by Drew Martin
One of the many interesting aspects of the documentary I watched last night, Men in Rubber Masks, is the vow by the eldest of five kids to keep alive his late father’s vision and unique business that his mother and siblings run from their home. The company FemSkin was started by their patriarch after their cabinet-making business failed, and is “recognized as the innovative leader in the application and advancement of silicone prosthetics for the transgendered community worldwide.” The documentary specifically focuses on anatomically correct female-body rubber suits for men. Unlike the family’s unprofitable go at carpentry, the jiggly silicone outfits are selling like hotcakes out of their backwaters Florida workshop to clients in Japan, England, Germany, even Siberia, Russia. One of the sons takes a break from airbrushing red the areolae around the nipples of an outfit to explain that Germans are the biggest fans and also give the most critical feedback for enhancements. Maybe, aside from being a pretty sexually adventurous nation, they recognize something in the top part of the suit, which was cast from a German woman, and was seamlessly blended with a lower half from a Brazilian woman.
The film crew documents the lives of a few men. One is a young man in England who has a girlfriend and uses the opportunity of the film to show his private habit to a wider audience: his slightly baffled friends and then his neighbors. There is also a former hotrod builder, and current forklift driver, who has six daughters. He explains that he was never attractive enough to get a hot girlfriend so he slips into his female character to experience the sensations of being close to such a woman. Wife #2 is a little worried but her man claims it helps him get closer to his daughters as we see him in his female kit getting his fingernails painted by his 16-year-old girl.
We get to spend some time at the sixth global meeting for maskers held in a hotel in Minneapolis. The eldest son behind FemSkin attends to show off the latest model and explain where they will make improvements, such as the hammocked section between the breasts, which needs to be tighter fitting. The maskers, small in numbers but big in heart, are delighted to meet one another. Many have only interacted via websites for their tribe. They even go out to a club and mix with the locals. Some college-aged kids seem pretty fine with it but not everyone is pleased. One young man confronts them on the street and there is a bit of a stand-off.
The most interesting perspective of this kind of dollification is from a 70-year-old real estate millionaire in Southern California. He shows us the ropes of how to get suited up, which includes a lot of baby powder (so you don’t get stuck).
His cheery and very curvy California-girl alter ego amazes the old man inside. He stares in the mirror and is baffled by how good he looks. Formerly married and living with his daughter, he explains that when he tried the dating scene he often went out with women in their 60s and even their 50s and although many of them were in good shape, none could compare to his silicone lady-self. The film ends with him going out for a stroll by the boardwalk. One woman and her male partner stop to check him out and squeeze his breasts, and comment on how real they feel. A couple blondes stop on their beach cruisers as well to fulfill their curiosity, and end up having a lively conversation with him.
It’s weird but like in a cool weird way. It’s like. “Whoa, what’s that? You know. You want to check it out.