thirsty thursday

PHOTOS: Check out Valentine’s Day streakers at Cupid’s Undie Run

A cupid leading the run

The sun was beaming down on the beachside city of Santa Monica as a man clad in polka-dot bikini briefs and cupid wings jogged down Olympic Blvd. This real-life cherub was trailed by a diverse pack of runners donning heart-printed boxer shorts, red laced lingerie, and technicolor luau skirts. As they ambled past, a man in a Spider-Man costume crotched on a fire hydrant, holding up a sign reading “Smile If You Are Not Wearing Pants.” Cupid’s Undie Run had returned to Los Angeles, or as a passerby quipped, “Just a normal day in Santa Monica.”

A cupid in a bikini brief

For those unfamiliar with this skivvie-centric event, Cupid’s Undie Run is an annual fundraiser hosted in nearly every major city across the country, including Austin, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The afternoon consisted of participants jogging several laps around the block in their choice of eccentric attire, some more revealing than others, followed by a dance party at the nearby Buffalo Club. Despite the levity of the day, its purpose is to combat a serious illness. Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on areas of the nervous system, including the brain and spine.

Mason at Cupid's Undie Run
Mason ULves, event director for Cupid’s on the Run Los Angeles.

“It’s just such a tragic condition, unfortunately,” explained Mason Ulves, events direct of Cupid’s Undie Run Los Angeles. “It affects everyone’s lives differently. Everyone’s body reacts to the condition in unique ways. Some people have been fortunate to have very minor symptoms. Other people, they’ve gone blind or lost their ability to walk. Even death is an outcome. So it’s a very tragic and unpredictable disease, which makes it very hard to treat, or even mitigate it. And there’s even no cure for this condition yet.”

Woman holding an NF picture

For Mason, this issue is personal. When he was 10, he was diagnosed with NF, based on his cafe-au-lait spots. These dark brown birthmarks act as indicators for genetic conditions such as NF. Although Mason was diagnosed as a child, others don’t find out until they are well into adulthood.

“There are unique perspectives when people find out at different states of their life,” Mason reflected. “People sometimes get diagnosed when they’re a kid, really only a baby, and they grow up their whole life knowing they have this, which is one thing. And then like myself, where I was 10, I was old enough to process and question, ‘Why me?” And some people who are adults in their late 40s get diagnosed. “And that’s like, ‘oh my gosh, I have lived 40 years of my life. “

Avengers West Coast
The Avengers West Coast.

The festive nature of Cupid’s Undie Run not only combats NF, but also serves to balance the disease’s severity with an infusion of joy. And the runners weren’t the only heroes sporting their underwear on the outside at this event. This year, the fundraiser was assisted by Avengers West Coast, a volunteer cosplay group that participates in charity events. Their good deeds span from visiting sick kids in the hospital to walking with the Children’s Tumor Foundation in Long Beach. For their director Jennifer Athey, Santa Monica was the ideal venue for this year’s run.

Jennifer Athey, director of avengers West Coast.
Jennifer Athey, director of avengers West Coast.

“It’s an area that wouldn’t even blink twice about superheroes and people in their underwear standing on the street, running down, and turning the corner,” said Jennifer. “It’s just a fun place to have an event like this.”

Spider-Man at Cupid's Undie Run

For those of you who missed out on Cupid’s Undie Run this weekend, we snatched some of our favorite moments for you.

Photography by Mike Ciriaco

2 male runners in trunk-briefs
Deadpool cosplayer at Cupids Undie Run.
A runner in plaid boxers and bow tie.
A female runner and male runner in briefs.
A hula dancer and dinosaur.
A runner in a top hat leading the pack.
SOme runners getting a head start on St PAtrick Day
A runner in bootie shorts.
A runner in a candy costume.
2 female runners
A female runner sporting St Patrick's day gear.
a Cupids Undie Runner in white.
A runner striking a pose.
A Cupid's Undie Run participant in lingerie.
Nate aka Tater flexing his biceps at the Cupid's Undie Run after party.
Nate aka Tater flexing his biceps at the Cupid’s Undie Run after party.

Your support makes our travel guides possible

We believe that LGBTQ+ people deserve safe vacations that allow them to be their authentic selves. That's why our City Guides aren't locked behind a paywall. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Related Articles

pride playgrounds

Clothes optional: How adult LGBTQ+ summer camps bring a modern twist to a hot weather tradition

rhythm of the rainbow

Long Beach Pride was a celebration of music. This is what it looked like.

statewide celebration

5 ways to rejoice in a summer of Pride in Illinois

Latest Articles on GayCities

Pride in Places

This revolutionary gay bookstore was held together by “all the wiretaps the FBI ran through it”

summer lovin'

6 hidden gems for LGBTQ+ travelers who want a beach getaway

pride with perks

6 hotel Pride packages that’ll have you celebrating in style

down in dc

Go wild in the US capital at these popular gay bars

Pride in Places

How Andy Warhol’s legacy inspired a creative sanctuary for queer youth

fem feast

Shhh! Peek inside this secret dinner in Puerto Vallarta

bear brotherhood

Redditors share the best gay bear events in Europe this summer

motors music and margs

Maya Mania is bringing an all-LGBTQ+ mariachi band to Long Beach Pride

she's got soul

Mexico City’s only soul food restaurant serves a taste of home for ex-pats & LGBTQ+ people

Pride in Places

Gianni Versace’s favorite gay bar is reinventing itself after 36 years

fun for everyone

4 amazing ways to get the most out of Orlando pride this summer

the afterparty

Eurovision may be “gay Christmas,” but the big queer party was definitely hot