If you have yet to read this month's issue of Frock Magazine, then I urge you to give it a read as soon as you're done here - I think you'll find my article on Female Masking and the Trans Community a great sort of primer, and a natural lead in to this week's feature.
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥A double treat for female masking enthusiast today, as we featured a review of Dressing For Success this morning, and now we're chatting with the author, P. J. Wright!
♥ Thanks for taking the time to join us, P.J. To get things started, what can you tell us about when were you first introduced to the idea of female masking?
I truly can't remember my first exposure to male to female masking. It probably occurred sometime back in the late 50's or early 60's. (Yes, I really am old enough to have been impressed by things that occurred in the late 50's. Perhaps that's why I can't remember the exact details. They say that as you age, memory is the second thing to go. I can't remember what they say the first thing is.) I think it's possible I came to masking 'later' in my fascination with males presenting as females.
I have to explain that. For me, the fascination is the ability to 'be someone else.' And being something of a perfectionist, at least when it comes to my fantasies (being a perfectionist when it comes to fantasy is easy, after all), that 'being someone else' has to be utterly believable. Otherwise you're not *being* someone else. You're just trying to look like you're being someone else. (And for me, that's a different fantasy entirely.)
Eventually - and as I say, I can't point to the instant of this realization - I decided that an utterly believable, artificial female anatomy (including the means to alter a masculine face into a female one) was the best possible way to satisfy my need for perfection.
♥ That makes sense, and I can definitely see that appeal. Have you had the occasion to take part it in yourself?
I've never experienced it myself. So by necessity, I'm a writer of pure fiction. The reason I've never tried it myself relates back to my prior answer. I have to have perfection - or at least as close to perfection as possible. Given that I'm 6'0" tall and have a physical frame that allowed me to play on my high school football team's interior offensive line... Well, I long ago surrendered to the truth that, for me, attempting to realize the 'perfect fantasy' would ever and always be an exercise in frustration and disappointment. So yes; I write fantasy. But that doesn't mean I'm incapable of pragmatism in my real life.
♥ Like drag, masking seems to exist on the fringes of transgender culture, often seen as more as a fetish than a true form of gender expression. Do you think looking at it just another latex, PVC, or rubber fetish is fair?
Please believe that I'm not trying to be confrontational. I'm just stating *a purely personal opinion* here. But to be frank, I don't see why resolving that distinction is particularly important, since I don't intend to alter my judgment of a person based on how they express themselves, at least with respect to the possible choices for that expression suggested by your question. 'It's all a fetish.' 'None of it is a fetish'. 'This is a fetish, but that's not.' So what? Maybe it is a fetish. If so, then I've got a fetish. Do I think I ought to be judged as somehow 'less' (or perhaps 'more'... yeah, right) than people who don't share it? Since I have to honestly answer that I would object to that kind of valuation were it applied to me, how do I justify trying to apply valuations on others based as how I characterize what they do? I remember a line from some book I once read that went something like, "Judge not, unless you want to be judged yourself." Good words to live by.
♥ A fair answer, and an attitude I wish moe people shared. Personally, I see masking as something that presents a glorious opportunity for crossdressers who don't feel passable due, as you've mentioned, to body shape or facial hair. How do you see it fitting into the overall transgender culture, and as an alternate means of gender expression?
Bearing in mind my prior comment about 'judging', and how I'm not going to belittle anyone based on the choices they make in this regard, or how well they accomplish those choices...
And also bearing in mind my own *personal* need for perfection, and how - while that would not drive my *judgment* of others - it nevertheless might drive an unspoken opinion...
...I guess I would evaluate the 'opportunity' based on how well it supports the desire for that expression. Look - a person who is very obviously wearing a very artificial mask unavoidably says to me, 'I'm a person who has chosen to wear a very artificial female mask.' Let me be very clear and say my response to that is to say, 'Oh. Okay. That's fine. I genuinely hope you get whatever fulfillment making that choice gets you and that you wind up happy.'
On the other hand - given how believable female masks (and bodysuits) are becoming these days, and just how much of an advance they are over what we had just a few years ago, and given the potential for realizing 'perfection' (at least by some folks) that represents for the future if the trend continues - I can foresee a day in the not-at-all distant future when female masks and bodysuits could very plausibly represent a genuinely glorious opportunity for occasionally and very believably expressing a gender opposite from what you were born with.
♥ I'm glad you brought up the subject of advancements. How much have the technological advances in masks and body suits influenced your interest in masking?
I can't resist the opportunity to 'toot my own horn' for a moment here. Back in the 90s I wrote a story that relied on combining some (back then) pretty advanced technology to create an absolutely believable mask/bodysuit, one that allowed a male cousin to step into the shoes of his female cousin and take her place. (The technology in that case was the mating of a plane laser scanner to a CAD-enabled precision milling machine.) But now, barely 20 years later, we suddenly have 3D printers - a technology that nobody (or at least not I) had ever heard of, but that would have been a perfect replacement for my CAD-milling machine.
Furthermore, 'back in the day' (80's and even 90's) the notion of a female torso that would allow a male a completely believable (even on close inspection) female presentation was *pure fantasy*. Yet it exists in reality today, no more than 20 years later. *That's exciting.*
♥ We've already come a long way, but do you think we'll ever see the day where masking is as perfect and publicly passable as we see on screen in the likes of James Bond and Mission: Impossible?
In all honesty, I think that if you start with the right 'blank canvas' (if you know what I mean based on my comments above), the day when perfectly and publicly passable female masks has already arrived. And that's 'today'. As I said earlier, the trend toward ever more believable masks is rapidly accelerating. That being the case, and looking at what we've already achieved - yes. I'm quite confident that the day you envision will someday come to pass. And in the not too distant future, too.
♥ Getting back to the stories for a moment, masking fiction is a small niche in the world of publishing, but certainly has a large online presence. How did you get involved in masking fiction and where else can readers find your work?
As to the 'how' and the 'why', please refer back to my answer to your first question. As to where my fiction currently 'lurks', my most extensive catalog exists on tgstorytime.com (There is a search by author name that will get you to my stuff. It's alphabetical. I'm found under "P")
♥ Okay, before you all go clicking away, we have one last question for P.J. Other than yourself (lol), are there any other authors you'd recommend to somebody with an interest in masking?
Rather than insult anyone I might forget to mention, though they are in full measure worthy of it, I think I'll content myself by giving a shout-out to "Bennett", a co-author who is currently sharing the delight of writing an 'on-again, off-again' continuing saga - "The Weaver's Tale" - that can also be found on TGStorytime. (And yes; it is at least arguably 'masking fiction.')
♥ Thanks again for taking the time to share with us, hon. For those of you who missed it, please be sure to check out my review of Dressing For Success from earlier today . . . and then get your own copy so you can enjoy!