October 20, 2017 at 5:54 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Donning heels
High Heel Race, gay news, Washington Blade

Stacy King as Catwoman. (Photo courtesy King)

17th Street High Heel Race
Tuesday, Oct. 24
Parade at 7 p.m.; race at 9
17th and R-JR.’s
Register at Cobalt

Some folks get so excited about the annual 17th Street High Heel Race, they start planning their costumes as soon as the race is over each year.

That’s the way it is for Stacy King, a local stylist who does drag on occasion as Carolina Sugabush.

“Pretty much as soon as it’s done, the next day I start thinking about what I want to do the next year,” the 43-year-old, longtime D.C. resident says. “I kind of, you know, look throughout the year and then something will just call to me.”

This year’s race, the 31st annual, is Tuesday, Oct. 24 (it’s always the Tuesday before Halloween) from 7-9 p.m. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ba’Naka and Ruby Corado are this year’s grand marshals. To volunteer, go to JR.’s at 6:30 p.m. for a volunteer shirt and instructions. Look for the event on Facebook for full details.

Last year about 150 raced. Thousands come each year to watch but just as popular, though, are people who come in creative drag just to see and be seen.

Whatever’s going on in news and pop culture is invariably reflected in each year’s getups. Last year Kim Davis was a big one. This year, expect everyone from Wonder Woman to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

This is King’s fourth year going in drag though he attended several years previously as a spectator. He’s going as Mystique from “X-Men” this year and has gone as Jessica Rabbit and Catwoman in previous years.

King generally spends anywhere from $150-300 on his costume and though he mostly only wears it once, he says it’s still “totally worth it.”

The creativity involved — these are never just off-the-rack costumes from a Halloween shop — is a big part of the fun.

“They call to you from the crowd, the recognize the character, tons of people want pictures with you,” he says. “It’s validating and I like pleasing the crowd. … Every year, I’m not joking, it takes an hour to get through the crowd after it’s over just because so many people want photos. I’m always with my group of friends. … It’s insane.”

Rene Mejia performs as Kabuki B. Lee, a drag daughter of local drag legend Shi-Queeta-Lee. He works the drag brunch at Nellie’s every weekend and also performs at other events with Shi-Queeta. The first time he ever went out in drag was to the High Heel Race in 2012.

When Mejia spoke to the Blade (a sponsor of this year’s race) earlier this week, he and his drag pals were still deciding what their theme was going to be. He says they’re such pros, they can crank out a concept quickly.

“I have a couple sewing machines and some of the girls are pretty talented,” the 37-year-old Suitland, Md., resident says. “They can whip something up pretty fast and it will be awesome.”

In previous years, he’s gone as Betty Boop, the bride from “Kill Bill,” Amy Winehouse and Harley Quinn.

“It’s a fun platform for everyone who wants to say something either politically, socially or whatever, with a lot of humor and creativity,” Mejia says. “People really do put a lot of thought into it. It’s impressive. This is coming from someone who works in drag on the weekends. It’s really astonishing what some of them do.”

Stacy King as Jessica Rabbit. (Photo courtesy of King)

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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