Thursday, October 27, 2005

Drag Racin'

Normally I have nothing special to do on a Tuesday night. Especially when I have spent the previous month running all over the eastern seaboard, and barely recognize my own apartment. So when I was presented with an invitation to attend a house party to celebrate Dupont Circle's annual drag races, I was a bit ambivalent to attend. But the need to cultivate meaningful social ties got the better of me, and out I went into the drizzly night.

Now, you must understand something about the drag races -- otherwise known as the High Heel Races. You see, the Dupont area has a rather thriving gay population, and just as it is in Greenwich Village, Halloween is a big friggin' deal. So the Tuesday before October 31 is the day when Dupont's most fabulous drag queens take to the streets in 3-inch minimum heels and sprint, or mince, down 17th Street.

Co-worker Seth was intending to run in his second race in a row. Mr. Seth is not himself, a member of DC's illustrious gay population, but he is evidently secure enough in his own masculinity to pretend for an evening. I was under the impression that others at the house party would be bringing their own fabulous attire, so I brought along one of my wigs (yes, I have more than one) and suitably sparkly makeup and a tiny shirt so I, too, could be festive.

Alas, there was not a large contingent of dressed-up revelers when I arrived, but a blue wig is a terrible thing to waste. So I donned it anyhow, and had makeup maven Cassandra go to town with the blue and green eye shadow. She offered her cosmetic services to other partygoers -- including Alex Angert, a young man who I was rather friendly with in the geek clique at high school and unexpectedly showed up as a friend of a friend. Alex, I'm proud to say, accepted a touch of blue glitter after some gentle prodding, but there weren't many takers. Buncha squares, these young DC wonks.

But glory was to be mine, because since I was the only other person decked out and in the spirit of things, Seth, now sporting a pink bobbed wig and a tasteful strapless number, asked me to be his escort to the race. My job was to hold a hot pink umbrella above him while he paraded with the other participants prior to the race, and depending on the level of precipitation, during it as well. A kept girl, if you will. So we pushed through the throng, and joined about 100 other drag queens on the streets.

Some of these gals clearly had prepared very well. There were folks in ball gowns, some in nicely tailored Lady Diana suits, and, inexplicably, a few dressed like a dragged-up Terrell Owens. Others, like ourselves, were rank amateurs. I was not wearing heels, but thought that my pink and purple galoshes were fly enough given the wet weather.

We intended to stroll the length of the race, as we were by no means among the more serious competitors, but this was not to be. Despite our best efforts to stay in the back of the pack, there were a fair amount of angry queens behind us who wanted to race, dammit. One directly behind us was dressed as the Washington Monument. While being pursued by a large phallus may have been exciting to some of our fellow runners, we were rather scared. So sprint we did. Seth ran ahead in his pumps, and I trailed holding the pink umbrella aloft, feeling rather chivalrous.

We by no means won the race. That honor went to a runner dressed as a nun, who hurried out of the rain to claim her prize -- a bar tab at J.R.'s saloon. We were glad to retreat to the warm house and the cold keg just down the block, to celebrate a night well executed.