What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Time Transvestite September 29, 2014

Growing up in my mother’s inn was quite the experience. Having a hundred people coming in and out of your home every weekend to participate in costumed Victorian tea programs is not a part of the usual childhood.

My mother has been referred to before as a time transvestite — a person from one time dressing up in clothes from another era. I mean, unless you are the Doctor, and if you are, please come and take me on a nice quiet trip someplace lovely and have me back before tomorrow’s performance, you have to pretend to be in another time if you want to try and experience it.

And boy have I experienced the Victorian Era. From working at my mother’s inn and learning how to climb a tree in a corset, sorry Mom, to doing living history in a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Really, all I have to do is book at job at Colonial Williamsburg and I’ll have all the living history available to an Irish girl in America under my belt.

My husband and I went to the Renaissance Faire last weekend. There were the workers all pretending to be lords and wenches. And then there were the patrons. We saw an all female set of Lord of the Rings characters, a plethora of slutty fairies, and even the Doctor.

But the strange thing was that even through I’m an actor and basically play dress up for a living, and that I’ve run around all sorts of places in historical costumes, I didn’t feel at home. I don’t know if it was the glitter, the anachronisms, or the lack of restrooms, but I felt out of place. I was a time transvestite, lost in Henry the Something-or-Other’s court.

Reenactment, historical interpretation, and living history are all an art. And I hereby declare the next few posts to be devoted to tales of time transvestites. And if I run out of those, maybe I’ll write about a few drag queens, too.


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