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My Story

A Life -- A Story

Erica was born at a very early age in a preadolescent haze during the golden age of rock and roll and Hollywood starlets. It was around 1956 and I was 7 or 8 years old, at that time. Erica was an unnamed infant blind to her power and innocent of her beginnings. A subtle beginning that gradually influenced the thoughts of her host and guided and nurtured the development of a dual persona for nearly 45 years now. 

Itís been a great friendship, unrequited until a recent dramatic life changing experience brought on the realization that life is ever so fleeting an experience and those joys delayed may be lost forever. Life, after all, is not a dress rehearsal, so please let me indulge my whim and offer you one story of one life, admittedly similar to the stories of my many sisters around the world.

Just another kid growing up in the neighborhood with a fascination for the pioneers, like Davy Crockett and dressing the part

My mother in her earlier years

During my early years the closets of my mother and my sister were my secret playground. Trying on slips and petticoats and then dressing up the look with the occasional venture into the shoe boxes. High heels were in fashion during the era and my mother had quite a collection of stylish heels that I grew through. There were moments of terror when I narrowly escaped discovery and a few instances when I am sure some discovery followed, although it was never admitted.

One of my most terrifying moments happened one day while the rest of the family was out and I was alone in the house. I had taken the opportunity to go beyond my normal minimalist dress-up routine and had put on lipstick and rouge along with a slip, stockings and a pair of white leather pumps. As I was checking myself in the hall mirror the back door of the house opened and I heard a neighbor woman call my name. I suppose she had been asked to check up on me by my mother. Those were the days of unlocked doors and neighborhood cooperation, so it wasnít unusual for this to happen. 

I froze in place then dashed into the hall closet, she had to have heard me as it was not a large house. I wondered if she had seen my movements through the front windows, I couldnít let her find me. Secreted, I hoped, in the hall closet grasping the door knob. That door was not going to open! The embarrassment would have been unbearable. I heard our friendly neighbor call my name a few more times as she roamed through the house then, suddenly, she left the same way she came. I suppose she assumed I was outside playing, whatever the case, I stayed in that closet until my heart stopped itís palpitations. How could she not have heard that beating heart, I was sure it could have been heard from across the street. The event passed and I was much more discreet after that day. 

My sister and I pose for the obligatory Easter picture in 1957. 
Aren't we the stylish pair? She doesn't always wear those funny glasses

On a couple of occasions I had to quickly stash my sisterís petticoats under her bed when I had no time to get them back in the closet. Her "poodle skirt" with about 4 petticoats was a favorite outfit of mine during those early days, except that I always preferred high heels to saddle shoes and Bobbie socks.

One other time my mother was discarding a pair of black patent leather heels I had enjoyed and I rescued them from the trash and secreted them in our exterior utility room behind and old tool box. When everyone was in bed for the night I would sneak out and retrieve the shoes and wear them before I went to sleep. One night when I was in bed with my heels on my mother came in to say good night and felt the shoes on my feet. She made some disapproving comment which I have not been able to recollect though I have often thought of that moment, but whatever it was there was never any mention of the event. I later returned the shoes to their hiding place and the next time I went to get them they were gone. There was no inquisition although it wasnít long after that I was escorted to a psychologist.

A cherubic costume with a voice to match, as a member of the junior choir of the Episcopal church. Who knew what was going on within?

All I remember of the experience with the psychologist is that I was asked to perform some free association with regards to a few picture groups. I wish I could remember the experience with more detail, all I really recollect is that there were women in all of the pictures and some of them were wearing high heels. Whether I included that fact in my description of the scenes, I canít tell you. In retrospect, I am sure my parents were engaged in some degree of confusion about my interests.

As puberty arrived and I started growing out of the clothes due to my growth spurts. The dressing stopped and my hormones drove me active interest in the opposite sex. I maintained my interest and joy in feminine apparel by way of the Sears catalog and the occasional Maidenform bra ads in the popular magazines of the day. It was the "cross your heart" period and the ads were everywhere. I especially entranced by the Monique Van Doren look alike standing in the corner of a boxing ring wearing only a bra and girdle along with a pair of patent leather heels that really set me off. Tell me the advertisers didnít pander to the sexual, even then.

My father would often take the family to New Orleans for long weekends
 and my thoughts and eyes would always be on the ladies of Bourbon St.

The passing of Marilyn Monroe and the tragic death of Jayne Mansfield were both devastating blows to me. I adored their glamorous charm and style. It was that stylish appearance that I sought in my girlfriends through my junior high and high school years. There was one girl in my eighth grade class that I was truly smitten by, she will go nameless, but let me tell you, she was a heart throb. Blonde, shapely and a cool dresser, the only problem was her fascination with the standard "bad news" guys. I was the nice guy who carried her books home from school, but never dated her in the true sense. We went to the movies a couple of times to no avail, I was "a friend". In truth, I never had the nerve to pursue it beyond that stage, fearing total rejection I suppose. It passed. Other pursuits were more successful on the dating front and the camaraderie of school buddies carried me through the high school years.

During junior high school I was a member of the orchestra and played on the football team.

I was attending Louisiana All State Orchestra on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and had just registered. As I returned to the waiting area all eyes were on the television watching as Lee Harvey Oswald was being transported from the courthouse in Dallas. Bang, bang. He was shot right before our eyes on live TV. Those were odd times, JFK had just been assassinated the Friday before and it was all being covered "live", a new era was upon us. It doesnít seem like a big deal now, but in 1963 that was incredible.  

I entered high school the next year and time was at a premium, not being a truly talented orchestral musician, I dropped out of the orchestra and concentrated on football. By my junior year I was a two-way first string player at the tackle position. A jock! Although I was not truly disconnected from the thoughts of my earlier period I denied any acting out and constrained my fascination to the visual. I dated a great girl through my last two years of high school. I was not a woman chaser. 

During my sophomore year I was a typical creep. I two-timed my girlfriend and ended my relationship with her primarily because of her chastity and my hormonal explosion. I apologized for it and that was the last time I have ever forsaken a committed relationship. The hurt was real and made an impression on me that has lasted a lifetime. For the record, my second girlfriend dumped me for much the same reason the year after I town for college. It seems she wanted a little more of a man, who says size doesnít matter? 

During those high school days we had several bawdy parties at an area outside of town that we called "Zone 4", for whatever reason. There was a lot of drinking and typical high school behavior, including sexual exploration, with that girlfriend #2 (name withheld for her protection). All of the activity was totally heterosexual although there was an element of oral involvement which was certainly enjoyed and mutually encouraged, even a few "in school" experiences which only added to my overall education. It was a great prep for what was to come.

My college days were eventful, not for their intellectual content, but the "Animal House" character of the experiences connected to the years I was allowed to be in residence at those institutions of higher learning.. I was uninspired and lived for the weekends. They were orgiastic days of one hedonistic pursuit after another. Sun tanning, Tiki torches, Sgt.Pepper and Toga, Toga, Toga. One party comes to mind. Labeled "Return to the Womb", to enter the party you had to slip through two automobile tire inner tubes stretched tightly together in the center of the door opening and greased with Vaseline jelly. As you slipped through you entered a red light interior of drunkenness and throbbing, rhythmic rock and roll. Those were the good old days? 

Well, in 1968 a IIs deferment was essential to the continued pursuit of happiness, just stay in school, stupid. The Vietnam War had gotten out of control and warm bodies were necessary, the draft was on everyoneís mind. Well, to stay in school you have to give a damn and I guess I really didnít because I avoided studying was not really involved in a career directive. I did register for an abnormal psych class hoping to hear more about my deep innermost secrets, but the professor never got around to it. 

I popped out of college and went on a trip to the Northwest with several fraternity brothers during the Summer of Love,1969.

Working odd jobs around the Portland, Oregon area, sleeping in the parks, enjoying a semi-hippie existence that was summer fun away from the parental umbrella for the first time. Life on the edge, free as a bird and living from hand to mouth. We landed jobs in a pea cannery in the Walla Walla area and rented a three room flat in Walla Walla. 

Worked as a chef for the first time at Yellowstone prior to returning to the south.  Watched the Moon landing with the rest of the World

It was in Walla Walla on an incredibly hot day that I happened into a second hand store and spotted a pair of gold high heels with slim stacked heels, Someone inside me was awakened and had to have those shoes. The first time in 10 years that I had seriously considered dressing up. I bought the shoes on the sly and hid them under my bed without my 3 travel mates knowing of my purchase. There werenít many opportunities to make use of my purchase, but on the few occasions I was hooked. When it came time to vacate the apartment for the continuation of the voyage I risked discovery by returning for my shoes only to be noticed by one guy who asked me what I was reaching for, I covered the grappling with some "I thought I lost something" comment and we left. I wonder who found those nice size 10 pumps.

Upon returning from the Northwest I heard of a music festival happening at the motor speedway at LaPlace, La. between New Orleans & Baton Rouge. Dubbed the New Orleans Pop Festival. It was the south Louisiana answer to Woodstock. Labor Day of 1969 I met the woman I would eventually marry. We enjoyed many of the hot groups of the day from Canned Heat and Itís A Beautiful Day, Janis Joplin, the Byrds, Santana and Tyrannosaurus Rex, remember them? 

It was an idyllic weekend full of the freedom our generation longed for in an atmosphere permeated by the threat of Vietnam. The news of Woodstock had only been recently known and itís implications were completely unknown, as it was only a scant two weeks before. The violent rebuke of our of our presence in Vietnam was yet to materialize. It was a summer of love and music.

After the Pop Festival I hung around Baton Rouge for a time dating my new found girlfriend and enjoying the last days of summer fun, then returned to my parents home, leaving shortly after for a life on my own in Houston, Texas where I lived with old high school buddies and worked while awaiting my call from Selective Service. Having squandered my student deferment I was ripe for the picking, regardless of my lottery status. The letter arrived and the physical was scheduled. Entry into the ranks of the military was eminent. I went to the appointed station for my physical along with many other fresh attendees, all a bit apprehensive about their futures. I was held back during my physical and after a few more tests and was recalled for the following day. I didnít question their decision, Iím sure my blood pressure was through the roof. The "War" was heating up and they needed every body they could get.

On the return trip to the exam center more tests were done and I was excused. Later I received a medical deferment, the coveted 1-Y classification. To this day I havenít questioned the decision or inquired as to why I wasnít considered of recruitable health. Maybe I didnít have the right chromosomes? That would be too weird. Whatever the case, I was free from the pressure of being sent to the killing fields of southeast Asia.

I decided at that time to visit my sister living in the Washington, DC area and get involved in the effort to extricate us from the horrific experience of Vietnam. Washington was Protest Central and there were many opportunities to help state the case. I remember walking barefoot with my roommate, a fraternity brother from LSU and a washout from the Virginia Theological Seminary in nearby Alexandria, Va. (due to his divorce), down to Lafayette Park across from the White House to join the throng demonstrating against Nixonís decision to bomb Cambodia. Well, we were the demonstration. The two of us barefoot and stoned yelling epithets to Mr. Nixon and the entire war machine, then we walked home. 

There was another humorous event called Honor America Day, it occurred on July 4, 1971, Bob Hope was performing near the Washington Monument and the Yippies were staging a smoke-in at the adjacent Sylvan Theater, an open air concert stage. It seemed that all of middle America was there relaxing in their chaise lounges listening to the Bob Hope show when a contingent of Park Police decided to descend on the yippies and make a statement. That statement involved several volleys of tear gas. Unfortunately, the wind shifted and the gas blanketed middle America. On our ten speeds, we were on the periphery of the altercation and suffered for it, getting a minor dose of tear gas we biked to GW Hospital and were treated with cold towels and released.

Living in Washington during the past 30 years has been quite interesting.  Are you able to place this photo?

I captured it while hanging from the rear fence of the White House on Aug.14,1974. 

Note: Shortly after shooting the pic yours truly was asked to get off of the fence by a friendly DC policeman.

Answer: It's Mr. Nixon ascending the stairs to the helicopter after resigning as President

All of this was without a thought of crossdressing. My desire to dress was supplanted by the activities of life and the daily ritual of work and a house full of roommates. The next time Erica (still unnamed) surfaced was in 1977, nearly 8 years in exile. In 1970 I was married to the girl I met at the New Orleans Pop Festival in Ď69. I will respectfully decline any discussion about that marriage to prevent any discord in the family, but I will say that my current ex-wife and I did produce two lovely daughters, both of whom are destined to greatness.

When my femme self emerged in the late 70ís, I started accumulating a few wardrobe items. A couple pair of heels and a couple of slips were the extent of it. Then I took a few pictures and nervously delivered the film to a processor. Returning to collect the photos was truly a terrifying exercise, but necessary. They were barely worth the effort, but there I was a "sort of woman" with poor makeup. See the best of the lot right here to the right. By now you need a bit of comedy anyway. My icons from the first pics brought you to this page.

The thought of dressing became more intense and I experimented with different looks from time to time. In 1980-81 I had improved my wardrobe and although my weight had gotten a little out of hand, I had a good time and enjoyed the sessions en femme more and more.

The break up of my marriage happened in late 1981. Suffice to say, it was a simple wifeís decision that marriage after children was superfluous, a common late 70ís, early 80ís malady affecting the marriages of the free love generation. I moved from the house at my wifeís request, not wanting to cause any more emotional venting than the girls had already been exposed to although I had not been the one who had forsaken the marriage vows, somehow I was made to be the villain in the breakup. What time I did spend crossdressing I was totally closeted and my wife was clueless about my activities, to do otherwise would have been disastrous. I just didnít know how to broach the subject, the taboo of transvestism was unacceptable in the community. 

Not long before Woody Allenís "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex,( but were afraid to ask)" had lampooned a crossdressing man and reflected on the absurdity of it. Or at least that was my perception. With the thought that it certainly wouldnít hurt anyone if no one knew, I moved forward with my life as a separated, "unnecessary" parent with a deep hurt and a demand for attention by an inner mistress.

Life in my own apartment was great. I was free to dress at will and stay dressed throughout the evening. I became very comfortable with my look, but I still craved female companionship and continued to maintain my professional profile. I started dating a friend/client and the relationship began to develop into a love affair. In early 1982 we decided to begin a life together. On the move to her house I purged the crossdressing and tossed my "bag oíclothes" in a local dumpster. Life together was wonderful and remains so going on 18 years now.

My lovely ladies playing dress-up for Halloween. Good times, great fun.

My weight steadily increased through a great life of over indulgence and lack of true exercise. I was active, but that wasnít enough to counteract the wonders at the table. We traveled the world and enjoyed the foods along the way with friends new and old. The girls spent weekends and summers with us, as well as special moments in our lives and theirs.

Crossdressing was seldom an activity of joyful expression, rather a mere sexual interlude of fantasy trying to capture some elusive quark of thought. A temporary obsessive thought that required my attention and participation. I was a big girl.

In the spring/summer of 1994 I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes and suffered all of the classic symptoms. I was about 270 pounds and looked about 9 months pregnant. After the doctor suggested that I find a good carpenter to build a box for me because if I didnít take the weight off I would need it within a year, I started to rethink my lifestyle. Dieting had always been an on again off again battle. One day I accidentally caught a glimpse of my naked self sideways in the mirror. What a shocker that was! Well, at that precise moment I changed my lifestyle and began the road to my new self. With the help and encouragement of my then 18 year old daughter I embarked on a regime of diet and exercise that continues to this day, albeit more moderate than in the initial phase. I started walking 4 miles a day then I began interval training walking then running, walking, running and so on. I took the European model of three meals a little red wine and absolutely nothing between meals. Within eighteen months I was down to 180 pounds only 5 pounds more than when I entered high school.

Needless to say, I was fairly pleased with myself. Then came the bonus! Erica began to emerge. I named her Victoria Josephine Clark, a tribute to my soon to be favorite store and my mother. VJ took flight. She was the same size as my wife and enjoyed the many opportunities available to practice my newly rediscovered feminine persona. I started accumulating clothes and shopped for shoes. I havenít looked back once. The only problem was my continued guilt. One evening, while in bed and experiencing an incredible moment with my wife, I disclosed to her that I had kept a secret from her and couldnít live with myself any longer. I then disclosed my life as a crossdresser and assured her that I was the same person she married. 

We had a long discussion on the whyís and where-for-art-thouís. Some questions were answered, some questions remain unanswered and a few possibly unanswerable in our lifetime. All that I know is that being a crossdresser has given me a certain sensitivity that I might otherwise be missing. As Popeye the Sailor use to say, "I am what I am and datís all dat I am". Who I am is influenced as much by my feminine self as by any other aspect of my being or experience of my life. It is through these eyes that I see the world.

A couple of months ago while viewing a few of Victoriaís pictures, my wife asked what I called myself while I was dressed, when I told her my femme name was Victoria she said that I looked more like an Erica. I thought that sounded like a beautiful name and, if she could accept me as Erica, then I would change my name. I mean a woman should have the prerogative to change her mind, right? The name change and my exposure to so many friends through the Internet have been the catalyst for Ericaís growth. I canít thank them enough. Itís truly amazing how many of my sisters are out there traveling the same path of limited self expression at social recrimination.

Since the disclosure to my wife, I have disclosed my feminine predilection to my sister, also my size by the way, and I have raided her closet a few times since then, just as I had done while we were growing up. On one occasion she even admitted that she had always wanted a sister. Itís been great to be able to talk to the people I love about this part of my life with humor and understanding rather than keeping it a dark secret. Within the last month, prior to a long trip, I disclosed the facts to my now 24 year old daughter. Although somewhat taken aback by the revelation, she is accepting of me and willing to understand. Although we havenít discussed it at length since then, I hope she will come to me with any questions she may have and Iím sure she will. My younger daughter will probably learn soon why Dad is so different from other Dads. I just know that the only way to happiness is full disclosure to the oneís you love.

I do admit to getting a little carried away in the shoe store,
but I love the look!

As my British friend, Heather, said " this will provide so many more possibilities for Chrissy presents". It never fails that they always admit they "just donít know what to get Dad for Christmas". Just go to Victoriaís Secret and get me some PJís. Only kidding, girls.

At 51 Erica is happy with life and will be even happier as each year passes and she is given more freedom to breathe the air outside of the closet.

Thank you for listening.


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