This Europe: Italian men find learning to cross-dress a real drag

By Rachel Sanderson
Tuesday 29 October 2002 01:00
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La Karl du Pigne rolled up his trouser leg to reveal an alligator skin stiletto and took to the floor of a makeshift catwalk.

"Men are to the left, women are to the right, we are in the middle," said the founder of Italy's first cross-dressing school, gesturing to a rapt room of frosted lips and big hair. "Now walk that middle line, ladies." From tourist guides to technical whizzes, a group of five men pulled on their first high heels and sashayed across the room.

"I feel a little unstable," said Johnny Ginobili, teetering in a pair of thigh-high black patent leather boots with a 6in heel. A tourist guide, Fabrizio Raimondi, swept his platinum blonde curls along the décolletage of his leopard print dress.

Andrea Berardicurti, the man behind the stage name La Karl du Pigne, set up the Drag Queen College in Turin to teach men how to cross-dress for €65 (£41). He said: "The key is always to exaggerate. What is important is to leave people with their mouths open."

Franco Mittica, from the Italian gay rights group InformaGay, said the 1994 Australian road movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, had prompted the classes. "We are trying to make drag queens talk about themselves," he said. "Then people will know more about them."

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