LOFTIER PURSUITS If it wasn't for my NBF (new best friend) Lance Morgan, Society editor of Austin Monthly and Elegant Texan, I'd have never gotten into the HRC Austin's White Hot Black Tie Ball. Don't know what HRC stands for? No, it's not the Harry Ransom Center ... it's the Human Rights Campaign. Needless to say, the advances the HRC has made in establishing and protecting the rights of gays and lesbians are staggering, and every one of us should thank god for them every day. Of course, human rights are a far loftier concern than my usual superficial ones, such as hemlines and hairdos. One of my other NBFs was also present, the glamorous and gorgeous Rita Garza, director of development of AIDS Services of Austin. I recently attended the fabulous ArtErotica fundraiser for ASA, and so when Mme. Garza and I met at the Austin Music Awards a couple of weeks ago, we had lots to talk about. Then, hardly knowing a soul, I nervously entered the HRC ball ... and ran directly into Rita Garza again. She immediately put me at ease and introduced me to her group of friends including James Walker of TKO Advertising, whose (apparently) scandalous ad campaign for Blackmail I had written about in my column that very day. Among my favorite glitterati present were Lloyd Doggett, Bettie Naylor, Steven Olivares, Stan Young (who really should consider being in the diplomatic corps), David Mauzy, John Boardman, David Parson, Jeffrey Mikeska, Bryan Ockert, as well as mayoral candidates Will Wynn and Marc Katz. The honorees included the Austin Babtist Women; I chatted with Ofeelya Faith (Bob Hemby) and Ethyl Mae Studebaker (Ambush magazine's Rob Faubion) on the terrace. This amazing group of beauties has raised more than $5 million in 16 years for AIDS, HIV, and cancer charities. Excellent work, ladies. Also honored was beloved community activist Ted Smith, as well as Laura Barton and Judy Wilder's very entertaining film Dildo Diaries, which continues to delight and inform. Comedian Jason Short was pretty damn funny; I liked his routine about same-sex marriages: "If you straight people would just let us marry each other, then we'd stop marrying you!" Less funny was the speech by retired major league baseball player Billy Bean, who happens to have been the first openly gay major league player in 20 years. Frankly, I made the awful presumption that the very attractive Mr. Bean was brought in for little more than window dressing. But he proved me wrong very quickly with a very moving speech, showing that there was indeed a great deal of substance behind his style. I'm ashamed of myself for thinking otherwise. It was a fab event, and I wouldn't dream of missing the next one.
BASER PURSUITS Never ones to let good outfits go to waste, Neil and I hit the streets afterward. (We apparently weren't the only ones -- everywhere we went people said, "Who are all the queens in tuxedos?") We dropped in on Japan Night at Elysium and saw the female punk duo Hang on the Box from Beijing, China. We also dropped into El Matador to see Dita von Teese, where the pink-haired doorwoman, Margaret, let me in without my SXSW badge (it just didn't go with my outfit). Dita von Teese is kind of amazing, taking very seriously the burlesque routines from the days of yore. Dita understands this kind of performance is an artform and performs it exquisitely, peeling down to pasties and a G-string. Always endorsing equal opportunity, we then went to Dick's Deja Disco to see the male strippers. I like the friendly intimacy of Dick's. We ran into the aforementioned Rob Faubion from Ambush, who's as cute in drag as he is out of it. DJ Filthy Rich was spinning there, and we were treated very generously by manager Shawn McAnelly. At the Forum, we listened to DJ Sliver where he was spinning retro circuit party tunes. We chatted up the new manager Kevin Campbell, who told us that the Tuesday Hip-Hop night was going so well that they've added a Friday Hip-Hop Night, too. Then we hung out at a stylish party at Avant. You know I love Avant, and this party was excellent, as Neil and I yakked up a storm with Connie, Kristin, and Gregory. Next it was on to the Boyz Cellar -- still a favorite hangout -- where manager Brandon and the crew at the door are always so nice to us. By 2:30am, we still had two parties left on our agenda. Damon Williams, DJ and publisher of Feedback magazine held an after-hours party at Saké on Sixth. Damon's so cool and has such a way with the turntables. Saké on Sixth is a stylish new hangout, and manager Chet Butler, formerly of Speakeasy, was an excellent host, reminding us to try Dinner With the Stars on Tuesday nights. Then it was onto an after afterparty at my good friend Kenneth Pipkins' place, where I eventually left, shielding my eyes from the merciless sunlight.
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