Is that Wonder Woman skiing down Aspen Mountain? Four buff men in nothing but their tighty-whities? And women in swimwear and furry hats trailing a rainbow flag?
Too right it is and that’s because it’s the Downhill Costume Contest, a highlight of Gay Ski Week in the pretty – and pretty loaded – Colorado town of Aspen, an hour’s flight from Denver. And when I say pretty loaded, it’s also known as Billionaire Mountain.
It’s here in the celeb-heavy town that, since 1977 – when men weren’t even allowed to dance together publicly in Colorado – the LGBT+ community has flocked with skis, snowboots and whole trunks of costumes to ski and party, rinse and repeat and maybe lobby for more liberal laws while they were at it.
‘Oh, I never actually ski,’ says Joe, a celebrity jeweller in a floor-length fur coat, as if skiing was something horrific, over rooftop drinks with that mountain as a backdrop. ‘I just come for the parties.’
He’s flanked by Cassandra, the skiing Wonder Woman – an actress, burlesque star and Jessica Rabbit lookalike.
The parties in question are mostly at the vaguely Alpine-chalet-looking W Hotel, HQ for most of the Gay Ski Week activities (rooms from an eye-watering £933pn, marriott.com).
It’s where go-go boys roll down their ski suits and dance half-naked in the snow by the hot tub and where all kinds of RuPaul’s Drag Race stars drop by to lay on the cabaret or maybe a drag queen bingo session.
For a quieter time, head to the wine bar at The Little Nell, a beautiful heritage American hotel just over the road, where even they put on some Aspen Gay Ski Week drinks, fancy as they are (thelittlenell.com).
Or you can do full apres-ski at Limelight, where everyone heads straight off the pistes (limelighthotels.com).
Then there’s the big $185/£150-a-ticket Top Of The Mountain party on Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax, in the ski-lodge/country club, an 18-minute gondola ride up. At least you can play your own tunes in the gondolas.
Oh, and there’s the $175/£142 Pool Party at the municipal swimming baths, where Tito’s vodka is flowing and the trunks are microscopic, to close the week down. There’s even a service about ‘inclusivity’ at the Aspen Chapel, but you can’t really call that a party.
But let’s not forget the actual, you know, skiing. Because this is, after all, one of America’s premier ski locations: a picturesque town – a real one, not a made-up resort.
It has Aspen Mountain right in the middle of it (so you can walk to the gondolas from Little Nell and the W), Highlands at 12,500ft, Snowmass with its 90 ski trails, and Buttermilk, which has such good pistes for absolute beginners that if you put the work in, you can make it all the way down the mountain on your very first day.
That’s how safe and, even during Gay Ski Week, underpopulated (compared to European resorts) it is. Just you and picturesque views of mountains.
‘I’ll take you down, if you like,’ says handsome gay Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy over a carb-heavy lunch at the top of Buttermilk, which is nice of him. But I’ve had a couple of pinot noirs to steady my nerves and have only just mastered the snowplow – the most basic way to slow down – soI wouldn’t put him through that.
Maybe I’ll see him at the apres-ski. Or the Top Of The Mountain party. Or in some of those microscopic swimming trunks, if the stars align. Wish me luck!
Other gay ski weeks worldwide
Arosa Gay Ski Week, Switzerland
Sounds quite upmarket with classical concerts, ice-skating and group sunbathing sessions as well as your apres-ski and discos.
Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, Canada
Why have a ski week when you can have a ski festival? Discover a Pride parade on skis, night walks through forests and a mass spa evening.
European Snow Pride, France
Taking over Tignes for a week’s worth of skiing, cocktails, boat and pool parties, drag shows and an actual Pride event.