My Life as a Boy — Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE

Here I am at my birthday party -- when else does anyone shoot a photo?
Here I am at my 11th birthday party — when the hell else does anyone shoot a photo?

I look kinda sad, and I was when this photo was snapped. It was a boring birthday party with the usual cake and ice cream and the usual presents and exclamations of “Just what I wanted” and “how beautiful”. I sure wish I had a photo from a couple of hours later, when the party was over and we were smeared all over with cake from the cake fight. Any break from routine was welcomed at our house, especially from anything humanly ordinary.

One of the first things I learned as a young girl was that girls can never be The Boss.

Not only bossness, but everything of real value and worth was denied women — not just me, but every woman, and my Mom Eve was determined to get me past the blockages she and her mom had experienced from the Boys’ Club.

What is the Boy’s Club?

It’s the attitude of pretty much all men — that women are servants, sex slaves and have no soul.

The soul part is true — we don’t HAVE souls. We are souls.

LeslieAnn in 1948 didn't want to hear about sex slaves -- what a grim & dismal future!
LeslieAnn in 1948 didn’t want to hear about sex slaves — what a grim & dismal future!

Sex slaves… The main task cut out for women throughout the world is to be what Gurdjieff called a “Special Toilet” for men — in short, a Boy Toy for your Toy Boy.

Is sex a game?

To humans, it is. To those in The Work, it’s merely another way of tickling higher energies for a Purpose.

Sex with a Purpose. The Perfumery is run incredibly well by Kelly & Julia. They came up with the slogan “Perfume With a Purpose”. It says it all, but to humans of Planet Urth, the concept doesn’t cross over; the languaging is too imprecise to get past the main idea that all humans have, that sex is the most important thing in life.

That may be true in the field of organic life, but it doesn’t hold water up in the higher dimensions. No BodhiSattva I’ve ever met would think twice about chasing a skirt or a pair of pants all over town, but humans spend most of their time trying to attract a new sex partner with flirtations and downright aggressive attack, such as sending scans of their genitals to their entire twitter list.

You might not remember that newsroom saga, but it wasn’t all that long ago, and apparently he’s still at it, and still seeking public office. You can’t get more public than that.

My mom was really into hair and clothing and walks and voice modulation and all those things, but she wanted independence.
My mom was really into hair and clothing and makeup and voice modulation and dancing.

My mother was a dancer and an actress. She had been Gary Cooper’s co-star until she got pregnant with me, and at that point, her best friend Doris Davenport got the three film parts. She and Doris were the closest of friends, along with Estee Lauder and Liz Taylor.

My mom remained under contract to Samuel Goldwyn for two more years, but she made the mistake of telling Goldwyn that she was actually a writer, and a very successful one.

“Girls can’t write,” he snapped, and fired her on the spot.

“Men are very threatened by talented women who can’t be dominated,” my mother thought she explained. I didn’t understand what that really meant until I tried to do some artwork under the observation of some of the neighborhood boys.

LeslieAnn between school years presented as a girl, and at school, presented as a boy.
I had set up a painting easel in our backyard at Woodstock.

I had set up a painting easel in our backyard at the Zena Mill in Woodstock. At that time, my mom was experimenting with my hair again, and I had lost 11 pounds from a bout with the dreaded Scarlet Fever — antibiotics were new and untested, but I survived to tell the tale.

Our next-door neighbors on Zena Road were the Beasleys, and when they came over that day, they started in on me — why was I wasting my time painting? Why wasn’t I doing some girl-thing, like knitting or sewing or cleaning or fetching water???

Billy Beasley had been my friend for years, ever since we bought the place in 1949 from Ada Sparer, who stayed there with us and helped care for my Nana Celia, who was an advanced cardiac patient at the time, and I hadn’t expected the attack on my creativity and wasn’t prepared to deal with it, so I closed up the easel and put it back in the broom closet for another year.

The whole point of Grandpa Herman buying the place was to give her someplace outside the hot and humid city where she could safely spend the summers. There was no “air conditioning” outside the theater houses where it was advertised to be “15% Cooler Inside” and “20% Cooler Inside”.

Just what the experiential difference between those two theaters actually was, I don’t know, because I never went to the more expensive theater with the additional 5% coolness, because I didn’t have the money — admission was 10 cents at that time, and 5 cents for the older theaters on Third Avenue.

Loew's State was expensive -- a dime. The cheaper theaters nobody photographed.
Loew’s State was expensive — a dime. The cheaper theaters nobody photographed.

All the pictures were about cops & robbers, cowboys, monsters and so-called comics like the Three Stooges, and I know I’m going to get email on that one, but they were just too dependent on physical shtick to make me laugh.

The other brands of movies were romantic comedies, romantic tragedies and romantic musicals. The idea was to bring your boyfriend or husband into the theater, where he’d be swept away by the emotions of the film and somehow miraculously become aware of you and your relationship once again.

In short, a movie was a way to get a guy excited, and every girl knew that you could attract a man with sex moves, giggles and flirtations, and once you did, you could maneuver him into a commitment, meaning marriage, motherhood and grandmotherhood.

Men are easily manipulable through sex and flirtation, and there isn’t a woman who doesn’t know it and hate that fact; men are emotionally so weak and so uninvolved that it can lead to a state of disappointment and cynicism. It’s just too easy to twist a man around a little finger.

Horror films were good, because you could pretend to be scared; hugging and snuggling can lead to other things, and you had to know how to control his urges and not let him get too far. Third Base was as far as you could let him go and still have something left to bargain with for a marriage proposal.

War films worked to get your guy romantic, too, but you had to sit through them until the very end, and then convince your fella that he’s a hero, and that when you get home and tucked snugly into bed, he’ll have the opportunity to prove it.

And in spite of what actually happens in bed, you have to applaud it.

Shrieking in an erotic yelp of delight also helps to strengthen the relationship. There’s a lot of theater involved, and men don’t appreciate the amount of work on the woman’s side that goes into maintaining a relationship.

On a daily level, it blends into the background for a man, but never for a woman. First of all, there’s all the household work — the kid care, the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the food shopping, the mail pickup, the soccer mom duties, the PTA meetings which the husband rarely, if ever, attends.

There’s more, but every woman knows the score, and my Mom was determined to make sure I didn’t hit my head on that Glass Ceiling.

Her solution to the Boys’ Club was always, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, and that’s what she did. She decided that I was to be a boy.

Here I am dressed as a boy, standing in front of Grandpa Herman's Pontiac.
Here I am dressed as a boy, standing in front of Grandpa Herman’s Pontiac.

At first, it was just dressing me up as a boy and taking me places to get used to the different treatment I’d get as a male child compared to female child, and was she ever right! It’s a whole different ball game when you’ve got a pair of your own.

Mindset, attitude. Automatic male arrogance. Instant Approval. High Self-Esteem, not dependent on male attention, because I AM A MALE. That’s the headset, and women aren’t born with it; it’s something you have to learn if you’re ever going to be free from The Other Curse.

Curses of all kinds were farthest from my mind when I rode the giant bunny in 1947 or 48.
Curses of all kinds were farthest from my mind when I rode the giant bunny in 1947 or 48.

The first Curse being periods. It’s not just the mess, it’s the pain. It hurts to have a period, and you find yourself incapacitated for two weeks out of every month, with pre-menstrual and post-menstrual miseries as well. This is something no man could endure for very long.

As a boy, I suddenly didn’t have to skulk about looking for a private place to paint my pictures or sing songs or draw or carve a wooden spoon. I could pretty much go everywhere I wanted and do pretty much anything without drawing a negative comment, and it took some getting used to. I’m not sure I’ve got it down pat, even now.

I soon discovered that, as a boy, it was now my prerogative, my inalienable right, to indulge myself in any art project I wanted to essay, and even to make a model airplane, something only boys did at that time.

In 1955, my friend Rachelle and I built a three-stage solid fuel rocket and set it off in Central Park. Rachelle was in my class at Downtown Community School, and we used to sing to singles 45 RPM records every afternoon before homework time.

Rachelle and her mom and I were always shopping and always at the beach every summer.
Rachelle and her mom and I were always shopping and always at the beach every summer.

Summers were special to me, because I could get out of boy drag and just relax and be myself. I didn’t have to take all the care to avoid discovery that I had to take at school and going to school, because I couldn’t and wouldn’t fight, and bullying was the whole point of going to school, according to the school bullies, and there were plenty of them in New York City, believe me.

Toni and I loved horses and we had our very own in Woodstock.
Toni and I loved horses and we had our very own in Woodstock.

Toni and Mandy shared a horse that was boarded in Central Park, if you can believe it! I didn’t get to ride there, but they did, and they loved riding through the horse trail in the park. I doubt there’s any trace of it now, and there surely won’t be, in the future, when they raid Central Park and make it commercial property, on the argument that any park that large is intrinsically dangerous and impossible to police, and they’d be right.

One of the first things you learn as a girl is how to avoid a rape, and the sooner you learn it, the better, because the minute you’re born a girl, you are a target. As a matter of fact, as a boy, I was also a target — of bullying and street beatings, which is what happens to boys who don’t fight back, and I didn’t. I’m a girl.

So I scratched back. This did not sit well with anyone, including me, so I enrolled in an after-school judo class, and soon learned how to aggress back at the creeps. I actually ended up in a confrontation with Hayden, who was a head taller than me and, like most males at that age, twice my body-weight.

I’ve got the weight issue on my side, now that I’m in my seventies.

It was in 7th Grade at the time, and he came up to me in the schoolyard and pushed me around. I didn’t yet have much of a bustline, although like all the women in my family, I didn’t have long to wait to become over-endowed to a painful degree.

He didn’t catch wise that I was actually a girl — nobody ever did. To him, I was a small boy in his schoolyard, and he wanted to see if I could be pushed around.

Naturally, I didn’t want to hurt him or anybody. What could I do? I was too lightweight to actually defend myself, and most importantly, I didn’t want to hit him. I’d have done anything to avoid that, including propitiation, but that doesn’t work with bullies, and you find that out quickly or you end up in the obituary column of the average New York City School District’s school newspaper.

The school playground was a dangerous place, but the bullies protected me because I was funny.
The school playground was a dangerous place, but Hayden, loft photo, protected me, center photo, because I was funny.

I asked Hayden if his knuckles always scraped the ground when he walked. He stopped his forward motion and said, “Huh???”

I repeated the clever quip and added, “If anybody offers a price on your head, take it.”

He laughed, in spite of himself.

“If you had an extra brain, you’d have one,” I rapped out quickly, adding “When was your funeral? I’m sorry I missed it. I heard that when you were born, you were so ugly, the doctor slapped your mother.”

I threw in a few more Henny Youngman one-liners, and he roared, clapped me on the back, said “Hey, buddy, you’re funny!”

From that moment on, I knew how to handle the giant bulls they call human males, and call their bluff when they got aggressive and territorial.

I resolved to learn the craft of Standup Comedy.

Note that I said the “Craft” of standup comedy, not being funny. You can’t teach funny, you can only teach timing, Rule of Three, stuff like that.

I was already plenty funny without the one-liners, which I abhor and seldom use nowadays, although early on, it was the comedy style of choice for all comics and comedians and comediennes — there is a difference, and we’ll get into it later on.

First thing I learned was that “woman aren’t funny” is a powerful belief among men, and there’s a reason why. I was funny and I sometimes got into trouble as a result, especially when I tried to be funny AS A GIRL.

Funny women are intelligent people, and men don’t like to think of women as either intelligent or as people. Funny women threaten male ego.

I knew Jerry Lewis personally, fairly well. I was aware of his attitude toward women comics, and in print, fought back through the L.A. Free Press and various issues of other journals, but he had the power to say, and make people believe, that Lucille Ball isn’t funny. He named her, and a dozen other equally funny women performers, and said that NONE of them were funny, and that NO woman could be funny, and he wasn’t the only one.

Theater managers and booking agents will open say, right in front of you, “we had a female comic in here last year and she wasn’t any good, so we’re not booking any more female comics.”

I knew that if I were to have a chance at a microphone, I had to be a guy, or be like the Biblical Ruth — “Whither Thou Goest, There Also Shall I Wither.” I soon learned the difference between the two apparently similar words.

“Whither” relates to whereabouts, location. “Wither” means to shrink. If this is new to you, you might consider enrolling in my online “English as a First Language” class; speaking of which, I now do nine classes every week, seven online and two in town, a good healthy schedule at the age of 73, keeps me young, although I’ll never wear a size 5 again, not that I ever did.

I fluctuated wildly between size 1 and size 9 until I discovered that I had wheat and dairy intolerance, and then my weight settled down. I maintain the same weight now as I was at when I wrestled in High School.

Yep. I got away with it. Here’s a photo of me playing boy wrestling champion Southeastern Conference:

 

That's me in the back row -- I didn't have to wrestle, I was the assistant coach, so I didn't go topless ever.
That’s me in the back row — I didn’t have to wrestle, I was the assistant coach, so I didn’t go topless ever.

Avoiding the group showers was a risky and difficult business, but I never got caught out, not ever, by anyone. No one ever knew that I was a girl, and you can be sure I didn’t mention it.

There was no stubble on my chin, but lots of kids didn’t yet have stubble. The low voice was my ultimate misdirection. No girl could have a voice like that.

One of the interesting results of this double life is that I got to see and hear the headspaces of boys and girls, men and women, and what I saw and heard was amazingly stupid and senseless. I’ll do my best to accurately report it throughout my bio.

It’s not about fairness, it’s about accurate information, uncolored by personal opinion.

I heard men talk in the barracks in the U.S. Army. I’ll go into detail in a later chapter, and you’ll be amazed and astounded at how easy it was to get away with it without discovery by anyone, not even in medical exams.

I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting into trouble as a result of something I said, so I won’t go into precise detail on how I did it both at a military academy and in the Army, getting an Honorable Discharge for my service.

LeslieAnn dressed as boy, demonstrates flame-thrower at Ford Ord, 1962.
LeslieAnn dressed as boy, demonstrates flame-thrower at Ford Ord, 1962.

I sure wouldn’t have been welcomed as Cadre atTrainFire or won medals as a U.S. Army Small-Bore Weapons Expert in so many calibers, or been allowed to run an AIT course in Fort Ord, which I did, and what’s more, I joined the Army Security Agency as a boy and if it weren’t for the fact that the background security check turned up my birth certificate (it says I’m a girl), I’d probably still be in the Army now.

Joking about still being in the Army. That’s sick. Some girls actually like it; my BFF at that time was Wolfie — Captain Wolfe. She was a very competent doctor who had been revealed as a lesbian and was being checkered out of the service under the regulations at that time, “no gays, period”.

I wasn’t gay, just crossdressing as a man, so I guess that didn’t apply, although had I shown up in makeup and a little black Dior Nothing, I don’t think they’d have considered allowing me to collect dangerous duty pay. They would have been very disturbed to see me and Wolfie the day we got our separation orders. Here’s a photo of us just before leaving the base for the last time:

Rachelle and I at the local soda shoppe probably around 1958 or 59.
Just out of the U.S. Army, Woflie and I sit with some companions at the Commissary before leaving the base.

I had to go out and buy my clothing — all I had was my Army uniform and a duffle bag full of men’s clothes. I gave them all away at the Salvation Army — one army to another, I thought as I dumped the duffle bag onto their receiving dock. My hair had pretty much grown back, but for the past few weeks, I hadn’t bothered to cut it, so it looked nice by our separation day.

Wolfie and I went into Gettysburg and boarded a bus for New York City.

(to be continued)

For the complete Volume I of My Life As A Boy, visit
Gateways.

Comments

comments