Running with the gays: A reporter gets fitted with a pair of very sensible heels

Somehow, the joke snowballed out of control. We were in a meeting, talking about Art from Ashes' "Running of the Gays," a hilarious transsexual charity event to benefit The Center's Rainbow Alley, and I said I would go to report on it. "Shit," I cracked, "I might even run in it." I had no intention, of course, of actually doing that.

And yet... and yet somehow I found myself at Studio Lites on South Broadway this afternoon, getting fitted with size 13 heels and a pair of lacy hose, and thinking I haven't had a job this weird since the time I sold speakers out of the back of a van.

But let me get this out of the way up front: I'm not gay (except when I'm out of town... or, I shouldn't have said that). Also, I'm pretty much manly as hell. I don't eat food unless there's meat in it, I've never listened to any song but Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and I have a mustache that will beat you at arm-wrestling just for looking at it wrong. And like all truly manly men, when there's a challenge, I rise to it. For God. For country.

That's why I'm going to run three blocks in heels and sexy, sexy hose this Sunday.

First thing was to get a set of heels, since I don't have any. So I called up Rick Smith, co-owner of Studio Lites at 333 Broadway, a store that's been delivering for men who need really big heels for some 25 years now, as well as outfitting folks for Halloween and providing wigs to chemotherapy patients and, um, whatever other kind of people wear wigs. "We also do makeovers," he pointed out. Rick was kind enough to agree to loan me a pair, since I most likely won't be wearing them again (you won't either, by the way -- he'll be putting the pair I'm wearing on a mannequin), although... you never know. Rick brought up a selection for me that included a nice set of straightforward pumps, a stilleto-sandal-type of affair with faux fur on it (which seemed a little gaudy to me) and -- my favorite -- a pair of blinging-ass gold ones with straps on them. It was at that point that I discovered that women are badasses, because wearing heels is shockingly uncomfortable -- I could hardly stand in the gold ones. "You have to stand on your toe," Rick warned, before I nearly broke that pair trying to clumsily stumble around in them. Then he took them away from me.

"Try these," he said. "They're much more comfortable."

So I went with the sensible black ones and headed back to the office, where I was immediately obliged to model them, and everybody speculated as to whether the Running of the Gays would involve running with the gays or running away from the gays. "It's like Pamplona," offered our intern Jonathan Easley. "You're trying not to get horned in the ass." Also at issue was my awkward gait, and whether that would involve me breaking my ankle trying to run three blocks in them.

Will I get seriously injured? Will I get horned in the ass? Will you be able to tear your eyes away from the way from my stunningly attractive legs? The only way to find out is to show up on Sunday at Steuben's (523 East 17th Avenue) and run with us to JR's three blocks away. Feeling as adventurous (and manly) as I am? You can register to run it here.

Whatever happens, there's no doubt that the sight of a man in heels made staff writer Joel Warner a little wistful: "You know," he remarked, somewhat mysteriously, "it's been a while since I've worn heels."

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte