When I was just a drag beginner and wore 10 pairs of stockings and had uneven eyebrows, it was all the rage to wear panelled corsets. They were standard drag fashion for many years.
They could come separately as a corset and skirt, or as a corset dress. They squeeze from the top of your ribs and all the way down, giving the smaller girls the resemblance of a shape and giving us husky girls what we thought was a waist!
These corsets had room to stuff whatever you were using down the front for boobs and off you went. The trick with these was a sturdy hook and eye at the top and a zipper that was so strong it could have held the space shuttle together.
Styles started to change, and there was quite a jump when the old Albury Hotel closed down and we saw more of Ashley Swift and Vanity Fair — both very much into moulding their bodies with corsets but drawing more inspiration from more contemporary fashions.
Do you corset or not? As thin as you may be, a man’s body is a man’s body — we are physically different.
I love to draw inspiration from the ’50s screen sirens, like Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. Those fabulous full hips and busts and those tiny waists. Both women were by today’s standards plus-size girls, but the hourglass figure brought glamour and sex to the table all at once.
I use heavy-duty corsets to get that result, either just a metal-boned corset for the waist or a larger one that starts at the bottom of the ribs.
For the first couple of weeks, a new corset is murder to wear. It pulls and squeezes places you never knew could hurt, but this is the corset moulding to your body shape. Because it is doing its job, things start to pop out in places they shouldn’t.
Some call it back fat. I prefer back oysters. To stop your back boobs hogging the limelight, I use a girdle-like leotard you can buy from Paddy’s Markets. This smooths you out completely and gives you that gorgeous siren look.
To add to the effect, you can pad your hips, which is simple as a couple of shoulderpads down your sides.
The results are absolute fabulousness and the picture you create will be beautiful. There is no breathing, but that’s a small price to pay for fabulousness.