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All the Pool's a Stage

September 12, 1996

There are pool parties and then there are pool parties. Ken Jillson and Al Roberts threw one last weekend and 1,000 fun-hungry, civic-minded folks showed up.

The Big Splash, a stagy standby at the Laguna Beach home of Jillson and Roberts for 11 years running, made $525,000 along its lip-syncing, tap-dancing, water-rowdy way.

The party is inarguably the county's largest private AIDS fund-raiser.

And arguably the wackiest.

Two hundred people volunteered to help make the sold-out performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday a kitschy, 50s-style high school revue "with the usual cast of characters: the principal, coach, football team, nasty cheerleaders, school nurse, girls' gym teacher and band director," says Jillson, who directed the show.

While a story line about a high school sweetheart and a football hero may sound old-hat, consider the locale: a swimming pool. That left the gates wide open for "unsynchronized swimming" by the Aquanettes and other splashing about by those involved. The front-row audience members were tarped for their protection. Blasted out of speakers were celebrity voice-overs of Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall; vintage tunes; and original songs by Roxanna Ward and Phil Trocki. One understated title: "Over the Top."

World Wide Web users can see video clips of the Big Splash on the AIDS Services Foundation's home page at

Jillson and Roberts were part of the original dozen people who founded ASF in 1985, funded with 100% of the proceeds from the first Splash. ASF is the county's largest provider of help for people with AIDS.

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