Sunday 23 February 2014

Alex Reid

Imagine you are a crossdresser. You meet and then marry a woman who is gorgeous, sexy, glamorous and adventurous. You reveal your secret to her, and she is thrilled: not only does she dress you, but she celebrates your fem side and enjoys making love to you dressed. How does that make you feel?

Masculine: Reid
Alex Reid is not short of masculinity. Handsome and chiselled, he is a mixed martial artist and cage fighter (though, seemingly, not a very good one). He has also been a bit-part actor. He shot to fame in the UK when he found himself dating a woman called Katie Price, whose stage name is "Jordan", in 2009. Here he is as he would like you to think of him. His Wikipedia article contains a single line about his crossdressing, and his personal website, nothing at all (unsurprisingly).

Price is a former topless model, whose career has included modelling, fashion and beauty, television and media, and writing books about herself.

Price is no airhead with big boobies. She is shrewd, ruthless and successful, having negotiated the treacherous waters of media celebrity for many years. According to Wikipedia, she is now worth over 40 million pounds.

Feminine: Jordan
At the time they got together, Price was splitting up from her former husband, singer Peter Andre. Andre released the single Mysterious Girl in 1996, and wowed teen audiences with his famous "washboard stomach", before disappearing without trace, until he was washed up on the celebrity career resurrection show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! in the UK, in 2004. Down in that jungle, amid the bugs, the bush tucker, and the humiliation, love blossomed between Price and Andre.

After the show finished, they not only married, but became reality TV sensations, starting a whole franchise of programmes about their personal lives. We learned, at least at first, that Andre seemed actually to be quite a nice bloke. In any case, it relaunched his career very successfully. In a breathless moment of schmaltz, Price and Andre even released their own cover version of A Whole New World, the love song between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. They had two children together, whose names they seemingly chose by picking letters at random from the Scrabble bag.

When the relationship came (inevitably) crashing down, the whole country was in on every detail of the separation. Depending where your sympathies lay, one could buy T-shirts, with "Team Peter" or "Team Katie" on them, to show the world whose side you were on. In other words, all eyes were on Katie Price, and who her next swain was going to be. Practically nobody had ever heard of Alex Reid, but suddenly he was being photographed on red carpets next to Price, and setting gossip columnists a-flutter.

Roxanne: seriously?
It didn't take long for things to hot up. Reports began to emerge that Alex Reid was a transvestite, whose secret alter-ego was "Roxanne". But all was not lost. Not only was Price untroubled, she seemed positively to relish having a transvestite for a boyfriend.
Contact Music: Katie Price has vowed to stand by boyfriend Alex Reid, despite revelations he is a cross-dresser. The glamour model insists she has no plans to dump the cage fighter over his feminine alter-ego 'Roxanne' and says they are very happy. She said: "We're very much together."
It was at this point that I started to take an interest. Initially upset that he had been outed, Reid seemed to calm down, when Price allowed him access to her enormous collection of clothing, cosmetics, wigs and other feminine accoutrements. She described it enthusiastically here on the Graham Norton Show:
Price: When he told me, I'm like, Oh my God, I gotta dress you up. In my dressing room I got wigs, eyelashes, everything. I went: you are perfect, you're my girl, so please let me do you up, please let me do you up. And he's like, hang on a minute, this is a bit weird, I'm not used to a girl saying "let me do you up", 'cause normally it's a private thing he does. But I'm well into it, it doesn't bother me.
Awww.... matching outfits!
Price is not simply feminine: she is uber-feminine. Everything is just a little more: the eyes, the boobs, the teeth, the tan, the hair, the lashes, the lips. This is all a carefully cultivated image, and the whole package, for me, teeters on the very brink of attractiveness, just above the cliff of grotesque. In addition, she is confident, powerful, and used to discussing her personal life in public.
Norton: Have you had sex with Roxanne?
Price: Of course! Call me strange, call me weird, whatever.
Norton: So when you're with Roxanne, are you... two women, or are you sometimes the man?
Price: I boss him about. He becomes quieter.
Guest: Can I ask, is there a bit of leather involved, and a whip?
Price: Honestly, you name it, he's been there, done it. Honestly, anything goes with him. I'm having such a fun time.
Faced with this level of approval, it was only a matter of time before we saw Roxanne publicly, and here they are, Jordan and Roxanne, in matching gold outfits, at the launch of one of Price's several autobiographies, in 2009. Price was reported to have ordered designer dresses to be specially made in Reid's size.

Getting his Rox off: Reid
So let's just pause here for a moment. What's going through Alex's mind? First, he is married to a woman who is considered to be one of the most desirable in the country, to say nothing of wealthy. Second, he seems to have entered transvestite nirvana: not only does Price accept his transvestism, she embraces it enthusiastically, and provides him with a level of access to feminine accoutrements which must be almost unparalleled. Third, Reid has gone from being a relatively unknown person to being one of the most famous faces in the country. This interview with the Guardian seems to get a very clear picture of him, without even mentioning crossdressing.

It seems quite understandable to me that all of this would be a bit of a shock; something quite difficult to deal with. And unfortunately, Reid just wasn't equipped to handle Price and her ruthless career machine. He was, unfortunately, merely a pawn.

It wasn't long before cracks started to show. Tabloids spoke of Price's disappointment that Reid was unwilling or unable to have a baby with her. There were reports of him having sex with other men as Roxanne, and the relationship shattered apart after barely one year.

It won't surprise you in the least that Price has continued to manipulate the media in her own interests. Price wrote it all down in a book, Love, Lipstick and Lies, published in 2011, excerpts from which made it into the popular press. Sex with cross-dressing Alex Reid was obscene, depraved and left me frightened, roared the Mirror.
Price: Think of the most disturbing porn you could imagine, and times that by ten. Only then are you getting close to what I witnessed and what Alex wanted me to join in with. I’ve tried a few things in my time, but I’d never before f***** a man dressed up as a woman who happened to be my husband. I felt as if I was crossing a line, going to a dark place where there were no boundaries, where there was no normal.
I just hope the poor girl can somehow get over it and just get on with her life.

Reid all about it!
I feel extremely sympathetic to Alex Reid. He is, without doubt, an autogynephilic transvestite. He wants what we all want; to dress freely, to enjoy it, and to have fun. At first, it must have been breathtaking, being dressed by Katie Price and having her order designer gowns in his size. And yet, we all look in the mirror and feel we are not as beautiful on the outside as we feel on the inside. How much more cruel is that comparison, when the face beside you is that of Katie Price?

And what about the effect on his sense of self, his manhood, when the press were calling him "Mr Katie Price" and he was known for nothing other than being her plus one? That must be pretty hard to handle. And what about those outfits? They were (almost certainly) chosen by Price for maximum impact; he would probably have looked very strange in almost any feminine garb, but careful wardrobe and cosmetics can be amazing. On the other hand, these two outfits, in which he was pictured publicly, are just dreadful. No wonder that, in every picture I've seen, he looks ill-at-ease. Partly that's because he wasn't dressed as Roxanne, he was dressed as Jordan, which is something that few women (and far fewer men) can actually pull off.

In another universe, the public acceptance of Jordan's transvestite husband would simply be mandated by her celebrity. There would be no arguing against it. Left a little longer, and it would have been downright cool. I can see young male wannabees shaving their legs and squeezing into those skimpy outfits to impress their girls. I had genuinely hoped these events would be a step towards public acceptance of crossdressing. But not in this universe.

And what do you do, when you open yourself up to someone you love about crossdressing, and they hurt you deeply? You purge, and you purge good.
Digital Spy: The cage fighter has apparently vowed never to dress up as Roxanne again after suffering emotional abuse when Price revealed his secret to others and made him dress in drag publicly for her book launch in 2009. According to The Sun, Reid told a friend: "Roxanne is dead and it was Katie who heartlessly exposed her. She murdered her. She is evil and she will pay."
I think this particular choice of language, with violent metaphors, points to deep emotional suffering. I do not doubt Reid never wants to dress again, but I do not doubt that he eventually will.
Katie Price is currently in another marriage, but will probably get divorced in the next month or so if she plays to form. Reid had a daughter with another glamour model, Chantelle Houghton, but the word on the street is that they have separated too.

Meanwhile, Reid is back pretending to be a real man's man once again-- but for how long?

1 comment:

  1. What a painful example of the "be careful what you wish for" story.