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27th Jul 2013 11:43am | By Ashley Howe
The cream of high-heeled athleticism battle for gold in the stiletto sprint and handbag toss at Amsterdam’s Drag Queen Olympics
The stage is a blur of bright colours, big make-up, stilettos and wigs as I arrive at Amsterdam’s Drag Queen Olympics. A huge crowd has already gathered at the Homomonument – a memorial commemorating all gay men and lesbians who have ever been persecuted – for this Gay Pride event, and the excitement is palpable. The music is loud and the crowd gets bigger still as the clock hands move steadily towards 7pm. Suddenly a roar goes up.
Miss Gimme Moore appears on stage and starts warming up the crowd, followed by an inspiring performance of Barcelona by Miss Didi Licious – her dress gradually inflating until the song reaches a crescendo and she falls over. Meanwhile, at the back of the crowd, the Olympic torch is lit and Jennifer Hopelezz is carried over the heads of the crowd to the stage. The games are officially open.
They're off! The Stiletto Sprint
Amsterdam’s annual Drag Queen Olympics has been hosted and organised every year since 2004, by Jennifer Hopelezz – a hardworking mother with 55 children and counting, so her story goes. “Juggling a busy home life and my work commitments ain’t easy, but I love what I do,” she tells me.
Jennifer Hopelezz is the alter-ego of Richard Keldoulis, an Australian-born expat living in Amsterdam. She adds: “I always think it’s really funny to combine drag with sports or drag with politics.”
I’m here to watch 2012’s shenanigans, and the first event is the stiletto sprint, a ‘high speed’ race over about 100 metres. It sounds so simple, until the obligatory high heels, even for drag kings, are factored in – and some of the entrants are extremely competitive.
Eva Vragen looks like she has been practising hard by the way she takes off. It’s tense, and they really go for it. There is a first aider ready to assist if people fall over, but luckily none of the injuries are serious. There is a podium for the placegetters, first to third, who are awarded rosettes as reward for their achievements.
Contestant Miss Didi Licious says: “My favourite contest has to be the handbag throwing because you get to do a long catwalk on the stage, strutting your thing and throwing your handbag high up in the air and watching it descend into the crowd and listening to everyone scream.”
This is the next event, and one by one contestants hurl a handbag into the crowd as far as it will go. The methods by which the handbag is thrown varies from a hammer throw-style, spinning around in circles and letting it go, or just hurling it underarm. Some of the contestants even accidentally throw it backwards and one of the contestants manages to lob hers on the roof of the burger bar, at the back of the hordes, to the amusement of everyone on stage.