When you see a party advertising free Prosecco for ladies who wear 'tight dresses and high heels', it's understandable to be overcome by millennial, snowflake disbelief. But why settle for a raging Facebook status when you can go the extra mile and beat them at their own game?
The official event had listed a dress code, and whenever there's an official, themed dress code, I'm there.
As a drag queen I enjoy blurring the lines between gender. From the uncomfortable stares of the confused, to the 'yas queen's of those who live for it, there's a lot of fun to be had when fucking with any preconceived notions of what is 'normal' for boys and girls.
It's also quite interesting to get a little insight of what it's like to go through life as a woman, from the heartfelt chats by the bathroom mirrors to the severe inconvenience of something as minor as wearing tights.
The actual poster, y'all
Combing the joy that comes from sporting a full beard and kilometer-long lashes, with the fact that almost every dress I wear is already tight (I'm not exactly working with a small frame here) made the pairing between this weird party and my drag persona, Tolqueen, a match made in free-drink heaven.
As I dove wig-first into the planning phase of my night out, my only real worry was the eventuality of needing to pee from all the free flutes of booze unceremoniously meeting with my need to tuck.
For those who are new to this world, tucking is when you pop your testicles up into your abdomen and duct-tape your penis to the back of your leg to make sure there's no bumps in your dress; yes, this is a real thing.
I can't feel anything from the waist, down
The big night rolled around, my real eyebrows were glued down and my new ones painted onto my forehead. Secured safely beneath three layers of flesh-coloured tights, my hip pads neatly rounded out my thighs and hid my wallet. I was as ready as I could be, but something just didn't feel right.
As I approached the bar my stomach felt knotted. I wasn't sure if it was coming from the new corset I'd just picked up from Fgura or if I was actually nervous about the whole night.
One of the great things about doing drag is the confidence it gives you; you walk taller and smirk more. You also tend to lose the ability to suffer fools. But tonight, walking into a straight party dressed in women's clothes, I felt like the fool.
Those lashes mean it's a constant struggle to keep my eyes open
I arrived at the doorstep, took a deep breath and stepped forward. The bouncer laughed when he first saw me, and then shook his head in disbelief. Opening the door, I was let in without any problems.
The bar was empty, but before I even had a chance to march up and slam my handbag on the counter to make my case about free drinks for tight dresses, the barman calmly reached under the counter, whipped out a flute and poured a full glass of Prosecco.
He smiled and pushed it my way without a single word.
I knocked the drink down in one, and hadn't even rested my glass on the counter for long enough to text my friends before it was full to the brim once more. The plan had actually worked out beautifully. I got as much free Prosecco as I wanted (which was way too much Posecco, by the way), and those who organised the party begrudgingly acknowledged the cheeky dig at their ridiculous statement pretty early on.
Whether my win was down to the staff being entertained by a drag queen lightening the mood of a pretty underwhelming atmosphere, or if they were onto my would-be exposé, in this bar I was treated like a queen.
The problems kicked off when we decided to leave.
Unfortunately the claws are purely decorative
Riding high on a dangerous cocktail of Prosecco and confidence we left the bar and headed straight into the heart of Malta's clubbing village. Along the way I was jeered at and catcalled from across the street; the girls with me rolled their eyes and walked faster, the straight boys were perplexed at how calmly we took it.
As soon as I stepped into one of the many clubs in Paceville, this one known for catering specifically to an international audience, shit hit the fan. The DJ picked up the mic and loudly announced to the whole club that "the stripper had arrived" and "anyone [who wanted] a good time should head to the back of the club". The statement stunned me.
I'd always known my choices in drag commanded a lot of attention (it's literally the reason I spend three hours getting ready) but how could this DJ think that was an acceptable thing to announce so publicly? Was it because he knew I was a guy and 'could take it'. Did he think it wasn't offensive because I wasn't a 'real woman'?
Before I had time to react, I looked up and saw my male friend zip through the crowd and stop right under the DJ's booth, where he held out a finger and wagged it under the DJs nose, telling him to watch his words.
The DJ reacted the way most guys would in his place; first he was perplexed, then he scrunched his face and waved his hands about as if to say 'what did I do wrong? It was just a joke, bro.'
The blue lips that piss of far too many people
I was now ready to call it a night. My feet hurt, I hadn't peed in six hours and my mind was working in overdrive to try figure out how I had been treated better at a self-proclaimed sexist party than at a club I knew was an LGBT+ favourite.
Seeing the straight guys I was with get so upset about the comments passed throughout the night made me stop and think: "oh, perhaps I should be more pissed off too".
In a world where so many women have to live through these experiences on the daily, there's no denying my perspective isn't a 100% accurate representation of what it's like to be female. Once I go home, pull off the wig and wash my face I am indeed a man; but no matter how much cleanser I use or how flat my day-to-day shoes may be, I'll still remain a gay man.
While the struggles are not the same, they're both still very prevalent across the globe. In Malta we have super progressive laws for the LGBT+ community and loads of frameworks to promote women's rights. But an outing like this proves that on-paper plans don't necessarily mean real-world change.
On a recent trip to Bologna with friends I was targeted by muggers, most likely because I looked 'so gay' and made for an easy target. The only reason I even found myself in such a vulnerable position was because at the time I assumed the muggers were there to make unwanted advances on my female friends.
So while my sequinned hips didn't single-handedly take down systematic sexism, it did feel good to beat the party at its own game. Not because we wanted to make an example of the individual organisers, but because it acted as a big 'fuck you' to a daily struggle people sometimes forget shouldn't even be a thing anymore.
And to have done it in a way that was so fabulously 'offensive' made it feel even better.