By Nick BeJeaux
Several handsome men are slated to saunter around in heels Oct. 16 at the Hartley Theatre for a cause more important than your entertainment – it’s to help put a stop to sexual assault in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and everywhere.
“The whole idea behind Hunks in Heels is to have the community take ownership of the issue of sexual assault in a fun, accessible way,” said Racheal Hebert, executive director of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response. “It can be very hard to talk about this issue in a lighthearted way.”
This year, 13 businessmen – the Hunks – will strut their stuff in six-inch heels designed by local artists. Among them are Ryan Chenevert of Fletcher and Roy; Kenneth Miles, the Assistant Vice Chancellor & Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center at LSU; Ruffin Rodrigue, owner of Ruffino’s restaurant; and James Fox-Smith, Publisher of Country Roads Magazine.
“You might be shocked to learn that I have yet to learn to walk in heels,” said Fox-Smith. “My kids want me to practice so I can dance with them in my heels, but I have yet to get my shoes from the designer.”
Fox-Smith is looking forward to having fun with the contest, but has very serious and personal reasons for drawing attention to the discussion of sexual assault.
“When I was asked to participate in this, it reminded me of when me and my wife were backpackers – this was before we were married – and spending time in the Austrian Alps,” he said. “We were there for Fasching, which is like Mardi Gras for Germans, Austrians and the Swiss, and like here the tradition is to go to parties dressed like someone from the opposite sex.”
Fox-Smith went to a party dressed as a Tyrolean milk maid – complete with a blue gingham off-the-shoulder dress, pigtails, apron, and cowbell.
“Now, if you were, say, Wolfgang, the swarthy, mustachioed, salt-of-the-earth Tyrolean lad who worked as a porter at the hotel, you could go around dressed up as a woman without fear of confusion,” he wrote in his monthly column, Reflections. “My problem was that, being somewhat slight of build and having long hair at the time, when I dressed up like a woman, I was simply mistaken for a woman.”
Fox-Smith was forced into a corner by a very drunk and apparently short sighted Dutchman with salacious intentions. The Dutchman was just as appalled as Fox-Smith was when he realized the mistake, but the experience was enough to keep Fox-Smith away from wearing anything remotely feminine ever since – until now.
“Just like the fundraiser, that experience on the surface seems pretty funny, but it points to a very serious issue,” he said in an interview with DIG. “As a husband, a son, and a father to daughter, I am completely on board with stopping abuse like that and anyone who is any of those things should be as well.”
Before the pageant on Oct. 16, each of the Hunks has been hard at work fundraising for STAR, so far collectively raising just over $14,000. The Hunk that raises the most money will be named STAR’s hottest hunk for 2014. Fox-Smith was in the lead, but Rodrigue has recently jumped ahead with $2,825.
To donate to your favorite hunks campaign or ticket, for more information on Hunks in Heels, visit www.brstar.org.