May 24, 2007

Re: Dude in Dress

Becka sent me just one of the many emails in response to yesterday's post about our cross-dressing space pal...

Hi Steve -

The men-in-skirts was an attempt to reinforce the idea that men and women are equal in the twenty-fourth century, and that gender roles in general are more fluid. Not one probably noticed, but it was worn by both men and women. The uniform seems to have been short-lived, being used only during 2364-2365 (TNG season 1 and the first part of 2). It was phased out in favor of the unisex jumpsuit.

The name for this uniform variation? The 'skant.' Also referred to as the 'Space Cheerleader' look.

See Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, for further details.

I knew this without looking it up. Spock Lives!

Becka

I've included a bunch of the other responses and theories, as well...

Steve,
Same dress, same stance, same hair, same dumbfounded face...Star Fleet has obviously fallen on some hard times, and instead of having actual personnel, they're using mannequins.

(Was the budget of Next Generation so low that they couldn't even pay an extra for a day's work?)

-Bridget

I know that The Sneeze is all about the fun-times and the WTFing, so I apologize for this straight-forward answer. During the first season of ST:TNG, the basic premise was that it was really far along the axis of human societal evolution. So, not only did Starship Captains specifically try not to date-rape hot green alien chicks, it was totally cool if a dude wore a dress. You know, for general freedom of ball movement. The producers pretty quickly realized that the future may be all utopian, but in the present, a guy in a non-plaid skirt just looks gay.

jjj

Hey Steve,

My Dad is a hardcore trekkie, so I got my lifetime's worth of trekkie trivia and knowledge. Concerning the man in the dress, I do believe there might have been more than one. This was done as a bit of an easter egg, referencing how all the women in the original Star Trek series wore a similar mini-skirt clad uniform, and the controversy that surrounded it (Women's Liberation in the 60s, the skirt was sexist, yada yada yada). Therefore, as a joke, they had men wearing the mini-skirt uniform in the first season of The Next Generation.

--Fred

In seasons one and two of Star Trek: The Next Generation, both men and women can be seen wearing what is considered to be a unisex skirt-like duty uniform called a skant.

According to The Art of Star Trek: "...the skirt design for men - a 'skant' - was a logical development, given the total equality of the sexes presumed to exist in the 24th century."

This uniform was never worn by any leading male actors, and was dropped altogether after the second season.

--Fred

Hey Steve,

Before I get on topic, let me first take a minute to say I absolutely love The Sneeze. I first discovered Steve Don't Eat It a few years back, and I've been hooked on The Sneeze ever since. Every time the little RSS thingy at the top of my Firefox window tells me you've added a new post, my day gets a little brighter. Thanks for such a wonderful site.

Anyway, let's talk about the Star Trek dress guy. He's a common source of fun conversations among us Trekkies. And by the way, when I say "he", I don't mean just the one guy in the picture you've got on The Sneeze. The first two seasons of Next Generation was chock full o' dress-guys. There were even a few in the pilot, Encounter at Farpoint.

We tend to refer to the whole lot affectionately just as "Dress Guy", or at least I do.

I think Dress Guy is a distant cousin of Red Shirt Guy from the original series, and that in the 80 years that passed between the two shows' time periods, the family made it a point to evolve better survival skills. Unlike his ancestor, Dress Guy is at least smart enough never to leave the ship. In a stroke of pure genius, he came up with the ultimate excuse to avoid those pesky away mission deaths, "Uh, I've got a run in my panty hose, guys. You know how it is. I'll catch up with you; I promise. Don't wait for me; you go right ahead. See ya."

I've never actually gone through and counted all of Dress Guy's appearances in the early TNG episodes, but there were quite a few. The dress, called a "skant", was a regulation Starfleet uniform for both sexes. Counselor Troi has the honor of being the only lead character ever to wear one, but it did appear many times throughout the first couple seasons of TNG on extras, both male and female.
The idea behind the skant was to make some sort of statement about sexual equality in the 24th century. Things are so equal that men & women's fashions are identical, that sort of thing. Never mind that all the female actors
wore padded bras and makeup.

Personally, I think the real story is that the TNG costume director was a transsexual, and that the whole wardrobe department was doing way too many recreational drugs. But hey, it was the 80's after all.

I do have a couple of alternate theories about Dress Guy himself, although Red Shirt Guy descendant is still my favorite. First, he might have been some sort of renegade alien, posing as a human, and he didn't get the whole male/female thing quite right. Second, he might be an escaped mental patient from Tantalus V, and when they put him in that brainwashing machine, someone had a copy of Eric the Viking playing in the background. Dress Guy now gleefully runs around the ship yelling "You can't see me! You can't see me! Hahahaha!" just like Tim Robins did with that towel on his head. Where Eric had The Cloak Invisible, Dress Guy has The Dress Invisible. Yes, The Dress Invisible.

In any case, the fact that we're still discussing Dress Guy after 20 years is pretty amazing. How many other fictional fashion models are so talked about after so long? Not many.

-Adam

They were quite prevalent in season one. You see them in all three colors in Encounter at Farpoint. I seem to remember reading in a Star Trek magazine that it was quite deliberate on Roddenberry's part, remembering the miniskirt uniforms worn by the women in the original series, to make them gender-equal in the new series.

You didn't see them much after the second season, though, other than a faint hint of them in the formal uniforms.

Jen Gale

Steve,
I have to say, this guy bears a striking resemblance to Zapp Brannigan from Futurama (smooth space legs and all):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapp_Brannigan

"These new uniforms are pretty snappy, eh, first officer?"

I have no further insight.

Space is a funny place it seems.

--Austin

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Starfleet_uniform_%282350s-2360s%29

---

According to the book The Art of Star Trek, "the skirt design for men – a 'skant' – was a logical development, given the total equality of the sexes presumed to exist in the 24th century."

The uniform was used primarily by background actors, though "Encounter at Farpoint" featured both Deanna Troi and Tasha Yar in skant-type uniforms, the latter only briefly. While Troi would get a new look entirely for subsequent episodes (according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion the uniform was referred to as the "Space Cheerleader" look), Yar remained in her jumpsuit uniform for the rest of her stay aboard the Enterprise, never donning the skant after the pilot episode. It reappeared only in the flashbacks during "All Good Things...".

---

See also: http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/misc/trek_history.htm and
http://www.epinions.com/content_363110502020

Matthew

Hi Steve,

Assuming this e-mail got past your spam filter with the subject line
"men in skants," I'd like to provide some information about the Star
Trek crossdresser. I'm not a Trekkie myself (I used to think that
Riker with a beard and Riker without a beard were different
characters), but some cursory Googling found the following:

"One of the bizarrest things about "The Next Generation" was that they still wanted to show the women's legs (remember Counselor Troi's perky cheerleader outfit?) but they wanted to pretend that the 24th century wasn't as incredibly sexist as the 23rd century had been, so on occasion they'd have a man walk through the background wearing the same little cheerleader skirt. Any time you'd see a shot of the four or five extras who represented the 992 people who had to evacuate the ship before the engines almost exploded, there was always one guy in a little skirt. They called it a "skant"..."

From http://www.kibo.com/rawdata/2002/2002-03-27%20Kibo.txt (search
for "skant" to find the relevant section). Don't know how accurate it is, but perhaps others can corroborate.

Live long and prosper,
Elise
http://bottledair.org

Wow... evidently, Star Trek was so low budget that they used cardboard cutouts for "extras". Look at the shot. The guy might be blurry, but he's in EXACTLY the same position. Even the same angle. Or maybe they reused footage from other episodes. Imagine this... the producers say "We need to have some footage of extras for various different episodes, but we don't want to hire any extras for more than two days. Let's just shoot a bunch of generic footage and use it wherever we want." Boom. Easy as that.

Adios,
mattmiller

Maybe the Trek creators are fans of The Who?

Mir

Hi Steve!

In the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there's a view of a man in sickbay wearing a blue version of the dress. I guess by the 24th century, the armed forces did away with, "Don't ask, don't tell."

Aaron

Steve, having just read your post on this, I too a close examination of both photos and have come to the following conclusion.

The gentleman only stood there once in this dress and this scene was shot for general purpose use. The close up was used in the #106 episode to show his intense listening, but the overall shot was used as filler scene (which happens a lot in the taping of shows, etc.) in episode #115.

This does not explain his desire to have the cool breeze and freedom a dress brings to the table. That part I'm thinking you may have got right in your post.

-Travis

Steve, look closely at the picture. This guy is in the same position and the same place in both of these pictures. The only difference (besides the blur) is the position of his left hand, which is an inch and a half closer to his body in 115 than in 106.

Here's my theory:
Anyone who moves this little in nine episodes must not have much to do at all. Who else could this be but a mannequin extra who lives in the "cargo bay." Think about it. A mannequin posed in just such a position would be the cheapest extra of all. The wardrobe department gave his way-cool jumpsuit to a live extra who simply refused to wear the dress and the director missed (or purposely overlooked) it. The arm moved the 1 ½ inches when an oafish stagehand bumped it. The air of drunk stupidity is reinforced by genuine stupidity, common amongst those whose brains are made of plaster. You must admit, it all fits together. Matt has possibly discovered a dark secret on the seamy underbelly of the Star Trek cartel.

If you can find a clear picture of his feet, you should look for a thin line, where a steel plate (finished to match the floor) could be holding him up.

Hello^^

I was looking at your most recent post and i noticed something.... both pictures are from the same scene, if they are indeed from different episodes they must have used the same clip over again... look carefully at the top picture, notice where the lines from the background hit his body, they are in the same place in the 2nd picture, also, in the top picture there is a blurry greenish spot on the bottom left, that is the dress of the lady in the left of the lower picture. I can't tell you WHY he is in a dress, but i can at least tell you that he wore it only once, unless you can find other pictures of him in a different location. btw, love your blog.

- Mary Ann



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