Man Drag 101 

Let yer man out at Change Makers

What the world doesn't need now is another unconvincing cross-dresser. From community theater to the Halloween crawl, hairy-chested Hilton sisters and hip-swaying Aragorns make the suspension of disbelief well-nigh impossible. But have no fear -- the all-female theater company Woman's Will wants to help, and for the past four or five years, the group has enlisted 1998's San Francisco Drag King of the year, Leslie Einhorn, to lead the charge. The class is called Find Your Inner Man, and Einhorn, who regularly teaches a modified version for female-to-male transgenders in transition -- and who has a background in theater -- was "charmed by the idea of teaching actors," says Erin Merritt of Woman's Will.

But the class, held at Change Makers (6536 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) this Saturday evening from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., isn't just for them. Nonthespians like to play dress-up, too, Merritt says: "They don't come in saying 'I want to play male roles onstage,' they come in saying, 'Somehow I don't feel like I get everything out of life because I'm female.' And they notice what they don't get to do, rather than what they do get to do. And so, being a man for a couple of hours ... helps you be more compassionate for men, and also for women, and also a little more grateful for what we do get."

The physical transformation is fun and often startling. Participants sometimes look surprisingly hot, for one thing, and while most folks come out looking like their brothers or fathers, Merritt ended up looking like an ex-boyfriend. And since the class explores and deconstructs physiology, social paradigms, and emotional life, the cumulative effect of the class is often effective on a deeper level than the mere cosmetic. "It's really kind of an eye-opening experience," Merritt says. "It also feels really dangerous. I hear that a lot, that it feels -- no pun intended -- transgressive. Like you're getting away with something you're not supposed to get away with." The class costs $45. Call 510-420-0813 to register. Students are asked to bring boots, low-slung jeans, or whatever clothing items make them feel masculine.

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