Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My favourite British Crimbo traditions, aka Men in drag

Christmas (trust me, there is a reason why I'm rehashing Christmas now; read on my impatient friend) is very similar to Christmases in the US. Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) actually has much more significance than it does in the States, but otherwise, really the same. Family, turkey, annoyance, thankfulness that everyone has gone back to their own damn house, etc.

But there are two traditions that are typically British that I enjoy. First are Christmas crackers. (Insert your favourite whitey joke here.) They are like party favours that only come out at Christmas. You pull it apart (like some absurd paper wishbone) and get the contents inside -- it's an individual pinata really. Though they vary in quality, all crackers include a paper crown (that everyone wears, at least for a short while), a toy, and a joke (usually a "groaner"). I just loved the idea of crackers so much that I had them at my wedding (put together with the most industrial of industrial strength glue).

My second tradition I love are pantomimes, which I never have heard of in the States. I think the thing closest to pantos in the States are plays by Tyler Perry (of Diary of a Mad Black Woman). These theatrical performances only occur at Christmas, but the story has nothing to do with Christmas (so it's not a feel good story about the "real meaning of Christmas"). The lead male is traditionally supposed to be performed by a woman (though that has only happened in one out of three pantos I've seen). The lead female character is always, always, ALWAYS performed by a man. Needless to say, he is very funny and very camp. And did I mention in drag? Obviously, this is not Macbeth.

Now here is something you need to understand: British men LOVE to dress in drag. Some British celebrities are known for it: Paul O'Grady (top picture) and Eddie Izzard (second picture). There is a huge tradition of it, you know -- even before Shakespeare (think about the storyline of the film Shakespeare in Love: girl, impersonating a boy, playing a woman). But that's nothing new to Americans (hey, remember RuPaul?) However, what's different is that it is an incredibly acceptable thing to do here. Men of all ages do it (not just drunken college students) and I have yet to meet a British man not to have done it or known a man in their family to have done it. When I said that to a group of British blokes, one laughed heartily. He hadn't -- but his dad had.

Anyway, going back to pantos: the Boy was in his work panto, playing the lead role. Can you find him?

In case you didn't see him, here's a close up.

He's enjoying it too much, isn't he? Should I be worried?


Blogger Zandra Towns said...

I wonder how long you had to convince Math that it would be okay to post those pics? He shouldn't be worried. He's a good looking woman!

Friday, 20 January 2006 at 03:15:00 GMT  
Blogger Autumn said...

No convincing. British guys love this shit.

Saturday, 21 January 2006 at 10:49:00 GMT  

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