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Pooling Resources : Volunteers Make a Backyard Splash to Help AIDS Patients

September 09, 1997|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: The 12th annual Splash, a wet and wacky musical starring a cast of amateurs lip-syncing and dancing in and around the backyard pool of Laguna Beach residents Al Roberts and Ken Jillson. "Splashback to Disco Beach" was the theme of the poolside performance, held Friday through Sunday to raise money for the AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County.

Over their heads: Billed as "The All Wet '70s Musical," the event managed to spoof Cinderella, "Saturday Night Fever" and all of the Esther Williams movies. Guys in tutus performed water ballet--not a pretty sight. Via recordings, actors Walter Matthau, Beatrice Arthur and Phyllis Diller provided voices of the main characters. The crowd enjoyed the show from bleachers set up around the pool. Those in the first few rows were regularly doused with water, especially when "Miss Rotunda," an amply endowed psychic played by Joe Wilkins, hit the water. "I love this show. It's fun and it makes you laugh," said Anita May Rosenstein, an ASF supporter.

Making waves: Splash started in 1985 as a backyard get-together that provided $33,000 in seed money to start ASF, an Irvine-based agency. It has since grown into the foundation's largest fund-raiser. The cast of 35 volunteers rehearsed for Splash three days a week throughout the summer. "It's almost like a professional show," said Bill Gillespie, ASF supporter.

Bottom line: Guests paid $50 to $175 for seats to Friday and Saturday night shows, and $250 to attend the Sunday show and grand finale dinner. The shows drew a combined audience of about 1,100 and netted about $450,000 for ASF. ASF provides services for people with HIV, including home care, counseling, transportation, a food pantry and financial assistance.

Quote: "Although there's been progress in the treatment of AIDS, we have our largest caseload ever," said Priscilla Munro, executive director of ASF. "People are still getting infected, and the medications don't work for everyone. Hopefully the day will come when we don't have to talk about people dying."

Faces in the crowd: Amanda May; Tom Livermore; Scott Shadrick; Joe Ambrose; Roger and Janice Johnson; Mike Feddersen; Robert Crowder; Mark Miller; George Nader; Dwight Spiers; Virginia Fair; Jim and Barbara Glabman; Anne Earhart; Kevin Wendle; Todd Anthony; Mark Porterfield; and Steve Chadima.

What's ahead: For information on upcoming ASF events or services, call (714) 253-1500 or visit the ASF Web site at

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