I was born in San Francisco but my mother and I moved to Los Angeles a few years after I was born. I never knew my father and grew up with my mother and her sister. We lived in a small house in West Hollywood and both my mother and aunt worked as secretaries at a movie studio. Both of them dreamed of being discovered by a talent scout and starring in movies or on television…sadly that never happened. They did appear as extras in a number of movies over the years…but remained secretaries. My reason for mentioning this is to establish how my love for being feminine developed. I used to sit and watch them do their make-up, hair and dress….taking extra care to ensure they looked perfect…after all that talent scout may be out there looking for the next starlet!
By the age of ten I was playing with their make-up and walking in their heels…something they both found cute. At fourteen, I had progressed to dressing almost every day after school and I truly believe my mother and aunt had accepted they had more of a daughter/niece than a son/nephew. I clearly remember my mother looking at me and saying she wished I had been born a girl…then asking me if I wish I were a girl…..my reply was no….I just love the clothes. She smiled and I think that was probably the moment we both knew that Ashley was here to stay.
During high school I met three other “girls” like me….finding them was actually quite easy….I guess the saying…”it takes one to know one” should apply. Wearing boy clothes during the week just made all of us that more wild during the weekends. We would dress, usually at my house and then run all over Los Angeles……frankly I’m surprised we survived. I look back on what we did and shake my head…..I guess youth gives you a certain degree of invulnerability.
Like most high schools we had the annual Womanless Beauty Pageant and all four of us entered each year….and never won…..I suspect we were just a bit to convincing and scared the judges….the winner always seemed to be some big hairy football player in an ill-fitting evening gown. And so it goes! I do remember a few of the teachers and some of the male parents spending more than a little time looking at each of us…..now it registers but back then I just thought it was nice to be admired.
After high school I went east to college. My long lost father picking up my tuition and costs. I had one box of boy clothes and 8 large boxes of Ashley’s clothes…..which seemed about right. Keep in mind this was a time when being caught in public would most likely get you arrested. But like all of us….the need to be feminine far outweighed the fear…so I found a gay club not far from school and late at night would sneak out of the dorm and talk my way into the club…..which turned out to be surprisingly easy. The club usually had a few girls and lots of gay guys that could care less about girls like me. Occasionally there would be a man there that didn’t seem to fit in and often times they would strike up a conversation with one of us girls. I found myself attracted to the attention but knew I wasn’t totally gay…..I knew I liked girls….or at least their clothes.
That year the university had a Halloween party and of course I dressed. I seemed to be a bit of a topic of conversation and found out that my sneaking out of the dorm wasn’t quite as stealth as I had thought. But for the most part everyone was accepting and took Ashley in stride. One girl (genetic) seemed to keep looking at me and finally she came over and introduced herself…..she was amazing and had on the cutest French maid costume. We talked and talked and she asked if she could go with me the next time I went to the gay club…this kind of floored me but of course I said yes. Skip ahead a few months and we are an “item” and as it turned out….. soon she was my wife. To this day I am still amazed at how lucky I am to have her in my life. My wife is truly my best friend and the love of my life. She is also my photographer, most of the time. We love opening a bottle of red wine, putting on some music and doing a day long photo shoot. We have so much fun together.
Over the years we have attended a number of the conferences held throughout the United States and also taken a few trips to London attending some of the events there as well as visiting a few clubs. We have made so many dear friends during our lives….our community seems to bring out the best in people. As my career has moved us from one location to another we always tried to host social gatherings at our home. Our events seemed to grow in attendance and in scope which we loved. A welcoming social setting seemed to be what many girls needed…especially if they were just starting to realize their feminine side. It is so rewarding to see how many of them have blossomed over the years.
One of my true passions is collecting and recording vintage cross dressing, drag and female impersonation photos, stories, magazines and books. I think it’s important for us to never forget what those girls did and accomplished back when the consequences could be quite serious. The performers in clubs and shows such as Club 82, The Jewel Box Revue, Club My O My and so many other venues just fascinate me. I’ve been blessed to have friends send me early photos and magazines depicting the life these girls led. I know there are others collecting and posting the same memories but I feel that getting the story out even if it might be redundant is important. I’ve also started writing short stories with a T-girl as the main character. Again I’m hoping to post them soon. I am a very proud member of The Vanity Club…a wonderful group of girls that just make me so happy to be a girl! I love them all.
So I guess that brings me to now….happy, enjoying working from home and dressing every day…going out to clubs and dinner in Atlanta and staying in touch with friends and hoping to make new friends. I wish every girl could be as fortunate as I have been and if she wants….finds the love of her life who loves her as she is.
Hugs and kisses
Click on Ashleys portrait below to go to her Flickr page.