World Aids Day: LA Style

January 12, 2011
by Cindye Friedman, RESULTS LA volunteer

When RESULTS encouraged all the chapters to hold outreach events for World AIDS Day, it quickly became apparent to the Los Angeles chapter that it needed to be a party. As says: “World AIDS Day is . . . a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories. . . .” And “celebrate” was exactly what we intended to do. We also intended to make a little money for the annual RESULTS Friends and Family fundraiser.

Luckily, one of our members, Michael, works at a local institution in West Hollywood called Trunks, a dive bar. But a dive bar that’s very generous when it comes to worthy causes as well. We received use of the bar, beer, balloons, raffle tickets and raffle prizes at no cost!

In keeping with the spirit of fun, I asked my very dear friend Phil, aka Phyliss Navidad, to be the Mistress of Ceremony for the evening. Not only did he agree, but he also delivered: Miss BarbieQ. If you haven’t figured it out, Phyliss and BarbieQ are two amazing, local Drag Queens.

Michael had a connection with a local company that brought “photo booths” to locations that allowed people to throw on wigs, glasses, gloves, and hats and act silly in front of the camera. They would photograph you moving in rapid succession and then play it back to you for giggles. They agreed to participate.

Early in the year, we established a relationship with AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Their corporate office is located here in Hollywood. They offered up their mobile testing unit, and agreed to send people to table on behalf of Aids Education.

So, we have location, hostesses/entertainment, booze, decorations, testing van . . . time to promote!

Lillian, our newest group member, works for a printing company. She’s been great with making posters for our weekly tabling at Marianne’s lectures. She volunteered to make the flyers and additional posters for the event. With the help of one of her graphic artists, we soon had a fantastic flyer that one side promoted the event, and on the other side asked for donations. Genius!

With the flyers done, it was time to get some prizes! Lillian was fast out of the gate with a $250 gift basket from Victoria Principal’s skin care line. She then nabbed five rather expensive Men’s grooming kits from Seki Edge, and a free hair cut from her stylist, at Tamara Dahill Salon.

Our own Amanda Bauman offered up a free personal training session, and the most famous of our bunch, Suzanne Whang, donated her comedy DVD and book. I got on the phone and called everyone I knew that I thought could help and low and behold received: $100 gift card from Koi Restarant, $75 gift card to Whisper Lounge, a facial from Epitome Salon, beauty products by Oshune skincare, four tickets to the Mullin Automotive Museum, one private yoga session with Yogi Dana, a private pole dancing lesson with Aphrodite Strip-n-Pole, and unbelievable dog toys from Mammoth Pet Products. We were on fire!

Rain came up with a donation from a music management company of Aerosmith and Def Leopard concert shirts. Michael jumped in with gift cards from Itunes, tickets to the Pasadena Playhouse, and a weekend at Le Parc Suite hotel. And Erin got amazing gift baskets from Green Line Beauty Supply and Evolue Beauty Suppy (both eco-conscious products).

All in all we had well over $2,000 worth of prizes donated.

We promoted the event on Facebook and through email. We also handed out our flyers at Marianne’s lectures and had the opportunity to address the auditorium on a couple occasions. Our talent (Phyliss & BarbieQ) used their extensive mailing lists, and AHF sent out email blasts. We were also lucky to catch the attention of a Mito Aviles, who was campaigning for West Hollywood City Council, and happily invited his supporters, as well as got us into a article on “what to do” in Los Angeles for that date.

As the night of the 30 arrived, we really didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone show up? Our crew, along with a few other RESULTS supporters (Dave, Dave, and Max) were determined to have a good time either way. We knew that we did the work and that the “results” were out of our hands. Much to our delight the bar began to fill up, the raffle tickets were being bought, the testing van was testing, the photo booth was flashing, the drag queens were lip syncing, the beer was flowing, the prizes were being won, RESULTS was being introduced to the community, and World Aids Day was being honored.

We made almost $1,200 that night and donated half to AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the other half to RESULTS. We were very pleased! But later that night, we learned that the AHF van tested about 6 people, and one person tested positive for HIV. I can’t help but to think what that person must be going through. My heart goes out to him/her. It just goes to show that the work isn’t done. Education is essential. Access to medicine is crucial. And what we (RESULTS) do can make a difference.

May you all have a very happy New Year!

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