It’s a man,” said a spokesperson for The International Academy of Ventriloquism. “The woman is a little girl who was playing a game with other children. She was not an adult.”
But many are convinced she is a man.
“What do we have here?” asked Michael A. Schultheis, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who studies “reptilian personality.”
“What’s the difference between a person who’s pretending to be a cat and a person who’s actually pretending to be cat?” he said. “When you’re pretending to be a cat you feel you are a cat. When you’re pretending to be a man you feel that you are a man.”
One of the biggest differences, experts say, is the role that male and female role models play in the ventriloquist’s act. A male ventriloquist portrays a man as tough and invulnerable, while a female role model, in contrast, plays a woman who is vulnerable and timid. It all works together to play out a fantasy of a man who has been saved by a female companion.
But what if the female ventriloquist is so convinced that she’s a male that she just won’t accept the obvious at face value?
Such a scenario has played out at the Royal Albert Hall, England, where a group of people dressed as a female ventriloquist (or “catwoman,” in British parlance) took part in a performance in October.
“What do cats look like?” was the opening question asked by the crowd at the opening of the show, while at a subsequent performance several hundred people dressed as male or female ventriloquists took up the same role, and some even asked “what’s up, man?” as their female counterparts performed.
To many, it felt like a joke, said Sue Ritchie, who was onstage at the Royal Albert Hall with her boyfriend that night. But many were so uncomfortable with the idea of being catwomen themselves.
“If you’re a man and you’re a cat in the real world,” Ritchie told the BBC last year, “it’s not as bad as if someone was going to put a real bear on you.”
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