"Mommy, I’m pretty!” I cry, looking in the mirror at my full drag transformation. Paddy Aldridge stands back to admire her work. We are creating drag looks for the holiday season, which we call Plaid Tidings. They’ll make ideal Christmas cards!
Paddy has been operating her Take a Walk on the Wildside boutique
for 25 years now. She has helped transform thousands of men, gay and straight (and will hopefully transform thousands more), for only $300 — and you get to keep the outfit.
A Toronto native, Paddy graduated from Ryerson, then worked as a stripper and with the Santa Claus Parade before opening her store in 1987. She’s provided shoes to Travolta for Hairspray
and Willem Dafoe for The Boondock Saints
and has appeared as a guest on both Donahue
and Jerry Springer
As she slathers makeup over my desperate face, Paddy tells me about the many reasons for doing drag. For instance, one man wanted to disguise himself so he could snoop on his cheating wife.
Because of what she does for a living, I can’t help but wonder about Paddy’s sexuality and ask if she identifies as a lesbian. “I don’t know who I identify as,” she replies. “I had a male partner who dressed like a woman. I was legally married to a woman who was born a man. I guess I fall in love with people the way they are.”
At last I am ready. Paddy swings my chair around so I can see myself in the mirror. I’ve been in makeup before, on Kids in the Hall
, but never full doll, with false eyelashes and huge boobies! I look like an alcoholic, sex-starved coach’s wife/cougar still kicking it in her mid-50s by flirting with the football team. I decide to call myself Candida Bovay.
It is time for Candida to meet the world. Paddy and I hop in the car to go for lunch. We take the window seat at Sambucas so we can be seen by all. As I play with my risotto, a hustler leaning against the building outside keeps turning to check out my gorgeous gams. It is fun until the risotto stains my blouse. Being a slob is gender-neutral.
As the day wears on, I discover that Candida has her own personality. After a hard day’s work as an administrative assistant at the CBC, she comes home, kicks off those fucking heels, and makes herself a drink, like the Fig and Maple. It’s a new cocktail consisting of Bombay Sapphire gin, maple syrup, ginger beer, fresh figs and marmalade. Or she might just have a Rickard’s Oakhouse lager, not just because it’s a trendy new beer, but because the label matches her sweater.
Because she works in TV, it’s a good bet she never watches it, preferring to curl up with a good book. Like the juicy new Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like a Dame
, by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince. Just like Liz, Candida has huge tits and is a pig in bed. But since she isn’t talented, famous or philanthropic, the similarities end there.
I also think she would just love Brad Fraser’s new play, 5 @ 50
, about a group of older women who organize an intervention to deal with their drunkest member, leading to hilarious consequences. I think Candida, being a drunk, would relate to the play’s message. Or probably miss it completely.
Just before bed, she’ll have a nightcap, but Candida’s too wild to smoke boring old pot. Likely she’d roll up a spliff of The Izms, the new “legal” pot substitute that smells like Big League Chew and gets you totally whacked. And once again, the package matches her sweater. She’s so fashionable.
Regardless of what she reads, drinks, puffs, fucks or wears, it’s obvious that she’ll be doing it all Candida style! Thanks, Paddy. And Merry Christmas.