Cross-dressing artist Grayson Perry: ‘I don’t enjoy being a transvestite because of fame’

14:00 27 March 2014

Grayson Perry and Valerie Sinason. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Grayson Perry and Valerie Sinason. Picture: Polly Hancock.


Acclaimed artist Grayson Perry has revealed to a Hampstead audience that he no longer enjoys being a transvestite because of his fame.

Grayson Perry and Valerie Sinason. Picture: Polly Hancock.Grayson Perry and Valerie Sinason. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The father-of-one, who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2003 for his ceramic pottery work, made the comments during a talk with poet and psychotherapist Valerie Sinason at the Tavistock Centre in Belsize Lane, Hampstead.

Mr Perry, 54, well known for cross-dressing as his female alter-ego “Claire”, told a packed room at the centre: “The fame and tranny thing is the real downside of it because I’m not the anonymous pervert, and a lot of the pleasure was being that weird trans in the street.

“But now I’m Grayson Perry. Now I get pestered and people want a selfie. I have to be aware that if I walk about in a frock for pleasure, which I hardly ever do now, there’s probably going to be three or four tweets about it.

“I leave the house thinking, ‘Don’t look them in the eye, don’t look them in the eye!’”

The hour-long talk last Wednesday, after which audience members were able to take part in a question-and-answer with Mr Perry, was held to mark the launch of a special edition of academic journal Free Associations: Psychoanalysis and Artistic Process.

Mr Perry arrived wearing garish make-up and yellow platform shoes, along with a mini frock and multicoloured ribbons in his hair, an outfit designed by one of his students at Central Saint Martins art college, in King’s Cross.

Mr Perry spoke at length about the impact his success has had on his work as an artist, as well as his personal life.

He said: “One of the major problems with success is the self-consciousness.

‘‘Once you do it on a stage, the audience follows you into the studio. That gives you a huge fear of failure.”

He also talked of suffering from the “Picasso napkin syndrome”, which he said “many artists abuse”.

“I very rarely do a drawing on a loose piece of paper,” he said. “If I do that, I’m very aware that it could be taken away and sold.

“So I draw in sketchbooks because I know that can never be taken away. The only time I abuse it is for charity.”

Following the talk, Mr Perry and audience members made the short journey to the Freud Museum, in Maresfield Gardens, for a drinks reception.


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