|But there is one thing that sets Izzard
apart. He is a transvestite. He sees himself not as "Trapped" in a man's
body but as a mal lesbian, "Happily cohabiting." He's not polemical about
it. "I'm not saying anyone else needs to do this," he explains.
"I'm just saying this is me. If you don't like it you can piss off, 'cause this
is my life." In the opening minutes of "Dress to Kill," he laughs the
issue off the stage. "I'm a male transvestite, and I fancy women," he says,
"I don't know why. I'm open for fancying men, but I can't get my head around that.
Which makes me think it's a genetic thing. No particular choice there." He
goes on,"So, male tomboy...That's really where I am. Running. Jumping, Climbing
trees. Then putting on makeup when I was up there. "
When Izzard is offstage, during the day, only his painted nails signal his bias; at night, his eyeliner, makeup foundation, and lipstick hardly draw attention to him as he strides out of the hotel in civilian clothes toward the Harbourfront Centre, where he's playing. Onstage, however, his costume is a glamorous Jean-Paul Gaultier "mandarin smock," black polyvinyl pants, and leather boots with blocky two-inch-high heels, which give him a kind of streamlined, raffish, almost Restoration look. "I've got this whole thing that in fact there are no transvestite," he says, seated in full regalia in the drab dressing room. "If women aren't transvestite when they wear all of men's clothes--flat shoes, men's jackets, no makeup, short hair--well, there's no bloody line." He adds, "They can have the option . Now I have the option. I have carved that for myself. I consider myself my own role model."
Izzard who lives in a semi-detached Notting Hill Gate house, where he socializes with a wide range of female and male friends, has been aware of his predilection for women's clothes since the age of five. (He describes his two biggest passions as "soccer and makeup") His father, John, says, "I remember his mother telling me Eddie
in her clothes as a small child. It didn't worry either of us." He adds,
"You didn't do the discipline bit with Eddie. He had to be far more gently
handled than his brother." At fifteen, Izzard was caught stealing lipstick; he
claimed that it was for a French girlfriend. he didn't come out as a transvestite
until he was twenty-three. "It scared the shit out of me," he says.
"Way off the scale. I kept thinking, Why am I doing this? What is driving it? I had
to lie in darkened rooms with the curtains closed and spend time getting into my head
where my head didn't want to go. Your mind builds up brick walls. And I had to tear them
Around 1985, he joined a transvestite / transsexual suport group in Islington. At first, when he was trying to pass for a woman, he took the name Susan, and studied female mannerisms and walks. But Izzard's looks were "too blokey", after awhile, he asked the group to stop calling him Susan. "I thought, No, I'm Eddie. I'm gonna be Eddie. I'm just gonna go out and be me."
His "boyish-girlish" tomboy look gradually evolved, and he learned to challenge the eyes of others with calmness. He has often recounted an incident "Where I had one guy trying to beat me up and another trying to get my autograph. One was yelling, "You gay twat!" and his friend was saying, "Wow, you're Eddie Izzard!" And I'm saying, "No, I'm not a gay twat. I'm a transvestite. Get your slander correct!"
"All I've got to do is exist in a brave way," Izzard says, and his comedy allows him to accomplish this elegantly. In fact, even though he has a few jokes about it, his otherness is quite forgotten within minutes of his taking the stage. Like the camouflage of a species that has successfully adapted to its environment, Izzard's look blends imperceptibly with his laughter.