This intensely personal monologue of a transsexual’s life experiences was extremely captivating, and Arsenault bared her soul for an hour and forty five minutes straight. I was very impressed with her performance as she had great comic timing and was able to hold our rapt attention as she told us her life story with no props and nothing on the stage except a swivel chair and a small side table.
There was a large video screen at the back of the stage that showed photos of her appearance throughout her life and various surgeries that she has gone through. At various times during the show, the video would illustrate what she was talking about, and sometimes what we saw was shocking and gruesome. I didn’t enjoy watching the gory details of her facial surgery, but I understand that she included the footage to make the show even more personal and real.
Her story begins in her childhood, as a little girl inside a little boy’s body who saw a mannequin in a department store and was in awe of her beauty. She says that at that moment she knew that she was going to look like that when she grew up, and her life has been a constant quest to achieve that level o beauty and to look as female as possible.
The way she tells her stories allows the audience to imagine the scenario very clearly as she uses gestures and walks around the square stage. She talks about working for a “shemale” porn website and meeting a couple of clients that she becomes friends with. She travels to San Francisco to see a plastic surgeon that specialises in transsexuals, and she experiments with silicone injections even after reading that there is of high risk of fatal complications.
During the show, the audience is also learns a few transsexual terms such as “fishy” which is what they call a transsexual who looks like a natural female. Another term was “orchy” which she said is their cute way of saying orchiectomy (the procedure of removing testicles). Arsenault has had this procedure done, along with many facial surgeries and silicone injections.
My favourite story she told was when she met Tommy Lee and he had no idea she was a transsexual until she was sitting on his lap and someone in Tommy Lee’s entourage mouthed aggressively “that’s a man!” Arsenault described how she watched the information move around the table to Tommy and counted down as she knew her time with him was up. She said that he looked her up and down one last time and told her he still thought she was beautiful.
The saddest part of the show was her trips down to Mexico to see the renowned plastic surgeon Dr Arias and Nancy who brought him clients. Nancy had undergone eighteen nose jobs, and was probably addicted to plastic surgery. Arsenault described how Nancy would not be put under during her surgeries, but instead would look in a mirror in the middle of it and advise the doctor on how to proceed to get her desired results. Nancy died from complications during a surgery after being warned that she had been put under anaesthesia too many times and may never wake up.
In her see through silvery plastic dress, strappy high heels, blond voluminous wig, and tons of make-up, Arsenault looked quite fishy indeed. Telling her story took courage, and while she was sharing a transsexual perspective on beauty and female body image, I found a lot of what she talked about to apply to all women in general. Transsexuals worry about whether they will be accepted as women, but women worry about whether or not people will accept them as pretty or feminine enough. The show dealt with a lot of these issues, and I think Arsenault’s witty one woman show was a triumph.