Added: Brittain Hartz - Date: 04.09.2021 05:11 - Views: 33284 - Clicks: 4372
If you were to journey to Jewett, NY today, you would find yet another semi-abandoned white hamlet, deep in the hillside, ramshackle and in need of a facelift. Welcome to Casa Susanna, which incidentally, is now up for sale….
Ring any Dirty Dancing bells? And that is where Casa Susanna comes in. Tito Valentini, and his wife Maria, purchased the picturesque guesthouse in the mid s after leaving their city life behind them. By day, Tito had worked at a Spanish radio station and Maria ran a successful Fifth Avenue wig store, but after dark, Tito transformed into Susanna Valenti, a professional female impersonator. Realising the business could be profitable if they had more space and more privacy , Maria took her earnings from the wig store and became proprietor of Casa Susanna, the first, and possibly only, successful holiday resort for crossdressers.
Casa Susanna was actually their 2 nd foray into the world of charm schools for gender explorers. The seven-bedroom domicile, along with a few unheated bungalows, nestled in the Catskills, would become a second home to a multitude of gender non-conformists, either visiting briefly to unwind for a few days in a pencil skirt and heels, or checking in for entire summers to be taught full time by Susanna what it is to be a lady.
Of course, the cross-dressing was still considered a perversion in many cities at the time and discretion was the top priority for Casa Susanna and its inhabitants. So, when the girls posed for photographs, the thought of having them sent to a general photography lab to be developed was, understandably, terrifying.
At first Polaroids were their only option, but Susanna, ever the perfectionist and wanting only the best for her students and friends, decided to employ a professional photographer who could develop all their own images on site. Andrea Susan, known by day as Jack Mallick, was a regular visitor at Casa Susanna and also a keen and experienced photographer, but his camera equipment was severely lacking.
Gail also stipulated that she wanted a copy of every photograph that was taken, which she fastidiously collated into beautiful albums. In the blink of an eye, these books encapsulating a very specific slice of history, were taken by unseen hands. They would eventually find their way onto the flea market circuit, floating around in obscurity for years until , when an antiques dealer, Robert Swope, and his partner, Michel Hurst, found them.
Something private. Here were photos documenting everyday women, going about their everyday lives — except that these women were men who probably lived as truck drivers, ants, or bank presidents during the week. Swope and and his partner very quickly adapted them into a book. At the same time, an otherwise unaware Andrea Susan our resident photographer from Casa Susana had been living a colourful life as Jack Mallick with his wife in Scarsdale, NY.
By day, Jack was involved in various productions as cinematographer or lighting director while his alter ego, Andrea, was a regular fashion show host at Fantasia Fair in Provincetown, a conference for gender-questioning people. Until then, no one had ever known the identity of the photographer. Casa Susanna was, first and foremost, a safe haven. Somewhere for heterosexual men, gender non-conformists and future transwomen to let their hair down or should we say, don a wig and cultivate their inner femininity.
Back in a time when there were only two recognised genders, whose roles were much more defined than today, a woman was still very much acknowledged as a 2 nd class citizen, a handy addition to her male counterpart. It was as if many of these men found comfort in not having to conform to their own gender role for a while. Perhaps they considered the feeling of being a woman to be quite liberating and much safer than being a man. To be a woman meant glamour as well as homeliness, warmth, and motherly compassion as well as demure sexiness — whereas to be a man meant bearing the brunt of incessant toxic masculinity, long work hours, responsibility to provide and the constant threat of war.
The house itself is currently for sale. Amy Faith is a wedding photographer obsessed with all things historical usually macabre. Living in the north of England with her partner Tom and dog Maggie, she spends most of her spare time collecting books as well as studying vintage photographs, Victorian serial killers and the history of drag. Forgot your password? Lost your password? You will receive mail with link to set new password. Facebook Instagram. Cabinet of Chic Curiosities.
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email: [email protected] - phone:(308) 672-3878 x 4370
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