Back, sack, and craic: waxing

So what do you talk about when someone’s tearing out your pubic hair? And every other follicle below your nostrils? And the ones inside your nostrils too? With thoroughness like that, you can be sure the conversation was thorough too.

First up, I just want to reassure all readers that there are no pics-or-it-didn’t-happen associated with this post.

Second, I should address the question, “Whyyyyyyyyyy???!”

This was just before spending three days non-stop in girly mode, and part of the weekend would involve plunging into Loch Morlich (detailed here). I figured it’d be better to wax my chest and legs at the very least, and my face too (I didn’t fancy the idea of trying to pass with five o’clock shadow in the Highlands; the last person to do that had tried overthrowing the British government in the 1740s…). Looking at the price list at Sin Waxing in Edinburgh, I figured what the hell, I might as well see what it’s like getting everything done. I mean, you only live once, right?

Sam, who also runs the place, started with my face because that’s the most difficult bit. I had the hot black gunk spread on my cheek, which she ripped off when it cooled and hardened. JESUS FUCK. But I didn’t yell; I just either grunted or hissed through clenched teeth.

Those who’ve had a waxing before will know that it’s not quite so nippy on the bony body parts (like your shins), but the fleshy and wobbly parts bring the pain.

I’d grown my beard out almost a centimetre (something I never do, even in boy-mode), and fuck me dead it was fascinating and horrific seeing the grey & white hairs with follicles sticking out of the strips of gunk. It looked like a flattened caterpillar. And it had to be done in sections all over my sideburns, jaw, chin, mouth, and neck. Ow ow ow. My face became very pink, but Sam applied Germoline (which is made of sorcery and really helps). I was glad to be rid of the beard, though.

The thing that really gave me an out-of-body experience was the nostrils. Not sure I’d do that again. I mean, removing hairs from the outside of your body is one thing, and a violent enough process as it is; removing hairs from inside your goddamn head is something else entirely. It was a sensation that put the rest of the waxing in context.

Sam has done this many hundreds of times to many hundreds of people, I’m sure, and she’s quite relaxed about seeing nekkid people – which, in itself, is kinda reassuring. I’m not a big fan of being nude in front of others, so inflicting this on myself was a big deal to get over.

Fortunately, she has a great sense of humour and we let the chat go where it led us.

What’s the deal with hairlessness? Why should it be attractive (or repulsive)? For me, I’ve never been a fan of my own body hair – I don’t see the point of it – and I guess I just have an aesthetic view similar to the Romans: I think human bodies tend to look better without. For myself, when I’ve shaved or waxed my chest and legs, I just feel somehow cleaner(?). It’s not a sex thing, it’s not a porn thing. Hell, for what it’s worth I’m not attracted to either Sean Connery or Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I reckon Arnie’s waxed chest looks better than Sean’s chest lawn. Your mileage may vary.

Apparently I was taking the pain pretty well – some customers respond a bit like Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (or worse). I mentioned that I learnt not to show pain at school: an unenlightened boys-only education in the 1980s instils an ability to hide extreme physical discomfort, lest you fall victim to emotional and social pain as well. Sam was brought up in 70s/80s South Africa, and we shared tales of childhood that made us glad we were living in a modern time, and a modern place.

As an example of being in a (relatively) safe, modern, forward-thinking city, Sin Waxing seems to me like the best place to go – it also offers cosmetic services for cross-dressing and makeup too, as well as social get-togethers for anyone starting out but unsure how their immediate circle would react. Would I go along? I’m not sure – I’ve been crossdressing in public for a while, so I’d probably think in terms of reassurance or advice I could offer other crossdressers. But things are different now compared to when I started, so would I have anything to say that’s worth a damn?

I’ve mentioned a few times – even since the earliest days of this blog – that I’m probably not going to be Twist-ing forever. Sam suggested that if I was told tomorrow I’d never do my Twist thing ever again, I’d be quite sad about it surely? And yes – I would… but I wouldn’t be as sad tomorrow as I would have been five years ago, or ten years ago. A lot of the things I’ve wanted to do in cross-dressing mode, I’ve achieved (get your minds out of the gutter you filthy beasts!) – I’ve been out and about, I’ve socialised, I’ve worn casual stuff and fancy dress, I’ve found extra reasons to look after myself, I’ve occasionally helped or even inspired people. I’ve had a chance to pass on what I’ve learnt. I can look back on the past decade of this blog and know I’ve had fun. Whatever time I have left is simply a bonus (and if you’re lucky, that’s true of life in general).

Anyway, enough beating around the bush (so to speak) – for those who don’t already know, here’s what it’s like having the sack and crack waxed. The late Christopher Hitchens put it on a par with torture at Guantanamo Bay, and he volunteered to undergo waterboarding to see what it was like (out of journalistic curiosity).

Actions speak louder than words, and from the behaviour of my genitals, they were saying to me, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Seriously, why are you doing this to us? That’s it, we’re out of here!” and they retreated – scampered – back up into my body like coins trapped in the lining of a jacket. In bellybutton terms, ‘innies’, not ‘outies’. Sam compared the result to a newborn baby mouse, and honestly she wasn’t far wrong.

Modesty and pride have no place in this kind of situation.

The waxing itself was perhaps on a par with the facial waxing, pain-wise. It wasn’t that mind-buggering feeling I got from the nostril waxing, but it did give me a sharp intake of breath. The crack waxing wasn’t so bad, especially when the Germoline started working. As for my back, the last of the trifecta, I’m not quite that hirsute, so just a token rip across each shoulder and a bit on my spine was required.

And that was it: nary a follicle left from the nostrils down!

For the most part – face and body waxing – it lasted a good couple of weeks afterwards before I needed to start shaving again. Obviously, it’ll vary according to your hair type and how quickly it grows.

Would I recommend it? Well, if you’re after any kind of cosmetic service near Edinburgh, then I do strongly recommend Sin Waxing. But specifically, any part of your body you don’t intend to show others doesn’t need to be waxed if you’re wanting to go out with smooth limbs. Even if you just want to do it for yourself, there’s something oddly refreshing about getting rid of your tail feathers for a while!

Three days of Twist-ing

Last autumn I gave myself the challenge of staying in Twist mode non-stop for three days. A couple of friends fancied a girly weekend in the Scottish Highlands, and invited me along. I could provide the transport; another had friends of her family who let out a grand house for visitors and we could stay there for free; the third was a foodie who could take care of our dining.

For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to us as the tree-hugger. the grave-hugger, and me (the silly bugger). Honestly, we’re a bunch of misfits. I’d been on trips with them before, but this was the first time we’d all been together.

Daaaaamn that’s an epic old house!

I’d already been growing my hair out for over a year and a half over the pandemic, so I dyed it to hide the grey and freed myself from the need to wear my wig all the time. Part of the plan was for the tree hugger and I to plunge into a nearby loch on Saturday morning, so in addition to waxing my neck, jaw, and chin, I went nuts and had the whole lot below my nostrils taken off. I’ll talk about this another time…

Happy Locktober to all who celebrate?

Friday was taken up with driving from Edinburgh to Kingussie, our home for the weekend. The house was grand, and filled with all sorts of antiques, curios and old, old books. It had a huge garden, and was surprisingly cosy.

In Kingussie itself, I’m pretty certain I was the first transvestite the town had seen. Most people were dressed comfortably and casually, or for hiking about the hills. And then there was me, dressed like… well, regular readers have seen how I dress. (I went into casual mode with a hoodie and leggings in the evening when we got back).

We pottered around the village and ventured into an art gallery where I bought a cushion for my living room from the artist herself (it really ties the room together). Then we chilled out with food, wine, reading, and an antique stereographic picture viewer.

Left: peeking at the past in 3D… Right: peekaboo!

There was some deliberation about which loch the tree-hugger and I should plunge into. Our best option was Loch Morlich, a short drive up the road. The weather wasn’t as sunny as we’d expected, and there was snow on the hills in the distance. The tree-hugger had been getting used to cold-water swimming as part of a long-term health kick. I… had not. The grave hugger was the only sensible one in our trio, and remained on shore taking photos.

The wind made the waters incredibly choppy. I’m glad I wasn’t wearing my wig, and I’d found – after 13 years – a more comfortable alternative to my joke shop boobies: soft, padded inserts that I could slip into pockets in my swimsuit (I bought two pairs, and slipped the second pair into my bra. So comfortable! Why hadn’t I done this before???)

Once I got over the pain of the cold water, I found it oddly energising, and actually missed it once we got out and back onto the sand. Even so, it was so cold my nuts made like a bad science paper and went for a complete retraction. (Too much info?)

Left: home sweet home until the late 19th century… Right: getting into my retro domestic groove…

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore. Long-term readers will have picked up I’m a massive nerd and history is one of my interests. This place is amazing – recreations of homes and lifestyles going back through the centuries. It was quite busy, and there were still a few pandemic restrictions in place, but we got to see pretty good variety of what the place had to offer, and chatted with one of the guides at a recreation of the oldest-style homestead. (I’d recently finished reading Boswell and Johnson’s trip through Scotland in the 1700s, so it was interesting to see the sort of place they’d have stayed in.)

FOR SALE: Highland home, great views, well ventilated, real fixer-upper…

We had an evening walk to a nearby loch in the hills (because we hadn’t done enough already that day), before crashing out for the night.

We went to the Highland Wildlife Park on Sunday morning; the first time for me and the tree-hugger, but along-overdue revisit for the grave-hugger who’d been when she was a child. It was spectacularly autumnal – low sun lit the trees in a blaze of bright yellow and orange against dark, brooding clouds.

And that was it – just time for lunch and a quick tidy-up before heading back home.

On a personal level, I enjoyed hanging out with friends in girly mode. Most of my friends are women – part of me wonders if it has something to do with a childhood going to a boys-only school (I’m convinced thirteen years of single-sex education will fuck you up on some level). As I’ve noted before, Twist is just a cosmetic thing – and me going into ‘girly mode’ means making an effort.

Glad I made the effort – it was a bloody good weekend!

Branching out to the Highlands…

When I met The Ladyboys Of Bangkok…

The Ladyboys’ show has been visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since the 90s, and it’s only recently I went along to see them. It put me in a thoughtful mood… (this had been in my drafts folder for far too long!)

First of all, it’s impossible not to be aware of sensitivities regarding words and names, and that ‘ladyboy’, however it might have been regarded in the past, is now considered offensive (‘kathoey’ is the correct term in Thailand). Personally, I specifically use the term to describe the show or the performers (like it or not, that’s the brand name they perform under; and changing the name would likely confuse the fans and harm the business). Whether you take offence at the name or not, it was clear to me that many in the audience for the Ladyboys were devoted fans who loved the show.

When they first came to people’s attention in the UK in 90s, they were treated as something of a punchline. I spent my student summers working in a Fringe venue box office, and was involved with a show each night so I never really had the chance to go along and watch. To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested. The only time I saw them was when they were caught out in a rainstorm walking through one of the city parks – they stood out because compared with the locals and fellow Fringe-goers they were all outstandingly pretty (even off-duty), and they were wearing the most gloriously impractical clothing for a Scottish summer (and platform heels on cobbled streets is a brave decision!).

It was a long, long time later before a friend suggested we go along and check out the show, and I figured what the hell – clearly they were doing something right to have lasted this long, so why not see what the fuss was about? All I really knew was that they pitched their tent where they could, and the music was loud. Otherwise, they just felt like part of Edinburgh’s artsy background noise.

The show is an energetic song & dance cabaret mixing solo and ensemble performances (and a ton of costume changes), with lots of lipsynching to well-known songs and parodies (like the adult version of She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain When She Comes, with lyrics like “I was very nearly coming when you came…”). In between are smaller sketches and audience interactions. Some of the Ladyboys’ troupe were boys; one was relatively senior in years, and swapped between male and female presentation throughout the show; one was more diminutive and what they lacked in height they made up for with a powerful pair of lungs to belt out songs; and one was a slightly plumper jester/’madame’ who would harrass the men in the audience.

The audience was mostly middle age to elderly women, and quite often little old ladies would jump up and try to dance during the performance – sometimes being steadied by a friend or relative.

A notable scene – played straight – involved the senior Ladyboy slowly changing out of her evening gown into a suit while singing I Did It My Way – singing as a woman until the very end, when she removed her wig and sang as a man for the last refrain. I found it oddly affecting – I’ve long known that I won’t be doing Twist stuff forever, and at some point I’ll take the wig off and never put it back on again. Will I do it singing My Way, or will I simply not realise it’s the last time? That was the sober part of the show – it can’t be comedy and high energy all the time…

The only other bit that gave me pause for thought was the the jester/madame’s humiliation of men in the audience. Every so often she picked a victim, dragged them on stage, and groped them to cheers from the audience. The worst one I reckoned (hoped!) had to be an audience plant (we saw him later leave via the staff exit) – he refused to kiss the jester/madame on stage, so she got him on the floor and dry-humped him. My friend and I understood how this routine started as a way of “power-rebalancing”, by dishing sexual humiliation out to the men, but it felt kind of dated. (That, and I’m not keen on ‘prank’ humour – it’s a bit like comedy wanking in that the only one really having fun is the one doing it, not the one who’s on the receiving end…)

In all other aspects, the show seemed to be really in tune with the times in its message and inclusivity. Everyone was gorgeous, funny, and talented, and I’m amazed at the energy they put into the performances, given they do both lunchtime and evening shows (we went at lunchtime). But if the performers weren’t the Ladyboys, would there be anything special about it?

Afterwards we had a chance to get our photo taken with them. I felt kinda frumpy standing next to them (okay, a lot frumpy) – who wouldn’t want to look as good as they do? – and I got a lovely reaction from them when they heard my voice and figured me out!

Spot the odd one out…

Girly road trip: Getting old rocks!

Now that more of us are getting fully vaccinated, the small pocket of the world I’m living in is opening up a bit more (at least, In July 2021; nothing is guaranteed these days!). For the first time in far, far too long, I’ve been on a road trip with friends.

Everyone I know has had their own heavy shit to deal with, on top of living through a pandemic: jobs; income; living situation; giving or receiving care; bereavement. It’s been constant disruption and ongoing feeling of impermanence about everything. (I went through a lot of disruption a couple of years back; in some ways, it helped prepare me emotionally for life in the age of Covid.)

So when I had the chance to go on a fossil-hunting girly road trip, you’re damn right I took it!

Why yes, my pasty arms and legs *did* get burnt to fuck.

We went to Eyemouth to potter about the beach and cliffs and have a picnic in the sun and try to ignore the noise of young families playing on the sand (because nothing wrecks a day out like the sound of small children enjoying themselves, am I right? No? Just me? Okay then, moving on…).

I wasn’t sure what my fossil-hunting outfit should be, so I raided my wardrobe’s recesses for stuff I haven’t worn much (but can still fit into), which had a summery, casual vibe. My pallid legs are a goddamn battlefield of ingrown hairs, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.

Getting my rocks off…

Eyemouth is next door to St Abbs (where I visited on a girly road trip before). It’s pretty small: an old fishing village with a harbour, an abandoned fort, and a museum. It can make for a pleasant place to stop by and take in the views from the clifftops.

Every time I go somewhere with a cannon I must mount it suggestively IT IS THE LAW

Further back up the coast, at Barns Ness lighthouse by Dunbar, is a geologist’s wonderland of ancient rocks, layered and eroded by time. These rocks were last on the surface about 300-350 million years ago (give or take, but what’s a few million years between friends?). My travelling companions knew what to look for and pointed out the fossils that could be found here.

Forget trilobites and ammonites; forget mundane Tyrannosaur footprints or Liopleurodon bones – this is the opening of the gates to Carboniferous Park! [cue John Williams music] What you can find here are trace fossils – the remnants of trails made by tiny slithering things in ancient mud. And maybe imprints left behind by shells. But you know what, sod it: I found my own fossils and had a great day out with friends.

Eat your heart out, Laura Dern…

Catching up with people again after we’d all been frozen in social carbonite during lockdown was a funny experience: we’d all grown a bit older, but the time apart hadn’t changed the friendships and we had a great time catching up.

In 2021, I think I’m less bothered about things than I used to be. Maybe it’s an age thing; maybe it’s a result of the times we’re living through.

I’ve started growing my hair out (complete with funky grey streaks, like I’m about to fight in the Thunderdome). Partly because I’ve never had long hair and I want to see what it’s like (before it inevitably thins out and leaves my scalp looking like a cue ball); but also because just as I’m getting older, so’s my Twist stuff. The wig is starting to come apart a little bit more each time I take it out (I’ve had it since 2009!), and it might not be too long before I have to go out in Twist mode with my natural hair (I’m gonna dye that sucker; don’t expect to see Twist as a little old lady with grey hair any time soon!).

My workmates on video meetings have seen me grow my hair through various stages:

  • rakish “Harrison Ford circa 1980”
  • Frodo Baggins
  • washed-up 1970s rock singer
  • currently at Will Turner in Pirates of the Carribean length (“Ugh! Ponytail!”)
  • give it a few months and it’ll be interchangeable between boy mode and girl mode
  • if I get to 1980s-hair-metal-band length, I will have acheived my final form and will sing the song that ends the world (which could be any song, given my singing voice…)

Video meetings are also great because during the heatwave I’ve been able to work in my baking hot room in a skirt and nobody’s been any the wiser (or, in colder months, sporty leggings and pink hoodie). I don’t think I’d’ve had the confidence to do any of that when I was younger. I guess age helps me adopt a more laid-back attitude – a better perspective on what matters, what doesn’t, and when to just go with your sense of whimsy.

I’m slowly and steadily shedding my lockdown flab. I’m fully vaccinated. I’m making plans to go on more day trips and picnics with people. I have a garden with a firepit, and I’ve had friends around for food, drink, and toasted marshmallows. Everyone who’s important in my life is still in it. I’m going to carry on switching into ‘Twist mode’. Looking at what I’ve got, instead of what I might be missing, I can’t complain!

Where things go from here is anybody’s guess, but I’ve got a pretty decent starting point. I’m a 44-year-old guy and I reckon I’m having the bestest midlife crisis ever.

As David Bowie put it:
“Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.”

“The sun has got his hat on…” (I take my hat off to him.)

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot…

In summer 2019 I had a deep need to dress up and take a bunch of new photos for the first time in far too long. The trouble is, a lot of my older clothes were falling to bits. The four-inch-heeled boots a friend had passed on to me were crumbling away (I think they were old enough to vote by that point…) and I had to get new versions of old outfits.

My attempt at updating my wardrobe ended up looking more like a trip to Torture Garden than being a secret agent…

Those crumbling boots were bloody awkward and I only ever wore them with my old fancy dress catsuit. Time to get new boots! The boots I ended up getting were gloriously cheap PVC with more manageable three inch heels. Trouble is, they were incredibly shiny and didn’t fit the catsuit. So I then got a gloriously cheap PVC catsuit to match them. The end result was like a happy, shiny version of Black Widow.

Nothing phallic about that tank at all. No, sirree.

My search for locations I hadn’t used before took me to the former mining town of Prestonpans where the Prestongrange outdoor museum contains the rusting relics of Scotland’s industrial past. The last time I’d been there it was barren and muddy and looked like the sort of ruins where Wonder Woman fought World War One. It had become quite overgrown and lush in the meantime, as nature slowly reclaimed the area. Some exhibits were so fragile they’d been fenced off, limiting the opportunity for atmospheric photos with a hint of danger to them.

*Heroic music swells* *like my chest*

Fortunately one of my friends is an accomplished photographer, and was able to find good props and figure out the best angles for epic photos. It didn’t matter that it was a fantastically sunny day instead of the usual, moody clouds. We made it work.

It was my first time in far too long wearing something so… attention-grabbing. I’m damn glad I had a photographer with me, or I’d look like some sort of weirdo or pervert with an industrial history fetish. Who else visits the mining museum, you ask? Well: retirees. And elderly dog walkers. I didn’t want them to freak out, so I bade them a cheery ‘good afternoon!’ like nothing was out of the ordinary. Maybe I didn’t speak loudly or clearly enough, because they just stared. Oh well.

Shiny – let’s be bad guys.

The downside of taking photos on the hottest, sunniest day in years, is that it’s not the best weather for wearing PVC. There is no ventilation, and nowhere for all the gallons of sweat to drain away. It looked slick and shiny on the outside, and it felt slick and shiny on the inside. My fake tits went akimbo. The 70% of water that my body usually consists of ended up between my skin and the costume.

But none of that mattered. I’d been watching my diet and exercising more and I finally had a chance to show off. I trusted my photographer to find my best angles. The torrent of sweat that poured out back home when I peeled the damn thing off was worth it!

I was so hungry I started eating my clothes from the other end.

Of course, writing this at the end of 2020 after months of lockdown and comfort eating, I look at these photos and realise I’ve got a bit of an uphill battle to get back into shape. That’s what 2021 will be for!