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In the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, two musicians who witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre disguise themselves as women to elude the hit men on their trail.
In the classic final scene, Jack Lemmon removes his wig and false eyelashes to show Joe E. Brown why they can't get married.

"I'm a man," Lemmon says. His suitor is unfazed. He smiles and says, "Nobody's perfect."

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Nobody's perfect, but some men who crossdress wouldn't raise a single eyebrow, so completely and convincingly have they made the transformation from male to female, writes OutUK correspondent Brian W. Fairbanks. With the aid of female hormones, some drag queens can even fill a bra without the aid of "accessories." However, not all crossdressers are drag queens. Crossdressers come in as many styles as the panties at Marks & Spencer. Some are gay men who want to be women, some are transgendered (which is often another thing entirely), and some simply enjoy breaking through the gender barrier and love the theatricality of creating an illusion. Still others are heterosexuals who find the pressures of masculinity too demanding, and find relief by acting and dressing like girls.

Then there are the fetishists. Whether gay or straight, fetishistic crossdressers are aroused when wearing women's clothes. Just seeing a pair of frilly panties may get them all hot and bothered, and wearing them creates a sexual charge they may not achieve through a roll in the hay with a lover. At other times, wearing bras, panties, and other feminine garments serve to enhance the thrill of a more traditional sexual encounter between two gay men.

But when it comes to a fetish, the object, whether it's a pair of frilly panties or a particular anatomical part, is all-important. And women's clothes are but one of many fetishes that provide, or add to, sexual pleasure. Feet, boots, shoes, vinyl, latex, corsets, lace, leather, you name it, chances are someone gets a sexual kick out of it.

But if one fetish tops the hit parade, it's probably crossdressing.

The most conspicuous type of crossdresser is the drag queen. Whether called female illusionists or impersonators, a drag queen is a performer at heart who holds court in public.

Crossdressing has been a staple in show business for centuries, but it was often a comedic device and rarely did it have an acknowledged connection to homosexuality or sexuality period. But when gay liberation came out of the closet, so did crossdressing.

Female impersonator Danny La Rue was one of the first drag performers to really break into the mainstream, and led the way for later stars like Lily Savage.
But the average crossdresser is rarely seen publicly in drag. Shopping online through Internet retailers or mail order catalogues, most of them dress up secretly at home, either alone or with kindred spirits and lovers. They can be gay, straight, or bi-sexual, but when it comes to "forced feminization," the line between heterosexuality and homosexuality is difficult to distinguish.

"Forced feminization" is an aspect of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) in which a dominant woman or man "forces" a submissive male to crossdress. The man may then serve his Mistress or Master as a sissy maid, performing menial household chores, and often servicing other men sexually while the Mistress or Master observes and sometimes ridicules the slave.

A recent posting at an email list called Sissyserve provides a brief glimpse into the relationship between a Mistress and her sissy slave: "My Mistress made me go out to the car several times yesterday, which was parked along the street, wearing just a tiny little one-piece bathing suit, and stiletto heels (both hot pink). I know some of the neighbors saw me, and so did the mailman. She also likes to make me hand wash all of her panties, and go out and hang them on the line, wearing my little French maid's outfit." Crossdressing is an important aspect of such a relationship, but the sexual satisfaction is derived from submission to another's authority and being humiliated by them.

Since many fetishes can be practiced alone, they can have an impact on your social life. If wearing panties can bring you to orgasm, you may decide you don't need a relationship. But ultimately a fetish is like salt and pepper. It adds flavour to something that's already pretty tasty. With sex, as with food, some like it hot. The fetishist likes it flaming hot.

OutUK's Adrian Gillan reports on The Beaumont Society who provide support and advice for the TV/TS/CD communities.


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