Gene or Jean? - Part III - Consequences of Chanson Francaise.
Chapter 11 - After Chanson Francaise.
Well, I had admitted that I liked being a girl at times, but that I liked being a boy when I was with Sandy. My project, or maybe my performance was no secret, and most of my friends and acquaintances thought it was funny. On the other hand, a few people thought it was perverted, and made no secret of that.
I was even hit on by a few boys who admitted that they were gay, as if my cross dressing in some way made me gay. I gently corrected their misapprehensions. What was more interesting were the number of girls who hit on me. They made it clear that they wanted me as a girlfriend, since I looked sexy as a girl, and I had my male parts. I told them that I already had a girlfriend.
To everyone, I made it plain that my motivation to wear a dress had nothing to do with sex or my gender; I was motivated by getting an ‘A’ on my project.
“Yeah, but you seemed to be enjoying wearing a dress and acting like a girl. Way too much for just an ‘A’ it seems to me,” one of my male friends said.
“Well,” I responded, “I thought it best to act the part as well as I could. I always want to do my best.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “but you make one sexy chick. If I didn’t know better, I’d ask you out.”
“I don’t think that Sandy would like that,” I said in return, “and I’m not into boys.”
* * *
Mlle. Vert was most effusive with her praise. “I’d love to see you do it again,” she said, “It was one of the best projects I’ve ever seen or heard. By the way, your pronunciation was superb, even if you had a slight Canadian accent.”
“That came from my Aunt. She helped me with the songs, and she was born in Quebec,” I said. “I hope that the Principal wasn’t offended with me teasing him,” I said.
“On the contrary. He said that it’s been a long time since a pretty girl flirted with him. He really enjoyed it,” she said. “By the way,” she continued, “he wanted me to remind you that the school has a talent show at the end of the school year, and he hopes that you will sign up for it and repeat your performance.”
“I’ll think about it,” I said. I wasn’t too sure of it. Most of the contestants were garage bands, and some students singing covers of current songs. “I might do better if I gave some of them voice lessons and did their piano accompaniments, rather than performing myself”
“Oh, I almost forgot,” she added, “Ms Morris said that she would be glad to accompany you on the piano for the show, if you want.”
“I think that she wants to do it to get me into the chorus,” I commented.
“Yes,” she said, “she mentioned that too. She hinted at the possibility of some solo parts.”
“As a boy or as a girl?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, “you’d have to ask her.”
Chapter 12 - The Chorus.
Two days later, at home room, the teacher handed me a note. “From Ms. Morris, the Chorus Director,” he said.
The note asked me to show up at the next chorus practice, and gave the time and location of the same. ‘What the heck.’ I thought, “I’ll give it a go.” That is how I joined the chorus.
The chorus practice was after the last class of the day, and held in the auditorium.
I trooped into the auditorium with the chorus members. Ms. Morris saw me, and called out, “Eugene, can you come over here for a minute?”
She was smiling when I walked over to her. “I almost didn’t recognize you without your dress and makeup,” she commented. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“What part do you want me to sing?” I asked, “and don’t I have to audition to join the chorus?”
“You already did, in your French class,” she said, “you’re so much better than almost all of the chorus members, and it appears that you can read music.” I admitted that I could.
“Where are the baritones?” I asked.
“Baritone?” she asked incredulously, “I’m thinking tenor, Come over to the piano, and let me check out your range.”
As we walked over to the piano, she called out to the assembled choristers, “I’ll be with you in a minute. Quietly look over your music until then.”
She played some warm up exercises, both up and down, and I sang them. “Well, I’ll be,” she said, “you have a great range. How did you do that?”
“I worked on my range for my French class project. I wanted my voice as high as possible, given the fact that I was wearing a dress when I sang,” I said, with a smile at the end.
Ms. Morris looked at me. “you really can sing baritone, but you also can sing tenor and even alto. Want to see if you can sing mezzo? I bet you can.”
“Okay, I’m game to try, but my tonal quality in the higher ranges is not that pretty,” I volunteered.
After a bit more singing, she said, “You’ve got the range. We can work on tonal quality. Why don’t you sing tenor for now. We always need tenors. Here is the score for the first number.”
She handed me the music, and called out, “Fred, wave your hand, we have a new tenor.” I went to where Fred was standing.
“I’m Fred,” he said, “I can sing either first or second tenor, and after hearing you, it appears that you can also. By the way, this piece is a medley with a tenor duet starting at measure 59. Are you willing to sight read it as second tenor?”
“Okay,” I responded, “If Ms. Morris wants me to. I don’t want to supplant the second tenor who’s been singing it.”
“Don’t worry,” he said, and he called out, “Hey, Joe, will you let Gene try the second tenor part, just for now?”
“No problem,” responded Joe, “You’re welcome to it, Gene.”
“What’s going on in the tenor section?” called out Ms. Morris.
“Gene’s going to sing second tenor for the duet starting at measure 59. Joe says it’s okay,” answered Fred.
“Are you comfortable sight reading it?” Ms. Morris asked.
“I’ll give it a try,” I said, “let me look it over for a few seconds.” It looked like a pretty simple harmony.
“Okay,” Ms. Morris announced, “we’ll start at the pickup to measure 59.”
So we sang the duet. I listened to Fred and blended with hm. It actually turned out pretty well.
“That was pretty good, great sight reading” Ms. Morris said, “but Joe, you’re not off the hook yet. I haven’t decided where I want to put Gene.”
So I sang with the tenors for the rest of the practice. When we were finished, Ms. Morris said, “Tenors are hard to find. Several of our tenors are girls, so I’m not going to waste your voice in the baritone section. I haven’t ruled out some counter-tenor solos for you.” A smirk crossed her face. “Of course, we could put you in a dress and have you sing an alto, or maybe a mezzo. solo,” she said with a laugh. “But for now, it’s a white shirt and tie, and the tenor section.”
I assured her that I was satisfied with singing tenor.
* * *
At supper that evening, I recounted my chorus experience, except for the remarks about the dress. “Ms. Morris said I have a great range, and can actually sing a higher part, like counter-tenor.”
This comment was not lost on my sisters. “So, you could sing a part wearing a dress,” Nancy said with a smirk.
“If you coached us, we could sing as an all girl quartet,” added Emma.
“With matching dresses,” chimed in Gloria.
My Dad was non-plussed. “Girls,” he said to my sisters, “enough of that.”
I couldn’t restrain myself, and got a jibe in against my sisters. “I might be flat,” I said, pointing at my non-existent breasts, “but you girls have a tendency to sing flat.”
“I can’t let you get away with such comments,” Dad said. “You will refrain from any digs at your sisters. They all have pretty voices.”
Ignoring the reprimand, I cast a smirk at my sisters. “Dad!” Nancy complained.
Chapter 13 - A Touch of Drama.
The drama department was casting its spring production. It was a conjured up musical with songs from various musicals and a thin plot. Mr. Hanes, the head of that department, was openly recruiting singers from the chorus. Ms. Morris referred to this a ‘poaching.’ “You can’t steal all of my best singers,” she complained.
“But I need them,” Mr. Hanes retorted, “I’m just borrowing them. I’ll return them after the production.”
“That’s what you always say, but you return them one or two short,” complained Ms. Morris.
“I can’t help it that they find the stage more exciting than choral singing,” Mr. Hanes replied with a smug smile.
As I expected, I was one of the choristers who was drafted. “But I thought that you wanted Sandy and me to help with costumes and makeup?” I said.
“Well, I’ve changed my mind,” he answered. “Ms. Morris let it slip that you were doing voice coaching and playing the piano, and I need both of those talents. Anyway, you won’t voice coach during performances, and then you can then work back stage with Sandy.”
“But what about the concert?” I asked Ms. Morris.
“You don’t really need the practice.” she noted, “You could come in cold and still sound great. Anyway, if I don’t let the drama department steal you, Mr. Hanes will mope around with a sad look on his face, and get everyone depressed.” she said with a laugh.
So I began voice coaching. I worked with all of the singers, and played the piano accompaniment for the practice. As a result, I learned all of the songs, and would sing along with the singers on occasion. Several of the songs were sung by an all girl trio, in harmony, sort of like the Andrews Sisters or the McGuire Sisters. Teaching the girls to sing harmony was a real task, but finally it all came together. Mr. Hanes was pleased with the results.
The costumes for the girls’ trio were very short tan skirts and white blouses with big chiffon sleeves. Because the skirts were so short, they had to wear matching panties and pantyhose. The 4 inch heels turned out to be ill-advised. At the practice before the dress rehearsal, one of the girls tripped and fractured her tibia. Mr. Hanes was frantic. “Where are we going to get a replacement?” he moaned. “Anyone have an idea? I’m desperate!”
“How about making it a duet?” someone suggested.
“I’d rather not,” he moaned.
I was sitting at the piano, ready to play the accompaniment for this rehearsal, since the orchestra wouldn’t join us until the dress rehearsal. One of the girls turned to me and softly said, “Too bad you’re not a girl, Gene, because you know our songs as well as we do, and you have a pretty voice.” Although she said this softly, it wasn’t that softly, and Mr. Hanes heard it between moans.
He strode over to us. We were afraid he was going to be angry with the interruption, but he wasn’t. “Stand up, you three,” he commanded. When we were standing he looked at us carefully. I was about as tall as the other girls, and being slender, looked to be about the same size. “Get someone up here from the costume department,” he commanded.
I began to get a funny feeling about this.
A few seconds later, Sandy appeared on stage. “Sandy, we have a problem,” he said, and explained the nature of the accident. “We need another girl to fill in, and the only likely candidate is Gene here.”
“But he’s not a girl,” Sandy said.
“Aside from that minor point, he’s the most reasonable replacement.” Mr. Hanes said to Sandy, “Will he fit in the costume, and can you make him look like a girl?” Sandy smiled at what Mr. Hanes had just said.
“Wait,” I complained, “the fact that I’m not a girl is hardly a ‘minor point’,”
Mr. Hanes and Sandy ignored what I had just said. “Yes, as to both of your questions,” Sandy told him.
“Well, then do it!” Mr. Hanes announced, and with that he turned to other problems.
Sandy took me to the dressing room. “This is going to be fun,” she said to no one in particular. “Gene, call your home, and see if anyone can bring over your bra and breasts. Maybe your corset and some panties and pantyhose, too.” All of my sisters were overjoyed to comply, after Sandy told them what had happened.
When my sisters arrived, they gave Sandy my clothes. Sandy directed me to put on my panties, panty hose, bra and breastforms. Luckily my sisters had also brought one of my camisoles. “For obvious reasons, we know that all of these are exactly the correct size,” Emma said with a chuckle.
I put on the blouse, which being loose, was no problem.
The skirt fit exactly, as Gloria observed as she zipped it up for me.
“Now the shoes,” Sandy said, “walk carefully, since these shoes have already claimed one victim.”
Nancy and Emma had me sit while Nancy did my hair and Emma did my makeup. When they were finished, they ordered me to stand and they stepped back to admire their handiwork, “Let’s go show her to Mr. Hanes,” Sandy said.
Mr. Hanes was surprised, amazed and pleased, all at the same time. “You’ve saved the show,” he exclaimed. While that might have been an exaggeration, it was nice to hear.
The production went well, and all sorts of family members, relatives and friends came to hearme sing and see me wiggle my bottom, strut my stuff, spin and show off my panties.
Chapter 14 - Recording a CD.
The talent show was called ‘Riverwoods’ Got Talent,’ which was modeled after a popular television show. It was set up as a contest, and there was a panel of judges consisting of Mr. Freund, the Principal; Ms. Morris, the chorus director; Mr. Phillips, a local record producer and Ms. Stone, the local newspaper’s music and art critic. The prize was a recording session. The audience was also allowed to vote, based upon the level of applause for each contestant.
I wore a dark blue pleated skirt and sheer blouse and all the necessary undergarments, including that nasty corset. I chose a pair of two inch heels for stability and comfort. Mom loaned me some costume jewelry. My sisters and Mom helped me get dressed and do my makeup and hair. While I knew that they derived some pleasure making me look like a girl, I also knew that they did it as an expression of sisterly love, something that I really appreciated. This didn’t prevent them from making the occasional snide comment, however.
I came in second place, so no free recording session. Well, I was pleased with second place. I had never even thought of recording my entries, because I performed en femme, and didn’t want to publicize my cross-dressing any more than I already had.
One can imagine my surprise when I received a telephone call from Mr. Phillips a week after the show. “I’ve viewed the video of the contest, and I’m impressed with your singing. I talked it over with some of the people I work with, and they think that there may be a market for a CD of French cabaret songs. We put together a list of additional songs to make a CD and to sell as singles on the internet. By the way, how old are you?”
“I’m fifteen,” I replied.
“Are you interested in making a CD?”
“I hadn’t planned on it, but now that you mention it, it sounds like fun,” I answered.
“In that case, why don’t you and one of your parents come down to the studio this Saturday to talk about it?”
“Sure,” I responded, “but why one of my parents?”
“Because we might want you to sign a recording contract, and you’re too young to sign it by yourself.”
“Oh,” I said. I paused for a moment, and then said, “Before we get into a recording session and a contract, there is something about me that you need to know, but I want you to keep it a secret.”
“What’s that,” he said with some concern in his voice.
“You’ve seen me perform as a girl. However, I’m not a girl, I’m a boy,” I confessed, and I told him how it came to be that a boy was singing dressed as a girl.
“Well, you fooled me,” he said, “not that it matters. It’s your voice that counts. We will need photographs for the CD cover and publicity, but having seen you, that will not be a problem. You make a sexy looking girl. Do any of the other panel members know?”
“The Principal and Ms. Morris,” I answered.
“It didn’t seem to bother them, so I’m not going to let it bother me,” he said. “Ten on Saturday okay with you and your parents?” I checked with Mother, and it worked for her.
“How do you want me to dress?” I asked.
“If it wouldn’t be too difficult, like you did at the show. Same outfit, same makeup,” he added.
When I finished the call, I explained the nature of what was proposed, as I understood it. My sisters had heard part of what was going on, and demanded to know all of the details. “So, my male sister is going to be a female recording star,” Emma commented, with a wicked smile. I stuck my tongue at her in response.
“Can we go along?” Nancy asked,
“Probably not a good idea,” Mother said, “But you can help her get ready.” There was that female pronoun again.
“How about it if she goes to a beauty shop on Friday afternoon?” Nancy suggested, “and get her all glammed up?”
“Wait a minute,” I interjected, “we’re not that far along yet.”\
“Yeah, but first appearances are important,” Mother added, “I’ll see if I can get her an appointment after school on Friday.”
* * *
For my trip to the salon, I wore a skirt and blouse, along with all of the necessary undergarments, including that cursed corset. Sally, the beauty shop owner greeted us when we walke in. “Now I know about Nancy, Emma, and Gloria,” she said, “but I never heard about Jean.”
“Neither had we, until a few months ago,” my Mother said with a big grin.
“But she’s your daughter,” Sally said, all confused.
“Not exactly,” Mother said, “she, or rather he, is my son.”
“Such a pretty girl can’t be a boy,” Sally said, “so, what are we here for?
“We’re going to talk to some people who want to produce a CD of her singing French cabaret songs. We want her to look as sexy and female as possible.”
“Wait a minute!” I exclaimed, “I have to show up at school as a boy on Monday, so no bangs, no highlights, and no curls. I want a style which I can make look male.”
“Those are tough conditions,” said Sally, “but I think we can do something.”
‘Something’ turned out to be pretty amazing. My hair was pulled back and some of it tucked behind my ears. The rest of it, despite what I had said, was trimmed to about shoulder length with a curl at the end. The crowing touch was a hair band. Sally explained how it could be converted to a male look. I liked it.
“Your ears are not pierced,” commented Sally, “We could do that here. A lot of boys have their ears pierced.”
“That’s a good idea,” Mother said, and my ears were pierced.
On Saturday, I did my makeup with a lot of ‘help’ from my sisters. While I wanted more makeup than normal for a daytime look, I didn’t go overboard. I wanted a slightly sultry look.
We carefully selected my outfit for the day. Pantyhose and heels were a definite. Unfortunately, so was the corset. I wore the same outfit as I wore for the talent contest, a dark blue pleated skirt and sheer blouse.
* * *
The recording studio was not what I had expected. It was on the second floor of a building whose first floor was a photograher’s studio. It had been an apartment many years ago, and the studio itself was two rooms, with a glass window between them. The main room had some kind of sound absorbing materials on the walls and ceiling with microphones and wires all over the place. There was an upright piano on wheels in the corner. I hoped that it was in tune.. The smaller room was the control room, with all of the recording equipment. In the back of the space was a small office. The kitchen, from the days as an apartment was still there, with old appliances and a beat up kitchen table. The most important thing was the coffee maker, and that was new.
Mr. Phillips greated us at the top of the stairs. “I’m so glad to see you here. I think we have a winner here.” He introduced us to the others present. “This is Joe, our electronics expert, and this is Steve, who handles the mics. Over there,” he said pointing, “is the photographer whose studio is downstairs. With him are some other helpers. We’re waiting for the co-producer who is arranging the funding for this take.”
Mr. Phillips looked me up and down, with the smile on his face growing. “Are you sure that you’re a boy? You could fool anyone.” He then called the photographer over. “How does she look? Any sign of a boy here?”
“Looks great,” the photographer said, “no sign of a boy.”
“Okay, gang,” Mr. Phillips said, “let’s start this with a look at Jean’s performance at the contest.” Joe turned on a video monitor, and started my part of the show. “We’re going to only do an audio CD. However, if we make it big, we might want to do a music video later,” Mr. Phillips added.
When the video of the show was finished, Joe said, “They could have done a better job with the mics. I see that you didn’t use a mic when you sang. We’ll have you use one when we record,” he added.
“Okay,” Mr. Phillips said, “What are you going to sing?”
“I prepared three songs,” and I handed him the scores. “Two of them are what I sang at the show; Parlez-Moi D’Amour, and Plaisir D’Amour. I worked up a third one, La Vie En Rose, if we have time for it.”
“How do you want to do this?” Mr. Phillips asked, “you said you would do the piano accompaniment.”
“I was thinking of laying down the piano track and then combine it with me singing. I even worked out two vocal parts so I can sing melody and harmony,”
“Why don’t you run through the piano part, and I’ll arrange the mics when I hear what it sounds like,” Steve said, “then we can do the vocal parts.”
The songs are not long, so I did three takes of each of the songs. “Now do you want me to do the duets?” I asked.
“Sure,” Mr. Phillips said, and we did.
During the recording session I saw a new person in the control room, who I assumed, correctly, was the co-producer, Mr. Nicholas.
When we were finished, Mr. Phillips said that he had to talk with Mr. Nicholas, and that there was coffee and cold drinks in the kitchen. He also suggested that we go downstairs for some photographs, which we did.
Mr. Phillips and Mr. Nichola were waiting for us in the kitchen when we returned from the photography studio. The Photographer came up with us and handed some digital photos to Mr. Nicholas. He gave Mr. Phillips a thumbs up.
“Let’s talk,” Mr. Nicholas started out, “We like your singing, and would like to produce a CD, and arrange for some on-line sales of individual songs. “We would like to record between fifteen and twenty songs to fill the CD, so we would like you to select either those or some other songs, all in French. We have a contract for you to review, which is conditioned on you doing the additional songs as well as the ones you did today. Additionally, we are going to send your picture and the recording of the three songs to an associate of mine in Montreal, for his opinion as to the market in Quebec. He might release demos to test the market.”
“The contract has all of the financial details, and you should look at them carefully,” Mr. Phillips added. “If the songs are only a marginal success, most of the money will go to recovering our production costs. Your share depends on how well the sales go.”
“And if it’s a total bust, who pays your production costs?” Mother asked.
“In that case, we absorb all of the production costs,” Mr Nicholas replied, “but I think it will be a success, based on what we heard as of now. Take the contract to your attorney and get back to us.”
“Well, that just about finishes it for today. Do you have any questions?” Mr. Phillips asked.
“Yes,” I answered, “can I get a copy of what was recorded today and some copies of the photographs?”
“Certainly,” he replied. “Just remember that you may not sell copies of either. We reserve those rights for advancing the costs of production. Joe, give her a CD of the session, and here are some digital copies of the photos.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Okay,” Mother said, “You’ll hear from us in a day or so about the contract. Thank you for all you’ve done.”
With that, we all shook hands and Mother and I returned home, only to have to go over all of the details of the session with my sisters and Father. All of them loved listening to the CD. My sisters liked the photos, my Father did not. “Gene, as you well know, I don’t like you dressing as a girl. I understand why you’re doing it for the CD, but that doesn’t affect how I feel.” He paused for a moment. “Having said all that, I do have to say that you make a beautiful girl,” he added with a smile.
* * *
It didn’t take me long to select another seventeen songs. What took time was arranging the accompaniment and getting the pronunciation exactly correct. For that I sought out my Aunt and Mlle. Vert.
When everything was correct, I called Mr. Phillips and arranged to record the other songs. When Mother and I arrived at the studio, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Nicholas were both there, with big smiles on their faces. “We’ve heard from Montreal.” Mr. Nicholas said, “As you remember, we said that we might released them there, and the three songs you already recorded doing well on internet sales. There appears to be a demand for the CD.”
“Then let’s get the rest of the songs recorded,” added Mr. Phillips.
* * *
A few weeks after the CD was released, I received a surprise call from Ms. Stone, the critic for the local paper, who had been a member of the panel for the talent show. After introducing herself, she said, “I noticed a piece in the trade paper saying that a CD of cabaret songs has been released, and was doing well for a foreign languge recording. The name of the artist rang a bell, and I finally connected you with the CD. Are you aware of this?”
“To the extent of the royalty checks I’ve received, then the answer is yes,” I responded.
“I liked your singing at the talent show, so I ordered the CD, and I like that even better. I also did some checking, and spoke with Mr. Hanes at your school. He related an interesting fact, that you jumped in when a girl broke he leg, despite the fact that you’re a boy . I saw that production. I always thought you were a girl, until Mr. Hanes told me differently.”
“Well, I’m trying to keep that fact from wide distribution,” I said, “that’s why I told Mr. Hanes to not announce that I was taking the injured girl’s part.”
“But now you have a CD with the picture of a very pretty girl on the cover,” she said, and then paused, “so whose picture in on the cover?”
“Oh wow, if your story got out, now that would be news,” Ms. Stone said.
“I hope it doesn’t,” I said. “After all, a CD of foreign language songs has to have a very limited audience.”
“Not in Quebec,” she responded, “sales are doing very well there. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had requests for personal appearances.”
‘Oh, (bad word)’ I thought.
“Anyway,” she continued, “the reason for my call is that I’d like to do an interview of you.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” I said.
“Well, you don’t have to allow an interview, but there is enough material available for me to do an interesting article even without an interview,” she said with the hint of a threat in her voice.
“If I do an interview,” I said, “could you agree to, and keep certain items out of the article? As and afterthought I added,” and no photographs”
“Wrong. My editor and I want photos.”
“With me as a boy or as a girl?”
“Your call,” she said.
“Okay, I’ll do the interview as a girl,” I agreed, and I did.
When the article appeared, it was titled ‘Local chanteuse a hit on the international scene.’ I was identified only as ‘Jean.’ with no last name.
There was very little fallout from the article. It appears that most of the students at my school weren’t interested in French cabaret songs. Mlle. Vert was interested, and had me autograph a copy of the article, as I did for Ms. Morris, Mr. Hanes and the Principal, Mr. Freund.
Four out of the other five members of my household were happy to have a sister and daughter who was a minor celebrity. My Father wasn’t.
And then there was Sandy. “I’m really pleased for you, but I can’t brag that my boyfriend is a noted female singer,” she complained, but with a smile.
* * *
Over the summer I was asked to go to Montreal to promote the CD and to give some concerts, which turned out to be a lot of fun. I even did an interview on a local television station, and sang one of my songs. My Mother went with me, even though my sisters really wanted to go. I celebrated my sixteenth birthday there. One neat thing about my trip was that I was able to use some of my royalties to buy clothes for the trip, female clothes that is. Naturally, my sisters demanded that they accompany me on my shopping expeditions.
I had to get a passport which identified me as ‘Eugene,’ a male, so I had to travel as a boy. When I packed my suitcases, I was sure to put boy clothes on top, so if my suitcase was opened, a bunch of frilly girl clothes would not immediately be visible. As it was, I didn’t have any problem at the borders.
It appeared that I was better known in Montreal than in my own home town, a situation which I liked.
However, my musical career was only beginning, which meant that I was spending more time as a girl than I had before. As can be imagined, this led to certain situations which needed to be resolved.
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