This past Memorial day weekend I attended my first LifeBall in Vienna, Austria. I had heard the legendary stories and seen the amazing photos of previous years but the sheer enormity of the event can only be experienced in person. Lifeball is the largest HIV/AIDS fundraising event and celebration in Europe and the costume ball is the most extravagant production I have ever been a part of. The Saturday party is held in the capital building pictured below and the grandeur of the production can not be overstated. From start to finish it was unbelievable.
“The Life Ball can be divided into two major events:
Magenta Carpet, opening and Fashion Show on the Red Ribbon Catwalk at the City Hall Square
the actual Ball as well as the Party inside the City Hall
Each year, the opening ceremony attracts more thousands of visitors as well as 500 national and international media representatives to Vienna´s City Hall Square, where everybody can experience the big show on the Red Ribbon stage live and for free.
Following the 2-hour-opening show on City Hall Square, the jamboree starts inside the city hall for 3,780 holders of Life Ball tickets. Many halls and yards of this historical building open up for guests, indulging them with an iridescent show comprising live concerts of national and international stars, exciting performances and culinary surprises until 5 o’clock in the morning.
Life Ball tickets are a highly coveted : In 2012 about 95.000 requests from all over the world arrived until the keydate of ticket sales, while only 3,780 tickets are available for the exclusive event inside the city hall.
Life Ball 2013 is dedicated to “1001 Nights”
“Saving lives with imagination” is the link between Life Ball 2013 and its entertaining yet sensual source of inspiration: “1001 Nights”.
Everyone knows her, courageous Scheherezade, bravely fighting for her life during 1001 nights. Her adventurous and fairy-tale like stories attract the king’s curiosity night after night, and her inexhaustible fantasy eventually saves her life. Opulently designed, guests of Life Ball 2013 on 25 May 2013 will be immersed into a world of poetry and fairy tales, mythical creatures and djinns, desirous poems and wise allegories – using fantasy to help people infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS.
Using an old Arabic saying, Life Ball 2013 follows the motto: “It takes the night to see the stars”– for a future without HIV and AIDS. This vision, which can become true, was the common tenor at the World AIDS Conference 2012 in Washington D.C., where representatives of different international AIDS aid organizations agreed: “Together we can end AIDS”.
My journey began with a chartered flight from JFK to Vienna filled with drag queens, porn stars, models, hair and make-up people and celebrities–Adam Lambert, Greg Louganis, Carmen Electra and Barbara Eden. Throughout the weekend I had the pleasure of meeting all of them. Greg is an old buddy of mine. I had heard stories of the in-flight mayhem that ensues but I was not prepared. Free drinks, pot smoking and nudity were all happening around the plane within 30 minutes of take off. Insanity. It was generally fun and fabulous and it all calmed down after a few hours. We landed in Vienna at 9 am, welcomed by a full red carpet of reporters there to capture the madness on camera and interview the celebs.
Drag Queen Sharon Needles was a mess on the plane and was promptly banned from all Lifeball festivities for referencing Hilter and making this joke which I overheard–” Did you hear the one about the AIDS baby? It never gets old.” Lifeball founder Gery Keszler didn’t find her amusing and shut her down immediately. I’m all for free speech but there is a time and a place for everything and this was NOT it. More of the Sharon Needles saga on Queerty.
We were all then shuttled off to various hotels. I don’t know about any one else but I passed out until 5 that evening. Friday night was a Black and White party for everyone to unwind and get excited. I thought is was fairly tame except I got to chat with Adam Lambert who was very lovely and then I caught up with my pal porn star-turned author-turned supermodel Aiden Shaw.
One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend was meeting the stars of the viral video “This Boy is a Bottom”, Detox, Vicky Vox and Willam Belli. They are AMAZING and hilarious. They performed that song several times throughout the weekend but my favorite was when we left the Friday night party to go to a tiny local gay bar and you would’ve thought Lady Gaga had arrived. The staff and locals went wild and immediately put the video up on the screen and they all got up on the bar and performed as if it had been choreographed. It was something out of a movie. Flawless.
I slept most of the next day and then at about 5 pm I started getting my costume together which involved very elaborate body make-up. The theme was 1001 arabian nights and I went ALL OUT!! I felt so bad for the person who had to clean my room the next day. I am still finding glitter in the most bizarre places. It took me about 2 hours of painting and gluing before I had to go down to the front desk of the hotel with my ass hanging out because I needed someone to paint my butt and back gold.
Viennese boys are very helpful.
My final costume was really amazing. I then had to walk–half nude–through the streets of Vienna for about 10 minutes to get to the massive red carpet. The ball itself is massive. Over 25,000 people watch the outdoor festivities and fashion show and about 5000 costumed participants party hard in city hall. My costume was well received but not even CLOSE to some of the fabulous creations I witnessed. Below are some of the amazing costumes and superstars form the evening. It was a once in a lifetime experience. ENJOY!!