Veronica Vera brings cross-dressing academy to Florida
Editor’s note: Veronica Vera is the founder of Miss Vera’s Finishing School For Boys Who Want To Be Girls, the world’s first crossdressing academy, located in New York City and known across the globe. According to her website: "Miss Vera’s was created in the early 90’s to service the needs of the thousands of men who have the desire to crossdress, whether for a day or a lifetime. We’ve become so popular that non-trans women, too, flock to our doors. Providing both a learning experience and a pampering session, I and my faculty of expert and caring deans are here for you. And we expect you to be the best you can be...
"... Our academy motto is "Cherchez la femme". In French, the verb "chercher" means "to look for" or "to look to". It’s perfect for you, dear student, as you "look for" the woman inside of you and "look to" women for guidance. Our lessons are based on a philosophy I refer to as "Venus Envy." I believe that for every woman who burned her bra, there is a man eager to wear one."
In preparation for her upcoming appearance at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale on February 25, 2010, HotSpots spoke to the enterprising Ms. Vera.
History and mission
Tell us briefly about the history and purpose behind Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls and the international acclaim it continues to receive?
I’ve always been an explorer of human sexuality, my own first, then that of everyone else. I spent years as a sex journalist, model, and performer in adult media and I learned a lot. During that time I had the good fortune to meet and collaborate with other artists who were doing their own explorations: Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Sprinkle, Linda Montano, Betty Dodson to name just a few. My work with cross-dressers began simply as a way to finance a book about what I describe as my personal sexual evolution. I placed an ad in a periodical cross-dressers were reading at that time and the men who answered the ad all seemed to want the same thing. They didn’t want to be parodies of women. They wanted to be Miss Real. They wanted to pass. So, I thought, what these men want is not impossible, they need a school. It just made sense. My own research had taught me that we all have a right to be who we are as long as we are not hurting other people. What I did not know was that in creating the academy I had made every cross- dressers dream come true. This was 1992. The word transgender was just coming into use as the name for a movement. And my school was an idea whose time had come. I threw a party for the school and the media arrived and so did students from across the country and around the world. The attention and interest has not stopped. The world is in need of a lot more female energy and part of the reason for the school’s immense popularity is that people want to believe there is a place where men can learn to be more like women whether for a day or a lifetime. However, the academy experience is not simply about passing as another gender, it is about learning from that experience and increasing your options as a person. This is an experience that can be relevant for all.
What connection do you see between the glamour and fashion photography of Edward Steichen and the goals of Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls?
There is a tremendous power in the art of photography, particularly when that art is coupled with changes in dress and make-up. The Steichen images portray women at the height of glamour. The models represent the realization of fantasy. Photographs are essential to the lives of our students whether they identify as transgender, cross-dresser, even non-transgendered women - they all want that record of their inner femme-self. Following their time with us, students often spend hours gazing at the photos that show their inner lives made real. To see this image of themselves out in the open is very liberating and fulfilling.
What are the insights that men and women can gain by giving your cross-dressing workshop - Miss Vera’s Cross-dress for Success: A Transformation Salon for Men and Women -- a try?
In my workshop Miss Vera’s Cross-dress for Success, we’ll use clothing, make-up and guided play to help students break through the confines of gender and expand their options as humans. The idea is to integrate what they learn in the opposite gender and incorporate it into their lives, so no matter what their fashion statements they can be happier, healthier, sexier human beings. Of course, we’ll take photos too.
Miss Vera’s Lessons In Life, Liberty & Lipstick; Hosted By Miss Elaine Lancaster; Date: Thursday, February 25, 2010 At 06:00 pm. at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, One East Las Olas Blvd. , Fort Lauderdale, FL. For more information visit the Museum’s website.