The Spot

The Spot
By Ricky
In the advertising business, electronic wizardry is commonplace. This time around, Virtual Reality becomes reality.

Why is it that whenever an absolute, drop dead deadline is looming over you that everything goes wrong? Our small agency specializes in technical wizardry, special effects and such for the bigger houses. We had larger ideas and wanted to expand into doing the whole job ourselves. We had finally hooked a big client, well big for us anyway. They were not satisfied with the way their current agency was promoting their new product line, so I had convinced them we could do a better job. We had to deliver a finished spot, created entirely by us, by Friday. That 30 seconds of finished product would open the door to a flood of new work or, if we blew it, would leave us the laughingstock of a cruel and competitive industry.

We were supposed to shoot the commercial last Monday, but that's when things started going wrong. The scene was set, the model was there and ready, but the damn computers picked that time to go on strike. My partner Carol, our technical wizard, was bursting with frustration. The word wizard surely applies because Carol is a master of virtual reality, communing telepathically with the racks of equipment spread before her. The giant screen directly in front of her was covered with a bewildering array of icons and buttons with which she enhances, molds, morphs and mangles reality into just the right visual effect. Myriad other little monitors and engines of destruction were scattered within easy reach of her fingers in the studio she had built with her own hands.

There was nothing virtual about her skills with the computer. She certainly didn't look like your usual techno-nerd, or for that matter a partner in a creative agency. She was short, about 5'2", unfashionably robust of figure with a head of short, black hair. Pictures of her children filled every formerly open space in her lair. Her disposition was not that of the stereotypical mother, it tended far more to the fiery Latin temper of her Mexican ancestors; heaven help anyone who caused her grief.

Last Monday it was something in the mass of equipment that was the object of her wrath. I don't pretend to understand just what the problem was, as the money man of the team, just wrote the checks when she told me she needed something. Whatever essential item she needed could only be gotten from somewhere in Asia. What with the time difference and the perils of international shipping it would be Thursday at the earliest before we were ready to shoot again, so I bit my nails and sent everyone home.

Thursday morning the incongruously small package arrived and that afternoon we were once again assembled. The commercial called for model, attired in formal Victorian blouse and skit, hair in a tight, prudish bun, to enter her kitchen. Yeah, I know that there are damn few suburban housewives that wash dishes in Victorian garb, but surveys had shown the Victorian look was coming back. Hell, if June Cleaver could wash dishes wearing her pearls our housewife could do it in a high necked Victorian blouse. The kitchen was slightly old fashioned, lots of wood block and tile. She putters around a bit, picks up the product and, simply by opening the cap, is transported to a field of wildflowers. Her hair magically falls free and she stands there with her hair and skirt blowing in the fragrant wind while the announcer extols the virtues of Fresh Scent dishwashing liquid. They probably poured the little bottles full of industrial cleaning glop, doused it with cheap perfume and slapped a label on it but I didn't care. This was virtual reality, nothing is as it seems.

Carol had done the heavy lifting during the week, transforming the kitchen step by step into the outdoors, and it was a beautiful job. If you watched closely you could see individual appliances magically transform into flowers and trees, countertops become hilltops and windows open and transform into a cloud studded sky. It was simply beautiful. We were ready to have our young (but not too young — demographics again) housewife enter her beautiful kitchen, before we moved to the blue screen where she would caress the bottle that transported her to dishwashing nirvana. The only problem was the model hadn't shown up.

More frantic phone calls, a couple of antacids and much colorful language later it seemed the model was convinced we were shooting Friday and was at another job. Wonderful! I opted for the least productive but most satisfying solution: I panicked.

"Mac! Hey Mac, you stupid gringo!" Carol's voice penetrated the wonderful fog of outrage I had created.

"Uh, yeah?" I managed.

"Mac, Jerry and I have it all figured out!" Jerry was our makeup man and costume designer for the session. "Mac, all I need is a body in a dress to walk in and pick up the stupid bottle and stand there in the wind, right?"

"Yeah."

"This is virtual reality, right? So it don't matter what body I use as long as it fits in that dress, right?"

"Uh, yeah?" I didn't like where this was going. There were four of us here, Carol, Jerry, the cameraman and me. The cameraman was out, he had to work the camera. Carol had to be at her controls, which left Jerry and me. Jerry was out because he is built like a gorilla, not your stereotypical makeup artist. You see where this is going, don't you?

"Carol, have you noticed I have a mustache?

"So what! I can take care of it, Mac. When I get done with you, you'll be getting calls from Playboy!"

"Carol, Playboy models have tits, a feature that I lack!"

"Boss," Jerry replied, "I can be back with a bra for you in 10 minutes. I'd say you were about a 36 chest, right? You want to be Twiggy or Dolly Parton?

"And some tights so I don't have to get rid of leg hairs. What size shoes you wear, Mac? Save me some work if I don't have to change those clodhoppers of yours into something feminine."

Did I miss something here? I'm no model. I'm not even a actor. I'm surely not a woman, despite my slight stature!

But I was desperate.

"You really think you can pull this off?"

"Piece of cake, boss."

"OK, let's try it." I was still dubious.

It turned out that Carol went off to buy me a bra. Jerry took me to the dressing room and fit the wig on my head, then wound it up into a bun attaching the special clasp that would let it fall loose at the proper time. By the time he was done with the hairstyling Carol had returned with a big bag from the nearby women's store.

"OK boss, off with the shirt and stick out your arms."

"I can dress myself, Carol. I have for years. You just take care of dressing up your own kids. OK?"

"Mac, just because you've had practice removing bras from your lady friends don't make you no expert in putting them on. It ain't as easy as it looks, amigo. If you can work the bra hooks by yourself the first time then it ain't the first time and you've been doing stuff I don't want to know about. Take it off, big boy!"

"I'm not a big boy or I wouldn't fit into the damn dress."

I bowed to the inevitable and removed my shirt. She slid the straps over my outstretched arms and turned me around. I felt her brief caress as she gathered the ends of the bra and snapped them in place. I heard the bag rustle and she took out a box.

"I gave the company credit card a workout, Mac. We want to do this right." She opened the box and there were two shimmering teardrops; breast forms complete with nipples. Lifting one up she pulled open the cup of my bra and dropped the curiously quivering object into the lacy cup. It settled against my chest and molded to my body, it's initial coolness giving way to a pleasant warmth. It's mate soon joined it and Carol bounced my fake boobs in her hands, then adjusted the straps, her fingers sending little shocks into my skin as she made the adjustments. Jeez, was I getting turned on by my partner?

"OK, boys, I'll leave the rest to you. Mac, let your personal dresser here help you."

I felt like a complete fool. I put on the tights and realized that they weren't compatible with my boxer shorts, so off they came. I started to put on the skirt but Jerry said "The blouse first, boss." Yeah, right. I raised my arms to slide them into the sleeves and was taken aback by the feel of my breasts shifting, the pressure of the straps on my shoulders was a very sensual feeling. The soft, satin fabric of the blouse as it settled on my shoulders increased the effect, I was getting turned on by the clothes! I fumbled with the reversed buttons and then stepped into the skirt. Jerry fussed and settled the clothes properly on my body, his face working hard to conceal his amusement.

"Stick out your fingers and let me do the nails." Carol had included a package of fake nails, mine were cut too short for a truly feminine look. "Not bad, boss. Now let them dry and don't touch anything for a few minutes. It's a good thing Carol is going to replace your face, boss. I don't think even a makeup genius like me could do anything with that mustache!"

"Smartass. I work with smartasses. Let's get this thing over with." I strode for the door, or at least tried to. You don't stride your first time in high heels.

"You're going to end up on your own smartass if you keep that up, boss."

It became obvious I was going to have to get used to people laughing at me because Art, the cameraman, completely lost it when I re-entered the studio. I'll have to admit I had much the same reaction when I looked at the mirror in the dressing room. I struck a pose, hand on my nonexistent hips.

"OK people, this is the stupidest damn thing I have ever been involved in, but Carol guarantees me it will work. It is going to work, right Carol?"

"Sure thing, Mac. By the time I get through with you, people gonna think you're the best actor since Jar Jar Binks."

Just what I needed, complete assurance. It was about then that I realized that I was the director of this extravaganza, but now I was also the star. If I didn't have these boobs hanging off me I might have felt like Clint Eastwood, but no matter how I tried I couldn't summon the image of Clint in a dress. I would just have to keep a surreptitious watch on the clock as I went through the actions so everything timed out properly and rely on Carol to let me know if things weren't right.

"OK people, let's see if we can do this. Is everybody ready?" They were ready. "Then let's run through the action and see if I can get across the floor without tripping on my own feet."

I strolled slowly and casually into the kitchen, I had no choice in those heels even if it hadn't been in the script. I picked up a cloth and for 5 seconds polished the cupboard door. I carefully presented a semi-profile so that in reaching up my newly acquired breasts were clearly outlined and emphasized. That part was for the male viewers, but the part of my brain that was not being professional registered the pleasant sensation of the breast forms pressing against my chest and the feel of the bra straps as they tightened over my shoulders. I set the cloth down, spun slightly to flare out the skirt (wow!) and at 12 seconds turned on the water to the sink and picked up the bottle.

"Not bad, Mac!" Carol's voice rang out in the silence. 'Let's try it again, but first you need to walk around a bit in those high heels so you ain't so wobbly."

So I walked around the studio a bit, trying to get the feel of the shoes.

"You ought to go out and climb up and down the stairs a few times, boss," Jerry offered. "Get yourself used to the shoes and the skirt. Let yourself feel them, be part of you so you're not so stiff on camera." Art was nodding, so I knew they were right, but I really didn't want to leave the safety of the studio and let anyone else see me in this getup. It was embarrassing enough with this small group, let alone the rest of the staff.

"Screw what anyone else thinks, Mac!" Carol must have been reading my mind. "This is show biz — people are used to the odd stuff. Besides, we own the place, don't we? I'll come with you and hold your hand."

"Carol, I'm not that type."

I'll omit her indecorous reply. Carol and I spent fifteen minutes or so wandering the halls and climbing stairs and luck was with me, there was no one else wandering the staircase. She was right, the stairs helped. I quickly learned how to handle the skirt as I climbed. One near miss, when I stepped on the hem, was a great incentive toward doing it perfectly every time. I especially enjoyed coming down the stairs and feeling the forms bounce in my bra. For a guy who has always appreciated breasts from the outside, almost having a pair of my own was a real kick. I was much more comfortable with my new wardrobe by the time we returned to the studio.

We filmed the first part of the scene several times, and it was feeling almost natural by the last shot. Taking careful measurements of the camera position we moved to the blue set and set up for the second half. The bottle looked strange sitting on a blue counter in front of a blue wall, but nothing is as it seems, right?

On cue I picked up the bottle, stared at it lovingly and then clutched it to my bosom like a long lost lover. A wind sprang up, I felt a slight tug as the fishline pulled the clasp from my hair and I shook my head to let my mane fly free in the wind. I was surprised at how sensuous the skirt felt as it brushed my ankles, which nicely complimented the touch of my wig hairs as they brushed my neck.

"Cut! Mac, I hate to tell you this but your whatsis is spoiling the lines of the skirt."

This time I was really embarrassed. I didn't have a hard on, but I was not far from it. Damn, who would have thought a woman's clothes could be so sexy when they weren't on a woman?

"Hey Mac, don't worry. It's a natural reaction." Jerry offered. "Just sit down and let me put your hair up again."

He was so matter of fact in his tone I just sat down and let him go to work. It was soothing to let him brush and shape my wig, even with everyone watching. How did this huge, hairy man end up plying a brush and comb? Someday I was going to have to ask him; he looked so out of place doing makeup, but today wasn't the day.

It was time to try again. I picked up the bottle and let Art guide me into a position that matched where we left off on the real set. Arms up, hug the bottle, cue the breeze, out with the clasp, shake the head, love that Fresh Scent! We did it a couple times more to be sure we had it and then it was all over. I put my suit back on and went up to my office, leaving Carol to do her magic.

Half an hour later Jerry knocked on the door and set down a shopping bag. "Here are your clothes, boss." Then he vanished, his grin not quite completely concealed. Time to call it a day, I looked in on Carol as I left but she had such a look of complete concentration on her face that I didn't disturb her.

That evening was hard. I was terribly nervous. Was this whole thing really going to work? I knew Carol could work wonders, but really — me as a housewife? To make matters worse I kept getting flashes of that skirt brushing my legs and the remarkably good feelings wearing a bra had invoked. I rather wished they weren't sitting in my office, and that gave me something new to worry about. Did I really like wearing women's clothes? Yeah, I guess I did.

Morning came at last, and I headed directly to Carol's lair. She looked like she had been there all night, maybe she had.

"Ten o'clock, Mac. It's looking great — you are one sexy broad, partner!"

So I bit my nails and tried to look busy. My eyes kept straying to the package on the chair by the door, my brain remembering the tug of the breast forms as I walked about the studio. The clock crawled, hell — it went backwards, I'm sure of it — but at last it was ten. Just about the entire staff gathered in front of the big TV screen and Carol slipped the tape into the VCR. A burst of snow and then there I was, polishing the cupboards, picking up the bottle and then being transported to the fields of fancy. It was just as I had pictured it, beautifully done.

Carol had outdone herself. My homely, mustachioed phiz was gone. The face on the screen looked natural and pleasant, not particularly sexy, but pleasant. Not only that, but there was a distinct resemblance to my real face but subtle alterations made it clearly feminine. My doppelganger even had a noticeable waistline, which I knew wasn't there when we shot the scene. Like I said, Virtual Reality: nothing is as it seems these days. There was scattered applause as the spot finished; we had made it and now all we had to do is wait to see if the client liked it. Not only that, but no one seemed to twig that I was the body on the screen.

"Carol, if you weren't my partner I'd give you a bonus!! Make a copy for Jerry so he can see how it turned out, will you. June, as soon as Carol has it ready get the messenger service to deliver it. We have a winner here, folks!"

The rest of the day was an anti-climax. I kept waiting for the client to call, but no word. I suppose it was must another 30 second spot to them, one of many and nothing special. Quitting time came and I went home, this time with the shopping bag in my hand. I worked hard to ignore it on Saturday, but Sunday I gave in and found out the panties I had picked up the day before were much better under the tights than my boxers. They were a bit large, I guessed wrong about the size, but I wore them anyway. It had taken just about all my nerve to enter the women's department and quickly grab a package of nylon panties. I quickly scanned the back of the package and found my waist size, but when I returned home I realized the numbers were hip sizes and since I didn't have any hips they were too big.

Bless Jerry's heart he had even put the wig in the bag, along with the brushes and such. I guess it was pretty obvious to him I liked the clothes. I almost forgot to worry about the client because I was having so much fun just being dressed up and working around the house. Even washing dishes was interesting, constantly moving my arms and upper body made me intensely aware of my bra. Maybe a real woman learns to forget this wonderful garment after wearing one for years, but this amazing feeling had to be one of the best kept secrets of the other sex.

Monday came I found I was reluctant to put on my old boxer shorts. What the hell, no one would see — I put on my panties and covered them with my suit. Arriving at the office I spent a nervous 45 minutes before the client called. They loved our work and with some hard negotiating we were contracted for a series of commercials in which their products would transport the user to exotic locales. They even went so far to specify we use the model from the first commercial in all of them. At first I tried to change their minds about the model, I still was rather uncomfortable even admitting I really liked to dress up, but they were adamant.

Over the next few of months I found myself acquiring a considerable feminine wardrobe, and I took a certain guilty pleasure in abandoning my boxers for pretty panties under my suit. For a while every time I shifted my hips the clinging nylon panties made me shiver, there was no way I was going to go back to boxers again. If I was feeling particularly daring I wore a bra under my suit coat, but that meant I couldn't take off my coat and tie at the end of the day when things were tough, so I didn't do it often. At Carol's urging I started to shave my legs and arms so she had less to transform on my body, but I kept my mustache even though she hinted it would be nice for me to start shaving. Jerry showed me how to use a gaff, so I no longer had to worry about my whatsis ruining the shot. I also liked how it let me wear a tight skirt at home without ruining the shape in the mirror. I know, I know — but I didn't look at my face when I studied my image..

I never left he studio but my enhanced body traveled to the darndest places: The Amazon, the desert, the tops of mountains, the bottoms of valleys, any fragrant place my fevered imagination could dream up to emphasize the natural beauty of our client's products. By the time the first few commercials were finished it was an open secret as to who the star was. I took a lot of good natured ribbing, especially the afternoon when an important client called during a shoot and I had to run to my office wearing a cable knit sweater and woolen skirt (I was going to Ireland that afternoon) to retrieve the information I needed.

The commercials were a roaring success, capturing the public imagination. Fresh Scent products were flying off the shelves and I even started hearing references to the Fresh Scent Lady in conversation on the street. I know I really should have seen it coming but I managed to ignore the possibility. The time came when the client wanted to use her in person. They had planned one of those boring parties where their latest product would be released (please don't tell them about the boring part, OK?) and they wanted their public face to attend in the flesh. I was sorely tempted to tell them she had gotten pregnant and moved to Patagonia, but good sense prevailed and I promised to see what I could do. I immediately called Jerry and posed my problem to him.

"Jeez, Mac. I'm surprised it took this long. I knew you were going to have to do this when you got the contract. I have it all scoped out, you aren't the first man I've had to turn into a woman. You got a good bod to start with, but I can't guarantee you'll be up to Carol's standards. Real flesh and blood just isn't as easy to shape as electrons! How long until the party?

"Three weeks."

"That's not too bad. We have time to teach you how to be a lady, then, or at least enough for you to last an hour at a party. You gotten to corsets at home yet?"

"Uh, no" I carefully replied.

"Girdles?"

"Yeah, thanks for leaving that catalog."

"I knew you would appreciate it. Look, you're going to need a corset to pull this off. You got the nerve to get your own or should I get it for you?"

"I wouldn't even know where to look."

"Jeez — the Yellow Pages, of course. If you've been dressing at home you must have found out where the stores were in the Yellow Pages."

"Jerry, this Virtual Reality, I used the Net. Yeah, if I'm going to do this I guess I had better learn how to shop for myself."

"Try Betty Jean's on Avenue C. Drop my name and she'll treat you like a queen, and be sure to take your bra and the breast forms with you. They cater to almost as many crossdressers as they do real women, so don't be embarrassed. And Mac, shave the 'stash right away. It'll take a week or so before your face gets used to it and you sure don't want to put makeup on a raw face. Use an electric for a few days, then switch to a blade. I've got you on my calendar as going to Tasmania or someplace next Thursday, so I'll show you the basics of makeup then. Don't forget to bring the corset to the session, OK?"

"Thanks Jerry, I think."

"No problem. You're one of the lucky ones, Mac. You got the body for it and look good in a dress. A gorilla like me would scare the dogs and chickens if I left the house in a skirt. Enjoy it, Mac, enjoy it!"

Well, no time like the present. I blew off the last few hours of the work day (sometimes being the boss has it's perks) and headed for Avenue C after consulting the low tech Yellow Pages. The place was bigger than I expected. When I crossed the threshold I entered a world normally off limits to the male of the species. I had never dreamed there could be so many different kinds of undergarments for the female form. How did we guys make do with only undershirts and boxers or briefs? It just wasn't fair! Jerry had been right, there were a couple of women in the shop, but there was also a man, dressed in shorts and T-shirt, looking through the bra collection. Every once in a while he measured one against his chest as if this were an everyday occurrence. Maybe it was for all I knew.

In the back of the shop there were several forms displaying corsets from the utilitarian to the outrageous. I slowly made my way back there, pausing frequently to examine all the pretty things on the way. Garters and stockings, half slips with layer after layer of frills and froth, bras in every color of the rainbow, pantyhose with rainbows on them. I wanted them all!

"May I help you?"

I jumped a little and quickly returned the blouse I was examining to the rack.

"Yes. I'm looking for a corset. Jerry Billings told me you were the place to go."

"Certainly, sir. Since Mr. Billings referred you to us I would assume you are interested in a feminine corset? Did you have any particular style in mind?"

"Uh, no. I've never had one before and I really don't know much about them."

"I would be delighted to be your guide then, sir. Did you know we know that corsets have been in use for more than three thousand years? They have a long and fascinating history. These days most people picture the Victorian or late nineteenth century styles when you speak about a corset, but corsetry has constantly changed with along with fashion."

As she spoke she led me to a small table in the back of the store and offered me a cup of coffee. She brought over a large, beautifully illustrated book. The first pictures were of several statuettes from 1700 BC. The tiny waists and exaggerated hips surely suggested the woman was wearing a corset.

"Those figures are Minoan, but to tell you the truth corsetry really didn't become very fashionable until the Renaissance." She turned the page to reveal a woman with an improbably long and pointed torso and hips which could shelve several volumes of an Encyclopedia with room to spare. "That's what an Elizabethan corset could do." She turned the page. "The Spanish thought this one up, some of their corsets resembled armor more than a fashion accessory. There are examples in museums, solid iron with holes to let the poor woman's skin breathe even if her lungs couldn't. When they started using whalebone to stiffen a corset it must have been quite a relief!" She turned the page again.

"This one should interest you. During this era well bred gentlemen wore corsets as well." She was right. The gentleman pictured was wearing a what I would have called a dress. His waist was incredibly small, but his hips were modest compared to his lady friend. It's a shame I didn't live back then, I could have kept the mustache and still dressed up!.

My ebullient guide had again turned the page. "You'll notice how the woman's apparent waist moves up and down as fashion changes, but the one constant in corsetry is a very small waist wherever it ends up. The French just loved very tight lacing in the 18th century." The illustration showed a woman hanging on to a pole for dear life while her butler and maid hauled on the laces. "The men wore corsets as well, how do you think this military gentlemen kept that ramrod straight posture for hours on end? That little tidbit seems to be glossed over by most historians."

"Now these are examples of Victorian and Edwardian corsetry — that's the early 1800s, you'll see that the men were not left out here, either. This is probably the kind of thing you had in mind, wasn't it sir. Most people do, you know."

"Well, it does look familiar. Please, call me Mac, 'sir' sounds a bit silly when you're talking about corsets."

"Of course, Mac, and I'm Janet." She held out her hand and I took it. What the hell, shaking it didn't seem the right thing, so I kissed it and she smiled.

"Now these are the type of corset worn in the late 1800s and the early 20th century." The pictures were like illustrations from the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs you see in antique shops; very familiar. She turned the page again. "This one is an exception, from the 1920s." The picture was of a straight sided garment, no pinched waist at all. "Many women felt that to succeed in a man's world they had to look like a man, so this corset tried to flatten the breasts and hide the waist and hips. Corsetry has steadily declined throughout our own century. Changes in women's roles and the availability of elastics and modern fabrics created the girdle, but now even that is out of fashion. Still, there are people such as yourself around who keep corsetiers in business!"

"Fascinating, Janet. I had no idea the subject was so complex." I explained briefly about my need to look passable in public and she simply smiled.

"Then I would suggest a corset without any breast support so you can wear your own bras, with a modest waist and good definition for the hips. We carry an assortment of padding for your hips to create just the right image. With your time limitations a custom made garment isn't advisable, although you might consider one later. Let's go back to the changing room."

She took me to a small room, maybe 6 by 8, larger than your normal changing booth and comfortably big enough for two. It was tastefully decorated with a large table, comfortable chairs and a stunning floor to ceiling mirror in a carved wooden frame. I removed my coat and she took my measurements, then she glanced at my case and inquired "Did you bring a bra and your forms?"

I admitted it.

"Excellent! While I'm gone you can undress and put on your bra so I can fit you properly. Since this is your first time here I want to emphasize that our entire staff will treat your needs with the utmost discretion and I want to assure you that you can be perfectly comfortable in allowing me to fit your corset. We treat all our customers, male or female, with the respect and personal service you deserve."

She left quietly and I just stood there for a moment. I don't know just what I had been expecting when I came, but this pleasant, well spoken woman's complete acceptance of me in a corset, her calm and supportive manor was more than I could have hoped for. I removed my suit and donned my bra. It wasn't until later, looking back on that wonderful afternoon, that I was amazed how comfortable I felt sitting in only bra and panties while I waited for Janet to return.

A light knock and she entered, carrying several boxes. "Now, let's start with the basics. This one is designed for everyday use. The fabric is a cotton blend, completely washable, and the boning is of flexible steel and will enforce the proper shaping on your body. I think you would be wise to wear this one to your party. Now, since I would assume you will be getting dressed by yourself I selected front lacing models for you."

She wrapped a plain, white corset around my body and snapped the top couple of hooks so it hung loosely. It started just below the band of my bra and went to mid thigh. "To create the illusion of hips you'll need some padding." She produced an oddly shaped piece of foam and fabric, which she placed around my hips. "Now just do up the snaps and I'll adjust the padding."

I fumbled with the many hooks until they were all secure.

"Not too bad, but perhaps a bit more would be better. Now, I want you to tighten the lacing evenly, just a bit at a time so the corset stays shaped to your body." I pulled on the laces and felt my middle being compressed. "Don't try to tighten it completely all at once. You've probably heard the phrase 'corset training'? It really is advisable to get used a corset a bit at a time. Turn around now and have a look."

I slowly spun in front of the mirror. My figure was distinctly feminine, waist and hips clearly defined. I was pleased and told Janet so.

"I think you need a bit more padding in the derriere. Loosen it up and let me try."

She inserted a different pad and again I laced the corset.

"Much better, just let me pin the padding into place. We'll install Velcro tabs so that you can attach the padding easily by yourself. If I may be so bold I get the impression you are not intending to wear your corset in sexual situations?"

"Uh, no. I am firmly heterosexual."

"Please, don't be embarrassed. We have customers who come in as couples to be fitted for matching corsets and other garments. Should the need arise we can provide you with just about anything you desire, including designs that will not get in the way of masculine arousal." She paused and opened another box. "Now, this one is a bit more decorative, but the waist is somewhat smaller than the one you're wearing."

It was made of a shiny black fabric trimmed with a touch red lace. It was shorter than the first one but the flare of the hips was clearer even to my untutored eye. I started unhooking the garment on my torso, an exercise that took far too long. The black beauty caressed my body like a second skin, Janet deftly adjusting the hip padding before I tightened the laces. I was hooked instantly as I admired myself in the mirror.

"Pin the padding into place, Janet, I'll take them both."

There was one last item to try. "I'm afraid we won't be able to have everything ready until Monday. I thought you might like to start with a simple cincher. It won't help define hips, but you can start getting used to the pressure on your waist. Once again, I would advise you to start easy and gradually work up to a greater constriction. With your suit coat on I think you could wear the cincher home and no one would notice."

What a saleswoman! I bought them all, not to mention a couple of pretty tops. The feel of the cincher help ease my disappointment when I left Betty Jean's. I had been looking forward to being able to wear my new corset right away. To cheer myself up I decided it was time to get my ears pierced. At least this wasn't a radical act, half the guys in the world had earrings these days. I really wanted to be able to wear something pretty in my ears next Thursday for the shoot. The actual piercing was practically painless, not much worse than having the Red Cross take a blood sample from your earlobe like they used to do. My ears itched for a couple of days, but each time I felt the stud it gave me a thrill, it really did.

When they were finally ready I practiced wearing my corsets with the fervor of a new convert. I gradually tightened the corset but to tell the truth it got old very quickly. How did women put up with these things day after day without killing the damn fool men who made them wear them? I knew I would need to wear it for the party, but once it was over I intended to stick to looser fashions — well, most of the time!

By Thursday I was high as a kite, ready for my first unenhanced commercial. If getting dressed up wasn't such fun it would have been a pain. Instead of simply putting on a dress and doing the shoot, I had to arrive early enough to do makeup. Pulling the laces tight on the corset I admired my figure for a moment, then slid into a snappy blue dress that wasn't quite a sarong but was plenty sexy. Virtual reality be damned — it looked pretty good to me. Maybe this was why women wore corsets despite the discomfort. Nice, very nice! I had just finished doing my nails when Jerry interrupted my musing. He was carrying a large makeup case.

"HI, Mac! You look pretty good, I told you Betty Jean's would do you right. Ready for your lesson?"

I was. He explained each step and why it was necessary, letting me see what he was doing in the mirror and urging me to get the feel of applying the makeup. He told me about beard cover, foundation, blending, all the many and confusing things a woman soaks up as she grows up, but which simply made my head spin when he squeezed them into a half hour session.

"Don't worry, with practice you can do this yourself in fifteen minutes. If you're going to get into serious crossdressing, then you could get your beard removed and you wouldn't need so much makeup. Remember, this isn't the kind of makeup job you would want to do if you were going out in public, for the camera we need to be a lot less subtle. Besides, Carol is going to massage the image anyway. When we're done I'll show you the difference and give you a list of what you need."

"Thanks, Jerry. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Sure you could, just not as well. One more thing you're going to need: a voice coach. These little sessions don't have you talking, but you're going to have to talk at that party. The voice needs work, Mac!

"And of course you know just the person to do the job, right?"

"Right — her name's with the list of makeup supplies. That's me, a full service artistic genius. Time for your big scene, get in there and break a leg!"

I felt perfectly comfortable as I left the dressing room and entered the studio, that is until I saw the crowd. Somehow word had gotten around that today would be different and just about every soul in the agency was huddled against the back wall to watch. Carol let out a wolf whistle that produced an instant silence.

"Jeez Mac!" Carol offered, loudly. "You're going to do me out of a job! You don't need my help to look good. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein, I created me one beautiful monster!"

"I'll take that as a compliment, Carol. In his own way Jerry is as talented an artist with people as you are with computers. Without both of you we wouldn't be where we are today. Who let in the Peanut Gallery?"

"We didn't let them in, they battered down the door and held us hostage! Your rep's at stake Mac, better do a good job today."

I did do a good job. Not just good, but practically perfect. I was in love, I was running through roses, I was transported to the South Seas when I flushed the toilet. I got a standing ovation, but since everyone was already standing they had no choice when they started clapping. I said the hell with it and kept the dress on the rest of the day and went home that way too, boldly walking across the parking lots at both ends of the trip. By the time I was ready for bed I was more than ready to take off the corset, but no matter how much I wanted to let my poor stomach loose a part of me still wanted to keep that feminine figure. Well, there would be other days for me to indulge myself.

My voice coach decided I had a 'sultry' voice after a few sessions. We didn't try to raise the pitch too much, but she helped me develop a way of speaking from higher up in my throat, almost but not quite a nasal tone. I worked on increasing the range of pitch in my speech, men generally use more of a monotone. Subtle things, but effective. She also helped me develop more feminine gestures to go with the voice. I had to concentrate awfully hard to keep it up, but she assured me it would become easier with practice. If I could get through an hour or so at the party I would be very happy, indeed.

The pages on the calendar turned inexorably. I dressed up as soon as I got home and tried a few forays into the real world once I felt I could use the makeup well enough. I got a few close looks but no one made a fuss. The week of the party I abandoned my male role completely. Hell, everybody in the agency knew what was going on and when you're the owner you get a lot of leeway. I put off personal meetings for a week, pleading a tight schedule. Once again, I should have seen it happening, but when my secretary put through the first call for the "Boss Babe", and she didn't mean Carol, it was a bit unnerving. I guess there is no way something like the boss wearing a dress could be kept within the agency. Well, they say that publicity is always good no matter what creates it, I certainly hoped that was true in my case.

That Friday I was nervous about the party but very comfortable about my ability to be the Fresh Scent Lady. I decided to wear the outfit that started it all, that commercial had become something of a classic. Besides, the blouse and skirt covered me from head to toe and I didn't have to worry about some too masculine aspect of my body giving me away. I was very glad I had tried it on a few days ago, because with the corset it was far too loose around my waist. Naturally, Jerry was able to give me the name of a woman who took it in for me. Even though I was getting pretty good with my own makeup I had Jerry give me the special treatment, a lot was riding on this and I wanted to be perfect. He fixed my wig so I would be able to shake my hair free at the proper time just by pulling the wooden stick that held the bun together and pronounced me a work of art.

I was glad Carol was going to this little gathering with me. There had been considerable interest in the technical magic in the commercials and the client wanted her to be there to keep the techno-buffs happy. Jerry worked his magic on her as well. Carol, as befits a no-nonsense businesswoman, normally wore pretty simple dresses, pants or the occasional skirted suit when she wants to impress a client. At my urging (and the company's expense) she went to Betty Jean's and let Janet provide a smartly tailored outfit with a hint of Southwestern flair. The look was of understated good taste, she came off as a mature and classy woman who knows just what she wants in life. I suppose it helped that she was a mature and classy woman who knew just what she wanted no matter what she was wearing. Jerry used just a touch of makeup to emphasize this or that and we were ready.

The short taxi ride was a boon to my self confidence. If I received no special notice from that gold standard for obnoxious behavior, a big city cab driver, then I was ready to fool anyone. We strode confidently into the hotel lobby (I could stride in high heels now) and quickly located the room where the party was about to begin. I followed a step behind Carol, just now she was the representative of the agency and I was a temp. We entered a virtually empty banquet room where the last of the decorations were still being hung. June Willis, the marketing director of Fresh Scent Products, spotted us and came over, smiling broadly.

"Well, if it isn't the Boss Babe herself!"

I was doomed, destroyed, depressed. Somehow I had ignored the fact that our client had ears to hear the rumors the rest of the world was hearing. I would have to take it like a man and soldier on, as ridiculous as that metaphor might be in the present circumstances.

"Ain't she cute?" Carol saved me the need to reply. "June - meet Marcie, the woman that has made Fresh Scent a household word. It isn't often I get to watch my virtual reality turn real. Not bad, eh?"

Marcie? Well, Mac really wasn't going to work too well this afternoon.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Willis. It's a pleasure to met you." I replied in my best feminine voice. I extended my hand and she took it.

"Marcie it is, then. When this is over I intend to take you two out for a drink and get the whole story. When I first heard the rumors I thought one of our competitors was trying to sink the campaign. It seemed so crazy I didn't even bother to call you. Marcie, you got more balls under that dress than a Tennessee stud ranch."

"Ms. Willis, I assure you I possess no more than the normal supply. I want to thank you for the opportunity to represent your company, it has been an enlightening experience."

"I'll bet! Let's just try not to enlighten Roger, he's a bit conservative and we don't need him having a heart attack in front of all the distributors."

Roger was the CEO. I had met him briefly at a couple of meetings but had dealt mostly with June in negotiating our contract. This was getting complicated!

June took us over to the stage and introduced me to the James Lodvick, the gray haired, avuncular man from our rival agency who was directing today's program. He gave us the details of the show. I had been expecting to do something like hold up a bottle and smile then make inane conversation while people asked me about the commercials. I was dismayed to find James had an entire dramatic scene planned out and had not thought to give me the slightest warning. Very professional, our rivals!

I would wait behind the curtain for my cue (Hiding from Roger?) and emerge holding not Fresh Scent's newest product but a large, white, longhaired cat. This was because the newest product was a cat shampoo. I was to enter carrying Tabby, sit down, release my hair in the now familiar way seen in all the commercials and pet the cat for a moment. From the table next to me I would then dramatically remove the cloth covering the product. Since this was Real Reality, Carol couldn't work her electronic magic and that would be the cue for the techs to release the balloons and rose petals from the tarp on the ceiling, whence they would lightly float down and visually emphasize the Fresh Scent that dear little Tabby would experience in her bath.

It was a shame we were only doing their spots, because James clearly didn't own a cat. More likely he had never inhabited the same planet as a feline because there were so many places for disaster to strike. Working with animals is problematic when you have the opportunity to film them over and over until they actually do what you want them to do. Depending on a nervous cat to do her thing correctly the first time before a live audience was just plain crazy. I was sorely tempted to tell June I would have nothing to do with this, but right now I was supposed to be an innocent model doing the job she was paid for, not a creative consultant. OK, I'd play it their way and hope our rival fell flat on his face.

As the room slowly filled I spent my time playing with Tabby, trying to get her used to me before we appeared in public. She was a nice enough cat, but very nervous in these strange surroundings. I finally got her to settle on my lap and even heard a purr or two, but that quickly stopped if someone came too close. There is something wonderfully feminine about petting a cat. As Tabby gradually relaxed she warmed my lap and stroking her soft fur caused my hand to brush across my breast, a very pleasant feeling. I had entered a gneial fog by the time the show started and was surprised when my rival lightly touched my shoulder and gave me a one minute warning.

I listened to the usual bheh-bleh-bleh from Roger and June and James. Then a professional announcer took over and I rose, holding Tabby tight to my bosom. The announcers voice rose with excitement and I made my appearance as he eagerly introduced "the beautiful Miss Fresh Scent!" Even as I parted the curtain I was thinking "Dummy — I'm supposed to be a housewife. That's Mrs. Fresh Scent!" No matter, I made my appearance to mild applause, smiled in acknowledgement and made my way to the chair. I took a moment to settle Tabby, who was again very nervous, and heard the announcer give me the cue. I removed the cloth and tried to gracefully release my hair. This made Tabby even more upset as I shook my head and my body moved beneath her. At that moment there was a loud, recorded trumpet fanfare as the balloons began their supposedly lazy fall. I think we would have made it through if one balloon hadn't drifted directly in front of Tabby. With her fight-or-flight instincts on full alert she took a swipe at the thing and it burst with a deafening BANG!.

The only reason my body is not covered with deep lacerations is because the padding in my corset was deeper than Tabby's claws. She let out a howl that easily surpassed even the fanfare and exploding balloon in volume and my lap was suddenly empty. Several of the distributors were unfortunately placed between me where Tabby wanted to be, but they were quickly convinced to be elsewhere as she streaked across the room and out the door. As the commotion settled I took a deep breath and was assaulted by the strong odor of urine. Moments later a warmth spread across my crotch as I realized the damn cat had emptied her bladder before doing her rocket imitation. The padding that gave me my nice, feminine figure was now unspeakably sodden.

I have to hand it to Carol, she accompanied me to the ladies room and provided aid and comfort as if I were truly an abused fellow female. She handed wads of wet paper towels over the stall as needed and rinsed out my skirt while I removed the corset and it's disgusting padding. It was a good thing the seamstress who had altered it for my corset-enhanced figure had only tucked the material where she took in the waistline, because without the corset I was not going to be able to put it on again. Carol produced a nail scissors and removed the stitching, then handed it back to me. About that time June came in with a plastic bag from the hotel to seal away my soiled underclothing.

When I finally emerged from the stall they had the good grace to only giggle a little bit. Roger, the innocent CEO was effusive in his apologies, offering to reimburse me for the damage to my clothes and pressed a check for a substantial bonus into my hand as we left. Too bad it was made out to Marcia, I wondered if the bank would cash it. By then the crowd was gone and Carol and I were able to leave in relative peace. As we crossed the lobby I saw a telltale piece of white fur sticking out from under one of the chairs and realized that no one had remembered poor, frightened Tabby. I managed to coax her out of hiding and very carefully (the padding was gone) held her and calmed her down.

We never did get the chance to have lunch with June that day, but later the Boss Babe was able to convince Fresh Scent that we could handle all their advertising needs in the future. It confuses people who don't know the story, but I changed Tabby's name to Spot, which seemed far more appropriate. She's a wonderful companion and loves to have me pet her by the hour. What else could I do but take her in after all she did for me?



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