Phyllis: Part One

This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 742 words.

Phyllis Harvey. That would be a good name, he decided. A name that spoke of maturity, but not old age. A name associated with a certain class of woman, one who had made her way in life. Fifty-something, maybe sixty, but perhaps not being completely honest about her age. Terence was fifty-three, and according to his agent, he was washed up.

Despite the walls of his small flat being lined with framed copies of his best reviews, the casting agents were no longer calling, and his agent had told him it was time to seek another career.

What do you do though, when you have been acting since your teens, and drama school had opened up a world of opportunities? Go to work in a DIY store? Deliver online groceries for a supermarket? Try to find a very old sugar daddy?

Terence Halloran was at one time the ‘coming thing’, the young actor who stirred interest in the Arts Review columns of the serious newspapers. He was not about to start selling paint or delivering groceries, even though the money was running out.

Sugar daddies might be the answer, but he would have to prepare carefully.

Monty Rosenberg had been his first and only agent. Monty had got him some great work, back in the day. The reviews spoke for themselves. Terence gazed at the walls of his flat, seeking confirmation from his reviews.

‘As the villain, Halloran convinces completely. He inhabits the persona of a young gangster in every way imaginable’.
‘Terence Halloran is a revelation. I was completely convinced that he was Andrea, before the jaw-dropping reveal’.
‘Young Halloran will go far. He can convince in both hard man and vulnerable female roles, something this critic has never seen before’.

Oh yes, Terence had been in touch with his feminine side years before anyone had ever heard of that expression. Playing female roles as a man went back to before Shakespeare, but he revitalised that tradition at a time when nobody else was doing it. It helped that he had no interest in sex, whether with women or men. It had never seemed important to him as a young man, and that progressed as he got older and found work.

There were times when he would sit at the mirror in the dressing room, amazed at how convincing he looked. He had a ritual before going on stage. He would look at his completely feminised self after the five-minute call, and say, “Go girl!”.

Those were the good years. In one play he might portray a despicable wife-beating man, and in the next run he would swap roles and play the abused wife. The critics loved him, and so did the audiences. But small theatres in the provinces rarely made stars though, and he needed fame.

For that, television came knocking. Over eight years in the most popular soap opera in Britain, playing a female role that was eventually exposed as a man in a Christmas special. The audience reaction was phenomenal. He found it hard to believe that over ninety percent of his devoted viewers hadn’t guessed he was a man.

But the fallout was tragic. Terence was forever typecast.

Monty started to offer him roles as a crossdresser and transvestite. Not long after those, he was happy to accept one-night-stands as a female impersonator. Life had turned him into a drag queen, and no other chances had been open to him. He did guest appearances on chat shows, occasional cameos on mainstream programmes, always as a woman. Then as attitudes to sexuality changed, he became an unwilling spokesperson for crossdressing and drag culture.

It paid the bills, and Monty still took his fifteen percent.

Then it all ran dry. With the acceptance of so many new kinds of sexuality, even the tabloids didn’t want to pay him for interviews. He tried to headline a few parades, but they didn’t want him. Who needed female impersonators when they had outspoken transexuals willing to be seen for nothing?

Then Monty offered him some awful live appearances as a drag act. At first he said a flat no, but when the bills piled up, he reluctantly agreed. Horrible social clubs or busy pubs, with the audience cat-calling and throwing things. At two hundred a night, less his travel expenses, it was hardly worth getting dressed up for.

Once Monty cut ties with him, Terence knew it was time to do something drastic.

47 thoughts on “Phyllis: Part One

  1. You got me hooked, Pete.
    Timely too, sad to say. There is a purge, sad to say, in some of the ‘Christian’ states here in the US., against transvestites, especially young ones. Enacting cruel laws to back their prejudices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Men dressing as women is as old as civilisation, and women dressing as men was also popular entertainment in the 19th century. The difference now seems to be the gender-swap activists who are making their voices known. I have no issue with anyone deciding to change sex, but I also understand some of the issues that creates in supposedly liberal western societies. If I had a friend who changed gender either way, I’m sure I would do my best to support them.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, your career is always fascinating to read about, Don. During my time as an EMT, I encountered many men who had chosen to live as women. Some of them even went so far as to have painful gender-reassignment surgery. In my book, that’s serious intent!
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

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