Share This Page

AIDS Task Force Benefit attracts crowd of 350

| Sunday, March 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Chris Linsell, Sam Mudrick, and Stacey Hart during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Samuel Badger, Keri Harmicar, and David Seman during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Varla Jean Merman during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Linda and Tony Bucci during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Lou Castelli, Bill Chisnell, and Ted Pappas during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Bart Rauluk and Chuck Christen during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Bob Davis, John Gurman and John Klein during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Scott Westwood, Dr. Lisa Cibik, Christopher Hahn and Ron Booth during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Mike Mancini | for the Tribune Review
Eileen French and Patrick Jordan during the PATF Gala at the Pittsburgh Opera Building on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

If facial expressions give a voice to the inner monologue of those wearing them, suffice to say that there was somewhat of a love-hate relationship brewing between the audience and the raucous, jaw-dropping drag queen, aka Varla Jean Merman, during the Pittsburgh AIDS Task ForceBenefit on March 20.

One thing that was unanimous was a show of hands promptly covering mouths 30 seconds into her performance, which skipped the zero and went straight to 60 for a crowd of 350 that included honorary co-chairs Nachum Golan andSteve Hough, Jim andKathe Patrinos, Dr. ElliottKramer andBill Modrak, Dr. LarryLeahy and John Vandegrift, Eileen French andPatrick Jordan, Hon. Robert andViolet Gallo, Richard Parsakian, Gene Welsh and David McAdams, Nancy Traina, and Dr. Lisa Cibik.

Prior to the split decision, the evening was buzzing with the arrival of VIPs to the Pittsburgh Opera headquarters in the Strip District, where Kerry Stoner Awardees Linda andTony Bucci found themselves surrounded by well-wishers. “It's such a wonderful organization we've been involved with for a long time,” offered Tony.

Meanwhile, a few trepidations early on guaranteed no qualms later about making good use of two tented lounge vignettes set up by creative chair Bill Chisnell, “I just wanted people to have fun,” he said, while event co-chairs David Seman, Keri Harmicar and Samuel Badger learned to share the spotlight with Badger's crystallized loafers. “They're Swarovski-encrusted,” he explained.

Never one to rest on his laurels, emcee Ted Pappas did an applause-worthy job of trying to break the ice with a couple of jabs that some got and others didn't. “I see a lot of new faces that used to be old faces,” he said playfully, before adding, “I've never seen this many gay men in one place since the rehearsals for ‘Billy Budd.' ”

At the very core, the evening served to further the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force mission of empowering and supporting all individuals living with HIV/AIDS. “We're at a turning point in the fight against HIV. We're seeing we can make an end to HIV (and) we're focused on breaking the stigma,” said director Chuck Christen.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.