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Dudus Coke’s Wig and Specs: Undressing a Cross-Dressing Gangster

June 30, 2010

Dudus Coke's mug shot

Chris “Dudus” Coke, notorious “drug lord,” and basically accused mass murderer (leader of the “Shower Posse” gang) was finally taken into custody last week in Kingston, after a several-week manhunt that left almost 100 people dead in Jamaica.  A notable detail of his capture is that Coke was donning a woman’s curly wig when he was brought it for his mug shot.  Apparently another wig – pink – and women’s glasses were also found in his car when he was taken in.

Now his mug shot, which has been released, immortalizes this bad, bad boy in a dainty wig.  The New York Times’ Robert Mackey posted about this confounding notion last week in the Lede: “Jamaicans Ponder Cross-dressing Gangsters.”

Mackey points to a number of Jamaican writers and bloggers, including Kei Miller who, in a Facebook note makes the humorous and articulate point that not only is Dudus a bad-ass dressed like a woman, but it’s actually part of why he’s so bad-ass: “bad man dress however de rass him want to dress. And that’s exactly what makes them de real bad men.”

Though it seems unclear why or how Dudus is wearing a woman’s wig in his mug shot — and I can think of a few different scenarios — I sincerely hope it’s of his own volition.  Mackey suggests that Jamaican police, angry and insecure, having just reeled in their big catch, plopped the wig on Dudus’ head to ridicule him publicly.  They also leaked to the press the fact that they had found a pink wig in his car — not exactly a relevant point to the larger case against him.

But back to the best case scenario (and I say best case I’m talking gender-wise – at this point it doesn’t have much to do with Dudus’ actions as a drug lord or point of cause for countrywide unrest).  Dudus is wearing women’s clothes as the ultimate transgressor.  When your modus operandi is crossing boundaries and disregarding laws and norms, why not gender as well?  The gruesome and violent power he wields is made almost more disturbing by the mind-play he commits with his gender shifting.  He, in many ways, is emblematic of the “ultimate male” — savage, dangerous, powerful, unstoppable.  Then he is caught, in a moment, wearing garb that undermines, or almost amplifies this contrast — a delicate wig and glasses.  The mind spins.

The notion of cross-dressing in particularly transgressive in a society that has, of late, been known to be generally intolerant of LGBTQ culture and such things.  With his granny-style wig and devilish look in his mug shot, Dudus confounds the institution in captivity almost as much as he evaded authorities while on the run.  We in our binary, close-minded ways, snickering that a man so powerful should have a wig so feminine on – it is we who are confused, not him.  Dudus is wielding almost as much power through his transgendering as he was with his drug running.

Now, some were suggesting that Dudus was wigged as a disguise.  One look at his mug shot and it’s virtually impossible to believe so.  If Dudus really wanted to disguise himself, and as a woman no less, he could have done a more stellar job than simple plopping on a wig and some ladies glasses.  If it is true that his disguise – and thus the reason for the delay in his arrest for the past weeks – was a woman’s garb, then this calls into question how much of others’ identity we discern simply from their gender.  That Dudus could walk by a check-point, wig on his head, dress on his back (perhaps), and not tip off a thing suggests that straight up gender, binary or otherwise, is perhaps a more powerful or almost blinding initial identifier for our societies than we’d like to think.

The most interesting thing was not the first, and will likely not be the last, bad man to dress like a girl.  This notion of “cross-dressing gangsters” that Mackey raises stuck with me all weekend and I think warrants more exploration.  Is he the “ultimate bad boy,” that he flouts laws and our good old sensibilities of who should wear what piece of clothing??  Is that actually sort of good?  Or is he making a mockery of it, exploiting gender by feminizing himself in a ridiculous way?

The wig on Dudus’ head, silly as it looks, pales in ridiculousness compared to the absurdity that many individuals live amongst — in societies where drug lords rule the roost and order is inverse.  With the arrest of Dudus Coke let us ponder our own remnant Puritanical notions of gender projection…and let us ponder many of us have a hand in the entrenched chaos of communities under siege of the Drug War.

3 Comments
  1. July 1, 2010 11:02 pm

    I am more inclined to think that his outfit was just a bad disguise–because he was trying to get past the exit point and escape custody (though I am baffled at how careless he seemed to do it even though he managed to evade capture for so long).

    From the points you raised though, I am noticing another relation worth mentioning. He was a drug lord, but the reason he was especially difficult to pin down was because he was the key factor in helping to sustain various communities; he provided food, schools and education, homes etc with the money he made so in this way I would think he was like the mother of the society–because he most helped to nurture it. So was his feminization a conscious decision? Maybe, maybe not.

    But I could just be reading too much into it.

  2. Jessica Mack permalink*
    July 4, 2010 2:48 pm

    I have a hard time believing someone so clever and powerful would don such a dopey disguise. Interesting point about him as nurturer, mother figure. I think that’s right on.

    • July 4, 2010 3:00 pm

      Well, apparently that wasn’t his first disguise–he had been using them to evade capture (and it was only based on a tip that the police found him in the end so they must have been working to some extent). Check out this article at the LA Times–very interesting commentary on the sociological reasons for bad men wanting to dress like women.

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