It is widely known yet not widely accepted that the more one tries to suppress a quality within himself, the more it comes out in obscene and sinister ways. For little John Edgar Hoover, the desire to dress in women’s clothing, his only release in a cruel world that didn’t understand the importance of compartmentalizing freakdom at home and normalcy in the streets, was to don these lavish feminine cottons and silks that could cool both his body and mind. He could never share his dark secret with the world, of course. It would compromise all the integrity he had worked to build up over the trajectory of his thirty-eight year involvement with the Bureau, the very institution–in its modern incarnation (modern being 1935)–that he clawed his way to the top to form. Ah, if only he had the kind of time it took to also add claws (read: acrylics) to his behind-closed-doors look. But that would take far too much effort, lose too many hours in an already extremely busy schedule of spying and subterfuge.
So it was that he had to content himself with smaller, more facile pleasures with which to complete his undercover femme aesthetic. And what better way to do so than by donning the very epitome of innocence and girlishness?–Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. Fortunately, by the time the instantly iconic movie from which the footwear hailed was released in 1939, Hoover was already adeptly ascending the power ladder in such a way as to get MGM to loan him one of the only five pairs in circulation for a White House ball in honor of Roosevelt. One that Eleanor couldn’t give less of a fuck about helping to organize, much to Hoover’s dismay. She wasn’t ladylike at all, and certain reports that had been coming back to him of late seemed to very clearly indicate that she was ardent about but one thing in and out of the White House: pussy. Hoover would let that slide, for now. Until the time came and he needed something from her. Like advice on how to dress more masculinely (which, truth be told, Hoover could have used). In the meantime, he would make himself a favorite of Roosevelt’s by wowing the attendees with the presence of the rare and precious slippers, give the politicos on Capitol Hill a little razzle dazzle, a little taste of the Hollywood glamor they claimed to despise. Hoover himself would be specifically entrusted with the safe transport and return of the precious cargo. But not before he himself got a chance to try them on, to execute the very thing he had sought to do in seeking so diligently to procure them in the first place. And it was just as glorious as he imagined it to be, slippin into them soft, loafer-like heels.
In the privacy of his D.C. fortress, he really did feel like there was no place like home in his light blue frock and Dorothy’s red keys to the way back to where she came from. Suddenly, however, he realized he was increasingly less inclined to go back to where he was from, to his starting point of masculinity, that is. It was amid this terrifying revelation that Hoover abruptly stepped out of the slippers and immediately prepared them for their return to the studio. He would have to put them–and this incident–out of his mind entirely in order to carry on with some semblance of emanating machismo (or at least he believed that’s what he was projecting). After that night, he put the slippers, as well as thoughts of cross-dressing out of his mind for quite some time, so entangled in the monitoring of the mafia and the Nazis and the communists as he became over the next few decades. But around the time that Lyndon Johnson took office, Hoover began to “relax” a little, unwind in his own way. Tolson, steadfastly at his side, was the one who made mention of the slippers one evening when they had taken once more to Hotel Del Charro in La Jolla. He off-handedly made a remark that the thirty year anniversary would be coming up soon and that maybe it was time to call in the same favor once more: to borrow the slippers for an event. The only problem was, the only copies in existence had been disseminated to various private owners at this point, the studio being so careless as it was with keeping track of where props went at a time when they failed to realize how much of a commodity this memorabilia would be later. Only costumer Kent Warner seemed to comprehend the value, hoarding four of the five available pairs at one point before selling one of them for $2,500 and coasting off the small fortune. It was, ironically, this very pair that would be stolen by Hoover’s spirit from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. Because he suppressed what he had wanted to do in life, which is what it all goes back to in this strange and often supernatural tale. He had not heeded Tolson’s advice to simply find an excuse to wear them at least one last time, or shit, even shamelessly offer up a bid that would allow him to keep them. It’s not like everyone didn’t already know he was a fagola anyway. So Tolson reasoned, resulting in one of their more impassioned fights leading to one of their more ideal make up sex sessions, with Hoover in the receiving role, obviously (you know how it is, empowered men love to take it up the ass when the curtains are drawn). Tolson’s urging, alas, fell on deaf, soon, dead ears, with Hoover exiting left (or would it be right, in this case?) permanently from Washington D.C. in 1972, not even given the satisfaction of seeing old Tricky Dick being impeached for the very thing that Hoover got away with for almost forty years unchecked. It just goes to show, the twentieth century was far more conducive to forcing the truly adroit G-man to be discreet thanks to how scandalous essentially every act was during this epoch in America (homosexuality, now, instead is preferred it would appear, makes a politician seem less white somehow).
But even more unsatisfying than not being able to see Nixon disgraced was that he never got to try on those slippers once more. To feel the sparkle and shine of their look on his well-pedicured feet. It bothered him for decades after his death, making the pleasure of haunting the heirs of certain mafia dons that fucked him over feel hollow. It got to the point where, finally, he could resist no more. He had to have those slippers, even if it meant being bumped down to a lower level of hell. Fuck it, at least he would look and feel his best–consequences, as usual, be damned.
So for thirteen years he roamed Hades in the slippers, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and hoping that somehow the message of the song would reach Tolson up in heaven. To no avail. They were lovers divided by societal judgment in life and lovers divided by geography in death. There was no point to wearing the slippers anymore if Tolson couldn’t somehow know that he was living out the dream at last.
So sure, the FBI “found” the ruby red slippers thirteen years after their disappearance from the Judy Garland Museum, but it was only because Hoover had finally surrendered them from the great beyond. Had decided that he no longer needed this pièce de résistance of cross-dressing at its most unbridled. That if he was going to do the whole wearing of women’s garb thing now, he would be better off nicking Cardi B’s ruby red stilettos instead. Hoover was still, after all, a celebrity hanger-on at his core. Rigor mortis or not, it was how he sought to achieve relevancy.