A large crowd watches approximately 50 drag queens in high heels race a gruelling 1km around the back streets of Soho in the second annual Soho Drag Race, raising funds for the charity for young, homeless LGBT people, the Albert Kennedy Trust.
The Albert Kennedy Trust works with 16-25 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people who are homeless or live in a hostile environment. The Soho race is sponsored and hosted by the well-known Admiral Duncan pub in Old Compton St and a temporary stage was erected outside it for the event, which was hosted by entertainer Candy Slag In Drag and Coronation Street star Charlie Condou. As well as the race, there were a number of cabaret acts performing on the stage, including Baga Chipz, Vicki Vivacious, Mrs Moore, Bette Rinse, Rose Garden, Mandy Gap and Tanya Hyde, though I left before most of them had appeared. Among those expected to take part in the race were well-known Drag Queens including Stephanie Von Clitz and Frankie Fantastique, though I have to admit not being able to recognise them.
Candy Slag in Drag has a reputation as one of the sharpest tongues around, and she certainly lived up to her reputation as she introduced the race and commented on some of those taking part, including Mrs Moore who entertained the crowd before the start of the race.
The race was hotly contested by at least some of the competitors, although others took it rather easily, and some found the going too tough; one pulled off her high pink heels after the first 200 metres and finished the race barefoot. As well as wearing heels (or running as a three-legged team), those taking part have to raise at least £50 for the AKT, the cost of keeping one of the 500 young people supported by the trust off the streets for a weekend.
After the race, while we were waiting for Charlie Condou to arrive and present the prizes, Rose Garden, from Northern Ireland, gave a spell-binding performance, aided at one point by one of the contestants who had come dressed in a Pussy Riot based outfit and joined in on stage with air guitar.
The winner was Latvian-born Olegs Pushkus (aka Barbara), with Murilo Sanchez in second place, and Miss Mince Meat third, and there was also a prize for the person raising the most sponsorship - won by a runner from Maidenhead, who I think had personally raised around the total amount made by last year's race - the first in what is intended to be an annual event. This year the race attracted more entrants, a bigger crowd and made much more for a worthwhile charity.