Although most men in feminine attire appear in movies for laughs, there are also men who regularly don women's clothing for other reasons. Female impersonators can often fool people into believing they're women, and cross dressers simply like wearing women's clothes, whether they do it in the privacy of their homes or take it public.
Movie Men in Drag
There are many examples of men wearing dresses for comedic purposes. The more masculine a man appears in feminine clothing, the funnier it is. Movies you may have seen featuring men in women's clothing include:
- Some Like it Hot: Probably one of the best known films featuring men in feminine attire, this 1959 film starred Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as two musicians fleeing the mob. They disguise themselves as members of an all female band to escape, but have trouble ignoring their beautiful band-mates, such as Marilyn Monroe.
- Tootsie: Dustin Hoffman starred in this popular 1982 film as an out-of-work actor who dresses as a woman to land a role in a soap opera.
- Mrs. Doubtfire: Robin Williams disguises himself as an English nanny to care for his children during a custody and divorce dispute. His masquerade requires prosthetics and special costuming to make his masculine form appear more feminine.
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Terence Stamp starred in this 1994 film, which details the adventures of a lavender bus, Priscilla, and its cross-dressing riders across the Australian desert.
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar: John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze starred as three drag queens traveling across the country. Their car breaks down in the middle of a small town whose residents have never seen men like these.
- Madea's Family Reunion: Tyler Perry has made himself a franchise hit in male roles, but more for dressing as Madea, a wise-cracking, hilarious character. He first introduced Madea in stage plays, and was so successful that he was able to translate his stories and characters to the big screen.
- The Nutty Professor: In the 1996 remake of this film starring Eddie Murphy, Murphy plays an entire cast of characters, including nearly everyone in the Klump family. He even portrays Mrs. Klump and Granny.
- Big Momma's House: Martin Lawrence is a cop who goes undercover as Big Momma to catch a criminal. The role features him in a feminine fat suit, and the antics he gets into as Big Momma make for a comedy hit.
TV Guys in Dresses
- Before Tom Hanks made a name for himself as a Hollywood movie star, he was on the 1980's show Bosom Buddies. Along with Peter Scolari, Hanks portrayed a man who dressed as a woman in order to live in an all-women's apartment building.
- Jamie Farr portrayed Army Corporal Max Klinger on M*A*S*H. His character dressed in women's clothing in hopes that his penchant for dressing in drag would get him discharged from the military. Unfortunately for his character, the plan never worked.
Other Men in Feminine Attire
Of course, not all men who wear women's clothing do it for laughs. There are men who dress in feminine clothes in secret and do not consider themselves homosexual. They simply enjoy the sensation of dressing in women's clothing.
While some people think that all men who wear feminine fashions are actively trying to be women, that's not the case. Transsexuals undergo surgical and hormonal treatment to develop feminine physical characteristics, while transvestites or cross dressers simply like wearing women's clothes. The two terms are not the same and the two groups don't necessarily have the same feelings toward femininity. Transsexuals often believe they were born in the wrong body, while transvestites just enjoy cross dressing.
Famous Cross Dressers
Men who have made a name for themselves as female impersonators are very convincing in carrying off a feminine persona. Some impersonators perform in shows that rival a Las Vegas production, portraying show business divas like Barbra Streisand or Diana Ross. Other impersonators have invented a unique persona, easily recognizable on their own. Famous cross dressers include:
- La Palma
- Dame Edna
- The Lady Chablis
While some men in women's clothing aren't trying to fool anyone, others are able to live in society without being recognized as men. It depends a great deal on what a man is trying to accomplish by dressing as a woman, whether it's for entertainment or personal fulfillment.