Diamonds are a girl's best friend - and it was all too exciting to see the first girl to ever have sung that song, far before Marilyn Monroe or Madonna, when she originated the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes role in 1949. And to see her sing it again, dripping in *sparkling* diamonds, on a Broadway stage in 2010! It's Carol Channing, Baby!!
I saw Channing in Hello, Dolly! revival back in the mid-nineties, witnessing the first and only standing ovation I've ever seen mid-song. I also wondered if Hello, Dolly! referred to the dolly she was being pulled around on. She is of course, nipping at 90, so it's little surprise when one speaks of the beloved legend, they're greeted with: "She's still alive?"
nightlife shutterbug Jeff for these photos - as I was in the third tier of the breathtakingly gorgeous New Amsterdam theatre -- at an altitude and pitch so steep, I felt like Carol in Thoroughly Modern Millie, when she got shot out of a cannon from the rafters, cooing "Raspberries!!"
But she glowed from way down there, and if Carol Channing's not sparkling, who is? She has long supported LGBT rights and performed this past week for the "Gypsy of the Year" competition, a two show benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which raised nearly $4 million dollars from these shows and from the donations from theatregoers in the weeks leading up to the main event.
"Gypsy of the Year" honors the chorus actors "gypsies" who go from show to show on the road. Most of the shows on Broadway put together a skit, either poignant (Lion King, who lost a cast member to cancer this year) to hysterical (Mamma Mia "the hoarder keeps it all!") to an unbelievable acrobatic duo from Rock of Ages and oh so much more. You should have heard the Addams Family's Pugsly. Hysterical. More photos here. A short video from Playbill here. And it's almost like you were there!
It's so important to know the AIDS crisis is not over -- and that today's complacency is irresponsible (so is the Pope!) because HIV is not just HIV. It's a compromised, susceptible immune system, and besides that: AIDS still kills. I volunteer delivering meals for God's Love We Deliver (don't get me going about the name of the organization, but it is an awesome one) and I can tell you the reason we don't see AIDS today is because many of those it touches live in isolation: home-bound, immobile, in terrible pain, and feeling incredibly alone. I wish every young kid and would volunteer, see and speak with these people because then they might listen when they are told: Be safe.
That's why I'm so thankful for organizations, and performers like these who have not forgotten, who do not forget those who remain in isolation and pain, and who will never let them feel alone. I've caught several of their benefits - and covered the Easter Bonnet featuring oldest Ziegfeld Girl Doris Eaton Travis (who died at 106 just weeks afterward) and all the hottest dancer Broadway bodies nearly nude in the spectacular annual fundraiser Broadway Bares.
If you don't live in New York and would like to help BC/EFA in their important mission, please spare the trip to Walmart or Target and consider buying your holiday gifts from their online store? Because, as their motto reads, "What we do together makes a difference!" Hey, they even sell a Carol Channing christmas tree ornament!
As Seth Rudetsky quips: "It weighs the same as she does!"
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