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At Home


Peter Gherardi, a psychiatrist, and Mark Boucher, a lead patient services representative, recently retired from Outer Cape Health Services in Province town. Here they talk about the freedom and joy of dressing in drag.


Mark Boucher

The first time that I tried doing drag, I was a 16-year-old living in central Maine. While my parents weren't home, I would sneak into my mother's closet and put on her wig and try on her dresses and costume jewelry. I felt as if I were another person. I never wanted to be a woman, but it allowed me to express something hidden inside that I never knew existed.


The second time was many, many years later, at one of the White Party events in Provincetown. I purchased a beautiful white dress on Amazon and a Marilyn Monroe wig with lots of costume diamonds. I've performed in one play in Provincetown, and I really enjoyed the experience of being in front of a large audience. The times that I've done drag brings out that same sort of feeling. People looking at me, people adoring me, people giving me compliments, and I eat it right up. I eat it up. I love it. I love it. I love the attention.


When I dress up, I  get very silly, very childlike. I feel more courageous. If I see a straight couple, I can easily, without any hesitancy, flirt with the straight man and embarrass the hell out of him, and the wives usually love it. There's a sense of freedom and spontaneity that I typically don't have unless I'm in drag.


The whole process of transforming oneself into a drag personality starts with the choice of a dress and the size of a dress and accenting it with purse or heels or wig. For me, the breast size is important.


I'm a big girl. I got a large bra and water balloons to use as breasts, and I feel that it gives me a more natural look and feel to the outfit. The choice of having large breasts when I dress up kind of fits my personality and my frame. You can slowly feel over the hour and a half that it takes to transform into drag, a shift, a really unique and joyful shift.


The first time that I saw my partner, my husband Peter, in drag was during a Halloween party last year. We bought Peter a beautiful sequin dress with flats and a lovely little bob wig. I did his makeup, which I overdid actually. He looked a little garish <laugh>, but I thought he was lovely.


 It was interesting to see my partner, who had never done drag before in his life, get really into it and accent and show off his feminine side. His voice changed, his gait, his gaze, his whole body morphed into something different. It was really lovely to see.


 As gay male partners, there's a lot of masculinity around our intimacy, of course. When we had the opportunity to dress in drag and be photographed in our garden, it almost felt as if we were two women gazing at each other and allowing, or feeling, each other's feminine qualities come through. It was very sweet. It was really sweet.

Peter Gherardi:

[I came to drag kind of as an unwilling participant.] It was mostly Mark dragging me into drag, frankly <laugh>. I never had the desire to dress up in my mother's clothes or my sister's clothes. I've always been very comfortable with my gender role and with my masculinity.


When I do drag, I don't think I'm a particularly beautiful woman.  I think it's hard to make my face feminine. The last few times we've done drag, I've let Mark do my makeup. This time we decided we're going to have it professionally done, so I imagine I might look prettier this time around. We'll see.


My husband happens to be very much of an extrovert, and since we've been living in Provincetown anyway, has been really into dressing in drag and has developed a persona that allows him to be even more flamboyant than his baseline over-the-top self. When I see him in drag, a part of me is wondering What's he going to do next? Or how far is he going to take this?


When I think about doing drag, coming from a conservative background, I feel like I can most comfortably do something vintage or traditional. I felt like I wanted to be as much me in the dress as possible, so breasts were out. My choice of a classic flapper dress with flats and a conservative bob, I felt, was a nice complement to Mark's more Marilyn Monroe classic sexy beauty.


I find when I do drag, it allows me not only to be lighter with my sense of myself, but also drag helps me get in touch with the gentler, softer side of myself, which is an important thing for me in my development.


I was born and raised in Wellesley. We were not wanting for anything material, but we were all needing some safety, some love, and some containment, which was not ever present. And also, I was a little gay boy. There was no safety in that home, or in Wellesley, being gay.


From the first time I had my driver's license, I would drive down to Ptown to just lie out on Herring Cove for two hours, and then I would drive back home. I met my husband on Herring Cove, and now you've photographed us in our garden wearing drag. People have been coming here for decades and maybe centuries with not dissimilar stories of escaping intolerance to come to Ptown where they felt safe and they made it their home. And I'm one of those people.

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