Dozens of dolled-up men donning make-up and dresses strutted down 17th Street in Dupont Circle Tuesday night, marking the 25th annual High Heel Race.
Thousands of spectators lined up for the event, as participants dressed as Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry, Tina Turner or their own creations began parading through the street with swagger at 9 p.m.
One first-time participant decked out in a long, gold glitter gown with a slit down its left side identified herself as Bonquisah Herifa Latifa Sherifa Jackson for the night.
“We actually suck in heels, so hope I don’t fall,” Jackson said, sporting gold pumps.
The race takes place just before Halloween every year. As early as 6:30 p.m., drag queens walked down 17th Street, striking poses for hundreds of flashing cameras.
Spectators cheered as each extravagantly dressed man joined the parade.
Armando Valentino, 30, paired a short, platinum blonde wig with shiny black leggings, pink heels, a silver shirt and – to top off his Lady Gaga look – a hot pink shawl as a headdress.
Valentino and Eddy Smith, 31, parading as Tina Turner, said they are experienced with heels and have cross-dressed previously, but this year’s High Heel Race was their first.
“It’s a fun, friendly atmosphere. The people are really nice and it’s very diverse,” Valentino said.
The pair said they spent hours primping before the event. To Smith, shaving his legs was the longest ordeal.
“It took about two hours. I’m not usually this hairless,” Smith said, pointing to his calves. He said he shaved all the way up to his knees for the event.
Smith said he would trot – not run – down the street.
Freshman Katharine Bohrs said the race began so quickly, she didn’t even know it started.
“I heard someone shout, ‘They’re coming,’ and everyone immediately ran into the street,” she said. “Some of the drag queens tried to finish the race, but most of them stopped to take more pictures.”