Our Faculty, The Jewels in Our Crown
The faculty at Miss Vera’s academy is of unparalleled excellence. Miss Deborah has transformed models and movie stars. Miss Kate and Miss Mariette have achieved international recognition in the field of transgenderism. Each dean is not only a glamorous expert in her field, but full of fun and compassion.
Since the academy’s founding others have clung to our skirts and tried to imitate our methods. For this we are grateful because it means more opportunities for education and pleasure for you the student. But the imitators cannot duplicate the artistry, knowledge and commitment of the deans of Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls.
Veronica Vera quite simply made history when she opened Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls in New York City in 1992. The world’s first crossdressing academy has become internationally famous since that day, offering a much needed service to the vast transgender community.
For every woman who burned her bra, there is a man ready to wear one, says Veronica Vera, the former Wall Street trader, a sex-positive feminist/activist whose academy is a resource for the estimated 3 to 5 percent of the adult male population who feel the need, at least occasionally, to dress in women's clothing. For Veronica, her school began as a way to finance a memoir about what she had learned as a sexual explorer, former porn star, and journalist with a dozen years of columns based on her personal experience and hundreds of interviews with the artists, denizens, and demimonde of pre-Disney New York. Instead, Miss Vera’s Academy became a force unto itself, identifying Veronica Vera as a visionary. She had to put aside her memoir to live a new chapter.
Hundreds of students have flocked to Miss Vera’s academy from across the country and around the world to study with her and her faculty of expert hand-picked deans. Thousands more have read the two books she wrote based on her school. Miss Vera’s academy provides a haven for many of these conflicted and often closeted men and an outlet for them to learn how to best accept, explore and enjoy their feminine urges, whether their desire is for an alternate life or for a lifetime transition. She has served as both a window of understanding into this world AND a reliable resource for worldwide media outlets that have discovered it and wish to provide their audiences a fascinating and insightful perspective into it. The lessons of her school are popular with non-trans women too.
Miss Vera, a groundbreaking authority in the area of gender issues and sexuality in general, has authored 2 books on the subject, has appeared on more than 50 television shows, and has been the focus of countless radio interviews, magazine, newspaper, and online articles.
For Vera, freedom of expression is more than just a fashion statement. In 1984, she testified in Washington D.C. regarding her experiences in adult media. Her passionate anti-censorship testimony became part of the Meese Commission Report on pornography. She is on the executive board of Feminists for Free Expression (FFE). Veronica has lectured at Yale and Dartmouth on sex workers rights, helped to reorganize P.O.N.Y. (Prostitutes of New York), and developed the FFE mission statement that advocates decriminalization. She is a member of Club 90, the first porn star support group whose other members include Candida Royalle, Veronica Hart, Gloria Leonard and Annie Sprinkle. Her collaborations with other artists include a long relationship with Annie Sprinkle. Veronica authored the Post Porn Modernist Manifesto (PPM) to accompany Sprinkle’s seminal performance. The PPM became a cornerstone of that art movement that
celebrates sex as the nourishing life-giving force and a tenet of sex-positive feminism. She also collaborated with artist Robert Mapplethorpe whose controversial work withstood the challenges of a landmark censorship trial in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her video docu-diary Portrait of A Sexual Evolutionary was the focus of censorship at the University of Michigan Law School in 1993 in which she and the other artists represented by the ACLU emerged triumphant. Veronicas response to the AIDS crisis was to marry her best friend when he was diagnosed, a wedding that made the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Partly because of her experience growing up with a sister who had Down Syndrome, Veronica has always recognized the value to society of those who are considered different and been sensitive to their needs, her positive response to help people in unique situations. As a result, she has always made news, always been on the front lines, always been a champion of those who could not always stand up for themselves, especially in shaky heels.
Today, Miss Vera has expanded her academy to include non-trans women and is available to bring her philosophy of edutainment to college campuses and conferences throughout the year. Through her advancement in awareness of gender issues and freedom of sexual expression Veronica Vera has helped to change the perception and level of acceptance of trans people and the face and figure of society. Miss Vera believes that since
life is art, it’s best lived with tolerance, creativity and flair.
To book Miss Vera: email
Books by Veronica Vera:
- Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls (Doubleday, 1997)
- Miss Vera’s Crossdress for Success (Random House, 2002)
TV Appearances include:
- Late Night with Conan O’Brien (NBC)
- The View (ABC)
- Real Sex (HBO)
- Pritch & Panch Do…The Cinderfella Experience (Channel 4 U.K.)
- The Tranny School documentary (Channel 5 U.K.)
Miss Viqui is often the first person a student will encounter when telephoning the academy for information. Her lovely, polite voice, sets the tone for your future encounters. Miss Viqui expects you to be a gentleman and a lady and will settle for nothing less. She helps to plan the student’s curriculum with Miss Vera. Miss Viqui was taught by her mom how to cook and to sew and she can teach you to do the same. She grew up in a household where the ladies always stopped for their afternoon tea break. She teaches tea party etiquette. Miss Viqui is also a graphic artist who was graduated from Parsons School of Design and has studied in Italy. Along with Miss Vera, Miss Viqui designed the academy crest and she designs many other academy visuals. Her first book is called, “Absolutely Angels”. She helps to make your experience heavenly.
Licensed Cosmetologist and Professional Make-Up Artist. Miss Deborah applies make-up with the lightest stroke, as if a feather brushed over the face. “You can always add more”, says Miss Deborah as she instructs our girls. Miss Deborah is “the queen of tweeze” in her crusade to remove stray brow hairs. “Just a few and no one will know the difference, You will just look well-rested.” Miss Deborah is also a fashion maven who knows how to pull an outfit together. She is a woman of great taste and style. She knows how to accessorize...the perfect jewelry, scarf, etc. She loves to go on shopping sprees with you girls and help you to find that one perfect accessory that might be missing or outfit you from head to toe. Miss Deborah can walk into the ladies’ department and within minutes zoom in on the outfits that will be just right for you.
Talk like a man? Miss Judy, Dean of Voice, can change that. Go from deep to delightful with a few quick tips and lots of practice. As a licensed speech/language pathologist, Miss Judy brings her experience and education to the art of teaching the feminine voice. “We begin by having our student dress as a woman.” explains Miss Judy. “Once dressed up, our student immediately begins to demonstrate feminine mannerisms that relate to the voice.” The voice class begins with techniques in body language (the unspoken word) and word choice that is considered feminine. The next step is teaching the production of “soft” sounds, as in the substitution of the /s/ for the /z/ consonant. Our student is then taught to “lilt” or stretch the vowels to produce a musical note while speaking. These and other techniques are encouraged to be subtle so that the student sounds genuine and not theatrical. The voice class gives the student the opportunity to express her thoughts/feelings in a positive environment. Miss Judy, Dean of Voice, is an honors graduate from UCLA and Queens College. She is affiliated with Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Miss Kate, our Dean of Hearts, lives another life outside the Academy as Kate Bornstein: author, performance artist, columnist, actress, and girl about town right here in New York City. Due to the popularity of her three books, Gender Outlaw, My Gender Workbook, and the novel she wrote with Caitlin Sullivan, Nearly Roadkill, Kate tours North American campuses with an edutainment evening of slam poetry, monologues, and strange theories on gender. As a matter of fact, Miss Kate and Miss Barbara tour together in a piece they call, “Two Tall Blondes Do Sex, Death and Gender”.
Here at Miss Vera’s, our Dean of Hearts teaches basic and advanced classes in Wardrobe and Voice. Miss Kate is a post-operative transsexual, so she can also answer any questions you might have regarding that kind of girl. She also teaches advanced courses in “Opening Your Girl Heart”, “Discovering Cute”, and “Finding Fabulous”. Miss Kate’s specialty, however is as your teacher/companion either out on the town or within the Academy walls, where her gentle conversation and companionship make your experience here truly rewarding.
Mariette Pathy Allen was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and expected to spend her life painting. But she says, “In 1978, I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. By fluke, I stayed in the same hotel as a group of crossdressers who invited me to join them for breakfast on the last morning. When I took a group picture, I was moved by the experience of looking into the eyes of one of the people in the group and feeling that I was looking at the essence of a human being rather than a man or a woman.”
She was captivated. From 1978 through the ‘80s, Mariette photographed and interviewed male-to-female crossdressers in relationships to spouses and children, in everyday life. This work culminated in the publication of Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them, and an exhibition at the Simon Lowinsky Gallery in 1990.
In the ‘90s, she expanded her work to include female-to-males and male-to-females who live in the gender in which they identify.
Miss Mariette enjoys describing her portrait session with you as “leading you to the dance of self-acceptance and self-creation” to help you realize you are a three dimensional person who can present yourself in many ways.
Along with exhibitions and books, Mariette gives slide presentations on gender issues and consults for documentary films that include transgender themes. In 1998 she worked with Kate Davis and David Heilbroner on a film for A&E: The Transgender Revolution, the first documentary to emphasize political issues along with personal stories.
Southern Comfort, Kate DavisŐs next film, for which she also worked as consultant and still photographer, has won 15 awards so far including GLAAD media nomination.
Miss Mariette’s latest book, The Gender Frontier offers images taken over many years of the people featured in Southern Comfort, as well as other individuals and events.
Visit her web site at http://www.mariettepathyallen.com
Miss Maryanne brings her experience in ballroom dancing to the art of walking in high heels. After receiving an M.A. in Dance Education from Columbia University Teachers College, Miss Maryanne decided that the world of ballroom dancing-rhinestones, sequins, feather boas, romantic music, moving in the arms of a partner-sounded more fun than teaching modern dance at a college. The opportunities have been many and varied. Participation in competitions around the country for several years brought rewards and trophies but teaching has been Miss Maryanne’s primary focus. She has been affiliated with many studios in the city, teaching both social and competition style ballroom to large groups, couples and individuals; taught social dance for credit at Hunter College; currently teaches social dance and swing at the New School; briefly taught dancing and etiquette to children in private schools in Bronxville, NY and Southport, Ct.; does a regular gig at the Yale Club; was invited by her undergraduate alma mater, Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, to teach mambo at the reunion weekend; and has produced many dance teachers currently working in the field. All of this is background for learning how to move with confidence and grace in high heels. Sometimes the technique of rumba will create just the right walk for the right situation.
Miss Shannon Harrington has always found her way to the center of gender-bending culture. Not long after her arrival in New York she joined the troop of fabulous queens who performed at the legendary Boy Bar in the East Village. To earn her keep and pay for those high heels she’s been addicted to since childhood, she twirled her comb over wigs at Patricia Field’s trendy Boutique - the same Pat Field who later costumed Sex In The City. We met Shannon when she worked with our dear friend the activist and drag pioneer Mr. Lee Brewster at Lee’s Mardi Gras Boutique, the transvestite’s paradise. Shannon is a professional wigmaster with films such as Savages, Broadway shows such as Hairspray and even Shakespeare to her credit. She’s the best friend you can have when picking out your “party hat”. She’ll lace up your corset good and tight, and has been known to wear two at a time herself. When at work she’s in her “gender neutral” mode. But her diva mode is a cross between Elvira and Dolly Parton. Shannon knows all the tricks of the trade and she generously shares them with you.
Barbara Carrellas is a sex educator, sex positivist and pleasure activist. She offers a holistic, metaphysical, practical, humorous and entertaining approach to conscious sexuality. Miss Barbara’s goals include helping students of the Academy to take the knowledge and energy inspired by her instruction and integrate it into their daily lives, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom.
After a long and successful career in the New York theatre, Miss Barbara turned the focus of her work and her art to sexual healing and sex as a spiritual path. She has facilitated countless healing circles and support groups for women, men, transsexuals, artists, and people with life-threatening illnesses. For four years she was a facilitator and on the Board of Directors of the New York Healing Circle, which was founded in response to the AIDS crisis and incorporated the principles of Louise Hay’s work. As her workshops grew in popularity and in attendance her work expanded to include people from all walks of life and in all stages of their sexual evolution. And she is a perfect guide to help you in yours.
Miss Barbara has combined her experiences in Tantra, Tao, Quodoushka, Reiki, rebirthing, metaphysics, performance, ritual, herbal medicine, body work and erotic massage into unique and pioneering workshops that create a vision of what conscious and sacred sexuality can bring to an individual’s personal journey and to the healing of seuxal abuse and misuse on the planet. She will help you to soar to new heights of pleasure. Are you ready for the flight?
Miss Barbara has been featured in such sex positive videos as Selfloving, The Sluts & Goddesses Video Workshop, and in the film Sacred Sex. She has also appeared on HBO’s Real Sex, Australian television’s Sex/Life and the documentary Sex In America. She collaborated with Annie Sprinkle, the Academy’s honorary Ph.D. in Pleasure, to present Metamorphosex and directed the Australian premiere of Annie’s renowned one woman show Post Porn Modernist.
Currently in the process of writing her own book, Miss Barbara has written numerous articles about sex and writes a monthly feature for the sex magazine, Over 40, highlighting the lives and wisdom of sexually mature women, including the stars of the “golden age” of porn. She has written and produced “The Pleasure Priniciple” a series of educational audio tapes. Miss Barbara has lectured at colleges and together with her partner Kate Bornstein, the Academy’s Miss Kate, performs their gender-bending lecture performance piece, “Two Tall Blondes”. And they are. Their advice column is featured in Transgender Tapestry magazine.
Miss Barbara was recently named the best Tantric Sex Seminar Leader in New York City by Time Out Magazine. But here at the Academy you can luxuriate in her as your private tutor.
Miss Tiger is a classically trained ballerina. Her talent and love of the dance have won her professional placements and prizes. She’ll certainly keep you on your toes, Missy. While living in Florida, she was a soloist with the Florida West Coast Ballet Company and later, in Puerto Rico, ran her own studio. When on sabatical, she vacations at Noyes Rhythm Camp.
Miss Tiger has the training and the pointy stick that encourage you to stretch your limbs and your limits. You will emerge from her class ecstatic not simply because of the tutu placed perfectly at your hips but because Miss Tiger has released the grace you hoped and prayed was inside you, but until her lesson, you did not discover.
Of all of our deans, Miss Tiger is the most knowledgeable New Yorker, among her many talents, she is a licensed tour guide.
Miss Topaz is our newest faculty member, having worked for many years as a Legal Assistant for the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was very active in promoting the rights of all minorities: women, people of color, gays and lesbians and the transgendered community. Today, she focuses her attention largely on working and playing with gender illusionists. She was recently in a serious relationship with a cross-dresser for two years, and believes that she, herself, is a drag queen trapped in woman’s body. She is also a cabaret singer and performance artist, and frequently appears as Marlene Dietrich in drag. She was recently interviewed by Annie Sprinkle about her wild and diversified forays into sex, for the magazine Over 50. She also had a short story published in Prometheus, the magazine of The Eulenspiegel Society, which won Third Prize in their literary contest. The title is Life is Stanger Than Fiction and was about a serendipitous blind date with a cross-dresser.
Her credentials for her work at the Acdemy are best described by a recent admirer, who wrote:
“Thank you SO much for -- for -- YOU. You are as sweet and understanding as a ‘real’ lady can be. I hope some of this true womanliness rubs off on your students -- that’s the definition of a real gal: truth, understanding, tenderness.”
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