"Right," began James, as he often did. "As you might have noticed, we haven't got the best of fashion senses, over here on Top Gear."
The audience rumbled with laughter, possibly because the three of them looked like they had gone out of their way to wear particularly atrocious outfits that day.
"Mate," said Richard, "You might've won the grand prize for understatement of the century there." The audience chuckled collectively. "I mean, look at you," he continued. "You look as if the sixties ate a load of neon paint and were sick on your shirt, and yet the rest of your outfit is completely beige."
And then, of course, Jeremy cut in. "Talking of beige, Hammond, have you looked in a mirror lately? You look as if you thought today's episode was to be filmed in the desert."
"Oh, right," retorted Richard, "says the walking embodiment of the phrase 'triple denim'."
Jeremy raised his hands, as if it were an effective barrier to criticism. "Anyways. Lots of people on the interwebs seemed to be having a bit of a laugh about this. Some even wrote to us, saying," and at this, he pulled a piece of printer paper with words on from seemingly nowhere, "'Dear Top so-called Gear, the three of you have the collective fashion sense of a dead polecat. Get a bloody makeover or I shall riot. Love, AngryBastard107.'"
The audience, predictably, had a giggle at that. Jeremy placed the letter back into the fold of subspace from whence it came. "The British public, it seems, has spoken."
"Yes," continued Richard. "The producers thought it only fair that we take up the challenge."
The screen immediately began playing the film in question. "Naturally," came Clarkson's voice, "we cast about for some stylists or whatever. However, we got the wrong sort."
A slightly unexpected scene replaced the map footage of the greater London area. It was a disco of some sort. A lady in very heavy makeup and some sort of bedazzled swimsuit was cavorting about onstage. At least, ostensibly a lady.
"Meet Ken Swanworthy. Although when he's dressed like this, most people call him Giulia Evora." The film then cut to footage of Jeremy walking towards a block of flats, narrating. "Now, I've gone over to Mr. Swanworthy's flat, which is in London. The other two are supposed to meet me shortly, but, of course, I was the first to arrive."
He stopped in front of a door, and, as people are wont to do, he knocked. As doors are wont to do, it opened. The opener poked. his head out, exchanging the usual, "Oh, hello, yes, do come in, I've room enough for the film crew." He was a tallish, thinnish man, with sandy blond hair and a pleasant sort of broad grin.
He settled casually on the sitting room couch, a moment before Jeremy followed suit. "So," began Clarkson. "I'm told you're a sort of crossdressist. I'm really quite curious; what's the draw to that? Because I-I genuinely want to know, what's so alluring about the ladies' underwear and the makeup and all that?"
Ken laughed, running a hand through his hair. "Crossdressist. Right. Well, it's an act. And acting is fun. It's great for a laugh. But it can definitely make you feel powerful, too. It's sort of like, you know, Clark Kent turns into Superman, well, Ken Swanworthy turns into Miss Giulia Evora."
The more ape-like of the two pondered this. "Yes, but you're also a petrolhead, right? That's not really too common of a combination, would you mind telling me more about that?"
"Well, people often say that, you know, cars are fashion statements. They can be such things of beauty, power, and elegance, in a completely different way than clothes or attitude, but it's also sort of complementary. I love cars, and I love fashion, so that works quite well for me."
Jeremy nodded. "I see. And what are you driving nowadays?"
Ken perked up a bit. "Got myself an Alfa, last month, actually. A Brera."
Clarkson's face shifted into the mode of "mildly surprised 'Phwoar'". "That's a very good-looking car. Stunning, really." Ken nodded in agreement.
"At that point," cut in Jeremy's voiceover, "one of my colleagues arrived." This was rendered redundant by footage of Hammond being let in, exchanging hellos and whatnot. "So, naturally," continued the previous voiceover, "I got out of the way so that things could get done."
Richard followed Ken down a fairly wide hallway, at the end of which was a medium-sized room. Boxes and boxes of cosmetic paraphernalia groaned under the weight of jewellery and wig heads. A rod ran across an entire wall, on which was hung dozens and dozens of outfits.
"You told me this was a wardrobe!" squeaked the Hamster.
"I said it was where I kept my clothes," clarified Ken. He walked over the the wall of hangers, shuffling through outfits like they were files in a filing cabinet.
"You don't wear any of these out, do you? Like, everyday wear?"
He snorted. "'Course not. Although I do have gigs almost every day, so that almost counts."
"Almost every day?" echoed Hammond.
Swanworthy nodded. "It's hard work, but it's how I paid for all of this." He made a sweeping gesture to the room. "Not to mention the Alfa. That one took some doing, I can tell you."
He motioned Richard over. "Come over here, try to find something you'd like to wear. I know we don't wear the same size, but I didn't get this far without being a decent tailor."
As Swanworthy rummaged around in a box full of wigs, the shorter of the two tentatively went through the outfits, which included, but were not limited to, a mermaid dress which seemed to be composed entirely of blue and green sequins, a skin-coloured bodysuit covered, in convenient locations, with purple rhinestones, and, alarmingly, a day-glo-pink bikini. Richard looked a mixture of horrified and astonished. "I hope you don't expect me to wear that!"
Ken smirked. "Well, not unless you want to. Mind you, I think that would take quite a bit of alterations."
He shook his head, laughing it off. "I think that'll be a no."
Shots of continued outfit-shuffling and faffery faded into one another. "It went on like this for quite a bit. And then I found something that was neither sparkly, nor a swimsuit." Richard pulled something off the curtain rod. "Well, this looks alright."
Ken clapped his hands. "Oh, good! Lovely piece, I wore it for a Steampunk festival, oh, two years ago." He took it off the hanger.
Richard's face fell upon realising precisely what he'd selected, and precisely how much it seemed to show. A leatherette miniskirt, quite mini, in fact, was suspended below a sleeveless top of the same material, with an artful pile of copper gears on one of the shoulders. It appeared to be a top of the cropped variety.
"Is it alright?" asked Swanworthy. grim
Hammond considered his alternatives. "Yeah." He affirmed grimly. "After that," the narration resumed, "Ken set about Frankensteining me into whatever he could manage."
Cut to footage of Swanworthy fluffing, prodding, and patting his face with various makeup brushes and sponges, along with all the flinching and whinging you'd expect.
"Please stop blinking, I'm trying to do your eyeliner."
Richard looked slightly indignant. "Well I can't not blink, it's an automatic process!"
"Finally, he decided he'd had enough," concluded the voiceover.
Ken stepped back proudly. "Well? What d'you think?"
Hammond leaned in towards the mirror. "It's... It's different, is what it is."
"I think I did a decent job," noted the drag queen.
"Yeah, I'll say you did."
"After that, I got changed," said the narration over footage of a bathroom door. Which then opened, and phase one of three was complete.
Richard held out his arms surprisingly proudly. "How do I look?"
Ken gave him a thumbs-up. "Quite good. I don't even think you need a wig, your hair quite suits the outfit."
Richard went over to look at himself in the full-length mirror, which was conveniently nearby. Ken was right, his feathery dark hair complemented the brown leather perfectly. He made a mental note to have it cut as soon as humanly possible.
He turned his head to look at it from different angles. "That's really weird," he laughed. "You've actually sort of managed to make me look, well, not like a woman, but just a bit, you know, feminine." He was right. The eyeliner, miniskirt, and sheer black stockings would do the job for anyone within reason, mind you.
Ken laughed. "Well, if I couldn't do that, I'd be out of a job. Let's go show it off to your colleagues, eh?"
They went back down the short hallway, and into the sitting room, where Jeremy, James, and a couple crew members were conversing over some tea. They turned to look at the new arrivals. Immediately after, James and Jeremy burst into bout after bout of wheezing smokers' laughter.
"You... You utter, utter nincompoop!" managed May after quite a long while of being nearly unable to breathe.
Clarkson wiped a tear from his eye. "Hammond, you look like such an idiot right now."
"Yes, yes, yes," he dismissed. "I, personally, think I look fairly alright." He stood there, hands on hips.
It depended on your perspective, but, if you were being charitable, "fairly alright" was a decent descriptor. He didn't really look all that feminine, but that hardly mattered, and he did look a lot younger, fresher, somehow. It wouldn't have been much of a comfort to him, but the dark brown leatherette matched his hair quite well, and provided a nice contrast to his peachy skin.
Yes. Definitely not helping.
Ken clapped his hands. "Well! Who's next, then?"
Clarkson shook his head, picking up his mug of tea. "I'm not going."
May stood up. "Fine, I'll go."
"I was the next to go," repeated James' voiceover, significantly peppier than he'd sounded in the moment.
He was going through the rack of outfits, muttering, "Too small, too sparkly, too loud," and came across the same bikini previously encountered. The look on his face made it seem like the swimsuit in question was a venomous snake that had jumped out at him. He finally settled on "Too... everything."
Eventually, he came across something he liked. "He-hey!" It was a darkish blue velvet dress, with clingy long sleeves and high collar. He presented it to Ken. "Is this one alright?"
The drag queen nodded pensively. "I'll have to alter it a bit, but yes."
"After which I got made up..." There was footage of James coughing on a cloud of translucent powder. "...and changed."
Cut to the changing room door, with utterances of "Ow. Ow. Ow." Evidently, James was discovering the struggles of having long hair, whilst also having a zipper that does up in back.
"Eventually, I managed to get the dress on properly, and some jewellery, too." Swanworthy then fastened a fine silver filigree necklace around his neck. "And then, the transformation was complete." He walked into the sitting room, looking around "here I am"-ishly.
It was Hammond's turn to laugh this time. "Well, we've joked about you being an old lady, but this is just ridiculous."
James sniffed. "I think I look rather good, actually."
And "rather good" could be applicable. He certainly didn't look like woman, though all the makeup had lent him a bit of a womanesque cast. The outfit itself did seem to age him, although his hair was already turning white, so it didn't matter, really, at all. Although, it wasn't a bad sort of aging. He looked a bit regal, in a somehow casual way, with his powdered face, and floor-length dress that covered everything from wrist to neck.
Hammond, however, disagreed. "Do you."
"Yes, sort of refined. At least I'm not the one in a leather miniskirt."
Richard rolled his eyes. "Funny."
They both looked at Jeremy. "You haven't said a word, mate," remarked Hammond with faux concern. "Something wrong?"
He shrank back, trying to slide out of his chair. "Don't know what you're talking about. Well. This has been a nice addition to our programme, goodbye."
James grabbed his wrist, preventing him from leaving. "Oh, no you don't, y' great shaved ape. We had to get all powdered up and squeeze into dresses and all that, and so will you."
"No, but James," the shaved ape in question protested, "I can't wear one of this man's dresses, I'm too tall."
"Nonsense," countered Ken, swooping in and whisking him away before he could think to object. "I'm sure I can get something to fit."
The door to the walk-in closet slammed shut behind them. James and Richard exchanged glances.
"Well, that's stopped him just standing there and being fatuous to us, at least for a while," remarked James.
"And indeed it had," agreed Jeremy in postproduction. "I was too busy being prodded in the face to do much of anything." Swanworthy was the one looking irritated, if anything, as Clarkson not only flinched, but accidentally-on-purpose dodged his attempts to apply foundation and blush.
"Eventually, despite my best efforts, I was made up, and had to change into the dress."
But the dress was not to be seen. Yet. In the next shot, Hammond and May were still in the sitting room, visibly shaking with laughter.
"Oh, my god," breathed Richard. "This is going to make absolutely amazing television."
"I don't see what you two are laughing about," said Clarkson firmly, arms crossed. "I've just been in touch with m' feminine side."
May tried to respond, but he just dissolved back into helpless wheezing. "Mate, you look like a ship under full sail. And that wig!" Hammond managed.
Jeremy tried not to disturb the pouf of white hair bobby-pinned to his head. "It's distinguished," he insisted. "I would bet actual money that anyone passing by would mistake me for the queen."
He made a very smug face. It contributed to the overall air of ridiculousness you'd expect to get from Jeremy Clarkson in an airy white sundress with the little navy-blue silhouettes of sailboats all over it. The look was ponderous and absurd, while still having a tiny bit of justification for being so self-important, whatever that justification might be. In other words, it was absolutely Jeremy.
"You look about as distinguished and feminine as a sweaty testicle," dismissed the tarted-up hamster with a snort.
"You've smudged your mascara," retorted Clarkson, seemingly out of nowhere.
Hammond studied his reflection in the screen of the sitting room t.v., then frowned. "I have not!"
"Yes you have. You've ruined our stylist's lovely handiwork, look." The bickering faded out, along with the visual, which, if we're honest, was quite the unusual one.
"So that was certainly a something," concluded James, once the applause had quieted down.
"Yes it was," agreed Jeremy. "And today, in the studio, we have the someone responsible for that something. Please welcome: Miss Giulia Evora!"
The camera panned to follow a white-clad figure, walking towards the stage to thunderous applause. Well, the applause was less thunderous, and more quite-strong-clapping-accompanied-by-mild-screaming, but thunderous is an appealing-sounding adjective.
The figure in white made it onto the stage, where it became apparent that it had a somewhat familiar look, which was that of white racing overalls, and a white crash helmet.
The only clearly noticeable differences were the sleek white pumps that had replaced the bulky sneakers, and the only visible skin, which was, in fact, actually rubber, and located in the, er, chestal region. Appropriately enough, the audience tittered.
And then off came the helmet, to reveal another mild surprise. The face underneath was, obviously, quite heavily made up, but the be-stubbled, sandy blond man-face they'd all seem in the film had been, other than basic facial structure, completely replaced by a softened, lovely face, with iridescent highlighter on.
Apparently, makeup brushes had quite a bit more power than most people had reckoned.