It’s one thing to hear about Life Ball, the enormous charity extravaganza that takes over Vienna annually to raise support for HIV/AIDS charities, but it’s quite another to experience it first hand. The over-the-top affair, including palatial parties and star-studded spectacles, attracts all sorts of guests, from the fabulous to the fringe.
Above all, Life Ball, organized by AIDS LIFE, is dedicated to supporting organizations that work with people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. The annual event is the largest AIDS charity event in Europe. Its massive impact is fueled by the scale, grandeur and, yes, at times, rowdiness of the party that draws in the big names, big crowds and, most importantly, big dollars. In 2014, for example, Life Ball raised 2.3 million euros from tickets, drink sales, an auction and other events. (For more on Life Ball’s charitable impact, see our post here.)
We joined a small army of media, celebrities and drag queens venturing to Vienna last weekend to witness all of the Life Ball Austrian adventure for ourselves. Although we’re still recovering from a fab 48 hours in the capital city, we’ve got plenty of highlights to share.
In a new video for the global gay social network Moovz, drag queen Willam Belli arrives in Tel Aviv for Pride at the same time as NYC trans nightlife icon Amanda Lepore and her built, handsome posse of bodyguards.
This leads to some shenanigans when Willam catches one of their eyes and finds himself scouring the city in search of him.
Legendary nightlife personality Amanda Lepore just released a video for her new track, "Turn Me Over." It's a hot track, and the video, directed by Marco Ovando, features a treasure trove of fine Brazilian men.
TODAY’S FEATURED NEW RELEASES: The Other Side of Zero, the sophomore release from the Brooklyn trio Elizabeth & the Catapult, sounds as if it was created by shiny, happy people. Those nimble piano chords! The strummed acoustic guitars! Elizabeth Ziman’s sweetly soulful vocals! Yet what tricksters these Brooklyn-ites turn out to be. The metronomic pounding of opener "Time (We All Fall Down)" masks an underlying obsession with failure. "Go Away My Lover" starts like an Irish love song until an instrumental breakdown mirrors the angry duet between warring partners. "Julian Darling" is an upbeat music hall number for an unreachable, delusional friend. And the title track — with its sad electric zither howling notes like a coyote alone on the prairie — is where the band confronts the fear that’s been bubbling beneath the surface of every single song here. "I could dream of nothing darker than to look fate in the eye," Ziman tell us with a barely masked ache in her clear voice, "So scared of the worst that the best just passed me by."
The sexiest man in the world just might be a 65-year-old guy with a voice like buttah, sweet and soft and usable as a lubricant in a pinch. Bryan Ferry — who put the glam in glam-rock as the frontman for Roxy Music — is in sultry seduction mode on his 13th solo release, Olympia. Featuring a first-rate roster of guest musicians from Flea to Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and former crony Brian Eno, Ferry mixes and matches sexy originals with covers on an album that’s as transcendent and erotic as Roxy’s seminal Avalon. Opener "You Can Dance" is an invitation to the hazy nightlife revelry that Ferry explores over 10 tracks (12 on the Deluxe Edition) — as airy and buoyant as Avalon’s "The Space Between." The Scissor Sisters’ co-write "Heartache by Numbers" is a softly crooned pop confection. Tim Buckley’s "Song to the Siren" — covered by both Robert Plant and This Mortal Coil — is a faster, groovier version than we’ve heard. And when the soulful backup singers chant "Love! Love! You fit me like a glove!" on the bass-popping "BF Bass (Ode to Olympia)," honey, all we can say is go ahead and slip it in.
French DJ/producer Frederic Riviere dba Anoraak drops his frothy electro debut today, Wherever the Sun Sets. Though the synths may be mechanical and chilly, the tunes are warm and inviting. Riviere has a pleasantly nondescript voice, but he surrounds himself with great atmospherics and burrowing hooks. The single "Try Me" is like Francis & the Lights tackling synth-pop. "You Taste Like Cherry" is as refreshing and tasty as its title; the instrumental "Midnight Sunset" is as evocative as that sounds. And when he wants to shake it up a little, he brings in divine female voices: Sally Shapiro on the light funk of "Don’t Be Afraid" and Scottish-French chanteuse Siobhan Wilson on the sunset drive-time groove of "Dolphins & Highways."
A friend of ours thought the Superions' "Fruitcake" was too obvious for satire. But we say the B-52’s Fred Schneider and his electronic henchmen can do no wrong with Destination… Christmas!, featuring titles such as "Santa Je T’aime" and — we’re licking our lips — “Santa's Disco.”
Until One is a strange name for the debut of the DJ collective known as Swedish House Mafia. From the banging up mashes and club-burning beats on "Miami 2 Ibiza" and "Show Me Love" featuring Robin S, one a.m. is when this party revs up.
L.A. songwriter Juliette Commagere might as well be from another galaxy as the movie capital of the world, because she’s as weird and wondrous as Bat for Lashes or Björk on her sophomore album The Procession.
Sunday Girl — "Stop Hey" Jade Williams aka Sunday Girl looks like an adorable English school girl as she poses and dances through this bouncy tune’s clip. Little Boots meets Florence + the Machine perhaps?
Yelle — "La Musique" It’s a Daft Punk disco party from this French trio fronted by Julie Budet (aka Yelle). This clip’s a cut-and-paste digital job with iconographic images of Penelope Cruz, Oprah, Obama, Justin Bieber and more.
Uffie — "Difficult" Paris-based, Miami-born Uffie walks an endless high school hallway with checkerboard floors, students on the ceiling, and — what? — a Freddie Mercury impersonator. Surreal.
Oh Land — "Sun of a Gun" Inspired by too-much L.A. sunshine, Oh Land’s homesickness became the wintry nightscape of her finger-snapping single. The Danish pop tart born Nanna Øland Fabricius will release her U.S. debut in 2011.