“When Elton throws a party, he throws a party with purpose.…I’m here for the 37 million people living with HIV, including me. I’m lucky to be living in a community that loves and supports me, but not everyone has that luxury,” said Billy Porter, taking the stage during the Elton John Oscars viewing party on Sunday night.
For 30 years, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has turned Hollywood’s biggest night into a mega-fundraising vehicle, raising a total of $86 million, including a record $8.5 million this year.
Guests sipped themed Belvedere vodka cocktails (Belvy and the Jets, anyone?) and took turns trying on Elton John Eyewear as a warm-up for the dinner, held under a tent in West Hollywood Park, with pink walls, pink light, pink tables, pink everywhere and big screens broadcasting the Oscars live, giving the whole thing the feel of being in a haute sports bar watching a big game.
The event drew nearly 800 guests, including Zooey Deschanel, Donatella Versace, Chrissy Metz, Heidi Klum, Christina Hendricks, Chris Pine, Kathy Hilton, Caitlyn Jenner, Tinx and many more.
Saweetie wore a daring black front cutout dress by Monot, while Demi Lovato covered up in a black Balenciaga swimsuit gown. Troye Savan shimmered in a Valentino haute couture crystal tunic and white trousers, and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne was all business in a black tuxedo.
Although John wasn’t in attendance because the rescheduled Oscar date conflicted with a rescheduled concert date he was performing in Nebraska, he enlisted husband David Furnish, Lady Gaga, Eric McCormack and Porter to take over cohosting duties, and Zoomed in himself to sing “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which had the crowd singing along.
“It means so much to be sharing this moment with my godsons Zachary and Elijah,” said Lady Gaga, blowing kisses to the two boys seated at a table in the audience, all of 11 and nine years old. Gaga wore a pale yellow draped tulle gown by Rodarte with a bold red lip and Tiffany diamonds, before changing into a Ralph Lauren black lamé tuxedo to head across town to the Academy Awards ceremony, where she presented the Best Picture award with Liza Minnelli.
Simon de Pury led the live auction of items, including a 64-carat diamond necklace worn by Porter to the 2000 Oscars.
“Y’all ready to bid on this b—h? You know I can’t afford it, they lend it to me. But I know you b—hes out here can afford it. Get your check books out, do we still say that?” he told the well-heeled crowd, before the necklace eventually sold for $60,000.
Although Will Smith’s slap heard round the world was all anyone could talk about as the Oscars telecast drew to a close, Brandi Carlisle had people on their feet and dancing in no time to “Broken Horses.”
“It’s like playing a concert in a vagina, this place is so pink,” the singer laughed. “It’s apropos.”