"Evening Under The Stars" Boogies to "First Ladies of Disco"

Community leaders honored at event to benefit AIDS Assistance Program

Barry Manilow and Suzanne Somers were attendees to the May 3 "Evening Under the Stars" at the O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs.

Photo by Sherri Breyer


The First Ladies of Disco proved to be a smashing success at the 21st annual Evening Under The Stars held May 3 to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program (AAP).

Nearly 1,500 guests gathered at O’Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs to support the organization that provides food vouchers for men, women, and children who are HIV/AIDS positive.

There was heavy bidding during the pre-dinner silent auction and the live auction that offered everything from an Andy Warhol portrait by Michael Childers to exotic trips and cocktail and dinner parties, and even a fancy wedding package. The high bids plus large sponsor donations all added up to an expected $250,000 for AAP, according to Mark Anton, executive director.

CBS 2 anchor Brooke Beare did a fine job as emcee, introducing Anton and generous honorees acknowledged for overwhelming community contributions.

Recipients were Harold Matzner and Jim Houston, Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award; Dr. John Stansell of Eisenhower Medical Center, Gloria Greene Inspiration Award; Steve Kaufer, Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award, and Rabbi Sally Olins and Joyce Shampeny, Herb Lazenby Community Service Award.

The recipients were eloquent in their acceptance speeches. However, Houston’s reminder of the importance of feeding the hungry and sharing was meaningful as was Matzner’s reminder that while AAP feeds 550 individuals each month, there is a waiting list and the funds to feed those on the waiting list must be met.

“So be sure to return next year,” Matzner reminded.

James Arena, who wrote the book, First Ladies of Disco, that helped spur the event, introduced the show. The crowd packed the dance floor as each of the “first ladies” brought back memories of song hits from 35 years ago.

The disco favorites belted out their songs on stage as the enthusiastic crowd sang the lyrics with them, danced, and gathered to the front of the stage to cheer the return of the disco era. Their disco favorites included Martha Wash, Anita Ward, France Joli, Linda Clifford, Pamala Stanley, Maxine Nightingale, Jeanie Tracy, Charlene Moore, Evelyn “Champagne” King, and the ladies formerly of Chic - Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin, and Norma Jean.

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