The Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings: more complex than you can imagine

I’m thrilled that I can finally share the process that took a 27 year old male (that would be my “pen age”) and transform him into a dashing Royalty in her best years: the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings would rule the final night of GRL 2015 in San Diego, her appearance greeted with standing ovations and roaring cheers by the crowds.

Never before had an entrance at GRL been greeted with standing ovations. Never before had royalty visited GRL.

Never before had an entrance at GRL been greeted with standing ovations. Then again, never before had royalty descended upon GRL: the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings. Photo: Jennifer Richards

To get to this moment took months of preparations. I’ll take you through the entire process step by step. In a separate post, tomorrow, I’ll share some of my thoughts about the transformation process from a more feminist point of view, and the work it takes for a woman to get ready for a “night out”. Today, I’ll focus more on the process with regards to the costume, the make-up and the accessories.

As I mentioned in my thank you post on Facebook after the event, this isn’t something you do alone. I realized early on that I’d need to bring a few people into the fold, in order to pull this off. All in all, five people attending GRL in San Diego were included in my plans:

  • Randy Gresham, the DJ of the night and my co-conspirator to play the music I needed (more about that later)
  • Jennifer Richards, whom I asked to photograph the transformation. Without her, there would be no record of the process.
  • Zathyn Priest, Australian author and cover designer whom I spoke to very early in the process. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help as he was super busy with his own costume and make-up, transforming him into a sexier version of Ginger Spice than the original…
  • Helen Shaw & Tim Faul. After a dress rehearsal back in Sweden I realized that I’d need help to get into the frock, not to mention the corset… In the end, I didn’t require their help, but they were gracious enough not to spill the beans, and Helen offered to drive her Majesty the few hundred yards to the party, even though she couldn’t sit down! 🙂

To these five, I can easily add another ten people who were helpful back home in getting ready for the event, from my husband, my father to friends and neighbors who helped out with anything from sewing seams to lending me jewelry. To all of them, I owe a debt of gratitude! Her Majesty will forever keep them in her heart.

The idea

The thought to dress up as Queen came over a year ago, at GRL in Chicago. Back then, my thought was to simply wear a tiara in my hair. After Chicago, I began to work the title of Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings into my entire authorship, from this website to my swag. It would become my author brand. The costume party at GRL would be the coronation to those endeavors.

Originally, I had intended to rent a costume on site in San Diego, but after checking with local rental shops I realized that finding a ball gown size huge (I am after all, six foot one and clock a good 183 lbs) would be a challenge, i.e. impossible. My search for the perfect costume would have to take place in Gothenburg.

The hunt for Red Dress

Finding a dress was easier said than done. As I’m very tall in “female” sizes, finding a dress proved difficult. After many attempts in several second-hand stores, I finally found a gown that I could “barely” fit into and that was long enough for my needs. Believe it, or not, but at $11.75, it was to be the cheapest part of my entire outfit! The dry cleaning cost me more than seven times as much as the dress itself! However, looking at my figure in the dress, I realized I needed more:

  • a corset, size XL, ordered online.
  • a bra, size 86, the largest size available in Swedish retail stores, cup size B (we ended up not using it)
  • four gel pads to create a bosom worthy of a Majesty
  • black gloves to cover my manly hands and to avoid us having to do the nails (three times the cost of the dress) purchased at a local bridal shop
  • a shawl, basically more than 9 feet of silk cloth (cost 8 times more than the dress…), seams sewn by a good friend of mine. Sadly, my generation men never learned to operate a sewing machine…
  • Shoes, size 9 1/2, which wasn’t easy to find, bought online
  • pantyhose, the kind I wouldn’t be able to break.
  • “granny” undies with padded ass (as my male figure doesn’t quite work on its own)
  • two used panty hoses to create a gaff (see below)
  • Duct tape and scissors (see below)

But it’s not just about the dress or the clothing. A good costume implies so much more, e.g. accessories:

  • a long haired, brown wig, to facilitate a Royal look.
  • a clutch (vintage, found at the same second-hand store where I found the dress) costing me more than the dress…
  • a tiara (bought in an antique store, originally from France, 1960s)
  • a brooch (a cameo, bought in an antique store in Gothenburg)
  • a large ring
  • two Russian medals for the sash (bought online, one depicting Emperor Catharina, the other one Tsar Peter II, the Great) bought online from a store selling Soviet junk and trinkets
  • I had also purchased fake pearl earrings, a brooch and necklace, but ultimately decided to ask my father if I could use my late mother’s real pearls, consisting of two necklaces (I wore the shorter one), a bracelet, and two earrings (which prompted me to pierce my second ear for the event. After the evening, I removed the earring and the wound is already healing, the hole closed)
  • Brown colored contact lenses, to match the wig.
  • Chanel #5 perfume, a sample provided for free by the department store where I usually buy my male stuff.
  • A make-up mirror and foundation for the clutch (just in case)

The basics: shower, shave & tuck

I’ll save you the gory details, you can easily look them up on e.g. YouTube where several trans persons and drag queens demonstrate how a man hides his genitals. But yes, I had to do the same, for two reasons: a) I’m kind of hung and would show, and b) I’ve seen how people have absolutely no restraint when it comes to touching men in dresses in those areas. While I was “lucky” and wasn’t grabbed by my crotch, I’ve had plenty of people grab my rear end that night. I wonder how women feel who are touched against their will. I felt violated, and still do not understand why people find it necessary to touch people against their will in their private parts. Any ideas what drives people to do that?

I had to make sure that my shave was as close as I could make it. You can only cover so much with make-up. Typically, I had several cuts afterwards…

To hide my genitals, I had learned to tuck, which basically means that you ‘hide’ your testicles in the small pouches left and right above your shaft. You then pull the scrotum and shaft back toward your anus. Drag queens often use duct tape to fixate things in place. I tried that and found it extremely uncomfortable (not to mention painful when you had to pull things free again. And while I had brought and prepared the duct tape, I ultimately decided to use a gaff, a tool used by primarily transsexuals, as it also allows you to go to the bathroom if necessary.

Thing is that I had real trouble keeping my testicles in their pouches. Not sure if it’s a question of age or amateurism, but they just wouldn’t stay put. blush The gaff helped me hide all my assets between my legs, not ideal, but it worked. I had been given an old panty hose from my neighbor which I used to prepare the little tool. Once hidden, I put on the padded underwear and the panty hose. This is what I looked like when the make-up artist showed up (not a pretty sight, mind you):

This is what I looked like before it was time for make-up.

This is what I looked like before it was time for make-up. I know, not a pretty sight…  Photo: Jennifer Richards

Make-up & Hair

I hired Kirsten Jensen, a great make-up artist from San Diego, to help me transform my male face into a female one, after I had realized that Zathyn wouldn’t be able to help me. Kirsten, founder and owner of Make-up on the go, this TIME-Magazine featured artist, not only did my hair, she also covered up my tattoos (a dead give-away to anyone who knows me), and then did my make-up. Here are a few photos of the transition from man to Queen (all photos by Jennifer Richards):

And so it began, with me donning the long-haired wig.

And so it began, with me donning the long-haired wig.

Halfway done. Hair set up, pinned in place.

Halfway done. Hair set up, pinned in place.

All done. Hair and tiara in place. The next step would take an hour!

All done. Hair and tiara in place. The next step would take an hour!

Once the hair was done, it was time for the make-up, including covering up my rather large tattoos. Given that Her Majesty would be wearing a sleeveless, shoulder-less dress, this was a must:

With a foundation "gun", Kirsten covered my extensive tattoos.

With a foundation “gun”, Kirsten covered my extensive tattoos.

The tattoos are covered.

The tattoos are covered.

This is a great shot to show just how my arms, shoulders and neck were covered to look good in Her Majesty's dress.

This is a great shot to show just how my arms, shoulders and neck were covered to look good in Her Majesty’s dress.

Still me, with a wig.

Still me, with a wig.

I look tired, but the look is coming along nicely.

I look tired, but the look is coming along nicely.

Give us a smile... Yeah, I noticed early on that my character would be rather serious. This wasn't something I planned on, but it felt right.

Give us a smile… Yeah, I noticed early on that my character would be rather serious. This wasn’t something I planned on, but it felt right.

I spent much of the hour with my eyes closed.

I spent much of the hour with my eyes closed.

Getting the face in place took a long time, and it's fun to see the pictures. After all, sitting there, I couldn't really see what Kirsten was doing.

Getting the face in place took a long time, and it’s fun to see the pictures. After all, sitting there, I couldn’t really see what Kirsten was doing.

Every now and then, a mirror was stuck into my face: Look!

Every now and then, a mirror was stuck into my face: Look!

Almost done. Lips in place.

Almost done. Lips in place.

Done! Time to don the clothes...

Done! Time to don the clothes…

Time to get dressed…

Once the make-up was done, it was time to get dressed. Given her experience in the field, Kirsten helped me get into the corset, giving Helen a chance to get ready and into her own costume. Jennifer also had to pitch in and drop the camera to pull the corset as tight as possible.

Hey, sexy lady... Nah, not really. I certainly didn't feel that way.

Hey, sexy lady… Nah, not really. I certainly didn’t feel that way.

I know, this looks ridiculous and we ended up not using the bra since we couldn't fit it under the dress.

I know, this looks ridiculous and we ended up not using the bra since we couldn’t fit it under the dress.

We had to move the corset up a bit in order to be able to close the gown. We then pulled it down again, from the inside. With the corset across my rib cage, breathing became very shallow...

We had to move the corset up a bit in order to be able to close the gown. We then pulled it down again, from the inside. With the corset tight tight (K. C. Wells has no idea what that means…) across my rib cage, breathing became very shallow, very!

At one time, because the girls were unable to close the dress, I even had to lie, face down, on my bed. That must’ve been quite hilarious to watch…

Tits, medals and camée in place. And my tattoos completely covered and invisible.

Tits, medals and cameo in place. And my tattoos completely covered and invisible.

Once the dress was in place it was time for the details: sash, jewelry, gloves

Once the dress was in place it was time for the details: sash, jewelry, gloves

As you can see from the picture above, the dress and shoes make a big difference. Her Majesty is showing. The sash, the jewelry, the gloves and finally, the shawl completed the ensemble:

The shawl was the final piece to complete the ensemble. A Queen would not be seen in public with bared shoulders...

The shawl was the final piece to complete the ensemble. A Queen would not be seen in public with bared shoulders…

To complete and sort of the “icing on the cake”, Kirsten sprayed some Chanel #5 on me, and I was ready to go to the party.

May I present, Her Majesty, the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings:

Her Majesty, ready for the party.

Her Majesty, ready for the party.

She's perfect, don't you think?

She’s perfect, don’t you think?

The Entrance

How does a Queen enter a ball room? She walks, of course, but Royalty is to be announced properly, so I spent some time getting ready for that. I knew of course that I’d need an accomplice, and Randy Gresham was thankfully willing to help. I needed a voice to announce me, a royal fanfare (which I purchased for the occasion on a stock image site) and an anthem. But which anthem?

There were two contenders: The Imperial Austrian (also known as the German anthem) or the old Swiss anthem (also known as the British and Liechtenstein et al. anthems.) The difference between the Austrian and the German version is mainly the tempo and the lyrics. I was looking for an orchestrated version without lyrics. Ultimately, I decided to use the old Swiss anthem (not the current one) because I felt that as a citizen I had the right to use it. I’m neither German nor Austrian and didn’t wish to offend anyone.

The Swiss used that anthem until 1961 and they were far from the only ones to use that melody, as the Wikipedia article suggests. In 1954, the Swiss discovered, to their dismay during a soccer game against England, that the two nations shared the same national anthem. The Swiss changed theirs. But not only Switzerland used that melody, so do the people in neighboring Liechtenstein to this day. It was a recording with lots of drums, that worked well in transition from the fanfare, that I ended up using. I combined the soldier’s call, the fanfare and the anthem into one single file and gave that to Randy to use after he and I had inspected the “grounds” together and had come up with a game plan for the night.

We texted Randy when I left my suite. Helen Shaw offered to drive me, but with the corset, I was unable to sit in her car. Instead, I had to walk:

Her Majesty, walking the 300 yards to the party.

Her Majesty, walking the 300 yards to the party.

Randy had shown me a back elevator to take me unnoticed to the fifth floor of the party. Once inside the building, we alerted Randy to Her Majesty’s arrival, and when we stepped out of the elevator, we were ready for the big reveal:

Her Majesty enters to the tunes of the Royal Anthem

Her Majesty enters to the tunes of the Royal Anthem

Her Majesty is escorted by a... pirate? WTF?

Her Majesty is escorted by a… pirate? WTF? Thanks Meghan Maslow for your bravery in Her Majesty’s brief service! 😉

Her Majesty works the room

Her Majesty works the room

When people realized what was going on, applause erupted and people got up for a standing ovation. This was somewhat unexpected, and it made me really nervous. It’s hard enough to walk in high heels (in shoes that were too big), and when I noticed how the entire room was turning toward me (which I had hoped for, but it’s different in theory than actually being there), my knees began to buckle and I had a hard time walking. But I did, Her Majesty played her role well, and I spent the next two hours taking pictures with people…

All boxed and stored in our basement: the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings.

All boxed and stored in our basement: the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings.

I had a great time, and I hope I contributed a little bit to making the event unforgettable, not just for me and my closest friends, but everyone attending that night. At the end of the evening, I returned to my room, and began to peel myself out of the entire outfit again. It took a while, let me tell you, and scrubbing my face off was painful.

Meanwhile, I’ve returned back to Sweden, and Her Majesty, the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings is boxed and stored in our basement. I don’t think she’ll ever make another appearance, but then again, one shall never say never, right?

To all involved in this endeavor, from Kirsten, Randy, and Jennifer on site, to the many helpers back in Sweden, my friends and neighbors, and everyone else who had a hand in making this amazing night possible, including my friend and publisher Debbie McGowan, who is ultimately responsible, since she bestowed the title upon me: THANK YOU!

Before I leave you, here are some more pictures from the evening. Enjoy!

IMG_8838 IMG_8767 Photo Oct 17 Photo Oct 17-7 Photo Oct 17-5 IMG_8770

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Have a great week!

Hans aka Her Majesty the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings

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