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A Trip to Vienna For The Glamorous and Gargantuan Life Ball AIDS Benefit: Towleroad Abroad

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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.

The hills are alive with the sound of YAS GAWD, AFTER THE JUMP

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Vienna's Life Ball: The Impact After the Party

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Photo: Derek Storm

At a press conference before last weekend’s Life Ball in Vienna, AIDS LIFE Chairman and Life Ball CEO Gery Keszler described the primary effect of the massive annual party: “We’re making a loud scream for awareness.” We’ve already recounted some of the over-the-top antics that help that scream get heard by the 40,000-plus attendees of the Life Ball Opening Ceremony and legions of media, but Life Ball does a lot more for the HIV-positive community and those living with AIDS.

For starters, the hard-partying guests are doing their own part, as profits from the Life Ball cash bar go to supporting the net proceeds, thanks to donations from sponsors and restaurant partners. Additionally, ticketed events, VIP areas, an auction featuring a gown worn by Conchita Wurst, tickets to the Golden Globes and a trip to Paris help drive the funds generated. In 2014, the Life Ball raised 2.3 million euros.

Learn more about the organizations Life Ball is supporting this year, AFTER THE JUMP

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Sean Penn Reveals How Chicken Wings and 'It's Raining Men' Transformed Him Into Harvey Milk: VIDEO

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While sitting down with Conan earlier this week, Sean Penn revealed the unique morning ritual featuring hot chicken wings, Castro Street, and The Weather Girls that helped him get into character for 2008's Milk. 

Hear how the method actor became Harvey Milk, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Openly Gay Actor-Comedian Taylor Negron Dies Of Cancer At Age 57

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Openly gay actor and comedian Taylor Negron, known for his part with Sean Penn in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, died of cancer at the age of 57 on Saturday reports ABC NewsHis cousin and former Three Dog Night musician Chuck Negron announced Taylor's death in an emotional video posted on YouTube. Before his death, Taylor wrote a piece about his life, starring in bit roles and being "That guy," for XO Jane. 

Said Negron:

"Instead, I am the Alternative Everyman. I have been your postman. I am the man who delivered your pizza. I was the gang member who kidnapped your daughter at gunpoint. I’m a nanny for children. I am a stylist for Stuart Little. I am your shrink. I direct porn films. I am the groom and the maid of honor ...

"I look at my alternative everyman predicament this way. By letting go of what you thought was going to happen in your life, you can enjoy what is actually happening...That is what I do. I'm That Guy."

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.10.31 PMTaylor's movie credits include Stuart Little, The Last Boy Scout, Angels in the Outfield, Bio-Dome and Vamps where he reprised his pizza delivery scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Negron got his start in comedy and Hollywood working as Lee Strasberg's assistant in a work-study program and interned under Lucille Ball, who was a guest teacher, at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in 1977 at the age of 19. Negron also wrote the critically acclaimed The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron – A Fusion of Story and Song, which debuted in the Green Room at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and later ran at the SoHo Playhouse and Barrow Street Theater. Negron is also an accomplished painter and was featured in solo exhibitions at venues such as Los Angeles' Laemmie Royal Theater and the Hotel de Ville Lifestyle. 

Negron's final film roles include the short film H., in a narrator role, and upcoming film Alienated, where he plays a character named Griffin alongside actor George Katt and actress Jen Burry. You can watch Negron's scene with Sean Penn's Spicoli, who orders a pizza in the middle of class, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Moneybomb for Marriage Equality: Join Us in Raising Funds for 'The Four' States That Need Help

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Today, we're joining with The Four in an effort to raise money for the campaigns to approve marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, and to fight the anti-gay amendment in Minnesota.

It’s 25 days until the election.

This November, there are four states with marriage on the ballot and we have a chance to win them all, if there is enough money to match our opposition dollar for dollar. To make it simple, we've created a way for you to donate to the pro-equality groups in all four states  - all at once. However much you like -- split any way you like. Election Day is right around the corner -- every dollar counts.

Please click HERE to help and donate what you can.


Sean Penn and Kid Rock Have Bipartisan Bromance, Attend Gay Wedding in New 'Americans' PSA: VIDEO

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Sean Penn and Kid Rock have released a heavy-handed PSA called "Americans" meant to encourage civil discourse and come to terms with our political differences.

CosmoThe description to the heavy-handed, 11-minute clip reads:

The goal of the film is to tear down the one-dimensional political stereotypes portrayed by the media by confronting them head on. It reminds us that what really matters is that we're all Americans, with diverse thoughts, opinions and stances on issues. We are millions of unique, individual parts, the sum of which comprise a whole that is the shining beacon of freedom throughout the world. The film reminds us to be proud of our differences, and to never forget that we're all in this together as Americans.

The clip shows the two stars arguing over political issues (and dick sizes) in a bar before a news report about military deaths in Afghanistan comes on, at which time they decide to embrace each other's differences in the name of freedom, and then embark on a bipartisan bromance in which they buy a Prius, attend an environmental rally, and a gay wedding (where one of the men wears a bridal veil). Kid Rock even convinces Penn to stop drinking Cosmopolitans (presumably the liberal wussy drink) and try a beer!

At the end, they exchange PETA and NASCAR t-shirts and walk on a beach as the sun sets.

While the message is certainly an honorable one, the execution is often cringeworthy.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...


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