Look upon any pedestrian crowd, and you’re bound to find any number of women casually going about their business in high heels. Enter any gay venue and surely there will be a drag queen or two floating by on death-defying pumps. Now comes Halloween, and it’s your turn. How hard can it be? Well, the drag queens are professionals and the pump-wearing women often have menstrual cramps and labor pains to contend with, making heels a walk in the park.
”I don’t think I’m ever wearing them long enough to get blisters, but after Miss Adams Morgan this year, my feet were in pain all the next day,” says Nicholas Holcomb, 30, an Adams Morgan resident and New Orleans native, aka Miss Cajun Sparkle. ”That’s pretty common. I’ve learned that heels are very uncomfortable. And the more fabulous the shoe, the more uncomfortable it is.”
Holcomb’s experience is helpful to the novice, as he reckons he’s been wearing pumps since college, but only a couple times per year. In other words, he knows his way around high heels, but he’s no pro.
Perhaps the most useful advice Holcomb imparts is that cushioning inserts may be a drag queen’s best friend.
”Dr. Scholl’s helps tremendously,” he shares. Beyond alleviating some of the attendant pain, the inserts also aid with traction, as a foot wrapped in slinky pantyhose has a way of slipping out of its shoe. That leads to sizing, which is paramount, says Holcomb. A tight shoe won’t slip off as easily, but too tight and distress is sure to follow. A looser shoe won’t pinch, but it may slip off and leave you tumbling.
Once you’ve settled on your shoe, Holcomb urges that the first-time pump wearer walk in a private setting, spying himself — or herself — in a full-length mirror.
”You need to have a good twist of the hips, a good pivot. But you don’t need to overdo it. Don’t walk down the runway.”
And once it’s time to take the dive into the real world, go slow.
”I walk everywhere — quickly — but with pumps, it’s important to take one’s time. When using stairs, make use of the handrail. The steps at Cobalt have been unexpectedly difficult in heels. And a diva is in no rush. She sort of strolls.”
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