October 25, 2009

We Had A Ball

Saturday night the Damien Center of Indianapolis held their 22nd annual Grande Masquerade, the premier fundraising event for the city’s primary HIV/AIDS support center. I was privileged to be one of many volunteers to help this event run smoothly, and it was great. For two years in a row the Grande Masquerade has been awarded the ISES (International Special Events Society, Indiana Chapter) PACE Award as the “Best Not-for-Profit Event with a Legacy.”

Image courtesy of the Damien Center

Prior to the start of entertainment, a very brief presentation recognized that this year the Grande Masquerade garnered more corporate sponsors and more auction donations than any year in history. This is especially heartening at a time when individual donations are down and funding from state and federal agencies has been severely curtailed. A sobering fact was revealed about Indiana HIV statistics: in the past year, 37% of people with positive test results for HIV were diagnosed with AIDS at the time of the test. This speaks volumes for the need to be tested early. Events like this ball are necessary for the funding to get the word out.

Since I was behind the scenes helping process the registrations and silent auction bids, I didn’t get a chance to watch most of the evening’s entertainment. However, I did get to see the Indy Pride Bag Ladies do their thing. This ragtag band of men in drag danced and lip-synced their way down the center of the room, bold and sassy and full of fun. They have offered their special talents at a number of venues over the years, and I understand that this year they exceeded one million dollars in total lifetime donations towards organizations dealing with AIDS. That is amazing and a wonderful example of how grass roots efforts can have a strong positive effect.

Image courtesy of Indy Pride Photo Guy

The evening ended with a surprise for me. I love any excuse to put on a costume, and this year I had a very special one, with the help of a good friend and excellent seamstress. I gained her assistance in making the iconic “curtain dress” worn by Carol Burnett as Starlet O’Hara in her “Went With the Wind” sketch. The moment that Burnett stepped onstage in that dress is one of the finest entrances in television history.

No one had the costume to rent, so my friend and I made the drapes and hat; I rented the dress and wig. I was a little concerned that the crowd might skew young and not get it, but all through the evening I was asked to pose for photos, alone and with fellow revelers. The real treat came during the costume contest, which—to my amazement—I won. The fact that I won in a room filled with men in extraordinary costumes, glorious wigs and better makeup than I will ever wear was not lost on me at all. I was stunned. The best compliment came as the evening came to a close. An admirer congratulated me and I expressed my astonishment. He said, “Honey, in this room full of gays, tonight you were f***in' Madonna.

So for a brief shining moment, I wasn't Elton John; I was f***in' Madonna. Wow.

Update: Here are the runners up

and some finalists in the contest.


A Lewis said...

So, did you see it? did you, did you? I mean, her Majesty's Royal Ball...did you see it????

bigislandjeepguy said...


Ur-spo said...

I am glad people still give a darn about HIV, not having 'run out of steam' or losing interest.

Java said...

Madonna? It's the wig, dear.

That's a fantastic costume. And you WON!!! You beat out drag queens in fabulous makeup!! Incredible. Congratulations.

the hobbit said...

The Queen of Whispered Wisdom was right. No one had a CHANCE with you in that costume.


PS - did my administration come through for you?

Rox said...

That's awesome! What a fantastic costume idea! High five!

KittyHawk said...

Fantastic, Betty! Way to go on the costume! You have the best blog. I never know what I'll find when I come here.

evilganome said...

Thank you, Birdie. That is one of my all time favorite Carol Burnett episodes! You really were F***in' Madonna!

Patrick said...

Your fabulosity just continues to grow. You look great. And there's nothing like a good curtain rod to create presence. I love that Carol Burnett sketch.

David said...

Ohmigod, that is one of my favorite skits of CB's and you did it proud. What a genius idea and brilliant execution. I am just delighted.

Jeaux said...

Bob Mackie eat your heart out.

You're way prettier than Carol Burnett, I gotta say. But then so is Elton John.

Good times, good cause. What could be better?

Greg said...

You're just amazing. Great costume (obviously!). Sounds like a fun, exciting and important evening.