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Take a Walk on the Wildside

Paddy Aldridge's Biography - page 03

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When I first began this business, all I knew about crossdressers was what I had seen on the television talk shows. The crossdressers on these shows always seemed well balanced with wives who always seemed to cope. I thought all crossdressers were like these men and there seemed no reason for the wives not to cope, but as I soon learned, this was not always the case. When a crossdresser dresses up and looks in the mirror, often what he sees is not what the rest of the world sees, but is in fact, clouded with his own perceptions of the woman he'd like to be. He is happy anyway because the key ingredient is his own feelings, and not how he looks. In a state of arousal, reality plays a minor role at best.

Don Cullen and Paddy Aldridge 1991

Early in my career when I didn't have the extensive wardrobe I do now, I had the one time only experience of helping a client who had arranged for a double deluxe session at double the money (12 outfits). I hoped I had enough clothing and wigs to last for a four-hour session and I did my best to be sure he was pleased with each look. Towards the end of the evening, a funny look came over his perfectly made up face as he stared at himself in the mirror. To my surprise he began to slap himself ferociously in the face and ordered himself to stop crossdressing and never to do it again. Then he began to cry. I was taken aghast. I did a lot of soul-searching to delve into the reason for his behaviour, and the significance of the part I had played in this charade.

A few months later, I transformed a Roman Catholic priest. He was "doing research" in order to be better able to assist in counseling some of his parishioners. He told me that the odd response I experienced from the above mentioned client was due to a classic split personality. One side wanted to crossdress. The other hated it. Further to that, he has counselled many split personality people. Many times he has watched one personality inflict verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse on the other personality.

I received a letter from a woman who had come home from the movies with her girlfriends one night to find her husband asleep on the couch wearing nothing but her panties and a raincoat. In this letter her sense of humour showed through as she asked me if I could give her husband feminisation training. But instead of doing it for his enjoyment, she wanted me to make it so uncomfortable that he would never want to dress up again. Things like heels that were too small, corsets too tight, and then when we were done, I was to send him home on the subway in that same male raincoat he arrived in, but with the addition of a well stuffed bra on underneath. I was also to videotape the experience so she could show the tape to her girlfriends. I did it! The husband and I laughed the entire time.

Sheryl Knight and Paddy Aldridge

The sister of a crossdresser called me on the phone in a distressed state not because her brother crossdressed, but because after he did he always beat up his wife. Clearly there were other problems besides wearing women's clothing in this particular situation, but the woman didn't know that. Some crossdressers enhance their hobby and engage in bondage, domination and sadomasochism.

A seventy eight year old man with old war tattoos timidly peeked his head into the store one time and whispered for me to please make him look like a real lady. Afterwards he confessed he had waited his entire life for an opportunity such as this one and now he could die a satisfied man because he had been a woman for a few hours.

I have seen many kinds of crossdressers. Groups of middle aged men with hairy bodies in bikinis, sunglasses and wigs lounging around the pool at the Boatslip Inn in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Successful executives who wanted to look like their secretary. Doctors who wanted to look like their nurse. Men who take 20 years off their age through makeup application and a wardrobe change, and become the girl they always dreamed about. Gorgeous and sexy pre-op transsexual strippers and she-males that pass as a women better than many genetic females.

The deep respect, admiration and love I feel for so many of the courageous, wonderful and sexy men I have met through the course of owning and operating the Wildside simply cannot go without being said. The bounty of heart-warming experiences I have shared with complete strangers has left me fulfilled and satisfied. Wildside has truly been chicken soup for my soul. It is and will continue to be my life's work and I write about Trans History in Canada and work on my feature documentary.

There is so much more to this business than running a store and applying makeup. The nature of this endeavour is such that we must provide free counselling to many of our customers. Many are confused and feel alone. It would be much more beneficial if they could seek help from their loved ones instead of strangers like us. Education and acceptance will go a long way to eliminate the ignorance that causes fear and misunderstanding.