A recent conversation about things that left a lasting impression from childhood got me thinking about the various times that, as a child of the 70's and early 80's, I was secretly fascinated when I encountered cross-dressing themes. I've made a list of the ones I can remember off the top of my head but I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting.
These cartoons from the 40's were my favorites on Saturday mornings. Especially when Buggs would disguise himself as a female to elude Elmer Fudd.
The perfect tv show for a hetero 15 year old boy with a fascination for crossdressing. Tom Hanks has to live half his life as his female alter ego and still gets to hook up with gorgeous blond Donna Dixon. (my sixth grade class named our pet lab rats Buffy and Hildegard)
The perfect movie for a hetero 15 year old boy with a fascination in crossdressing. Dustin Hoffman becomes famous as his female alter ego and still gets to hook up with gorgeous blond Jessica Lang.
I recall this reality or news-magazine type show featuring a club that features female impersonators. To the surprise of the many, even the attractive feminine bartender was actually a man. Many of the performers had surgical enhancements and it was exciting to see how much a man could look like a woman. Apparently the episode was a hit because the next season they did another similar one.
Two episodes stand out to me. In one episode they arrest a crossdresser. At the end the CD is being released and is asked why he likes to go through all the trouble of getting dressed as a woman. The reply is, "It makes me feel pretty." Even at a young age I could appreciate that answer but the laugh track revealed that this was supposed to be a punch line.
In another episode each detective is given, in turn, the task of going undercover dressed as woman as bait to try to catch a mugger that is preying on women. The results are comical but the best part was how Detective Harris put so much attention, detail and pride into his feminine presentation.
The "female impersonator" turns out to be a real female but the strong cross gender themes are quite intriguing.
"The film presents sexual identity as more of a cultural phenomenon than a biological one."
In one of my favorite episodes the group tries to find a Goddess for the king of the Natives so that he'll rescue them. When none of the real girls are acceptable they dress Gilligan up as a girl.
Grae Phillips became my first real life inspiration when I read this article in the Enquirer. It fueled the imagination about how a regular guy could transform into an attractive girl.
Additionally, I recall "One Day at a Time" and "Magnum P.I." having episodes featuring crossdressers.
I find it interesting how often the idea of men dressing as women has come up in popular culture. Of course, that was not a new idea in the 1970's and hasn't ended there either. Also of note is how often the men are "forced" into wearing women's clothing. It's as if it is a shared secret desire that no one wants to admit.