But when a new man moves into the apartment next door, it's Fred, not Nora, who catches his eye. Telling her she can call him "Vivica" after she introduces herself as "Fred," and his quick Marilyn Monroe gesture and voice when she responds "Cool, if we become friends can I call you Viv?" seem to suggest he's gay. But the way he openly leers at her rain-soaked top ("Did I miss the wet t-shirt competition, again?") points to the opposite.
|Eddie Izzard, the only other|
"I'm not trying to fool people into believing I'm an actual woman.... I think being somewhere in between male and female is just as intriguing," Nicholas tells Fred when she questions him about his cross-dressing (110). And it's this mixture of male and female, or, perhaps, of over-the-top campy gayness and aggressive masculinity, that captures Fred's imagination. She dreams about "Nicholas wearing boxer shorts, high heels and a lacy black bra over his muscular chest. He's wearing make-up too, but not much; a little mascara and some dark lipstick. For some reason I am incredibly turned on by the sight. He's half boy, half girl. All gorgeous" (99). But Fred remains cautious, not willing to risk this wonderful friendship, afraid that for her, sex and love cannot be separated, as they can for Nicholas. For Nicholas may be direct about sex, but expressing emotional intimacy is a far different story.
Cosway's novel acknowledges that Nicholas's urge to cross-dress stems from childhood loss and trauma. But like Anna Cowan's Untamed, Painted Faces never indulges in the "love will fix you" trope, never suggests that the feminine "painted face" that Nicholas puts on is something that needs to be set aside if he is to be psychologically whole. A fitting acceptance for a book dedicated to "all the men who are women and the women who are men, the men who are men and the women who are women. And those of you who are a little bit of both. You colour my world" (3).
Labor Day: ThinkProgress.org
Eddie Izzard: Eddie Izzard Fans.com
L. H. Cosway, Painted Faces.