BBMag talks to a Brazilian crossdresser at a moment when the country is beginning to understand a little more about this gender phenomenon.
Until 2015, few Brazilians knew much about what crossdressing was. Very few knew that in 2009 Laerte, the famous award-winning cartoonist with more than 30 years of recognised professional experience in cartoons and comic strips, was introduced to the media as Sônia, and since then has worn female clothes every day. Being a person of certain notoriety and fame, she decided to take on the challenge face on, knowing the importance of the issue. She wanted to show her authentic happiness with her gender choice. And she received criticism after criticism. They thought it was just a fad, a flash in the pan, and that this artist was simply making a scene. In truth, no one paid much attention.
This year a high profile Brazilian soap opera, shown on a mass audience TV included a crossdressing character in its story. One important point: without stereotypes or preconceptions, as an authentic antihero. Still, natural. But with a real and educational message.
BBMag went in search of a genuine crossdresser in São Paulo to react to this breakthrough, this possible victory for all those people who live with the same gender situation. With you, the petite and very sassy Flávia Schütz!
BBMag – Flávia, how are you? Please, start by quickly telling us in brief a little bit about your story, in other words, some brief snippets. Would that be ok?
Flávia Schütz – Hello, I’m well. Look, when I start talking about this I never stop. But I will try to be objective (laughs). I identified myself as a crossdresser (although I had no idea what that was) when I was 6 years old. I remember being amazed by my teacher’s clothes at pre-school. Later, when I was 10, I saw a red swimsuit that belonged to my sister on the clothesline and I had this dying urge to try it on. I have flashbacks of moments like this. I was a teenager in the era of David Bowie, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bob Smith (from The Cure), Boy George, Kiss, Queen, Rolling Stones… So many artists and idols that used different types of clothes and make-up. Why couldn’t I? Gradually, and quite secretly –in fact, always in secret- I was trying on women’s clothes, shoes, make-up, until Flávia became a reality…
BBMag – If she became a reality, this means you “came out of the closet”, right?
Flávia Schütz – No! For the record, the idea of “coming out of the closet” does not exist for crossdressers. A crossdresser cannot live without a closet (laughs). And by concept. When a person is a crossdresser it means that they just like to wear clothes of the opposite sex, because it is fun, like any other hobby. There are people that like to build model planes, others that play musical instruments. Crossdressing is, at least to me, a recreational hobby. In no way do I reject my masculinity, my life as a man, as a father, as a professional, my friends… I am happy with all of this! I love to play football and watch the championships, I watch Formula 1 and I LOVE women! My whole life I have been involved exclusively with women. This is why it is so hard to understand the concept.
BBMag – So crossdressing isn’t the initial stage of becoming a transvestite? Not every crossdresser is gay?
Flávia Schütz – I will respond to your question with another: is a guy who is born white in the early stages of becoming brown, or even black? No, right? You are as you were born. A transvestite is born a transvestite. A transsexual is born with the wrong body. Nobody changes or turns into something else. I am a heterosexual man and I am very happy. I simply enjoy women’s clothing. That’s all! When I look at myself in the mirror what I see is a figure that delights me which is, aesthetically female. I often joke that I am a lesbian! (laughs)
BBMag – But Laerte, or Sônia, rather, is bisexual…
Flávia Schütz – Yes! Of course! Because to be a crossdresser, which is a gender consideration, does not necessarily define your sexual orientation. There are heterosexual crossdressers (which are the majority mainly because they do not reject their masculinity), homosexual ones, bisexual, pansexuals, and so on. But that is orientation. You should not confuse orientation with gender. With gender, you can be a man, women, drag queen, transvestite, transsexual or crossdresser.
BBMag – And what are the differences, for example, between crossdressers, transvestites and drag queens?
Flávia Schütz – Drag queens, independent of sexual orientation, are skilled artists who create exaggerated, colourful and garish, at times, stereotypes of what it is to be a woman. Transvestites, also independent of orientation and irrespective of their sexual organ, want to be women. To do this they decide to take hormones and drastically inject silicone implants so they can live as a woman 24 hours a day. Crossdressers, however, want to be …..invisible! They dress up – I repeat: for fun– to try and not be recognised. A crossdresser’s dream is to be seen in the street, or in a shopping centre, and someone look and think, “There goes a beautiful women” and not “Oh dear! Look at that guy in women’s clothes!”. To realise this dream a crossdresser dresses discreetly, using normal, elegant female clothing, exactly like any other women would use day-to-day. They use normal make-up….We don’t use the sorts of costumes women use to go to a fancy dress party! (laughs)
BBMag – And do you go out in the street, or to the shops dressed like this?
Flávia Schütz – How I wish I could! It would be a dream come true. I only dress like this at home for photos, always hoping that they will fool my own eyes. That they will show me an image of a real woman. My idea of a perfect world is one in which all closets were as one, without sex. No women’s shirts or men’s shirts; Women’s trousers, men’s trousers. Everyone, within reason, would be free to wear what they wanted. For example: good sense suggests that you should not go to a meeting or church in a bikini, right? You shouldn’t play football in a suit, smart shoes, and a tie. That’s it, use your common sense first and wear what you want, and please, be creative, enjoy the range of options, and dress well! (laughs)
BBMag – But, then, if you don’t go out and only dress up at home for photos….how is this good, or cool? Where’s the fun?
Flávia Schütz – Creating Flávia is a process. She has her tricks. Crossdressing is not merely a case of putting on a skirt and high heels. It is more than this. It’s essential to have attitude, in all senses of the word. An ideal situation would involve a good bath, followed by female perfume. It doesn’t need to be too sweet, but it needs to clearly be a women fragrance. You should keep the house dimly lit, with subtle lighting so as to almost impair your sight and mask any traces of imperfection. It is good to drink a little alcohol to relax and remove any inhibition. I like whisky and sometimes wine. Wine is cool as even the colour and shape of the glass have feminine qualities. To provoke the ears you need some smooth, soft music. Could be a bit of jazz, or perhaps blues. I really like Nina Simone, but Adele, Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, or even the faultless Madonna are unbeatable when it comes to the female soul. Not all of Madonna. But some melodic songs like Vogue, Like A Prayer… And finally, the touch: this comes from the actual clothes, from the feel of the stockings on the skin or the leg, the lycra, the silk and even the “happy pain” of high heels…inebriated with fantasy, with passion for the final masterpiece, for the final creation. That is the complete experience, which eliminates the need to go out, to see and be seen. Deep, deep down, that is enough. I am enough! (laughs)
BBMag – And what did you think of the outing of Laerte and, more recently, of the character Valkiria, played by the actor Otávio Muller, in the soap opera, O Jogo do Poder?
Flávia Schütz – Well… crossdressing has invaded the Brazilian living room! Of course both were good for crossdressing especially in the way they have ensured a better understanding of the differences between gender and sexual orientation. This should help women, wives, fiancées and girlfriends understand their partners in the long term. Those that think, ignorantly, that “ah, if you wear a skirt, lipstick and high heels, you are gay” will discover the opposite. It’s not like that! Or, at least, not necessarily. By the way, you need to be pretty brave and macho to go out in the street wearing high heels and a miniskirt (laughs). I even can imagine the day when a girlfriend will turn to her man and say, “wow, how cool is that! You make a beautiful woman. Now I understand why you like to wear my clothes!” (laughs)
BBMag – True… and tell me something: have you been to London? Do you think if you lived in London you could come out even more?
Flávia Schütz – Me, Flávia, no. But my other side, ‘frog’ (as we call our original masculine version before we put the high heels on, lol) has been a few times and London is definitely my kind of place. No doubt about it! I even bought clothes there, some reeeeeeally cool things, I tell you. No doubt I could be happier, more myself and relaxed if I lived in London. Besides being a very cosmopolitan city, it is a Tower of Babel, right? In Piccadilly Circus you can walk past people and not hear the same language twice (laughs). If I could live there I would love to live in Camden Town. There, I know, I could be myself and, like I long for, be “invisible” …
BBMag – To finish: are you happy today being a crossdresser?
Flávia Schütz – Of course! I always have been. If crossdressing didn’t make me happy I would be sad. Naturally: I have my limits. I know where I can and can’t go. I like taking things slow, in my own way, my own style. Naturally I would like to be able to wear better clothes and shoes, in other words, those that are made for women in my day-to-day. What crossdresser wouldn’t? And I would go a little further: one day, a crossdresser during an interview said that if there was a pill she could take to stop her being a crossdresser, she would take it. Not because it is bad, but because only we know the anxiety caused by buying shoes that we can only use at home; buy a beautiful M.A.C lipstick that we can only apply at home; to have to explain thousands of times that we are not gay, with people looking at you with that look of “I know, I know…” It is such a pain! Women can wear any of our clothes, but we can’t wear theirs. This is very unfair. But I know that I will never stop being a crossdresser. Never. I will die a crossdresser. And happy! I hope more soap operas have crossdresser in their cast (laughs) and that, one day, nobody will pay much attention to what others wear. Any chance I will live to see that day?
More about crossdressing
Transformation Studio in London: http://www.adamandeveuk.co.uk/
Movies with crossdressing themes: Ed Wood, Tootsie, Glen or Glenda, Victor or Victoria, The New Girlfriend, The Dutch Girl this is fantastic, but the theme is transsexual, not crossdressing. Even so, crossdressers will love it.)