Out and About with Michelle Hart – Column 26

I’m Learning To Fly

The Wright brothers were two of seven children born to Milton Wright of English and Dutch descent, and Susan Catherine Koerner of German-Swiss descent. Wilbur Wright was born near Millville, Indiana in 1867, and Orville in Dayton, Ohio in 1871. In elementary school, Orville was given to mischief and was once expelled for it. In 1878 their father, who traveled often as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, brought home a toy “helicopter” for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its rotor, it was about a foot long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying.

Orville dropped out of high school after his junior year to start a printing business in 1889, having designed and built his own printing press with Wilbur’s help. One of their clients for printing jobs was Orville’s friend and classmate in high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar, who rose to international acclaim as a ground-breaking African-American poet and writer.

The Wrights printed the Dayton Tattler, a weekly newspaper that Dunbar edited for a brief period. They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice.

Capitalizing on the national bicycle craze, the brothers opened a repair and sales shop in 1892 and began manufacturing their own brand in 1896. They used this endeavor to fund their growing interest in flight. In the early or mid-1890s they saw newspaper or magazine articles and probably photographs of the dramatic glides by Otto Lilienthal in Germany. The year 1896 brought three important aeronautical events. In May, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley successfully flew an unmanned steam-powered model aircraft. In the summer, Chicago engineer and aviation authority Octave Chanute brought together several men who tested various types of gliders over the sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. In August, Lilienthal was killed in the plunge of his glider. These events lodged in the consciousness of the brothers. The brothers’ fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on unlocking the secrets of control to conquer “the flying problem”, rather than developing more powerful engines as some other experimenters did. Their careful wind tunnel tests produced better aeronautical data than any before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers more effective than any before.

The Wright brothers, were two Americans who are generally credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

Well, I started out down a dirty road started out all alone and the sun went down as I crossed the hill and the town lit up, the world got still.

Everyone who undertakes the long and painful road of transition will face setbacks, painful failures, harassment and often undeserved rificule. Just as The Wright brothers experienced a multitude of failures long before their incredible sucess. It took these two brothers years to learn how to fly and it will be the same for you ladies. It isn’t easy, it often isn’t very fun, and quite often you will have serious doubts about your choice to continue down that long dusty road full of many challenges that you will need to overcome if you truly desire womanhood. Tonight as we find our places on that comfy leapord print couch again and pass those marshmellows around for some more of that delicious hot chocolatte as always I will try to keep you from crashing like Otto Lilienthal did in his quest for flight. To many people, we will always be considered paria’s or some sort or just deviants and that won’t ever change. No amount of good deed nor explanation of who we really are can possibly overcome that sad truth. I’ve often said this is a very difficult road to travel. Regardless of your own sweet fantasy world perceptions, even you will be subjected to that unwelcome vitriol or outright disdain at some point. To believe otherwise is truly foolish.

Even I, your questionably humble digital diva, have experianced these painful setbacks ocassionally and that harsh truth during my life in sexy stiletto’s. Many years ago I was working for Richard at JR’s during a Christmas benifit and after my set we spoke for a few moment’s and his comments have stuck with me and become one of my many guideposts. He remarked that I just wasn’t big enough, and that I really needed to be much bigger. While some of you may believe he was referring to the luxury of my hips that isn’t the case. Richard was telling me to be larger than life, to own that stage, to draw the crowd completely to wherever I stood. Was it harsh or perhaps cruel of him to say this… Perhaps. Was it deserved… Certainly.

Like Orville and Wilbur I was just doing bycicle repair instead of actually flying. Sure I was good at one thing but I still had a lot of study and hard work ahead before I would be going out to Kitty Hawk to really spread my wings. Being a great performer, like everything else, is about dedication and hard work. I just had not put enough effort into it yet and Richard had judged and competed in enough pagents to know what I didn’t. While his remarks may have wounded others, I sought them out because I really did want to improve. Being a great woman is no different. How you talk, how you walk, and what you wear are just tiny pieces of that fabulous airplane, they are not it’s sole components.

Well, the good ol’ days may not return, and the rocks might melt and the sea may burn. I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings, coming down is the hardest thing.

As I look back and fondly remember the first night I met Aspen. I was just casually having a drink and Andy came up to me without the incredible hair and stunning gowns as just a nice young man. We chatted away and he complimented me several times throughout our conversation. Kelly was there also, but we didn’t speak as much that night. The next night Aspen stoppend by again to say hello, only this time she was the stunning vision that most know her as. That night she was bigger, much bigger. She unquestionably portrayed exactly what Richard would tell me to emulate years later.

You see girls, it took years before Richard would even acknowledge my existance, and share his valuable wisdom. I had not earned it yet, I had not show that I was willing to brave those winds and risk failure at Kitty Hawk. Aspen was only being gracious, like she always is, but she saw some slight potential that perhaps others had missed. This was very early in my journey and even then I had so much to learn before I would become the woman I am now. Like me ladies, you will need to earn it, you will need to be truly commited to absolute perfection if you dream of being in front of these adoring crowds.

Every entertainer that I know, or every one that I have had the pleasure of working with, each has given me small peices of wisdom and knowledge. Wether it was Onyx telling me which eylashes to use or Chanell pointing out that my contouring was all wrong and that I looked rather terrible. The night Aspen pulled me aside and almost completely redid my makeup before I walked on stage, so I would look even better, it wasn’t about putting me down. It never was, it was about telling me, and showing me how to improve so that if I really wanted to be truly glamourous and look like a showgirl I could.

That my dear reader is what so many fail to see. I walk amongst the other entertainers because I am one of them. I began just like you though, nearly everything I did was completely wrong, but I didn’t know that back then. Nobody cared enough to pull me aside and point the way. I’m thankful for every one of those nights that someone did, weather it was Celeste Marinez, or Charity Case. Each took their valuable time and years of experiance and tried to mold me and shape me into something better. My girlfriends have done the very same thing, as I have blossomed and joined them, they have taught me things that are reserved to just us.

Well, some say life will beat you down break your heart, steal your crown. So I’ve started out for God knows where, I guess I’ll know when I get there.

Wether you are in transition, or just want to play dressup there are a multitude of things to learn and to know. A long time ago, your almost never humble digital diva was totally clueless also. Yes, I know it’s just a terrible thing to imagine but it’s sooo true. Fourtunately like the Wright bothers I eventually learned to fly and spread my own wings. I have also learned that not everyone you meet is trying to humiliate you or put you down as a bonus. Though it may sound that way or even appear like it when you are told you are doing it all wrong. Over the years I’ve also learned that it’s the single biggest hurdle to overcome for most of the girls I have met. Their fragile ego is so vast that no amount of coddling will ever do. The slightest critique sends them into a tailspin they just cant recover from.

I continually am asked how to improve, what can these girls do to look incredible, where did I get this or that accsessory. Yet the very moment I answer, the moment I try to explain exactly how to achieve these same results I am met with scorn, shock and horror. Ladies your improvement begins with YOU! It begins long before that first piece of satin is pulled on. It starts the moment you become realistic about who you are and where you would like to go. It will start the moment you can put aside your macho attitude and figure out that someone is actually trying to help you. The very first thing every showgirl learns are her flaws, and they are legion in most cases. The sarcasm, cutting remarks, and catty inuendo are like a headwind of epic proportions that each has overcome to get where they are. Finding their own glidepath is quite difficult before they were accepted and became part of that aviators club.

A few weeks ago I had a date. We were meeting for drinks at one of the many places I frequent in Addison. I arrived and felt really sexy, I thought I looked wonderful. However my girlfriends were there to insure I actually did look as delicious as I could. You see they each took a moment and apraised me, offered their tips, and even made some last minute adjustmeents to what I had on. My girlfriends got really excited for me and made sure I popped a few more buttons and showed a little more skin than I normally would and even messed with my hair just to make sure I looked my absolute best for when he arrived. That’s what women do, that’s part of being a woman, it the desire to help others improve. Girls we want you to look better, but you must be willing to let that girl magic flow. Not one of them made me feel resentful or less than they were, even though I wasn’t born with what they were. I’m one of them now, and we all know it regardless of how I started out and what I took for me to get into their club. It took me years of hard work and learning to become the woman I am today. It will be the very same for you, it’s no easy but it’s worth it.

Last week I went to a new club to see my friend Caress Riata preform. I had never gone to The 1851 Club before so naturally I was just a little nervous. Yes ladies, even I still get aprehensive about new places, it’s normal for everyone. From the moment I arrived people came up to me that I knew already or who knew of me. The reason is simple girls…. I worked… I learned… I developed…

Kianna Lee is the show director there and Caress wanted to introduce me to her. I was blown away that she knew imediately who I was, even though I had never met her before. That girls didn’t happen by accident, it happend because I followed Richards advice from years ago. Like Orville and Wilbur I didn’t try to reinvent the bycycle, I didn’t make it complicated, I studied what was already there and I learned and that is how she knew who I was. I listened to the people like Caress, I listened to Aspen, I learned from Celeste, I learned from Richard. Each one of them helped me learn to fly just as I am doing with you with each sweet little missive I share.

My dear sweet reader I’m already in the air flying, do come up with me and enjoy the view….

With love,

Michelle Hart

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