Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009 | 3:37 p.m.
Lately, the Vegas Valley weather patterns have been about as predictable as a Tim Wakefield knuckler: The day after record 110-degree temperatures preyed upon Las Vegas, a charity pool party was hauled inside for storm warnings. But give credit to organizers of the annual AFAN Black & White Party for displaying some footwork befitting “Men of X,” the happily enthusiastic male strip revue at Hooters who helped close the show. About 6 p.m., or three hours before the event was to begin, it was announced that the entire operation would be shifted from the Hard Rock Hotel Beach Club inside to the conveniently unoccupied Joint.
Similar to attire worn by the male couple whose costumes were fashioned of black-and-white electric tape stretched vertically and horizontally across their bodies to cover enough territory as not to violate any decency laws, the change in scenery was seamless (whew). In place of cabanas planned for outdoors, The Joint’s spacious-enough VIP suites served as welcoming stations for such organizations as Q Vegas and Kirvin Doak Communications. Food stations occupied by such restaurants as BOA Steakhouse and Dos Caminos were positioned along the floor of the concert hall. Maybe they weren’t so obviously located (sometimes you needed to follow a reveler wrapped in a pink boa carrying a meaty skewer to ferret out the Rare 120 food distribution point), but the event came off as well as anyone connected with AFAN could have expected. Even with the late change in venue and weary local economy, the event drew a crowd of 2,800 and raised $100,000, about what was raised a year ago when the party was held at the Palms. Money raised goes to Aid for AIDS of Nevada to treat and assist those suffering from HIV and AIDS in Southern Nevada.
Entertainers included the already-mentioned “Men of X” (a tireless bunch who had to be shooed from the stage with water cannons, from what I understand), DJ Alexis, Pepper MaShay (famous for the “Queer as Folk” soundtrack contribution, “Dive in the Pool”), Tina Turner and Cher impressionists, and lord let us not forget the indefatigable Charo. The women from “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo, Frank Marino, Nathan Burton and longtime AFAN spokesmen (well, in one case) Penn & Teller also turned up.
A little more from the party:
The Cupcakery had the most innovative display, or displays: two women in Victorian-style dresses fitted with mirrored, circular tables laden with cupcakes. Delicious. … Marino showed up in a furry white number and matching hat, promoting his Labor Day engagement at Imperial Palace, titled “Divas Las Vegas.” The impressionist-heavy production, similar to Marino’s now-defunct “Evening at La Cage” at Riviera, runs twice nightly Sept. 4-7. … From Marino, who can always be counted on for breaking news about himself: “Want a scoop? Me and Nathan Burton have gotten married!” The ardently hetero Burton might be the last person on the planet to marry Marino, but platonically, they get along fabulously. … Charo waded into the audience, yelping and gyrating, followed by a stream of cell phone cameras. I don’t know what she was singing, but she was singing it great and looked fantastic for whatever age she professes to be. … Letting his hair hang wild, Penn Jillette was clearly pleased with the turnout. “Despite the economy, we set a record for the AFAN walk this year, and we’ve done great tonight,” he said. The AFAN AIDS Walk in April, also fronted by P&T, has raised $461,000, and donations are still being collected via the AFAN Web site (AFANLV.org). … Hard Rock Hotel President Randy Kwasniewski usually blends into a crowd, but not this one. Anyone in regular attire, especially a suited casino exec, looked out of place. Kwasniewski was spotted while coincidentally trailing a collection of tranny nuns known as Sisters City Sisters. The man known as Randy K asked if the indoor event was better than in past years. “It’s different” was about all I could offer. … Not part of the event package this year was the VIP pre-party, which cost $125. Know your limits in a charity-tapped economy. … Some people have NO couth: A group of guys wandered into the “X Burlesque” and “Men of X” VIP booth, spotted a rolling bag full of costumes and evidently thought, “This would look good on US!” and started rolling the wardrobe attire away. Thankfully, a person connected to the shows who happened to be in the booth told them to cool it.