Alan Cumming: ‘Being a Woman is Hard’

Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming

The actor Alan Cumming has been explaining the lengths he had to go to in order to prepare for his roles as a transvestite called Desrae, in the UK TV series The Runaway. It’s not just the dresses and makeup, there’s a whole other world of pain out there.

Speaking on the Fern Britton show on Channel 4, he said: “I think it’s probably quite a good thing for every man to have to do that at one point, just to see what girls go through.”

“I decided to go with this [cream] called Veet, or Nair. You put it on and it dissolves your hair off. Disgusting. It smells like a rancid, radioactive pool. It makes all the hair just disappear, like a torture thing.”

And this from the man who had to endure hours in the make-up chair in order to play blue-faced Nightcrawler in X-Men 2.

He went on: “And then you’ve got to keep loofah-ing all the time otherwise you get ingrown hairs. You saw my bum, so I had to do it everywhere. Desrae is smooth as a baby’s bum. That was bad.”

“Even things like the clothing was very restrictive and uncomfortable and I had acrylic nails painted on.”

Brilliantly, there was some respite from the makeover madness, in the form of a brief televisual dip into his own family tree, as Alan explained: “In the middle of filming, I came back to Britain to do that Who Do You Think You Are? show for the BBC. When I see the show, it’s so funny because I have no body hair at all and I’m actually quite hairy, but I was there like a plucked chicken.”

Normally we’d be trying to think of something witty to say here, but if you don’t mind…might just have…to…lie down for a bit…

Ladies, is he making too much of a fuss? Tell us here.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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