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Glamorous benefit will paint the town red

The Red Ball II, to benefit AIDS Services Foundation Orange County, will be at Festival of Arts on Saturday.

September 22, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

Laguna Beach on Saturday night will make a splash at Red Ball II.

AIDS Services Foundation Orange County will roll out the red carpet for guests attending the nonprofit's annual fundraiser at the Festival of Arts grounds.

"I think we will see a lot of tuxedos, evening gowns and jewelry," said Ken Jillson, the foundation's founding board member and an organizer of Red Ball II. "Guests are encouraged to wear red."

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The theme is "Hollywood Royalty," and will include a tribute to the late Elizabeth Taylor, one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars.

"She was one of the first celebrities to publicly advocate on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS and who personally supported ASF," Jillson said.

The foundation was born in Laguna Beach in the living room of the Arch Beach Height home of Jillson and Al Roberts, founding and long-time board president.

It was launched in 1985 with "Big Splash," a fundraiser first held around the swimming pool at Jillson and Roberts' home, and then at the Festival Grounds. The first Red Ball was held in 2010 as part of the group's 25th anniversary.

"ASF was blessed by Elizabeth Taylor's generosity and caring," Jillson said. "In 1993 she donated her magnificent Nolan Miller sapphire-beaded gown that she had worn to one of President Ronald Reagan's Inaugural Balls. It was auctioned live at our "Big Splash" event that year and raised a huge sum for ASF."

In the following years, Taylor contributed additional gowns and in 2002 appeared in Laguna with pop icon Michael Jackson to support another ASF event — "Art for AIDS," a joint fundraiser with the Laguna Art Museum.

"Right after she passed away earlier this year, we wanted to pay tribute to Elizabeth for all she did to focus the public's attention on HIV/AIDS," Jillson said. "The Red Ball II provided just such an opportunity."

Festivities will start at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction followed by a seated dinner at 8 p.m.

After dinner, guests will be treated to a Hollywood-themed, song-and-dance spoof titled "Fois Graaes," starring Jason Graae, who got his start on Broadway in "Forever Plaid." Graae will be poking fun at the show and other off-Broadway hits such as "Forbidden Broadway."

Fashion designer Mondo Guerra, seen on "Project Runway," will jet in from Denver to make a guest appearance.

"We are thrilled," Jillson said.

The evening will also include live and silent auctions.

Hosts for the event include foundation President Maria I. Marquez and Vice President Shelly Virkstis, Executive Director/CEO Philip Yaeger, Roberts and Jillson.

Proceeds of the event will help fund the foundation's client services.

Red Ball II tickets range from the Platinum Level at $25,000 (table of twelve, 1 VIP parking pass, private server and other amenities) to an individual ticket for $250. All tickets include entrance to the event, cocktails, dinner, dancing, Elizabeth Taylor tribute and the "Fois Graaes" show.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.ocasf.org.

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