$450,000-plus raised for LA Gay & Lesbian Center's women's programs
Wanda Sykes was late arriving to the An Evening With Women benefit in Beverly Hills on Saturday because she spilled red wine on her blouse.
Then when she took the stage to perform some stand-up, she was jokingly irritated by everything from the smoke machine to the interpreter for the hearing impaired audience members.
Then the band scheduled to go on after her was tuning up behind the curtain of the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel while Sykes was on stage and she got really irritated – and it was no joke.
‘That really pissed me off!’ she said at one point after an expletive-laden tirade that included her walking behind the curtain to confront the band face-to-face.
‘You think I’m playing?’ she asked the band. ‘That’s wrong. … You know what? I’m gonna go punch somebody in the face.’
Once she got back on track, Sykes praised President Barack Obama for endorsing gay marriage and joked that opponents of marriage equality ‘act as if it’s mandatory’ to marry the same sex.
‘I’m so proud of President Obama,’ she said. ‘I knew he was going to get there.”
The event sold out for the first time and raised more than $450,000 for services for women and girls provided by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Executive Director Lorri L. Jean told the crowd that more there are more than 10,000 client visits to The Center each month from women and girls.
In addition to Sykes comedy routine, entertainment included musical sets by Courtney Love, Aimee Mann, Gina Gershon and Linda Perry with the all-star band Camp Freddy. Tattoo celebrity Kat Von D also performed one song in what was billed as her performance debut.
Roseanne Barr jumped onto the stage at the end of the show to dance alongside Love as she performed. Among the other celebrities in attendance: actress Sara Gilbert whose girlfriend, Linda Perry, is the driving force behind the event; four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis; singer Carnie Wilson; and television personality Jane Velez-Mitchell.
‘It wasn’t like this when we first started,’ Perry told Gay Star News before the night’s festivities began. "I was on my knees begging for people. It’s fun because right now, we have people calling saying, ‘Can I get a ticket still?’ That’s what you want to be – you want to be the hot ticket. It’s a hot ticket for an LGBT event.’
Perry explained why she is so passionate about the fundraiser which she has helped to grow exponentially in recent years by attracting top-tier talent to perform.
‘There’s so many things that need to be done,’ she said. ‘The Center, the fact that they provide health care, legal assistance, taking kids off the street and helping senior citizens, it’s just endless what they do. What I’d love for this to do is for it to become like a McDonald’s chain where it’s all over the place. This is just for LA. This is the easiest. Being gay in LA is a hell of a lot easier than being gay in Utah or Missouri.’
This year’s event marked the first time Perry attended with Gilbert, her girlfriend of less than a year. Photographers clamored for photos of the couple together as they walked down the red carpet.
‘It’s great,’ she said after Gilbert ducked off the red carpet to enter the VIP party. ‘We weren’t together then but I wanted her here last year. She couldn’t make it.’
Gilbert participated in one of the evening funniest videos involving Perry a live auctioning off her 1983 customized Harley Davidson Fat Boy with black sparkle custom paint. It sold for $30,000 with Perry herself bidding to win the bike back but dropping out at the $15,000 mark.
Sykes wasn’t just one of the evening’s headliners, she was also a big bidder at the live auction plunking down $20,000 for a tattoo by Kat Von D.
‘What the f***? I just spent $20,000 for a rainbow,’ the comedienne joked. Maybe I should pump it up and get like a dolphin jumping over the rainbow.’
In addition to the Kat Von D tattoo and Perry’s motorcycle, other big-ticket items also auctioned off during the event were a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas with backstage passes which sold for $7,000 and a dream Italian vacation in Tuscany that fetched $17,000.