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Drag Queens Storm the Waldorf for M.A.C.

April 6, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

March of Dimes' Million Dollar Beauty Ball The Waldorf=Astoria Wednesday, 04.04.01, 7:00 onward
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When an event's honoree is the president of a company that uses “Viva Glam” as its slogan and has employed spokesmodels including RuPaul, Lil' Kim and Mary J. Blige, you might expect an evening with a little more spice than your usual charity event. And the March of Dimes' 26th annual Million Dollar Beauty Ball--which presented M.A.C. Cosmetics' John Demsey with the Beautiful Apple award--didn't disappoint. It was both “glam” and fun. The event also honored Hal Kahn of Macy's East as its Retailer of the Year.

M.A.C.'s James Gager and the company's creative team came up with the event's design concept, which was terrifically executed by Dick Walsh, a design consultant who has worked with Cirque du Soleil. Determined to make the evening unlike most charity dinners, the planners used the idea of beauty as the starting point, and they created a night which was full of energy and life.

For the cocktail hour in the Jade Room, chairs covered in black fabric and lush black bowls of pansies (by Geoff Howell) on black table cloths created a chic look. The crowd (more than 800 beauty, fashion and publishing types) was having such a good time, they were reluctant to leave this portion of the evening. But they were herded into the Grand Ballroom by a gaggle of gaily costumed drag queens--including Screaming Queens' Miss Understood and notorious downtown performers Amanda Lepore and Bob--who rang bells to signal the end of the cocktail hour. (No simple light dimming at this benefit.)

The ballroom was dazzling with kaleidoscope lighting and tables covered in colored tablecloths in black, blue, aqua, orange and yellow. For the event's very cool, very creative centerpieces, fashion designers Mathu & Zaldy created papier-mache heads with funky faces made with cutout features. Each head had a different hairdo--bouffants, bobs, dreadlocks, you name it--made entirely of paper.

The food was so-so, but the feeling around the room was terrific--both for the good works being supported and the festive air of the event. (Jennifer Rosenblatt, the associate director of special events for the March of Dimes' New York chapter, told us the event raised $1,210,500.) A mercifully short program included a brief video and introductions to the awards by Vogue's Lawrence Aiken, the ball's honorary chairman. Susan Lucci also spoke about her own experience many years ago with her seriously ill baby and about her efforts to promote the March of Dimes' work.

Lady Bunny, famed creator of Wigstock, spun relaxing music during dinner and then livened it up as the dance floor became crowded later.

The glam goodie bags: Plastic totes so loaded with beauty stuff, even the drag queens were impressed.

--Susan Silver

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