Performance artist Nando Messias shares some tips on how to survive when you’re an effeminate man.

8 Ways to Survive Being a Sissy

For more insights come see Where 4 Roads Meet: Death and the Sissy, showing at Toynbee Studios on the 12th of October. Tickets on sale now

1. Pile on the makeup

As war paint, like Quentin Crisp, “blinded by mascara and dumb by lipstick.” Don’t listen to the objections. No matter what you do, you will always look like a girl and you will most definitely always stand out. So have fun. As jeweller Harry Winston put it: “People will stare. Make it worth their while.”

2. Wear a bold perfume

Choose any of the following: Poison, Opium, Coco, Amarige, Angel or Insolence. Aromatics Elixir if you don’t like florals and Giorgio If you’re on a tight budget. I wear Fracas myself but you can’t have that because it’s mine. Anything with a huge sillage will do the job. Throw caution to the wind and douse yourself with gay abandon. The effect you want is that of an invisible protective shield around you. It might not ward off the haters but it should at least keep mosquitoes away in summer.

3. Carry stiletto heels

My strong advice is to wear stiletto heels on all occasions. Failing that, carry a pair in your bag at all times. The thinner the heel, the better. If in danger, run. Mind, you might stumble, so practice in advance. If you choose not to run, you can always use the heels as weapons.

4. Wear a cape

This is genuine advice I actually received from a police officer following a bashing I suffered once. “Next time,” he suggested, “wear a cape until you arrive at your destination.” A cape! A mother-fu*king, sodding, cape. As if A CAPE would make me any less conspicuous. Perhaps if I added a top hat and a walking stick, people might mistake me for Count Dracula and then I would fit right in, officer.

5. Take taxis wherever you go

Or, even better, hire a driver-bodyguard. You know you deserve one.

6. Take self-defence classes

But only in heels and makeup.

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7. Become a recluse

Refuse to come out. You might become a legend like Greta Garbo or Maria Callas.

8. Become an artist

It’s worked for me and generations of effeminate men before me. I went down the performance art route myself and have been warmly embraced by a coterie of fabulous misfits I now call family.

Somehow I seem to have survived as an effeminate man. Don’t erase your difference. Don’t try to fit into a mould. And whatever you do, stay safe and don’t let the bastards grind you down! Remember Madonna: “and if I fall, I get up again now, I get up again, over and over…”

For more insights come see Where 4 Roads Meet: Death and the Sissy, showing at Toynbee Studios on the 12th of October. Tickets on sale now

by Nando Messias

Nando Messias‘ work straddles performance art, dance and theatre. His performances combine beautiful images with a fierce critique of gender, visibility and violence. He has performed at prestigious venues such as Hayward Gallery, V&A, Tate Tanks, Roundhouse, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Tate Britain and ICA, among other spaces across the UK. He has also worked extensively on the international circuit.

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