First sex change; now leaving antique mall for flea markets Jennifer Blake is going through a transformation from a mall/shop dealer to a flea marketer. This might be a big life change for most, but for Blake it hardly registers as a tiny blip on the landscape
an 8mm Bell & Howell. He had been playfully pushed into an 18-inch wading pool while some of the kids were roughhousing. Since he had been soaked, Blake was given the only available change of clothing, a fitted t-shirt and a pair of girl’s side-zip jeans.
Blake’s mouth dropped as he saw himself on the giant screen, all his family in attendance. He was appalled by how he looked. Not only was he taller than he remembered, having grown several inches in only a couple of months, but with the water matting down his hair and making it seem longer than usual, and the hip-hugging girls jeans, he once again caught an undeniable glimpse of a feminine dimension to his physique. This jarring self-image resulted in another emotional outbreak.
“I didn’t recognize myself,” said Blake. “I became totally introverted.”
Confused about his identity, Blake decided to do what many young men do after high school to find themselves—join the Navy. Many parents believe the Armed Forces is the best way to turn their boy into a man; it did the opposite for Blake.
It was his traumatic six-month stint in the Navy that kickstarted his metamorphasis. Instead of experiencing the camaraderie that might be expected of a group of young men being trained to defend their country during the Vietnam War, he was labeled an “S.P.” because of his effeminate characteristics.
Blake endured three weeks of bootcamp, but as soon as he was out among the other seamen, he was a target for what was euphemistically called “brotherly love.”
There is rampant “situational homosexuality on those ships,” explained Blake, adding that once they are back on land, the soldiers quickly adapt to their “old” way of lives, returning to their girlfriends or wives as if they had never experimented with homosexuality, much like how inmates behave in prison.
After being discharged after only six months for medical reasons, Blake hitchhiked across the country in drag with his male companion, who was aware of his true gender. They arrived at his parent’s house in Sacramento where Blake found an additional unannounced member of his boyfriend’s family—his wife. In order to prevent any further trouble, he immediately shipped Blake off on the first Greyhound bus to San Francisco. He arrived in Haight Ashbury three years before California’s answer to Greenwich Village came into full flower.
“I lived underground as a woman for two years,” said Blake.
The Summer of Love was just around the corner, Lyndon Johnson was president, the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King, and Star Trek premiered on NBC. Ken Kesey wrote “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Tom Wolfe introduced the world to “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” and 20-year-old Blake was about to make the biggest decision of his life.
He was through disguising the fact that he was a man by wearing skirts over freshly-shaven and panty-hosed legs, dabbing rouge on his stubbly cheeks and gluing on fake eyelashes.