gender-bending: Role Reversal

Role Reversal

This show first aired on A&E Television Network in 2003 and was shown in the UK on the Biography Channel. It’s premise: what happens if you take four average New Yorkers, two male and two female, and stick them in a house where they will swap gender identities to see how the other half lives? The show was narrated by Miriam Shor who played Itzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Fitness instructor, multiple black-belt and founder of Gotham Global Fitness, Ary Nunez was one of the participants: she became Julian. All the participants encountered emotionally trying moments during the making of the show: in Ary’s case it seemed to be when she had to sacrifice her hair.

From the hair salon to the ‘sexual identity boot-camp’ (including sessions with voice coach Kate Wilson, gender communication consultant Deborah Tannen, character development specialist and choreographer Richard Move and performance artist Shelly Mars) the quartet shed their old skins. They recorded their reactions on a video-diary.

According to the publicity material, as they began to separate learned gender behaviours from those that come naturally, their roles became more real to them and they each learned that ‘when deconstructing gender, the newest stranger is your self’.

The makeup

I do not have the makeup credits for this show; if anyone can help, please email themakeupgallery.