A TRANSVESTITE driving instructor claims he was kicked off the cast of an amateur drama production just 24 hours before opening night because he likes to dress as a woman.
Father-of-four Garryck Noble - otherwise known as Gee Gee - runs the Safeway School of Motoring from his home in Henvor Close, Redruth.
He joined the Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust, referred to locally as ROAST, in order to improve his singing and dancing abilities, in the hope of developing the stand-up act that he performs every Sunday evening at the Countryman Pub at Piece, Carnkie.
Until the beginning of last week he was due to be a chorus member in ROAST's latest production, A Song and Dance, featuring a medley of different musicals, which ended on Saturday.
However, Mr Noble says everything changed when he arrived for a singing rehearsal dressed as Gee Gee - in knee-high patent leather lace-up boots, a black shift dress, wig and make up - as he was due to go onto one of his gigs afterwards.
Mr Noble attended a technical rehearsal with no problems, but arriving at the dress rehearsal he claims he was told not to bother getting ready for the performance.
He said that in a meeting with musical directors after the rehearsal, he was then informed that his singing and dancing were not up to the standard required for the show and he was asked not to take part.
Mr Noble claimed that the musical director, Alastair Taylor, then said to him: "What you did Tuesday night was disgusting, coming in like that. If I could have had the authority I'd have ushered you out the building."
Mr Noble, who is aged in his 40s, described himself as "flabbergasted" at the reaction.
He told the Packet: "What he said shocked me, but it tied in with some of the feelings I'd been getting over the past three months. I was gutted to be honest."
He said that the majority of cast members accepted him and showed an interest. "Quite a few of them would talk to me specifically because I was a bit different," he added. "The majority were fine,it was just a few members, a couple of long-standing members. I just felt there was this undercurrent from a number of them, who would avoid talking to me."
Mr Noble only began wearing women's clothes out of the house around four years ago, although the idea came to him "years ago." He explained: "From about the age of 14 I had the inclination to wear bits and bobs of women's clothes, but I didn't go out in it. I spent years suppressing it and thinking, There's something wrong with me.' It was only about four years ago that I went out dressed up."
He estimated he now owns four times as many female clothes as men's clothes, with Gee Gee's clothes and wigs taking up three chests of drawers, drawers under the bed and three quarters of a wardrobe.
Mr Noble said that most of his driving pupils knew about his tendency and that he had even conducted lessons as Gee Gee, after a pupil begged him to dress up. "I've done 11 or 12 lessons in female mode, basically because I've been asked to by pupils," he added.
He has been a driving instructor for around 20 years and originally set up a business in his home county of Essex, only moving to Redruth in 1995. However, he admitted that his penchant had caused difficulties with his two ex-wives and that he has been banned from seeing two of his four children.
"She won't let me see my daughters because she thinks someone like this is a pervert," he said.
Mr Noble said that he enjoyed the glamorous side of dressing up as a woman, adding that he had no wish to actually become a woman. "I like being a man. Some men who dress as a woman want to be a woman, but I don't. I love the glam side," he explained.
Theatre is in his blood, with his mother keen on amateur dramatics and his grandfather a former actor and director in London. His mother, Rita, has accepted her son as both Garryck and Gee Gee. She said: "I'm pleased that he's found what he wants to do. Always in his teens he dressed beautifully, as a boy - he always had a satin jacket or something like that."
Christine Arthur, production co-ordinator of ROAST's latest show, said that the decision to ask Mr Noble not to perform was based purely on his performance.
Mrs Arthur said: "When he came and did the dress rehearsal it was decided then that he just wasn't up to scratch for the production. It isn't as if we have got 50 guys in the show. We only had 11. If someone doesn't know the words they're going to stand out like a sore thumb. It's got nothing to do with his dress code."
She added that at least three other cast members had been given the same threat - to learn the words and moves or not take part - and that a whole routine had been dropped from the show because the cast could not perform it well enough.
Mrs Arthur concluded: "We're quite an open society. We're not prejudiced in that way at all. He's still a member if he wants to be."
Alastair Taylor, musical director, denied Mr Noble's claim, but told the Packet: "What I did say to him in rehearsal was because there were minors in the room I didn't think it was appropriate. I didn't know what their parents would feel. What people do and how they are is completely their business and nothing to do with me, but when you're responsible and in charge of a group like that, with 14 and 15-year-old girls in the room, I just didn't think it was appropriate for that rehearsal. That was it.
"I've worked with people dressed in drag all my life. I've been in pantomimes for 20 years. I've got totally nothing against it. But when I'm responsible for these people and parents put their trust in you for their children's well-being, don't thrust that on us if they're not ready for it. He should have asked first."
He added that if he had been the man in power he would have asked Mr Noble to go home and change before attending the rehearsal.
And he stressed: "The way he is portraying it is as if I'm totally prejudiced. I'm totally not prejudiced against anybody. I have hundreds of friends that are like that and more."
Mr Taylor said the decision to ask Mr Noble to leave the production was a joint decision by the production team as a whole.
He said: "We have got standards. We want to try and put on the best possible show we can. It seems very unfair to him, but you have got to draw a line somewhere. He arrived late to the technical rehearsal without any explanation and then took off without any explanation. A decision has got to be made. In hindsight it would have been more appropriate to deal with it at an earlier date, but we try and give people every opportunity to get it right."