A few brave men will don platform stiletto high heels Wednesday and attempt to walk without spraining an ankle — just like some women do every day.
The Hunks in Heels show, benefitting the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) organization, recruits a few community leaders to strut in elaborate, local artist-designed heels. This year’s event starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Varsity at 3353 Highland Road.
Some of these shoes are intimidating even to women.
“I don’t know how these guys are going to walk in these shoes,” said Racheal Hebert, president and CEO of STAR, mentioning how some men will wear six-inch heels. “I’m a little concerned about the safety of the men in these shoes.”
Heels designed for this year’s show reflect the hunks who will wear them. Jim Urdiales, owner of the Cajun-Mexican fusion restaurant Mestizo, will wear shoes decorated with a shot glass for tequila and a lime. Ray vanMerrienboer, owner of Red Zeppelin Pizza, will slip into pizza slice heels.
Artist Raina Wirta designed heels with foam and lights to create a shooting star effect for Lt. Don Stone, of Greater Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers. They match the costume he plans to wear, Wirta said, and his motorcycle inspired them.
“The lieutenant’s got really nice calves, so we put him in a good pair of heels to show them off,” Wirta said.
Wirta, the executive director of the nonprofit arts organization Elevator Projects, created her ephemeral art project to last only one night.
Last year, STAR tried to auction the heels, but after a night of runway modeling and dancing, they weren’t the same works of art they were in the beginning.
“It’s for the runway, it’s for the show,” Wirta said. “It’s for that experience. The materials I used, it’s not like stone and wood. It’s foam and hot glue and things like that.”
Hunks in Heels grew out of a nationwide event called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, which encouraged men to wear women’s heels and walk an actual mile. STAR organized the event in Baton Rouge for a few years. In 2013, they created Hunks in Heels, a pre-party event that featured well known men strutting their stuff in heels. It was so popular that STAR shifted its focus to the Hunks event and has ceased sponsoring the walk.
Hebert admits that the hunks were bashful at first.
“Men were just completely skittish and afraid,” she said. “Once they saw how much the actual hunks on stage had so much fun and were really engaging in it, this was the first year hunks actually called us and said, ‘I want to do it this year.’”
While light-hearted and fun, Hunks in Heels sends the serious message to the community, Hebert said, that “women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and that men have a really important role in helping us prevent and intervene in sexual assault.”