Trisha van Cleef
My Alter Ego
I have always been interested in the opposite sex, on both a sexual and a mental level; they have always seemed to me to be exotic, strange but ultimately mysterious. Women seem to have way more fun with their clothes than men and at an early age I developed a strong interest in women’s clothes – so I dabbled in trying them on – underwear mainly - and when I wore them I felt sexier and more feminine. Later, with the addition of make up and different wigs, I experimented with my “female” look. Who was this girl I saw reflected back at me in the mirror? I invented my female alter ego - Trisha van Cleef and ventured out into the world. It was only a matter of time, of course, before I wondered to myself how she would express herself creatively.
Paul’s paintings are very complicated and take a long time to complete, and so, almost as a reaction against this way of working. I work very fast, seldom spending more than 20 minutes creating a painting or a piece of furniture. I am more emotional, spontaneous and I like to create in the moment instead of planning – I use diverse materials including stockings and panty hose, adhesives, found objects and a variety of paints and varnishes.I particularly enjoy mixing several different kinds of paint or varnish together just to see what happens. Some very interesting bubbling and crazing effects come from this. I never sign my work as Trisha, instead I use a rubber stamp of my signature, each piece has to be authenticated by Paul.
Paul and I have had a series of “One man – One woman” art shows together. The works compliment each other and reflect two distinctly different gender expressions. My paintings have also been used on several CD covers. The highlight for me was being invited to be the third girl in the “Sonja, Lisa & Trisha” art show in downtown L.A.
As time goes by I realize that I have a very strong sense of style and an almost theatrical understanding of my feminine aspects which I need to emphasize and those which I need to play down to look my best when I present myself to the world - much the same as a women would - “age defying” cosmetics and an understanding of make-up also help. Many of my female friends recognize this style and have given me some beautiful additions to my wardrobe over the years.
I am often asked if I always dress as Trisha when I create: The answer is No, not always. Trisha the artist is more like a frame of mind that I like to be in, less analytical, more spontaneous and responsive to her surroundings. When I went through counseling at the collapse of my marriage, the counselor reacted to my wife’s very negative and hurtful criticism of my cross dressing by telling us both that we should look closely and objectively at the role that Trisha played in my life, she was sure, she told us, that we would find that it was both positive and ultimately creative. She was right - so now I have developed the habit of consciously honoring & recognizing that energy and esthetic within me for what is – another beautiful facet of the shining diamond that is - me.
For a more complete look at Trisha and her importance as a creative part of Paul’s life go to read an interview with Trisha van Cleef.