There’s a story in my head that I’ve been wanting to bring to life for a while. This isn’t it. At least it’s not the creation, the book, the graphic novel, or even the first chapter.
It’s just the outline. Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers to something that hasn’t been (and quite probably won’t ever be) written.
The problem is that if I leave this dumb story sloshing around inside my head, it will keep on bugging me, and distracting me, and making me think I could be a famous author or something if I just get it down on paper, or find the ideal collaborator. So, like a demon exorcism, I’m going to yank it kicking and screaming out of my body and nail it to the page. At least then I’ll be free of it.
..and no, it’s not an onanistic bit of fetishery (that’s a wordy way of avoiding saying “wank fodder”). Yes, sure, it deals with fetish and all that stuff, but this isn’t wish fulfillment on my part. If I start writing about latex clad lesbian cheerleader squads, then I think we can all put on our disappointed faces and find something better to do instead.
In fact, it might be an idea to cut out the middle part and do that now. Go on, be disappointed somewhere else. I’m not George R.R. Martin.
We first meet Alex trudging across London on a wet November evening. He’s not going to a cool club. Not going to a signing. Not a comedy night, drag review, or even to the cinema. He’s going home from a dull day at work to his equally dull flat. With the whole city buzzing around him, his biggest concern is that he’s damp, tired and hungry.
What if you don’t fit into the tribes that are fighting for representation? What if your superhero power involves stripper heels and big hair? What if saving the day still doesn’t make you cool? What if you don’t have any role models to follow? What if you’re just a pervert?.. and what if the people fighting for fairness and equal rights are just as fallable as anyone else?
Is it even possible to save the day, get the girl and look fabulous in fairy wings?
This is about the pressure on us to be successful, our obsession with image, visibility and representation, and our desire to fit in.
Alex is struggling with adulting. He’s 24, already bored of his job, single and unsure of where he belongs. He’s also a crossdresser. He’s aware of the support and communities on social media — but he doesn’t fit in. He’s not a drag queen, not transsexual, not brave enough to visit a fetish club and not confident enough to venture beyond his tiny flat even in just girl jeans. Everyone else seems to have something to do, a mission — whether it’s his career obsessed colleagues, or the Instagram stars pumping out makeover tutorials.
So whilst everyone around him seems to be sure of their roles, he is going through the motions. Work, then home, then work. The only break is an occasional, terrifying trip to buy women’s clothes from the local second hand shop. He pretends they’re for his ‘girlfriend’, then tries them on in his flat. The adrenaline rush doesn’t last long though and he just ends up feeling like a pervert.
Meanwhile, the grim side of London is getting him down. Muggings and fights, with attacks on anyone ‘different’ seeming to happen every day. He watches Darla, a famous gay advocate call for inclusion and tolerance on tv one day, only for them to be beaten up in the street the next. It feels like everyone is taking sides.
Then, one day on the way home from work, he passes the second hand shop to see if there’s anything he’d like to buy. To his complete shock in the window is the most over the top fairy costume he’s ever seen. He doesn’t dare even go in, but then obsesses about it for the next week, passing it each day.
Finally, he can’t resist. He goes in and asks about it, for his ‘girlfriend’. The assistants are surprised as it was a costume from a drag artist who apparently quit the scene at the height of her fame. It comes with everything — from heels to enormous pink wig. Still insisting it’s for his imaginary partner, Alex has to buy it, though the assistants clearly know he’s been buying clothes for himself and aren’t remotely concerned if he does.
He rushes home to try the costume on. It’s even more spectacular than it looked in the window — and the box it came in has everything, from fake boobs to makeup. Alex gets lost in the transformation.
Then the fire alarm goes off. His whole block of flats starts to evacuate.
For a while he desperately tries to get out of the outfit, but he can’t reach the zip on the dress, his false nails get in the way and his shoes are just impossible to get out of. As he can hear people panicing outside of his flat, he gets more and more terrified, before finally realising he’s going to have to step out looking this way.
Except when he does, something strange happens. People ignore him. Completely. It seems that he looks so utterly outrageous that they block him out of their minds. Far from being a laughing stock, he’s totally invisible to them. Too fabulous to comprehend. He wanders through the residents without them noticing, then shell-shocked, out into the street where a six foot six fairy princess gets no attention whatsoever.
Stunned, he explores his weird invisibility before realising he’s locked himself out of his flat and has to get round the back to climb in the window. In the alleyway, he comes across a mugging. His neighbour being attacked. He feels helpless and ridiculous again… but suddenly realises that not being seen is a huge advantage. He knocks over the mugger, leaving his neighbour to escape, confused at what has happened.
Freaked out by the whole incident, Alex gets rid of the costume. Then at the last minute, he retrieves it, unable to resist the desire to crossdress.
His neighbour tells him about the mugging, and how relieved she was to get away. Alex feels proud to have ‘saved’ her, but can’t tell her, and doesn’t want to be uncovered. On the news a male couple are found beaten to death outside a local gay club, still in an embrace, and he realises how dangerous his actions could have been.
Yet, on the TV, Darla is demanding the police and authorities work harder to stop hate crimes. They complain how little protection there is, and how weak the punishments are for the continuous aggressions they encounter every day.
Break Into Two
Still needing to crossdress, Alex can’t resist putting on the costume again. Then he can’t stop himself from going out once more, to see if he’s still invisible. He walks the streets, revelling in the freedom, and realising that he can make a difference. Even if it’s just tripping up someone cat-calling a woman across the street.
The feeling is intoxicating. He can do good, fight crime and look fabulous.
In the mean time, a new woman starts at Alex’s work, shaking the very vanilla environment up. Lucy’s fiercely alternative, but their boss tolerates the strange outfits and wild hair as she’s very, very good at her job.
Alex feels a natural affinity for her, especially as they seem to have a similar taste in clothes — but she’s completely dismissive of him as a bland, straight white boy who understands nothing about diversity.
Fun And Games
Alex spends more and more time out and about. The stripper heels are killing his feet, and the fairy wings get caught in doorways, but he’s finding he can stop muggings, break up fights and even get a little revenge on intolerant bigots.
On impulse, he uses a pink ribbon from his hair to tie a mugger to a railing after stopping them mid-attack. The police find the thief and the news pick up on the ribbon. Alex loves being acknowledged, even if tangentially, and uses some ribbon again to restrain a pair of theives. He’s found his ‘signature’!
One night, when actively searching for a fight, Alex comes across a terrible scene. Two women murdered in an alleyway just next to a gay club. Initially it looks like they we’re holding hands, but he discovers their hands have been nailed together against the wall. Unable to do anything, he flees the scene.
The news covers the awful event. Darla and others call for strict policing, safe zones and better representation in the media. They demand that intolerance is treated as a hate crime, and social media is monitored.
Bad Guys Close In
Alex vows to do more to fight intolerance and attacks. He gets into a routine of walking the streets, looking for trouble. Outside the clubs and bars in town, there are plenty of opportunities to right wrongs. Sometimes it’s just causing a distraction when a fight is brewing. Later in the evening, it’s more likely to be a mugging or brawl.
His confidence growing, Alex even ventures into the clubs he was once so nervous of. He goes to a gay bar in his normal clothes, wanting to talk to the drag queens, but they treat him like a tourist and he feels out of place and unwelcome. He even sneaks into a fetish club in his costume, dancing with the other fetishists — but being ignored makes it feel impersonal and lonely. The next day he learns of another murder.
Feeling lost, he ends up following Lucy back from work, invisible in his costume. To his distress he overhears her talking with disgust about a guy on social media posting pictures in an outfit similar to hers. She thinks crossdressers are freaks.
Meanwhile, tensions are rising, with people being called out for not being sufficiently tolerant, for not condemning the violence strongly enough and not being an ally to minority groups. The battle lines are being drawn and Alex feels excluded from the groups he looked up to. Everyone is treating each other with suspicion, and even the kindest action is regarded as a potential confrontation. The most casual interaction feels like walking a minefield of unintended hurt.
All Is Lost
Later that night, he witnesses two men harassing a guy coming out of a gay bar. They push their victim into an alleyway. Alex is just about to intervene when Darla shows up. To his shock, Darla violently attacks the drunks, killing them both. He watches in horror as she poses them as though they were a gay couple who had been mugged. She has been staging the murders as revenge, to stir up the fight against intolerance.
Just as Darla leaves the scene, she looks right at Alex, “We’re winning the war, kid” — she can see him! And worse still, she think’s he’s like her.
Dark Night of The Soul
Alex returns home and abandons his costume, ashamed of everything he’s seen. The freaks and weirdos he looked up to are intolerant. The people calling for tolerance are stirring up hatred. Everyone is looking out for themselves rather than helping the people around them.
Break Into Three
In despair, and with nothing else to do, Alex goes into work. At lunch, one of his colleagues, a mousey woman called Anne comes over to talk to him. To his complete surprise, she tells him she loved his costume at the fetish club night. She could see him, but felt intimidated to talk to him as she was ‘only’ wearing latex. It turns out he was far from invisible to the fetish crowd, but no-one felt they could interrupt his dancing. Anne and Alex talk and discover that each feels embarassed by their ‘kinks’, and overawed by people like Lucy and Darla who make a show of their differences. Anne is closet bi, and loves the alt-fashion scene, but like Alex doesn’t know how to fit in.
Alex confesses everything that has happened. Initially horrified by the information, Anne insists they’ve got to expose Darla. They hatch a plan.
Anne and Alex brave a club night. Both are terrified. She’s wearing an eye popping fetish lolita outfit, and he’s just in casual clothes. They meet Lucy, who patronises Anne for ‘trying her best’ with her costume. Lucy blanks Alex. Tired of the self-obsessed crowd, too busy taking selfies to interact, Alex and Anne leave.
Outside the club, a couple of drunk women see Lucy’s outfit and start to confront her. They attack her for being ‘weird’ and not dressing ‘normal’, pushing her around. They drag her away from the club and threaten her, demanding money and humiliating her. Suddenly, Darla is there, and she’s ready to fight.
Darla berates the women for being straight, vanilla bitches. She’s going to kill them like the others and make another example to get her followers to rise up against their oppression. Suprisingly, the women fight back — suddenly completely sober. To Darla’s confusion, Anne joins the fight on their side, keeping Darla from inflicting damage. Darla cannot understand why Anne doesn’t want to destroy the women. She’s knocked to the ground, defeated.
The women confess they’re Lucy’s friends from the fetish club. They’re more than used to being attacked and run a self defense class. Darla is incensed that such ‘pervert freaks’ should stop her. She rants and raves at them…
…all captured on camera by Alex, unnoticed in his vanilla clothing. He shares it online, exposing Darla’s intolerance and bigotry and her full confession.
Alex, Anne and her friends are dancing at a club together. One tells him he’d better be good to her ex-girlfriend. Another says she’s got a really cool idea for a new costume…