Report Back: Summer Nights at Amuse

We had our first social of 2018 at Amuse Cafe in Linden on Tuesday night… and what a night it was. For those who couldn’t make it, here is some information to fuel your regret.

The night was billed as a Summer Nights Social. The idea was to provide gender non-conforming people in Gauteng, regardless of how they identify, with an opportunity to meet up, chat and generally just socialise in an informal, friendly and accepting environment. My good friend Anna from the Emporium of Delights and All Things Nice kindly agreed to bring some of her costume jewellery stock with her, so there was something to do if the conversation got a bit boring.

We had started advertising the event just over a month ago and there had been quite a bit of interest in the event, but you never know how many people will turn up on the night. I was expecting somewhere between 10 and 15 people based on the interest levels we had, but we have had events where we were expecting 20 people and only a handful arrive, and we have had events where we were only expecting five people and then 15 arrive on the night. I was therefore very pleased that in the end 13 people arrived over the course of the evening. This is a very good turnout for a weeknight and we were very happy. A big thank you to everyone who turned out to support us. Organising these events takes a fair bit of effort and we literally make nothing out of the event, so events that are poorly supported can be very soul destroying. When we get a decent turn out, my heart literally sings.

As usual, I had some dressing ‘challenges’ of my own to overcome (you can read all about them in a few days’ time at Daniella’s Ramblings if you so wish). I was somewhat unsure what to wear. Should I be casual (Amuse is a fairly casual venue) or should I glam it up? Or what? I settled on a pair of skinny jeans, my new off the shoulder pink top, beige cowboy boots and some accessories. Luckily Irene had some spare time and was able to do my makeup for me. I think she did a fantastic job.

 

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After dressing, makeup and a few errands (for more details please read my personal blog), I arrived at the venue just before 6 as I wanted to make sure that I was on time and be able to assist Dirck (from Amuse) with information (or anything else) should he need it. I was sitting at the table Dirck had reserved for us (thanks Dirck), sipping a coke and responding to WhatsApp’s when someone walking past asked me (very politely), ‘excuse me, but are you Daniella?’ I looked up and saw someone, a good looking young man to be sure, standing in front of me. I had no idea who they were. I looked blankly at him and said that indeed I was. He could see that I was at a complete loss and said, ‘you may know me as Heidi’. OMG it was my Facebook friend and local drag queen Heidi van Kleef. I had only met Heidi in real life once before, at a show of hers and I had never seen her without her glitter, hair and heels before. The presence of a beard also threw me off the scent to be fair. We were able to spend some time catching up on the outdoor veranda (it was a very pleasant late summer evening) and actually talking to one another in person. It was lovely.

Soon some guests started to arrive. Heidi had been asked by Dirck to stand in as host(ess?) for the evening as he had to attend an urgent meeting. Anna was the first to arrive and she joined us, and we celebrated Heidi’s recent promotion at her day job with her. Then Nicole arrived. Anna, who lives so far in the East of Johannesburg that we have to check the time zones before phoning her, had never been to Amuse before. She seemed quite taken by the charm of the place. Then she noticed the sculpture of the naked male torso. She felt compelled to touch it and I managed to get photographic evidence before dragging her away from it.

 

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Anna fondling the art work.

Clearly it was time to move in doors… Claire, Liza, Grizelda and Irene all arrived in quick succession and soon we were all happily chatting away. The service was good as always and our throats were soon lubricated. After a long day hard at work most people were hungry, and I think almost everyone ordered something to eat. The food was up to the usual standard and one of the things I really like about Amuse is the portion size. Many restaurants charge a lot more for a plate of food and they seem compelled to compensate by giving you far too much to eat. Amuse follows a less aggressive pricing strategy and their portion sizes are smaller, but I find this preferable. It is a far more ‘European’ model (as opposed to what I have seen at North American restaurants) and I think it sets Amuse apart. It also makes an evening out far more affordable.

After everyone was finished Anna opened her box of tricks and a number of people sampled her range of accessories that were on offer. It seems she was happy enough with the amount of stock she sold, so thanks to everyone who supported her.

I really enjoyed myself and it was fantastic to meet so many people new to the scene in Johannesburg. And of course, it was fantastic to catch up with old friends and talk with people who we seldom get to interact with face to face. I particularly enjoyed meeting Michelle in person. We have been on line friends for a very long time but had never met in person before and seeing all the other new faces made me very happy too.

I hope everyone had as much (or more) fun as me. As to all of you who would like to come to one of our events but have not been able to, all I can say is that you are missing out. There is no need to come en femme if you are too scared (although there is no reason to be scared) and nobody will judge you for what you wear. We would love to meet you all in a fun, relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Hope to see you at the next one (watch this space for details).

Once again, a big thank you to everyone who came out and I hope to see you all again soon. Thank you to Anna for providing us all with an opportunity to acquire more bling and of course thank you to Dirck and the rest of the Amuse team for being professional and so welcoming to our little community. Finally, a big thank you to Irene who did people’s makeup on the night, was such a good hostess and who helps and supports me so much!

 

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Vintage Clothing Evening: Reminder and Details

OK everyone, the big event of the winter is nearly upon us, so I thought we needed to give everyone all the salient information (and a gentle reminder).

Date: 14 July 2017
Time: 7 pm
Place: 1 Sandela Court, corner Olifants and Levubu Roads, Emmarentia
Cost: R115 per person (includes food and drink)

What is this? I hear you all ask. Well The OPC is a vintage clothing store. They have all sorts of amazing things in stock. Whether it is a ball gown, a wedding dress, a pair of 1990s Prada heels or a bikini from the 1960s, they have it on stock. And we are giving you this opportunity to have a sophisticated evening of socialising, meeting like minded people and trying on these amazing clothes in a safe and accepting environment.

The owner of The OPC is a member of the LGBT community and as such is welcoming and accepting. She is putting on some eats and drinks, has agreed to extend her opening hours for us and will also ensure that the interior of the shop is not visible to any prying eyes. There will also be security for our cars in the parking area in front of the shop.

So why not come round have some fun, meet some sisters and maybe even buy some clothes (or some jewelry).

We will need to have an idea of numbers for catering purposes, so we would appreciate it if you can book with us by no later than 11 July. To book your tickets, simply click here and give us your name and number of tickets required and we will reserve your place. To pay for your tickets you can simply click on the ‘BUY NOW’ button to the right (or maybe bottom if you are using a mobile device to browse) of this page. It is juts under the ‘PAY WITH PAYPAL’ heading. This will enable you to pay us using a credit card or your PayPal account (if you have one). Alternatively, please contact us and we will make an alternative arrangement for you.

Of course anyone needing a place to dress for the evening, help with makeup, a place to stay or any other services should contact us so that we can assist you.

Should you have any other queries please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you all on 14 July.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: Time is Running Out

Hey LGBT/crossdressing non Johannesburg residents. Time is running out if you want to catch Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Monte Casino. The show runs until 18 June and that is just around the corner.

Why not book your tickets and book an overnight stay at Priscilla’s Studio? We are an LGBT friendly establishment and have some very competitive rates (especially given the service and comfort levels on offer). We offer self catering or bed and breakfast options.

If you want to take a walk on the wild side you could even go to the show en femme and we would be happy to assist in that regard as well. We offer makeovers/femminisation services as well as shopping and other associated services. Feel free to contact us contact us and we will be happy to assist.

The show is a lot of fun and all the reviews I have seen have been very good. It is a fun night out, let us help you make it even more fun!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Outing

Hi Everyone

Time is running short, so here is a final update regarding all final arrangements for our Priscilla Queen of the Desert outing.

Date: Wednesday 24 May 2017
Where: Teatro at Monte Casino
Curtain up: 8 pm

We have decided that we should all meet at:

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Beira Alta Cocktail Lounge (mostly because it is super close to the Teatro) for pre-show drinks (and to collect your tickets) at 6-45 for 7. Those of you coming to the studio to get your makeup done will obviously meet us at the studio!

If you have any queries please contact us so that we can assist.

Looking forward to seeing you all, it is going to be absolutely fabulous!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert!

Hi Everyone

As promised, Priscilla’s Services will be arranging an absolutely fabulous trip for all of us to go and see Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
We would love it if you could ALL join us for an evening of feminine fabulousness and fun.
We will do a bulk booking so that we can all be seated together in the same part of the theater. We will endeavour to get the best seats possible at the best price. The price below is thus a maximum price you will pay. If we can get cheaper tickets we will refund you the difference. Please note that as we are doing the booking on your behalf, we will need the money to be paid when you book as we cannot afford to be out of pocket.

The details are as follows
When 24 May 2017
Time 8pm show.
Place Montecasino. We will meet at 7pm for drinks before hand. Venue to be decided.
Cost R450 per person (for the show, excluding drinks)
Booking deadline 5 April

Irene will of course be available to do makeup and assist you if you need it.Our venue will be available for those in need of somewhere to dress and of course we will make contingency plans should an ‘overflow’ situation arise.
When booking for the show please indicate if you will be needing any other services (makeup, shopping, dressing venue etc) so we can start preparing.

Please note that you do not have to come en femme and we would love to see you all even if you would prefer to come en homme. Also this event is open to anyone who wants to join. Supporters, friends, partners, spouses etc, whether, trans, cis, whatever you are all welcome. This would just be a great opportunity to get out and about whether en femme or en homme, meet some like minded people and have a fabulous evening together.

If any of you are worried, we went to see Rocky Horror at Montecasino on one of my first ‘vanilla’ evenings en femme. It was FINE!

Please contact us to make your booking or to ask any questions you may have.

Hope to hear from you all soon.

Crossdressing and the Quest for Privacy

Many crossdressers have a lot to lose. Many of us have a marriage, children, careers and a standing in the community that we want to protect. We are very concerned (given society’s general lack of knowledge and understanding about crossdressing and transgender issues) that if we are discovered, we stand to lose some or all of these things. Often we fear losing our families and careers most and are concerned that if our spouses or bosses discover that we are crossdressers we will almost certainly lose these things that we value the most.

For this reason we keep things as private as possible. Sometimes this means we end up keeping secrets from those that we love the most. Sometimes we may end up lying to those people. This can be a very difficult experience and one that adds pressure, strain and stress to our already hard lives.

I am of the opinion that it is better to be honest with people. However I also appreciate that when it comes to something like crossdressing it is very hard to predict how people will react, especially when it relates to a spouse or other close family member (I have heard of otherwise very open and liberal people freaking out when discovering this about their spouse and I have also heard of very conservative and otherwise ‘straight’ people being very accepting). Additionally it is true that once you have ‘rung the bell’ you absolutely cannot ‘un-ring’ it. Once you tell someone you have reached the point of no return. Either they will accept you or they will not. If they do not, they will almost certainly look at you in a different light… This can place intolerable strain on us and our relationships.

For this reason discretion is an absolute necessity. You need to have a very good idea of how your revelation will be received and you need to be comfortable with the consequences of that revelation, whatever they may be. If you are not prepared to accept the worst case scenario, it is probably better to keep quiet. This in turn leads to a serious problem. How do you live your life as you want and need to live it, without causing distress. Additionally how do you live a life of integrity and how do you avoid deception?

If you cannot afford to get caught crossdressing, do not get caught. Make sure you only dress in a safe and secure environment. Always make sure that you pack away all evidence and crucially make sure that all traces are removed. If a spouse finds lingerie, traces of makeup and stray hairs she will certainly think you are having an affair before she thinks you are crossdressing. This will just make life worse.

You therefore need to make sure that all your clothes are stored in a safe and secure place. I would suggest off site storage is best. I know a number of people store their clothes in their offices. This is an idea but remember your office is not yours, it belongs to your employer, so there can be very little expectation of privacy. An employer is entitled to enter a cupboard looking for documents, files etc and in so doing they may discover your stash. It is not unreasonable for them to ask questions. This could result in difficulties at work. Given that a salary is your greatest asset as it enables you to meet all your other goals (financial and otherwise) you really do not want to lose your job. I would therefore advise against storing clothes at work. A better off site solution is a self storage unit of some sorts. However these are often expensive as you end up paying for far more space than you need.

You will then need a place to dress. More often than not the opening and closing times of self storage units may not suit you, especially if you are dressing at night and you then need to find somewhere to store your clothes for a few hours before and after you dress. This complicates your life. You will also need a place to dress and undress and wash. Even if you can dress in your storage unit, finding somewhere to wash will be difficult. Entering and exiting the unit may also be difficult as the staff may not be as tolerant as we would like. You may be able to use your home but you will then be constrained by the movements of the rest of your family and you run the risk of being discovered due to someone returning unexpectedly or you may leave something incriminating out. A better solution is to find a hotel or similar establishment where you can dress, wash etc. But obviously this will add costs and can be tricky as you will need to pay by credit card, register your name etc. And again if your spouse does discover a receipt or credit card bill with a local hotel listed her assumption is not going to be the truth. She will believe you are cheating on her.

I have also heard of people dressing in their cars, driving around late at night, taking risks and not being safe. Not only are you risking your life and safety but you are also risking exposure by doing this. Sadly violent crime, hijacking and other concerns are a very real part of life in South Africa and transgender people are statistically at a greater risk of being victims of these crimes. Not only are you risking harm, you are also risking discovery. I would caution against this approach. It is just not worth becoming a statistic and having your wife find you in the emergency room wearing your stilettos and leather mini skirt!

This is why we have established Priscilla’s Services. We believe our establishment offers you the ability to live your life as you need to, without risking all those things you hold dear. Our core service offering includes storage for your clothes and a safe and well appointed place to dress and wash. All at very reasonable prices. For those of you who cannot risk telling those that you love, please be safe, please keep your privacy and trust us to be discreet. Our facilities have been developed with you in mind. We are here to help.

Portfolio

As you may well imagine a number of our clients are somewhat less than keen to have their photograph taken and those that have photographs are often less than willing to share them on the internet. It can therefore be hard to show off our best work.

Then again we do have one very willing model, Daniella… She has agreed to allow us to show off Irene’s handiwork through a series of photographs below. The makeup in these photos has all been done by Irene for a variety of different events. Each event is outlined in the caption.

We hope that seeing Irene’s work will give you some idea of her ability.

Dinner at Beefcakes restaurant April 2016.

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Dinner at a restaurant on a Saturday night, followed by a friend’s birthday party. May 2016

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Note the eye shadow

Cocktail party. October 2016

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Mall crawl. December 2016

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A more casual look for day time shopping

Birthday party chic. February 2017

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Note the ‘winged’ eyeliner