Tracey Erin Smith has an unusual hobby: transforming women into men. At least temporarily, with her drag king workshop Dude for a Day.
This is Smith’s third time running Dude for a Day. It’s a day-long workshop where, with acting tips, costumes and the aid of a makeup artist, women transform themselves into male characters of their own invention.
Smith’s theatre company, Soulo, is dedicated to helping people share their life stories onstage. “Using what I call ‘theatrical alchemy,’ we transform the raw material of a person’s life into something that would be entertaining to an audience,” she says. “It’s not an AA meeting or a therapy session, but it’s very much about their stories.”
The drag-king workshop jives well with Soulo’s aims. “I’m passionate about helping people express themselves. Ironically, that often comes in the form of being someone else,” Smith says. One of the techniques she uses to help folks get in touch with their inner dude is getting each woman to examine her mannerisms and communication style. “Women tend to smile more, their eyes are more alive, they talk in a more engaged sort of way, and we slowly start to let those traits go,” Smith says. “If someone feels they have to be soft during their daily lives, the workshop allows them to express themselves more directly. The inner asshole comes out, and it can be very funny.”
Participants also fashion their own phalluses by stuffing condoms with cotton balls. This is usually followed by deciding whether it hangs to the left or the right and an amusing but educational session of walking around the room adjusting it.
At the end of the day, all the dudes head out to a pub together to hang out and do a photo shoot. If they like, participants can invite their friends and family along to spend time with their dude alter-egos.
“What I love observing in these classes is how all of the women become attracted to each other,” she says. “It’s a spectrum of orientations, but all of a sudden you have these beautiful women dressed as men, and something goes on in the room where everyone finds each other hot.”