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A Midsummer Night's Benefit

August 01, 2000|MARY McNAMARA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Oh, sure, there was a coterie of silver-lame clad go-go boys making the rounds, and several drag queens in full feather-head-dressed regalia, but for the most part, the 16th annual Summer Party of Aids Project Los Angeles on the Universal Studios back lot was more low-key festival than gay pride spectacle.

The dress code was beat-the-heat casual, but most folks kept their shirts on as they milled and mingled. In fact one retro-punk group, a blur of black-leather kilts and Mohawks led by a gentleman who had pinned several roses to his bare chest with syringes, made quite an impression.

"Someone tell him we don't have to do that any more," said one observer.

Almost 5,000 people attended, boys and girls alike, cruising in groups and couples for food and drink abundantly supplied by a wide range of local restaurants. Unfortunately, many of the kiosks at the entrance ran out of food early, stirring a bit of bread-line panic in later arrivals. Bread there was: The Brentwood Baking Co. was there, dispensing its goods. Party-goers were faced with a hard choice: either forgo the bread, or walk around all night with loaf in hand. Several women solved the problem by sliding the rustic rounds up their shirts. And the bars were notably staffed by volunteers who had little use for mixers or proper measurements, and that took the edge right off any incipient irritability.

Amid the twinkling lights, one could while the night away at a casino, hoot and holler as Mr. Blackwell judged a Carmen Miranda look-alike contest and, of course, there was dancing, including a disco that featured, at one point, the throbbing bass of O-Town, gyrating products of the reality program "Making the Band."

Although the donations are still being tallied, a haul of $290,000 is anticipated. Not bad for one hot summer night.

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