By Nick BeJeaux
To help Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, STAR, in their efforts to prevent sexual violence and support survivors, 12 BR men have laced up their ankle straps.
Hunks in Heels started as a STAR fundraising and communities outreach initiative in 2012. Since then, BR’s most notable hunks have strutted their stuff in heels, literally standing in the shoes of women for the crowd’s enjoyment and to gain some perspective.
“This year is going to be the biggest yet,” said Racheal Hebert, STAR’s President and CEO. “We have a very diverse field of contestants; we have people in the restaurant industry, attorneys, people in the healthcare field, and they’re just ready to go. Some of them have their own dances, personal music – some of them have even made up their own song and dance.”
While all of the hunks in promotional photos are wearing the same red, three-inch heels, the shoes they’ll be wearing on the runway in the Varsity Theatre on Oct. 14 are anything but plain.
“Our artists have really upped their game this year as well,” said Hebert. “We have some really amazing shoes. I don’t know how they’re going to wear them, but they look very visually appealing!”
STAR is also being secretive with this particular fundraiser. This year’s audience is, apparently, in for a surprise.
“We have something very special and secret planned this year – but I can’t tell you,” she said.
One of the twelve contestants is Matthew Laborde, a realtor with Beau Box Real Estate and VP of Development with Forum 35. Laborde is currently in third place, having raised $4,069 as of press time, but he has the highest fundraising goal out of all the contestants – $7,000.
“I set my self that goal,” said Laborde. “To be honest I got in a little late. I knew that the previous record had been close to $6,000, so I set it to $7,000. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do as good you can; be the best.”
With his campaign at 58 percent, Laborde hopes that a big push in the final days will put him out in front.
“I’m happy with the progress, and thankful to everyone who gave to the cause; I’m ready to give it a good push in the last two weeks to reach the goal,” he said.
Like some men, Laborde had no experience with walking in heels until being called to do so for a cause.
“It’s easy! It’s so easy; I can’t believe women say it’s so hard,” he said. “But it’s not hard if you only wear them for like a minute. Anything longer than that, and it’s excruciating.”
And though most of the contestants have prepared routines, this 25-year old has another strategy in mind.
“I have no plans,” said Laborde. “It’s going to be incredible, I’m sure it will be over the top. But yeah, we’re just going to have to see.
But Laborde is sure about one thing: why he decided to take up his heels in defense of women.
“[STAR] is a great organization; I adore women and abhor oppression,” he said. “STAR’s work is critical to Baton Rouge becoming a loving and uplifting place to live.”
Other notable contestants include Renal Associates Nurse Chadwick Kenney-Possa (currently in first place), BR Crime Stoppers Coordinator Don Stone (in second), and Metro councilman and club owner John Delgado (in fourth).
STAR is still taking donations in the week leading up to Hunks in Heels 2015 with the hope of reaching its $25,000 goal. Give online at www.brstar.org. General admission tickets currently cost $35 and VIP packages cost $55 and are available www.thevarsitytheatre.com. On October 10, ticket price for both packages will go up by $5. VIP ticket holders will have access to the Pre-Party in the Varsity at 5:30 p.m. Dorr open at 7 p.m. for general admission, and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.