The crowds. The pagentry. The Pomp. The Circumstance. The High Heels. The Drag Queen Race.
DC is a lot of things. Uptight. Self-important. Unimaginative. Things that you would equate with cookie-cutter movies about politics and professional life in the U.S. It’s also the opposite of those things sometimes, as if parallel cities exists outside of downtown and the hill, but still very much in the city.
Which brings us to the High Heel Drag Race, an annual event that I never dreamed would exist coming from eastern Pennsylvania. Each year I’ve heard about it and either elected not to attend, or just plain forgot when it is. With a blog like this, it made more sense than ever to see and experience.
First, the crowds. It gets packed, more so than any other neighborhood gathering I’ve done for this blog or worked as a pedicabber or attended as a dude with an empty stomach. People start camping out for space as the work day ends, which is no small feat, when you compare the hours they have to spend waiting to the minute(s) the race actually lasts. THAT is a DC event, if there’s any common thread. The main event is not the main event, its everything leading up to the main event. As of the journey to Woodstock was rewarded by three songs from Crosby, Stills & Nash and nothing more.
Next, it appears to take it self pretty seriously, at least in the ways I’m concerned. They required official press credentials to be at the front of the crowds on the streets. Check that, even if I had been the first one there, I wouldn’t have been able to film unblocked by other onlookers. I was told without proper credentials, I’d have to leave my spot and stand behind some line that wasn’t more fully explained. Essentially, a volunteer kicked me off the route. You can hear the first part f that exchange early on in the video. This made me hate the drag queen race. “You have to be with a newspaper”. Yeah, I’m sure that’s how “press” is defined these days, Mr. Super Volunteer from 1971. Care to explain how BYT got all those photos? Have they started producing a newsstand version?
I left, as a I did the Occupy Freedom Square event, in a bad mood and wondering if the event was worth covering. There were press everywhere. But, after stopping by a friends apartment and getting my own volunteer to hit the street, I scored a couple quick interviews and then found a newspaper vending box to climb upon (symbolism?) to see the race. Which lasted maybe 3 minutes.
Liz, by the way, got interviewed because she bumped into me while I was interviewing the queens. I feel bad that I lost those two by turning away to talk to my new friend. But, Liz is even cuter in person than on film.