Transformal Was Great, But I Won’t Be Going Back

Caty Ryan has just attended her first Transformal (and as explained herein, last “TF”) This is her story of the event. It is held every May in the Blue Mountains about 2 hours east of Sydney.

Transformal event in Australia

Explanation. “Transformal” is the Australian version of events such as “Southern Comfort” and “Fantasia Fair” in the USA,  or “Sparkle” in the UK.

For many a long year, especially since Caty acquired her “Scarlett O Caty” replica Civil War ballgown, she has dreamt of making it to a Transformal and indulging in all the wonderful activities that have become so well know at this event. Number one priority, was to be photographed wearing this on the Carrington Hotel stairs, leading up to the first floor.

Caty Ryan in civil war ball gown in Carrington Hotel

There was also the fervent desire to “make up”, ??!! for the time some 20 years ago when Caty was able to (briefly) attend Fantasia Fair,  one of the USA’s premier Trans events.  It was in Provincetown out on Cape Cod about 3 hours out of Boston. After being made up to look fabulous by Jim Bridges, one the US’s most famous trans make up artists, I only lasted the few first hours when what I thought at the time, was a very serious health problem came up on me and I fled that event back to my hotel in Boston like a scalded cat.(y).

 Booking the  flights, Carrington Hotel room and a rental car was the easy part, having “the chat” about my crossdressing and desire to attend TF with my beloved was much harder. For altho’ she knows about Caty, she also very firmly “does not want to know”.

So from her viewpoint it was “just go, but I don’t want anything to do with it”. She carried that through to not answering any text msgs at all during my stay in Katoomba, which by itself was very disconcerting!!.

I’ve had a chronic and at times, very painful lower back ailment and of course it had to flare a long time before TF and gave me untold grief during the event. More on that later.

So thus, Thursday 18 May dawned and here follows the first piece of advice to any TF newbie travelling from a long way away, especially if you are in your “mature years” like me and travel to your airport is a two hour cross city drive, like mine is.

Get to Katoomba a day before TF starts. If I had tried to get there on the Friday in time for the start of all the fun, it just would not have happened.

I had a shocking run to Melbourne airport and barely made my flight to Sydney. Once in Sydney and into my rental car, even tho’ I’d printed off all my directions before I left, I got hopelessly lost on the Sydney freeway (sic) system and it took well over three hours to get up to Katoomba. I used to drive in Sydney as part of my job, but the last time was 15 years ago!!

Katoomba, Australia

Katoomba, Australia

Net result, I get into the Carrington, very  tired and with a very sore back!!!

But I’d set up an appointment with a local Katoomba chiro for the Friday morning and by midday Friday, Caty’s all fixed for what she hoped was going to be a very rewarding and fun TF. Of course the first thing anyone would ask is “what brings you to Katoomba”, so in emails beforehand, I discreetly let it be known why I was there. So as well as asking me if I had the right frock for the Formal, the parting shot from the chiro was, “just be careful in those high heels wont you”. At that stage little did I know the future implications of that remark!!

So come cocktail party time and Caty’s done her best with make up and hair and thinks she looks quite good in one of her 3 piece, “Mother of the Bride” outfits. Met and chatted with lots of new TGR friends at the cocktail party and when it was time to leave, I made my way to the “in/famous” Carrington staircase up to my first floor room.

Caty Ryan at Carrington hotel in Katoomba AU

Half way up the stairs, my right heel slips off one of the stairs and “bang” the back pain comes back with a vengeance. From past bitter travel experience, I do carry some heavy duty painkillers for such occurrences, but of course next day, I’m not much use to anyone! Especially when they wear off next day.

Thus, instead of joining in all the interesting Saturday day events, including volunteering for a bra fitting, the wonderful Carrington reception staff found me a chiropractor who was open on Saturday. So, she who does not own a smart phone to find one herself, is into the car for yet another one hour drive!.

Transformal 2017 Carrington Catwalk

Of course by this stage, I’ve got the false nails firmly glued on and I’m wearing my blue “two day” wristband. I’d also left what I thought were some “unisex undies” on. But when the chiro pulled down my jeans at the back to adjust me, his exact words were “Oh Boy the undies”. Hey, at least I’d taken my breast forms off. Plan “A” was to have them attached all weekend!!

But after he’d finished and I got myself back to the Carrington all was well. I showered and put fresh lingerie on, well in time for the wonderful make up genius that is Michelle Rieusset to turn me into “Scarlett”. Sadly, she ran a touch late and I did miss out on some of the “pre Formal” activities.

But made up and dressed in my Scarlett O Caty gown with the “obligatory” curly red hair wig, with breast forms adhered again, I felt wonderful, especially the way my full skirts and underskirt rustled as I made my way from my room to the ballroom.  And yes, down those pesky stairs I, (very carefully) went!

I was also very grateful for my “sore back Plan  B” (aka a pair of flat shoes).

I very much enjoyed everything to do with the Formal and surprised myself by staying up for about two hours past my normal bedtime!!

Caty Ryan at Carrington hotel in Katoomba AUC

And I got all the photos I wanted too!!! Thanks Marian and Michelle!

I’ve praised the Carrington reception staff above, but one of the housekeepers called me “Sir” and I think a barman called me, “mate”. Couple this with on Friday afternoon, “Bill” says to his wife “Mary”, “they are having Formal Ball tomorrow night” and maybe I and quite a few others staying in the hotel didn’t look as convincing as we thought.

But in that environment, who cares??

Come Sunday morning and it was time to get back into male mode and depart. All things  femme  went back into the suitcase and it was into the rental car for the “right way” to drive back to Sydney for a two night stay at Darling Harbour.

Might be the “right way” in terms of time and distance travelled, but unlike here in Victoria, I found out the hard way there are no big “off freeway” servos between Katoomba and Sydney on the M7/M5. Nett result I clean forgot to refuel the car and the car rental mob got me for $120.00 fuel charge.

To this we can add the airline hitting me for another pile of $$, as I wanted to change my flight to get home earlier, for another back treatment.

So in summary, my back is never going to be any better and of course if I tried it all again, to quote the great English “bard” Arfur Daley, “Er indoors will go spare”

(US trans: will be very, very annoyed) So that’s why, sadly, I’m never coming “back” to Transformal!

Happy  dressing everyone.



More information on Transformal is here

4 thoughts on “Transformal Was Great, But I Won’t Be Going Back

  1. Thank you for your such kind words Contessa, I’m not much good at Airbrushing, but I can tell you that the “front bit” of my (white) slip was showing” (aka underskirt) in most of the photos I have used in this story, so thank God for the dark colours in the dress and “black paint” in Microsoft Picture Manager!!!

    I wont put the comparison it up on this site, but the way my hair and make up were done on the night, made me look SO much like my lovely but sadly late Mum!

    Oh at “BTW” The dress came from Recollections in Michigan, they make great costumes, but lack a sense of humour. I did a testimonial for their site, but they did not print it!!

    Thanks again

    Caty Ryan

  2. Hello very precious and sweetly elegant, Caty , I am Countessa a fashion designer and also the number one fashion designer for the TG/TS communities, I am deeply involved in the communties and respect them greatly…
    I just had to let you know I adored you look and style.. I don’t really do much with this group but do much with many orgs…
    We have many outings and formal and even luncheon and breakfast events.. You just never know when a girl can get out to hang with her girlfriends, so we have all different times and events.

    I just had a formal event at a hotel and it was smashing.. I know your gown would have stole the show and I know I would have wished I was the one to design it ..
    I love the color… and adore the hairstyle. I am always enthralled by the styles back where women were totally and fully ultra feminine, I adore laces, satins, silks, ( especially charmuse silk ) and plumes and feathers. I adore the harlow and Rosalind Russels looks also.. did you know they did not wear corsets and the average size was comparable to the size 14/ 16 of today.. .Did you know that in sizes, Marilyn Monroe would have worn a 14 /16 in todays sizes… she had a very good and lovely curvy figure. Do you also know that many models are Tg ? Did you know that.. Well its true.. for a true designers runway its totally ” dial a fugure..” we love slim hips as it makes the walk and softer silky fabrics look so totally feminine and ultra elegant and seductive on the runway… If you also think that those swimsuit models you see in the fashion mags and sports illistrated have those prefect figures and not on flaw or birth mark.. Wow… we have you fooled ! LOL
    airbrush, Airbrush… AIRBRUSH.. THE TOUCH UPS ARE on everything.

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