The colors may be stark, but the Black & White Party is never boring. Instead, this major fundraiser for Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) remains—even after 24 years—one of the hottest events on the Las Vegas social calendar. And the 2010 version (9 p.m. Aug. 21 at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel, $35, afanlv.org) looks to be another spectacle of fashion and frolicking. From DJs to bankers to self-described “winos,” partygoers can expect to see the unexpected, with a diverse array of characters coming out to support one of the city’s most beloved organizations.
Among this year’s crowd of black-and-white revelers, be prepared to see a little red, as 12 special attendees are being given the privilege of standing out. The honor is called the “Right to Wear Red,” and it signifies a person’s “historical support of AFAN and their work within the HIV community of Southern Nevada,” says Jennifer Morss, executive director of AFAN. And as a preview of this year’s party, here’s a look at seven of this year’s Red members.
(Not pictured: Antioco Carrillo, Community Counseling Center deputy director; Denise Amlie, AIDS Walk “Team Winos” captain; Marc Cedric Smith, Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular cast member; Hamilton Baiden, the Apothecary Shop’s vice president of sales and marketing; and Tonya Harvey, photographer.)
Owner/Partner of Valley Press of Las Vegas
How she earned the Right to Wear Red: “Greta, we have another job for you …” Morss says with a laugh. Despite the economic climate and the constant requests from the organization, Chanin and Valley Press still manage to donate thousands of dollars’ worth of printing for AFAN’s events.
Why she supports AFAN: “It has been there before any other organization to fill a gap and be the voice for those unable to speak for themselves. … It is important to me as a member of this community to give a deserving organization like AFAN a voice through print to deliver their message.”
Chanin and her company have been an integral part of Las Vegas and the small business community for more than two decades. She has witnessed the city’s growth and subsequent struggles, but remains optimistic, never losing sight of the silver lining. “As a community we are stronger since the 1980s,” she says. “There is more of a sense of local pride.”
Associate Publisher of QVegas
How he earned the Right to Wear Red: The former AFAN employee never misses an event and works to get AFAN the best media and marketing exposure. “His commitment to our mission is obvious through his passion for our organization,” Morss says. “He’s always sending people to us, telling them they have to support us and get involved.”
Why he supports AFAN: “They understand that by keeping AIDS in the spotlight they can propel the com- munity to continue to work together to beat the disease.”
Regarding the Black & White Party, he says, “You never leave without a whole new cache of great memories because it’s always an over-the-top party with amazing entertainment, fantastic food and a crowd full of friends or soon-to-be friends!”
“This is actually a really special Black & White party for me, and not just because of the honor of being asked to wear Red,” Shelton adds. “Eleven years ago at the Black & White party, I met my partner, and in November we’ll celebrate our 10th anniversary. So while the Black & White Party is always a special event, this year makes it just that much sweeter.”
(a.k.a. Johnny Randall)
How he earned the Right to Wear Red: “DJ Axis is always the life of the party!” Morss says. “He supports AFAN by always bringing the most current and cutting- edge music. Plus, he never says no.”
Why he supports AFAN: “Almost everyone I know has a personal story related to HIV/AIDS. Because of the stigma and a long-standing ignorance about it, we have unnecessarily lost so many people.”
With nearly 10 years of experience as a professional disc jockey, Axis has played at six Black & White Parties. Last year’s event was monumental. “My parents and siblings, who all live out of state, flew in to attend,” he says. “Having them there let them see just how close to my heart this cause is.”
Taking inspiration from the past, DJ Axis always injects his own personal spin into everything he does, from his personal style to his career. “With my music I always play a mix of what I feel is comfortable and rec- ognizable to the public but also make sure to introduce new, unexpected sounds and artists to them.”
Owner/President of CDI Studios
How he earned the Right to Wear Red: CDI regularly donates its creative services to AFAN. “Eddie and his team at CDI have re-branded our events and brought AFAN to a more modern, hip and engaging arena that keeps us moving forward in today’s fundraising/nonprofit world,” Morss says.
Why he supports AFAN: “My staff and I have dedicated countless studio resources toward the awareness and support of charitable organizations. My support for AFAN is important to myself as well as my staff.”
The word “creative” doesn’t begin to describe the amazing work done by Roberts and his team at CDI. This year is the seventh they have been dedicated AFAN supporters. “Helping to raise millions of dollars toward the fight against HIV for the past seven years is a truly gratifying experience,” he says. This is his first Black & White Party, and he is looking forward to making some lasting memories.
A Las Vegas resident since 1979, before anything was developed past Jones Boulevard, Roberts describes Las Vegas as eclectic with a dedicated gaming workforce. “But I believe it’s also a very giving community,” he adds.
Executive Assistant to Penn & Teller
How she earned the Right to Wear Red: Spearheading the Penn & Teller Challenge for the annual AIDS Walk. “Laura gives so much of her time to make sure that each year the Challenge runs smoothly and gets bigger,” Morss says.
Why she supports AFAN: “Because AFAN supports the community I call home. They do so much for so many people here in Southern Nevada.” Foley has an extra reason to celebrate at this year’s Black & White Party: “My brother David is gay,” she says, “so the overturning of Prop. 8 [in California] is especially significant because it means that he would be afforded the same civil rights as myself. I love and respect him more than anyone I know, and no one has the right to take away his or anyone else’s civil liberties.”
Her favorite Black & White Party memory came last year. “AFAN did an amazing job transferring venues at the last minute. They had to move the party from the pool into The Joint due to weather. Walking into the event, you’d never know it hadn’t been planned for The Joint all along.”
Vice President of Kirvin Doak Communications
How she earned the Right to Wear Red: The PR goddess, who has been with Kirvin Doak for 10 years, constantly finds new avenues for AFAN to market itself. “She has a hip attitude and knows the pulse of this great city and how we should be spreading the mission of AFAN,” Morss says.
Why she supports AFAN: “I believe in their mission and admire the work that they do for those that are affected with HIV and/or AIDS in our community. They also treat those with HIV and/or AIDS with dignity and respect, providing them with the services they need with ease and convenience for no or nominal fees.”
Maruca looks forward to the Black & White Party each year and says it is a fundraising event unlike any other. “It isn’t stuffy, it isn’t traditional. It’s out-of-the-box. It is wild and entertaining.”
Describing Las Vegas, she is quick to point out an attribute that often goes unnoticed: “It is one of the most giving communities that I have been a part of—something I don’t think we get enough credit for.”
Senior Vice President of Credit One Bank
How he earned the Right to Wear Red: “He understands how, even in this economy, there is still a need to give back,” Morss says.
Why he supports AFAN: “A fair segment of the population is not informed enough to take interest and, more importantly, support the cause through the contribution of money, time or resources. I continue to be an ardent supporter of AFAN’s mission and encourage anyone and everyone I know to follow suit.”
“Being honored in this manner is foreign to me, in that myself or anyone like me gets involved for the benefit of mattering a little in peoples’ lives and not for the recognition,” McGough says.
Through his work as the community reinvestment officer for Credit One Bank, plus the many positions held on various boards, he discovered his passion to give and help. “I live by a motto, ‘Leave it better than you found it.’ I like to think that each day I am successful in some way at achieving my personal goal. Sometimes in a big way, sometimes in the most simplistic of ways.”