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.


Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

An appeal has been launched to find a missing 89-year-old man from Kentish Town believed to have severe dementia.


Residents in Frognal and Fitzjohns are being warned to protect their post after fresh reports of mail theft and fraud.

Yesterday, 13:38

Four Weddings and a Funeral film star Sophie Thompson donated a piece of art to an exhibition in aid of the National Hospital for Neurology in Queen’s Square, Bloomsbury.

Yesterday, 07:00

They say the allegations are part of a smear campaign against them by cyclists who want to see CS11 implemented in North West London.

Mon, 18:23

A banned pet owner who crammed dozens of animals into her filthy Crouch Hill home has been spared jail – again.

Mon, 13:38

Plans to double the size of Brent Cross Shopping Centre in a £1.4billion makeover have been revealed by its owners today.

Mon, 12:52

The husband of West Hampstead mum Nazanin Ratcliffe has won the backing of more than 100 British politicians in calling for foreign secretary Boris Johnson to secure her release from a five-year jail sentence in Iran.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now