to watch. Because even though burlesque official expresses a lot of body positivity, those of us who aren’t skinny young (white) women with hourglass figures do notice the who gets the preponderance of the bookings and attention. OTOH, I like to think we’re the better performers. We have to be, because we can’t rely on “ooh look at me, I’m pretty.”

Second, I’m feeling like “Lena” isn’t fitting so well any more, and I’m thinking of going back to “Marlena” which is what I used to use before shortening it.

Part of it is simply practical, I’m discovering Lena is hard for people to get/pronounce correctly. I usually have to spell it out for the baristas and half the time they mispronounce it. Whereas they, and others, don’t have problems with “Marlena.”

But there’s also something deeper, even if I can’t quite put my finger on it.

When I changed my name to “Marlena” lo these many years ago, it was in part for the touch of flamboyance to it — it was a nod to both Marlene Dietrich, a woman who looked fabulous when cross-dressed, and to a good female friend named Marla.

Why did I shorten it? To be honest, I don’t remember exactly, though I suspect if I searched the boards long enough there was a post with my reasonings at the time. The one thing I kind of remember is that it was the time I started performing drag and there was a well-known local drag queen named Marlena.

And I suppose part of it was being wanting to be a “respectable tranny.” Not necessarily in the sense of not being a “bad girl” — but also the sort of overdone girly-girl femininity one saw in certain online circles. Damnit Jim, I’m a woman, not a T-gurl.

But now I’m comfortable with embracing that touch of flamboyance. I am a bit of femme. I do really enjoy it when I’ve gotten complements from other women about my outfits, when someone commented that I always look “well put together.” I may not be the prettiest woman, but when I want to I know how to strut and work what I’ve got.

Again, in large part I think it’s hanging out in burlesque circles that’s made me more comfortable with that. Sure with drag I’ve been flamboyant— though my drag as always been “larger-than-life woman on the stage” than “DRAG QUEEN!”— but in a way it always felt like a bit of a mask, a bit of costume. Obviously for burlesque I’ve got a stage persona, and ironically my burlesque costumes are far more blingy than by drag costumes. But it’s more me. In part because I’m in the company of women, who treat me as woman, even with it’s obvious that I’m not female-bodied. Women who are fierce and femme and fabulous, whether they’re on-stage or off. Especially some of the local “legends” — women who were performers back in the day and still are incredibly bad-ass. Interestingly a number of them became professional dominatrixes after retiring from the stage.

Not sure what all this means… it’s another set of late-night musings. But if I change my name in the near future, now you’ll know why.