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At 9.30pm on May 19, the opening of the Life Ball 2012 took place, accompanied by loud electronic and pop music, resonating between the Vienna City Hall (Wien Rathaus) and the Vienna Burg Theater (Wien Burgtheater), where the red carpet, or as the ball coordinator would call it – the Magenta Carpet, was laid to receive the guests of the ball.
The audience, along the sides of the Magenta Carpet, was obviously delighted to see all national and international politicians and celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Milla Jovovich and Antonio Banderas. The more guests appeared, the higher the cheering was from the audience which went along with the guests from the Magenta Capet to Red Ribbon catwalk situated in front of the stage. The style of ball guests was both elegant and fascinating, starting with suits through to revealing outfits and colorful elaborations of body painting.
The 20th anniversary of Life Ball was host by Nicholas Ofczarek and Ben Becker, both famous actors from Austria. Starting with a short scene of the theater play ‘Everyman’, they introduced their message to the audience: the AIDS epidemic should be taken seriously by all of us, especially in the Third World.
This message was also underlined in the speech of the former US President Bill Clinton who was representing his organization Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) at Life Ball. He said that, in order to stop AIDS epidemic,“We have to train people, educate models and built system.” A part of the collected funds from the Ball will be given to Clinton’s organization; he is hoping to reduce the number of HIV-infected babies in Uganda and Sambia.
Naomi Cambell and Antonio Banderas rewarded the organization Operation Bobbi Bear with the “Crystal of Hope” which included prize money of 100 000 euros. Jackie Branfield, the founder of the organization, has been devoting her life to helping raped and HIV- infected kids in the South African province Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Milla Jovovich, the ambassador of the American Foundation for Aids Research expressed her excitement of being at Life Ball to the audience, “This is one of the best events.” In her speech, she emphasized the importance of taking action against the spreading of AIDS and praised the effort Life Ball has made till now, “You all should be pround!” Apart from a few welcoming words by the Mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl, there was little presence of Austrian politicians on stage.
Gery Ketzler, the founder of the Life Ball, thanked the audience, all the sponsors and especially the city of Vienna for allowing them to use the whole City Hall. He said, “It has been a long journey. AIDS not only hurts the body but the soul.” He continued that AIDS also stigmatizes the affected minorities. With all his effort for Life Ball, he hopes to raise public awareness for HIV and AIDS.
The spectacular fire show was among this year’s highlights, dedicated to the anniversary’s motto “Fight the Flames of Ignorance”. The dominant color red has been a tradition of the Life Ball and was generously used in all imaginable combinations and forms. This year’s fashion show was hosted by VOGUE Italia, giving a retrospective fashion show on the Red Ribbon catwalk in front of the Vienna City Hall.
The fashion show presented remarkable looks from the last two decades by top models such as Karolina Kurkova, Eva Padberg und Tatjana Patitz. The stuntwoman Miriam Höller surprised the audience with the burning Victoria’s Secret wings.
In 1993, when Life Ball took place for the first time, it only sold 150 tickets. Twenty years later, at this anniversary, there were 95 000 candidates from 73 countries wanting to buy 3780 available tickets.
Every year, there are around 500 national and international media representatives at the event. Last year, Life Ball collected two million euros for AIDS projects. The numbers show how successful Life Ball has been, whether as a charity event or as symbol of acceptance, solidarity, tolerance, and an important voice of and for the affected minority.
Image Courtesy Life Ball ©
Photo Credit : Andreas TISCHLER